We’re on the move…

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The SDI Team


What’s Your Value?

At a recent SDI event I posed two simple questions to the audience.

“Raise your hand if you know your organisation’s mission statement.” Out of fifty delegates, only a handful of hands were raised.

“Raise your hand if you know where your organisation wants to be in five years’ time.”  This time even fewer hands were raised.

From these two simple questions, it should be pretty clear that those who did not raise their hands are going to encounter serious problems when attempting to grapple with the question posing as the title to this blog. How can we define our value, when we don’t understand the bigger picture of what our organisation does or is aiming for? How can we help them to get to where they need to be if we don’t know the destination of the journey that they are on? The answer – at least in part – is revealed in this month’s SDI exclusive members report titled, aptly enough What’s Your Value?

The reason behind the report is to aid and assist service desk professionals to start to think about how they can define and communicate their value to the wider organisation. Most service desks would agree that they need to get closer to the business – the tricky part is working out how. In response, this month’s paper pulls together some ideas for gaining access to key influencers whose support will be invaluable in raising the profile and stature of the service desk. The key is to share pertinent and useful information and tell the story of your service desk – don’t fall into the trap of working hard to gain an audience and then turn them off with reams of data and stats. Make sure you know your audience and what will be useful to them – if they’re after stats then share them; if they need to know how your service desk strategy ties in to theirs then make sure you come prepared with the answers.

There is no silver bullet for demonstrating business value, expect to say that service desks are business enablers and without you the business would not be able to function. If building the case for demonstrating your value seems insurmountable then please do not lose sight of the fact that you deliver excellent value and work tirelessly day-in day-out to keep the business moving forward – the value is within all of our service desks, the trick is to define it, share it and celebrate it.

If you aren’t already a member of SDI, find out how you can access this report here>

Daniel Wood, Head of Research, SDI

#SDI13 The Conference hits the spot!

Well my forecast for what would feature in the event was not bad!

There were several speakers that highlighted the need for our vision of the Service Desk to be updated. Chris Dancy and Rob England (The IT Skeptic), seen on stage together for the very first time, had two different but complimentary views of the future, with Rob being very keen to see process eliminating the need for humans to have to be ‘trusted’ too much as they were mostly error prone through the very fact there ARE human!

Chris, on the other hand, is very keen to see the ‘liberation’ of people to do things almost instinctively with the right tools and technology to help them carry out the tasks. So guess what? It ended up as a bit of a draw with both seeing the other’s point and agreeing that the ‘liberation’ from process has to be earned and only the very best people will achieve that. The rest will always need the support of good process.

Several  sessions – Pippa Harrison from Harrods, Clive Davey from Aviva and Kate Wignall from Barclays Bank – picked up on my prediction of importance of business led relationship support, cost reduction, value delivery and measures to demonstrate that. The general view was that if you are to continue to be the preferred in-house supplier of service and support to your business this was an essential goal.

CGI (formerly Logica) were awarded the special achievement award for being the first SDI certified 5* world class Service Desk and presented why they had chosen to pursue that route – largely because it gave them competitive advantage and the ability to really zero in on incremental and continuous improvement to add to the consistently good service they deliver currently. Other managed service providers, Atos and Fujitsu, also appeared and Neil Forshaw from Fujitsu picked up on my prediction of the BYOD and cloud device scenario, and indicated that a clear strategy is essential to cope with it.

The SDI’s IT Service & Support Awards presented some great competition amongst the finalists and the winners who just edged out wer Fujitsu as the new Best Managed Service Desk, Cherwell as the best vendor for customer service and Virgin Media and Severn Trent Water as the best large and small Service Desks. This is one of the best recognition events in any industry, it’s also one of the toughest to win as the judging really IS rigorous compared to most awards. In addition to the conference sessions during the day where the finalists told the conference audience why they had done so well, we got the extra treat of some fantastic ‘fun’ videos where they used their creativity to put together skits and pastiches in their natural habitat. Special mention must go to JMC IT whose ‘northern stereotype’ production was amazingly skilful and funny!!

