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Does itSMF Still Deliver Value?


Jaro Tomik

Digital Enablement

•  Dec 01, 2023

I love attending tech conferences and I have found the itSMF one to be great at bringing together people who align around one goal – moving the industry forward. The key question I want you to be able to answer after finishing reading this article is the one I have been asked several times in the last few weeks: “Is attending the itSMF Conference and being a member worth the investment of my time and money?” 

ItSMF UK have been one of many impacted by the big shift in the industry - moving away from the traditional education, memberships, and certification to summarising online videos, webinars, bite-sized online learning, and the general preference of on-the-job experience. So, how does a non-profit organisation cope? It must keep reinventing themselves and focus on the value it brings to its members – which includes access to: 

  • The itSM community and peer-to-peer interactions 
  • High-quality educational content 
  • Industry trends and insights 
  • Multiple ways of consuming content 

As a non-profit reliant on membership fees, which need to keep at an attractive and affordable level, itSMF has limited options to compete for the attention of ITSM professionals. 

So – What Value Does itSMF Deliver?

There are global tech giants like LinkedIn, Google, Facebook, TikTok, and other organisations providing industry content, such as vendors, implementers, SIs, resellers, as well as traditional knowledge, certification, and research organisations such as Gartner, Forester, PeopleCert (Axelos, DevOps Institute), Scrum and EXIN. There are even publications such as Managed IT Magazine, CIO Review, or the multiple blogs and books out there…That’s a lot to compete against!  

Without an army of “top brains”, top marketeers, SEO experts, editors, and a large technical team on the payroll, itSMF had to focus on what they are known for doing well – bringing people together. This means not only creating events, but partnering up and engaging people in the industry to produce content for itSMF across multiple platforms. This captures attention and delivers value to different generations and types of learners (visual, kinesthetic, auditory, read/write…) in our post-covid world. After redeveloping its portfolio, members now have access to: 

  • Annual conference and awards 
  • Masterclasses and simulations 
  • Webinars 
  • Member meet-ups 
  • Communities of practice 
  • Service Management Forums 
  • Leadership council 
  • 200+ hours of Content and Publications 
  • Skills framework and maturity assessments 

First, an impressive variety to choose from. In fact, so much so that for such busy individuals like we all are, it is more than you need to keep you occupied throughout the year. Secondly, it’s great to see Experiential Learning from the likes of Sunburst Simulations, SXP, or GamingWorks included, as it is proven to be the most effective way to learn and retain information.  

CDW provides these experiential learning engagements for customers to enable them to bring people on a journey of learning and discovery.  

Thirdly, the itSMF events calendar is packed with events – from talks about value, XLAs, the future of ITSM, to workshops focused on ITSM practices. This is in a stark contrast to some of the vendors who tend to promote buzzwords – AI, Hyperautomation etc. – as the silver bullets of the future of ITSM, resolved by tech.  

Tech Is the Focus – but People Are More Important

Realistically, tech is part of the engagement but more important is are people and process. This can either make you think of itSMF as an outdated organisation (wait, you don’t talk about AI-everything all the time like everyone else?!) or appreciate the return to Earth they offer by providing content and advice on how to get the basics right. And let’s face it, without your culture, data (including knowledge), process, and governance organised, how are you going to leverage AI anyway?  

The reason the likes of CDW, Co-Op, National Rail, Nationwide Building Society, ServiceNow, Leidos, Leeds Building Society, DanskeBank and many others subscribe their employees to itSMF membership is to help them distinguish between the hype and the truly applicable approaches and technologies in their organisations. And that’s difficult to achieve, unless you speak to your peers across the ITSM world and share your experience, knowledge, and challenges.  

However, this only works if the members understand the value, attend, and apply the knowledge in the real world. If cross-organisational peer engagement and education are not part of your professional development plan, and you’re ‘putting out fires’ day in, day out, how will you be able to make time for it?  

This is where we get to the very core of the challenge. You can provide the best content in the world, meet-ups, incredible conferences, and truck-loads of value, but if organisations are not encouraging employees to access and utilise it, to drive peer-to-peer engagement, they are robbing themselves of ways to accelerate their internal transformations. 

Employees require a third-person point of view to reflect, evaluate, and continuously improve the organisation as well as themselves. Otherwise, the organisation is risking that the on-average 70% budget investment they make (in people and enabling them to do their job), is at risk. Lately, few topics have been as relevant as mental health, burnouts, feeling lost and unappreciated, often stemming from simply pushing the cogs of the corporate machines too hard for too long without a break. Is that not the key value of organisations like itSMF? Making people feel involved, appreciated, heard, progressing, informed…and – well – not alone. Take a breath, away from the daily grind, whilst learning and sharing. 

The relevant content is likely there – but how do you as an individual make the most out of it? 

  • Speak to your manager about your personal ambitions 
  • Understand how engaging in the Forum will help you drive business transformation 
  • Make it part of your career development plan and KPIs 
  • Ring-fence time for in your calendar for events 
  • Ring-fence time for your education 
  • Apply learnings in your environment 
  • Showcase ROI to secure your membership for the following years

To summarise, is your time and money worth the investment? As always – it depends. Would your organisation truly support you in getting as much out of it as possible? Would you be keen to progress in your career, meet more of your peers, share knowledge, best practices, challenges, and learn? 

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