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The annual Service Management World conference is just a few weeks away and the theme of this year’s event is “We’re Here for What’s Next”. When I initially read that, I found myself wondering… What really is ‘next’? Will artificial intelligence play a role? Will it be some futuristic tech that we can’t even begin to imagine yet? What are the implications for the people that work in Service and Support? Am I the only one with a cloudy picture of ‘what’s next’? The question I could really even begin to answer was the last one. There is no possible way I’m the only one searching for clarity. So, I did the only thing I could think of to get closer to answers. I reached out to some of the most brilliant minds in the industry to get their perspective and I’m bursting with excitement to share their insights with you.

Let me first start by introducing the 6 iconic SMWorld speakers that graciously shared their insights with me.

Side note – There’s also an eye-catching PDF version that you can download and share with your teams here. 

Ken Wendle – Ken Wendle has been a key figure in the business of service and support since, well, the Jurassic Period. Ken holds the unique honor of being the recipient of two prestigious industry honors: the HDI Ron Muns Lifetime Achievement Award and the itSMF USA Lifetime Achievement Award, recognizing his essential efforts in creating awareness, adoption and expansion of service and support best practices within the USA and globally. Ken helped launch the itSMF USA national event in 2001 (and holds the record of being a featured speaker for 17 consecutive) and helped launch the Service Management World event in 2018. Ken is the author of the exciting new book, “The V*A*L*U*E Formula”, now available! 

⇒Ken will be presenting Session 605: The V*A*L*U*E Formula: 5 Elements to Maximize Value.

Jeff Rumburg – Jeff Rumburg is the winner of the Ron Muns Lifetime Achievement Award, was named to HDI’s Top 25 Thought Leaders list for three consecutive years and has served on HDI’s Strategic Advisory Board. He is co-founder and managing partner of MetricNet LLC, where he is responsible for global strategy, product development and client engagement delivery. As a leading expert in benchmarking and re-engineering, Mr. Rumburg authored a best-selling book on benchmarking and has been retained as a benchmarking expert by such iconic companies as American Express, USAA, Coca Cola and Emory Healthcare. 

⇒Jeff will be presenting Session 105: What’s Your Value Proposition?: An ROI Workshop.

Rae Ann BrunoRae Ann Bruno is the president of Business Solutions Training, Inc., where she consults and trains in various areas of ITIL, KCS, communications, internal marketing, metrics, and process improvement. Rae Ann holds several ITIL certifications, is a faculty trainer for HDI, and is the author of “Translating IT Metrics into Business Benefits” and “What Have You Done for Me Lately? Creating an Internal Marketing Culture.” She is also a member of the HDI International Certification Standards Committee. 

⇒Rae Ann will be the instructor for Pre-7: Two-day Training: Customer Experience Accelerator Bootcamp

⇒Rae Ann will be presenting Session 203: The Konmari Approach to Improving Service Delivery

John Custy – John Custy is a services management authority with extensive experience helping organizations improve their services delivery, become more strategic, and increase value. He is an internationally known speaker and educator who challenges us to think differently. John received his MA from Boston University and his BS from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. In addition, he has earned his ITIL Manager, ITIL Expert, ISO 20000 Consultant, KCS Consultant, and Kepner-Tregoe (KT) certifications. He is also a member of the HDI Faculty and the HDI International Certification Standards Committee. John Custy is the 2015 recipient of the Ron Muns Lifetime Achievement Award and was also recognized as an IT Industry Legend by Cherwell Software. 

⇒John will be presenting Session 401: ITIL4: What’s the Fuss All About?

Brandon Caudle – Brandon Caudle is a veteran of the Service and Support industry, building and leading virtual teams in a 24×7 support environment across geographies and time zones. As a Customer Experience Visionary, he is known for crafting and implementing best practices to solve challenging issues, increase Customer and Employee Satisfaction, while aligning with business needs. Brandon is a senior manager at First American in Orange County, California, and currently serves as the Chair of the largest technical service and support association in the world, HelpDesk Chapters, Inc. He can be found at

⇒Brandon will be co-presenting Session 207: Using Data, Knowledge, and Analytics to Make Better Business Decisions with Pete McGarahan.