Other notable events included  the introduction of the new ‘ITIL joint venture company with no name’ which is jointly owned by Capita and The Cabinet Office. Their ownership of ITIL is an interesting development and there were many brave and ambitious statements from the first of the new management team. Seems it’s likely that the development of gamified ITIL learning is inevitable, and the £25m spend envisaged is encouraging but I hope it’s spent wisely. Speaking personally I’ve heard many brave statements before that have proved impossible to deliver on – and this initiative is potentially full of potential holes to fall down – so I await with interest!

More highlights included Chris Dancy’s keynote which was well received because it was totally ‘out there’ as we expect from Chris with the message that as individuals we will live as our ‘Quantified Self’ together with our use of the ‘Internet of Things’. Here is the link to Chris’ presentation if you want to know more! The IT Skeptic, Rob England was possibly more pragmatic with his ‘standard and case’ methodology providing knowledge workers with two routes to solve customer issues, with standard mainly a tool for early stage staff and experts mainly in the ‘case’ mode. His later ‘checklist’ presentation paralleled the detailed checklist world of the doctor or pilot to avoid catastrophic life and death failure. Could we use it to help us do the same?

As ever the ‘open and close’ sessions were reserved for two expert ‘motivational speakers’. Chris Barez-Brown ‘upped our Elvis’ in the opener and illustrated how we should put our ideas into action – basically do it fast and make it real to make sure it both happens and sticks. Jim Lawless (ironically a former city lawyer!) used the extreme sports examples of free diving to 100m and learning to be a jockey to showcase his ’10 rules for taming tigers’ where the tigers are the things in your mind that stop you ‘being a bit bold’ and doing the right things. Rules included doing something a bit scary every day and never, ever giving up. Jim lost 3 stone to win a £1 bet over a year to become a jockey when he’d never ridden a horse before!

The last word? As I closed the conference, I observed that both the number of delegates and the underlying thrust of a newly resurgent industry evidenced that the age of the Service Desk is here. We have a responsibility to use the power we have as the supporters of most of the world’s most powerful technologies – and this conference has helped us add even more knowledge to help us do so.  Service Desk people: find your voice, promote yourselves and what you do. You ARE some of the most important people in the world right now!


Howard Kendall

Founder of SDI

What to expect at SDI’s Annual Conference in Birmingham this week

I think we have a big opportunity this week for Service Desks. It’s SDI’s biggest ever conference with over 500 people destined to be at Edgbaston cricket ground to talk about Service Desks and how they can work best both now and in the future.

I think this means that the Service Desk is seen as being pretty important to the IT service and customers of pretty much all organisations, and perhaps is achieving the recognition it deserves at last. But what will we see emerging as trends based on what’s happening in the industry at the moment?

I think – and this is based on conversations with practitioners and visits to leading organisations – that costs and value for money will lead, with a desire to drive costs down all encompassing. The theme of the event is ‘Believe!’  and, in addition to some excellent motivational speakers, there are case studies from the likes of Harrods, Atos and Aviva as well as keynotes from the well-known bloggers Rob England and Chris Dancy.

That gives some great input, which will also feature debate about people skills and business value needs for future Service Desks. I believe that the current Service Desk model needs updating as it needs to reflect the customer and consumer trends in the marketplace right now. This means Apple, Amazon, Audi and the other brands being successful at the moment. It also means picking up on the customer demands for speed of response and self support at any time of day or night. And how do we manage and support  the new Big Data thrust and cloud-delivered services?

These are the things I think will feature – I’ll blog again later in the month to see if I was right! – and of course with my views on what DID feature!

Howard Kendall

Founder of SDI

Become a service desk marketing machine!

It all starts with a plan right? Actually, it all starts with a need – in this case the need is for service desks to start becoming marketers.

But we just fix things I hear (hopefully no-one) cry! Actually, you provide a service that keeps the business ticking and the money rolling in: the trouble is we’re either too shy or just not sure how to communicate this. We want to show the world how good we are but often this stays in the wish pile, whimpering away and yearning for a plan to enable these fledgling dreams to come true.

