Last week, close to 800 IT professionals met in Orlando, Florida at HDI’s Support World Live conference. HDI events are always wonderful for catching up on trends, new innovations and best practices.

HDI described this conference as one that “brings together a diverse group of experts, practitioners, thought leaders, and solution providers, all united around a singular focus: to energize and empower service and support pros to make a real difference in their careers and organizations.” This event was no different, reflected in this year’s theme of “Where Smarter Service Starts, And Better Business Begins.”

Great to Be Back Together Again

I also feel HDI conferences are great, but even more so this time — not just for me but for all attendees. After speaking with many attendees, this year’s unofficial theme became clear: “It’s great to be back together again.” I want to thank the HDI event team for working hard to ensure a safe environment. We could safely share elbow bumps, have the occasional handshake and enjoy the chance to see so many smiles without needing to always cover up the lower half of our faces — although many attendees were very good at showing their smiles through their eyes while wearing their mask.

Three Short Success Stories

It was clear everyone was excited and happy to be together in-person after the last 18 months we’ve all been through. It’s no exaggeration that there were plenty of stories and examples of people and teams persevering through these unprecedented times. There were many stories I was fortunate to hear, including the following three:

The service desk manager for a healthcare organization who strives to ensure the well-being of his team, providing not just equipment and training but also support for flexible work practices, such as saying it’s ‘ok’ to turn off cameras during calls when he recognized many people were ‘Zoomed Out’ and needed a break. This manager did share one silver lining from the challenges since last year. The situation provided more context and material for their PhD dissertation, including an analysis on why too many meetings are not good for you nor your productivity. Personal note: I look forward to reading their completed dissertation.

A support leader for a manufacturing firm who is refocusing their team on having a solid foundation of core processes and services they can build on for more advanced capabilities or new innovations. They were also looking for an easier and more timely way to bring in data from multiple tools to make it easier to tell and share how well the support team was delivering more and more value to the organization, as well as making it easier to find process improvement areas.

The IT support director for a public service organization whose team had to provide support to more than 100 times as many people literally overnight with a team who had to work through their own challenges working remotely. When asked how they did that while maintaining good support and service levels, their response was, “I don’t know how we did it; we just did it.” I felt their response was representative of the spirit of everyone who was at Support World Live.

Jam-Packed with Content and Keynotes

Of course, the conference was jam-packed with content to help IT teams adopt, adapt and implement proven service management approaches and best practices to help ‘tune-up’ their operations and realize better outcomes faster. This year’s event offered several pre-conference workshops, more than a dozen case studies, and over 60 workshops and sessions covering topics like:

  • Maximizing Performance
  • Modernizing Service Management
  • Networking
  • Optimizing the Support Organization
  • Pursuing Service Excellence
  • Revolutionizing the Customer Experience
  • Building and Leading a World-Class Culture

The conference also featured three keynotes that I always find to be very interesting. Keynotes are something I think and talk about after a conference, especially because of the different perspectives the speakers have when it comes to addressing challenges in IT.

One keynote that stood out this year was presented by Carla Harris on “Intentional Leadership: Currency, Change, & Creating A Powerful Presence” on Tuesday morning. Carla shared eight ‘pearls of wisdom’ from her career and experiences: Authenticity, Building Trust, Clarity, Creating Other Leaders, Diversity, Innovation, Inclusivity and Voice. Her session was extremely well received by everyone who experienced it. Her pearls of wisdom surfaced in many conversations throughout the rest of the conference. I heard many times how attendees were going to go back and have others watch her session. It’s still available for playback because it resonated so well.

HDI “Celebrating Excellence” Awards

One last item I want to highlight are the HDI Celebrating Excellence Awards. Each year, HDI's awards are given to the individuals, teams and organizations who have enhanced their service management and support organizations through exceptional leadership and vision, the integration of best practices, stakeholder involvement, business alignment, and achievement of the highest standards of quality and customer satisfaction.

This year we were excited the City of Seattle was a finalist for the Best Use of Technology award. They greatly improved their operational efficiency and governance when they made IT asset management an integral part of their service management practice. Improved outcomes included effective charge backs, as well as making every city employee accountable for their assigned assets and the quality of actionable asset information throughout the asset lifecycle. Feel free to read their story to learn more of their approach and results.

2021 Support World Live was a wonderful opportunity to meet and speak with other IT professionals. I was delighted to have spoken with as many attendees as I did. We all learned something new and helpful from these conversations — which will resonate with us until we meet again.