Pete McGarahan – Pete McGarahan is the senior director of IT at First American Title Insurance Company, and has won multiple awards as an industry expert and global thought-leader in service management. He is consistently one of the top-rated speakers at HDI, ICMI, other industry events. He is incredibly knowledgeable, and has a true gift for sharing complex information in an engaging and understandable way. Follow Pete on Twitter @PeterJMcGarahan.

⇒Pete will be co-presenting Session 207: Using Data, Knowledge, and Analytics to Make Better Business Decisions with Brandon Caudle

My goal with the questions that follow was to find out – 1) What can we learn from the past?; 2) What can we learn from today?; 3) What can we learn from those that we serve?; and 4) How are we holding ourselves back? Admittedly, those questions would probably have been easier to answer than those that I actually asked. Though, as you’ll soon find out, the deepest conversations stem not from what you ask, but how you ask it… 

1) What do you think is the most significant event in the history of IT Service and Support?

Rae Ann Bruno – “The emergence of E-business in the late 90s. With that, came the emergence of E-Service and the recognition by the business that IT was important to their success. As a result, there were some great leaps in the maturity of integrated support tools, processes, and metrics.”

Ken Wendle  – “An interesting question. Having started working with support organizations, a.k.a. “Help Desks” in the early 1990’s by installing and supporting the software, SupportMagic (DOS version 1.5), I’ve seen a lot of changes and significant events occur within the Service and Support field. It would be hard to top the launch of the organization known as HDI, then known as “The Helpdesk Institute”. Founder Ron Muns was a true visionary. HDI provided a community for Service and support professionals, truly viewing and treating them as professionals. In addition to providing an annual event for these like-minded individuals to network and learn, HDI also provided training and literally “set the standard” for professionalism in the field. I’ve been involved with the organization since the mid-90s and I’ve seen it benefit so many careers over the years, including my own.”

Jeff Rumburg – “There are many. But I think the industry really came into its own with the introduction of codified processes for incident, problem, and knowledge management.”

Brandon Caudle – “The most significant event in the history of IT Service and Support was the development and ensuing widespread adoption of Remote Support software. The specifics of which software came first* is unimportant, but rather the ability for technical support specialists to access a customer’s workstation from anywhere in the world with a strong Internet connection. With the integration and incorporation of both native Windows and third party remote software in practically every technical environment today, not only has support become a world-wide industry, but also the 24×7 ‘always on’ expectation that has both fostered innovation and stimulated employment in new geographic locations never before thought of (both offshore and the rural US).

*arguable, pcAnywhere with it’s mid-80’s, now-archaic version 1.0

John Custy – “I don’t know if there is one significant event. Perhaps the realization of the different standards, methodologies, and frameworks several years ago – realizing that they needed to work together and be compatible, not cause duplication. Working together was also survival for them, as it was clear that they wouldn’t all survive on the path they were on. 

One significant event was getting IT service and support to understand that great service is more than just resolving the issue; it is about customer experience. Moving from a technology provider to a strategic partnership is critical to business success and understanding that they both need each other to create business value is critical, though I don’t believe this thinking is pervasive enough in many organizations. I guess if I had to identify one significant event, it was when CIOs realized that communication skills were critical for the success of their organization, plus the IT service and support organization is the front door (tip of the spear as described by one CIO) to IT.”

Pete McGarahan – “I think there are multiple significant events that shaped the future, sustainability, growth and impact of the IT Service and Support Industry.

  1. The creation of HDI (Help Desk Institute) by Ron Muns in 1989. HDI grew to become one of the world’s largest membership associations for IT service and support professionals, the premier certification body for the industry and producer of the largest and highest-rated event for service and support professionals, the HDI Annual Conference & Expo.
  2. In the 1980s there was the formation of the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) designed to make IT processes much more efficient and cost effective. Designed by a UK-based Government Agency (CCTA), ITIL became a regularly updated set of best practices and processes centered around IT Service Management (ITSM) focused on the effective design, deployment, and management of IT services that delivers exceptional value to the enterprise.
  3. The launch of one of the first help desk software companies (Bendata) and ticketing solutions (HEAT) by Ron Muns in the early 1990s.