Well fear not. This month SDI offers you the meat and bones of a marketing plan that, if you heed its advice, will propel you to marketing stardom. Below are some selected titbits to tantalise those marketing taste buds.

What is a marketing plan?
A marketing plan contains a list of actions and activities and usually covers a rolling 12 month period. You might find that your organisation already has a marketing plan in place so it would be worth seeking out this document to see how your service desk can communicate the same messages and what type and style of marketing is currently undertaken.

What should it contain?
A marketing plan can be a very long document, or very short. Do not be too concerned about its length or depth of content. What you are aiming for is a clear and concise list of activities, dates and deadlines and how they will be executed.

Vision and mission
If you haven’t got a vision or mission statement for your service desk, then this must be the first step. Successful marketing plans need to tie in to overall business objectives, mission and vision statements.

What we do
Sounds simple but this can be a tough nut to crack, perhaps more so if you do not have a service catalogue or a clear and defined focus on what the service desk does and does not support. Have a long hard think about the services you offer, where you offer them, and what benefits they offer.

What metrics should we include?
There are, quite literally, hundreds of metrics out there for service desks to measure and report on. These can range from the number of incoming calls or contacts, to the cost per email and everything in between. Don’t get overwhelmed – focus on the business value.

What channels can we use?
A key component of a marketing plan is to consider which groups will be targeted, and what channels will be used. Part of the decision will be strategic and the other will be financial. Some promotional channels will be more expensive and time intensive than others. Whatever channel is decided on, it is vital to remember that there will need to be a demonstrable ROI to ensure that your marketing is fulfilling its agenda and core purpose.

Daniel Wood

Head of Research, SDI

Taxi Drivers Up To Speed With SDI’s Service Desk Certification programme!

Last week I had the pleasure of joining Edwina Hart, the Gower Assembly Member and Minister for Business, Enterprise, Technology and Science, on her visit to CGI’s offices in Waterton near Bridgend in Wales to tour their Service Desk and understand the services they deliver.

edwina hart presentation 2

Front row L-R: Adrian Chiffi Head of UK End-User Services CGI, Tessa Troubridge Managing Director SDI, Minister Edwina Hart

The pinnacle of the visit was for both myself and Minister Hart to present SDI’s 5* Service Desk Certification trophy to Adrian Chiffi, Head of UK End-User Services, Global Infrastructure Services.

CGI’s UK senior management team were all there at the presentation and spoke about the incredible impact that becoming the world’s first five star Service Desk has had; an impact that had been felt not only by CGI both in Wales and globally, but also by the local community and South Wales generally.

And here is the proof …

As I was travelling from my hotel to CGI’s office to attend the event, the taxi driver asked me “Is something big happening there today?”.  I responded with a casual “You could say that – what makes you ask?”.  “Oh one of my other drivers has just picked up the big cheese (Tim Gregory, UK President, CGI) from the station,” he said.

He then went on to say “Do you know, their Service Desk is the first one ever to get a 5 star accreditation,” and he continued to tell me what a great achievement it was that they could prove they were good at what they did!

Grinning from ear to ear I said: “Yes, I do know a little bit about that,” having been involved in interviewing the CGI team and CGI customers as part of the Audit process.

I’ve been extremely lucky to travel all over the world to visit hundreds of service desks of all shapes and sizes and from across all industries, many of whom are SDI Certified sites. However, in all of my travels, this is the first time I have ever had a taxi driver tell me what a great achievement it is for an organisation to have a 5* Service Desk certification!

What an amazing testament to the achievement of the CGI service desk and to the far reaching value of certification to CGI globally, to their customers, the local community and the industry as a whole. It’s magic!

If you’d like to learn more about CGI’s journey and how they became the first ever 5* Certified Service Desk, there’s plenty more information to be found here.

