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ITSM Magic, No Magician Required

By | April 3, 2014 in ITSM

No magic needed at the Help Desk Institute Conference

We're back again in the States, this time in the land of ultimate magic, Orlando, Florida, for the annual HDI Conference. Here’s our first blog from the event, after experiencing a fantastic day and half, so far.

Highlights of Sessions

Roy Atkinson – Step Away from the Computer: Customer Focus in Desktop Support

Roy's session looked at the growing importance of customer experience on the service desk. Customers used to be powerless with no choice but to accept whatever service they received from IT support, but in this day and age that is no longer the case.

The most interesting part of the session for me was when Roy shared some recent research conducted by HDI in conjunction with Robert Half Technology. One question that the survey posed was:

What do you think are the most important characteristics for someone working in IT?

The results were as follows:

  • 88% of respondents stated "a passion for customers"
  • 80% of respondents felt that a "desire to continue to learn new technology" was the most important characteristic
  • 75% said social intelligence
  • 71% stated "a proactive approach to problem solving"
  • A further 71% stated "the ability to collaborate" as an important factor

I must admit I was surprised by some of the responses. For starters, if you're working on a service desk and aren't interested in technology then you might want to consider that you're in the wrong job! That said, it was highly reassuring to find "a passion for customers" come out on top. Customer service is something that we discuss at SysAid on a regular basis:

The session led me to think about other questions. Knowing what characteristics you require to staff your IT department is a great starting point, but then, how do you source those people? What do you look for? I asked our own Joseph Zargari who heads up the SysAid Customer Relations department. He said that technical know-how is a given and a must. Experience in working with both internal and external customers is a great plus. Perhaps finding someone from the business operations within the organization can be helpful when moving to the service desk/help desk sector of the company. But most importantly, he looks for a friendly individual who is determined to close loose ends, with an open-mindedness to look beyond the typical canned fix and search outside the box. Above all, Joseph abides by a strict “no jerks allowed“ policy!

If you're interested in learning more about the customer experience and how it relates to the service desk then I highly recommend following Roy on Twitter, as he really is the ultimate guru.

Matthew Neigh - Social Collaboration in ITSM: The Next Big Thing or the Next Time-Waster?

This was a really fun session to be a part of because it was very interactive. 5% included PowerPoint and the other 95% was questioning the audience and encouraging thought sharing.

First of all, Matt asked everyone in the room what they thought social collaboration was. The answers varied:

  • Facebook and other social applications
  • SharePoint and other similar tools
  • Any conversation that takes place online

What was the official answer? Well technically there wasn't one but if we look to Wikipedia, social collaboration is defined as: “processes that help multiple people interact and share information to achieve any common goal. Such processes find their 'natural' environment on the internet, where collaboration and social dissemination of information are made easier by current innovations.”

Surprisingly there was a lot of negativity in the room towards social collaboration. Some said it was destructive to achieving goals (because nobody ever agrees and you go round and round in circles trying to make decisions); some said it will never work because of lack of senior management buy-in; some didn't like it because of the lack of control over it; and more.

At SysAid, we see social collaboration gaining traction in the Cloud era where SaaS applications are brought into the organization by the business unit more and more, and not the IT. The accumulation of this new knowledge is not part of the IT processes. So this is a great opportunity to start using social collaboration to centralize this knowledge. For example, letting the business users contribute to the FAQs is a great use of social collaboration. Or providing a thumbs-up gesture on an FAQ or a rating of a service provided is something easy to implement and effective in the long-run.

John O'Leary - Ignite Your Life

This was the closing keynote of the day, and it was very inspiring. I won't go into too much detail (you can learn more at but the messages were clear:

  • You have two choices in life. You can choose love or fear. Make the right choice.
  • Whatever is happening right now, remember it's what you do next that counts.
  • Always ask yourself "what more can I do?"

These are 3 serious points applicable to both our business and personal lives. Next time everything seems to be falling down around you - maybe it's a major problem or a very unhappy customer - consider the first two statements and ask yourself that question.

John Custy - Metrics 101: Understanding What to Measure and Where to Use the Metric

I also attended John Custy's session on metrics but it really deserves its own blog, so stay-tuned for that…..after the conference is over.

Overview of the Exhibition

Outside of the event sessions and over in the exhibition area we were all having a blast as per usual!

From treasure chests to t-shirts, from air hockey to magicians...there were plenty of inventive ideas across the floor. Our own idea went down like a storm. The exhibition kicked off a day earlier and within the space of an hour we were already nearly out of our All Essentials bags.

SysAid All Essentials conference bag

People were hunting us down outside of exhibition hours just to get their hands on one. We should have known that anything with Joe the IT Guy's face on it would be hot.

At the SysAid booth, instead of pulling a rabbit out of a hat, you can pull some sweet chocolate out of our All Essentials bag! If you want to see magic, come see our demo, where the real magic happens. Please feel free to drop by our booth or schedule a private one-on-one demo at your convenience.

It has been an absolute delight to not only meet new ITSM people, but to catch up with some of our customers too. Without them, none of this would be possible.

We had some fascinating conversations with a broad range of people, and it was interesting to hear what their issues are (not just with their current tool but in general). I spoke with multiple people who expressed to me that creating a successful service catalog was a key sticking point for them, and so I wanted to share our top tip for creating a service catalogue, which is as follows:

Go and talk to the people on your IT team and ask each person to write down all the services they gave in the past 60 days. Collect the information, group them into categories, and voila this is your service catalogue. We recommend you repeat this activity every 6 months just to be sure that you cover everything (including all changes within the organization), and then amend your service catalogue accordingly.

This is obviously a big topic; we plan to write an article in full on this in the near future.

Of course you may have heard about how Joe the IT Guy was disappointed to learn that HDI didn't stand for the Help Ducks Institute and so to make up for it, we decided to raise some money for a good cause. So far we've had close to 100 people take their photo with Joe so that's a $200 donation to the World Wildlife Fund to date. Hopefully we can raise much more as there are thousands of people in attendance at the event. People here seem a lot shyer than they did at the Pink Elephant event for some reason. There’s still time….please drop by our booth.

Looking forward to more sessions, more conversations, and loads more fun!

Please share your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter, Google+, or Facebook where we are always listening.

Sophie Danby

About Sophie Danby

Sophie is a freelance IT service management (ITSM) marketing consultant, helping solution vendors to develop and implement effective marketing strategies. As a vocal and collaborative member of the international ITSM community, you can often find her at global ITSM conferences or engaging in "ITSM chatter" on Twitter. Sophie also previously worked with at SysAid as our VP Marketing.

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