All three of these significant events came together to create the IT Service and Support Industry that has become the passion of millions of IT Professionals who create service strategies, design processes, integrate technologies, develop skills and deliver exceptional service to their customers. When I look back at the beginning of my career in the IT service and support industry, I attended my first HDI conference in 1994. This would prove to be the most influential and impacting event of my career and was the foundation for the Taco Bell Support team winning the HDI Team Excellence award in 1996.”

2) If I asked you the same question (#1) 20 years from now, do you think your answer would change? If so, why? 

John Custy – “At that time, I would have said ITIL, as it was the best practice that provided the most help to so many organizations. Today, I would say ITIL has continued to evolve, albeit not as quickly always as I would have liked, but it has recognized that it needs to update faster and Axelos is trying to do this (IMHO).”

Ken Wendle – “Well, it’s been 20+ years since the founding of HDI, so, unless something even more significant occurs, I don’t think my answer would change.” 

Jeff Rumburg – “Yes, because I expect AI to fundamentally transform the industry.”

Rae Ann Bruno – “Yes. I think that we have the maturity levels, however automation will have a huge impact on our industry. At the same time, there is a huge focus on the total customer experience. As a result, it will transform efficiencies, yet bring back the focus of people being available for more business-critical or more complex issues and having the whole-company focus on the customer experience. This will also transform IT Support’s relationship with and value to the business. In fact, support may become part of business operations instead of IT!”

Brandon Caudle – “In 10 years, the answer will still be the same, however, we will see a larger gap between companies that have embraced remote support as a way of life, and those who are still tied to the obsolete mindset of On-site IT as their strategy . Those that will excel will be powered by C-level executives who attract the best employees regardless of location, and, in turn, outpace their competition and grow at an exponential pace.”

Pete McGarahan – “If you asked me the same question in 2040, I don’t think my answer would be the same. There is change and disruption in the industry today that is more significantly impacting than anything else we have seen to date. These technology, business and workforce trends involve cloud transformation, ‘everything’-as-a-service, all things mobile, data and video, multi-generational workforce and automation and robotics. Given that these impacting trends are happening simultaneously, I doubt the 2040 workplace employing my children will remember or resemble anything of significance in our industry in the early 1980s, 1990s or in fact 2020.”

3) If you or your customer had a wish-list for IT Service and Support, what would be top of mind? 

Rae Ann Bruno – “Customer’s wishlist: quick answer, quick response, reliability of services so that my job isn’t interrupted. My wishlist: that support managers would have a holistic approach to metrics and quality (can’t have one without the other – quality programs are a must to help grow skills of the support professionals and increase engagement).”

Ken Wendle – “Another interesting question. I can’t presume to speak for any given customers, but if someone were to ask me for my wish-list, I’d wish for a much more collaborative relationship with other parts of my organization. Too often support seems to be taken for granted and/or is an afterthought. Earlier engagement and involvement from the business and development organizations along with a deeper respect from those organizations would be beneficial for everyone!” 

John Custy – “For customers (service providers), too many want the rules, a silver bullet which isn’t realistic. They want customers to be more flexible, share business plans, etc.; however, customers first need to trust their service providers for this to happen. The first step is removing the myth that IT is free. Simultaneously they need to be more transparent about costs and identify how to decrease operating while increasing value. Organizations got where they are over years; it will take 3-5 years for most organizations to change. However, short-term results are needed to obtain customer confidence.

For me – Understanding that customers want/need the IT Services to work. Moving beyond fast resolution or FCR to removing interruptions and understanding customer experience is critical.”

Jeff Rumburg – “Customers: more resources and better visibility internally. For me: for enterprises to take service and support more seriously, and to leverage the enormous potential of service and support to improve user productivity.”

Pete McGarahan – “My customers wish IT Service and Support would be more business minded in all that we do! They would like us to involve and engage them in anything that might potentially be user and business impacting. They want us to always communicate using multiple communication channels, touchpoints and key people in the business who can help spread the word of anything important that they need to know. Lastly, they would say that we should be responsive and respectful in our daily dealings with our users and business and remember that everything important to them doesn’t have to involve a process or a portal!”

4) What rules should we be breaking in support of what’s next? 