Tessa Troubridge

Managing Director, SDI

The Socially Integrated Service Desk

As the world of service management moves along the stickier side of its timeline, have we lifted our heads high enough to see what has happened to the people and technology we support? Are we best prepared for the customer of the future and have we created the best service desk cultures to meet their expectations?

ITSM has clearly struggled to discuss topics that seem so simple from a user stand point; cloud, social media and BYOD being the most recent concepts to strike fear into the hearts of our ITIL driven processes and service managers, but are excitedly discussed in public on a daily basis. These are technologies that have been used in homes, offices and streets without much input from us for a few years now and with the exception of lots of white papers and conferences, we haven’t done much at all in the way of building them into our services. A number of software vendors have given us the tools to do it and we still fret. Some service desks think they may now be ahead of the curve because they have Twitter feeds streaming into ticketing systems and can disable stolen iPads with a few clicks. But have we considered that this is perhaps just the bottom of the curve and those still in fear of trying this stuff aren’t even on it yet?

An important thing to remember about these challenges is that the demand has been brought to us by our customers and has been created socially, so we should also react to them socially.  Businesses react to change by building processes and strategies in order to accommodate it into their existing structures. Societies react to change by adapting and embracing new things to help make them stronger and quicker. For example, your partner comes home from work and brings you a brand new iPad! Most of you will jump with excitement, tear open the box, download Angry Birds, Facebook and life is brilliant. Next week, your sales director walks into the service desk with their iPad because the email doesn’t work; you panic, shrug and then try to persuade yourself that you know nothing about iPads… “We just buy Dell”.

So how do you write processes for this? It is not like documenting how to access webmail or install your VPN client, those things only change when you say so. You have no control over this because it is socially driven by consumers and markets, Twitter’s latest privacy setting or the next version of Android may completely change the game and you don’t know how many of your customers that will affect or when they are going to ask you about it. Our once glorious empire controlled by asset life cycles, Windows authentication and ITIL books is now at the mercy of a queue of people waiting to use their Christmas present on your wireless network.  So is it just having the right processes in place to support this that is holding you back? Perhaps you are waiting for your next budget to buy that cool cloud based BYOD software or have you found another loop hole in the marketing department’s latest justification to unblock Facebook? Is this sensible ITSM or is it just a classic case of fearing things we don’t understand?

So, is there a solution or alternative path to take? Perhaps we don’t need to worry so much about the technologies themselves, but instead how and what they change. The change velocity of social media and mobile devices is far greater than anything ITSM has seen before, and will probably be subject to a hundred more changes before we can re-read that ITIL chapter on change management and write something clever about how your company could manage BYOD. Do any of us really think that the Facebook timeline or Instagram will have a shelf life anything like Windows XP? Of course not, but we do know that right now, they are equally as important to peoples lives. If we focus on learning about how it all changes, what happens in society and at work to influence the development of devices, apps, communication and storage, we can then start to show that we are a digitally cultured service desk that appreciates why and how the world is constantly connected via social media, smartphones and so on. This is how customers of a service desk want to see you, they want you tell them how amazing and useful cloud storage is and not how dangerous and ‘unsupported’ it is. In reacting to social change within the tech culture with a similar change in your own culture, you help build a better understanding between you, the customer and the technology. Social change is often far more visible and immediate than a business change so it promotes the transparency and openness that comes with digital DNA and fundamentally, the internet. In a real IT culture that has the same change velocity as technology, it is not possible to write policies that keep up with all of these changes, so don’t bother. Instead, try to recognise what makes this culture so appealing and successful and re-adjust your service culture to match it. It is not an easy thing, but it is a natural thing and nature supports constant learning and change, not planned releases and written limitations. ITSM has stumbled along this road, trying to apply strategy to these areas and is now at risk of missing all the given opportunities to become a part of it, unless it sees the real issues. The famous quote; “Culture eats strategy for breakfast” is true in so many business circumstances and this is no exception. Culture may not fix the email on the sales guy’s iPad, but it does help make it OK if you can’t.

Toby Moore, Idea Technology

For more about service desk culture, join us in Nottingham on 11 April