John Custy – “Whenever the guidelines don’t make sense, empower IT Service & Support to break the rules without fear of retribution. Trying more different things to innovate (and learn from failures).”

Jeff Rumburg – “Service and support has historically assumed a subservient role within IT. I would like to see a new generation of bold leaders who understand the potential of service and support, and who are willing to be vocal and aggressive about leveraging and promoting a value-centric paradigm of service and support.”

Rae Ann Bruno – “Don’t let numbers drive what you do – Ask the questions first; work with the business to understand needs and value, and structure support in a way that is best for your business. THEN decide how to measure the entire customer experience.”

Ken Wendle – “Stop thinking ‘either/or’ and start thinking ‘both/and’. Synergy happens with ‘both/and’ thinking. I saw a LinkedIn post recently titled ‘Mindset shifts for Organization transformation’

It suggested:  

  • Moving from Profit to Purpose  
  • From hierarchies to networks  
  • From controlling to empowering  
  • From planning to experimentation  
  • From privacy to transparency. 

‘Both/And’ thinking suggests that you can and likely should have a bit of both. With the article mentioned above, for example, you can’t really pursue your purpose if you aren’t profitable, at least not for very long. 

Networks are great, but there is still a need for a hierarch of accountability and authority. 

I love the idea of empowering, but the buck always needs to stop somewhere. If everyone is accountable, no one is. 

Any scientist worth his or her salt will tell you that the best experiments have at least some degree of planning associated with them. 

I am a huge fan of transparency, but there are some elements of our lives (work and private) which require a degree of privacy. It’s not ‘either/or’. It’s ‘both/and’.”

Pete McGarahan – “I tell my team that we should ‘Never-Arrive.’ We should never get complacent or comfortable and that we should always challenge ourselves to continuously improve, innovate and approach challenges and opportunities with creativity! If there was one rule that I would break in supporting what’s next – it would be the ‘Checklist.’ We should lose the checklist. We use it to begin to scope how best to support what’s next, but we never really look to see if the checklist components are even relevant anymore, especially to supporting what’s next. We should sit back, listen attentively with what we are being asked to support next, document it, digest it and then research, collaborate, engage and involve the right team members that would add value to designing, developing and delivering the new service in support of what’s next!” 

I must have read this a hundred times by now and I can honestly say that my once ‘cloudy picture’ of what’s next has become much clearer in the process. It sounds like those that work in IT Service and Support have a bright future ahead, filled with unprecedented technology enablers and efficiency boosters like AI, the ability to break rules without fear of retribution, and career opportunities that wouldn’t otherwise be possible without a combination of remote support software, a commitment to providing a superior customer experience and a culture that emphasizes value over cost.

At this point, many of you are likely strategizing with your teams on how to make the most of the conference. It’s my hope that this article not only helps to guide your schedule building process, but will also spark some thoughtful discussion that will carry through to the countless networking opportunities you’ll have at SMWorld 2019 – a World-Class event! 

Finally, I would be remiss if I did not express my deepest gratitude to those that made this concept piece a reality. A thousand and one thanks to Ken, Jeff, John, Rae Ann, Brandon and Pete. I’m looking forward to seeing each of you at SMWorld in November!

Have something to add? I’d love to hear from you! There’s a comment section near the bottom section of this page or you can find us on Twitter @MetricNet.

Don’t forget, there’s also a PDF version that you can download and share with your teams here. 


Angela Irizarry

Angela Irizarry is the President and Chief Operating Officer at MetricNet, where she is responsible for managing day-to-day operations, strategic planning, and new client acquisition. She also oversees the company's sales and marketing efforts and manages its intellectual property and online resources. Angela has been with the company for 10 years and has over 20 years of experience in business development and strategy. She has been featured in Fortune magazine and has received recognition for her work in competitive and trends analysis from executives at a variety of Fortune 100 companies. Angela is a dynamic and accomplished professional who consistently delivers exceptional results for MetricNet and its clients. She has a wealth of industry experience and a track record of success in driving business results, particularly in the financial services, insurance, and healthcare sectors. Angela is highly skilled in communication, problem-solving, and project management, and is committed to delivering the highest level of service to MetricNet's clients.

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