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Where is the "Forum" in IT Service Management Forum?

I rarely visit the itSMF US chapter website ( because, frankly, it offers me very little value for my time.
I’ve been wanting to Blog about this for some time now, but hadn’t gotten around to it yet. Listening to the itSMF podcast on the way to work this morning (Connect, Learn, Grow – FM) gave me the impetus I needed.
They discussed on the podcast how they have received some feedback from members that the site is disorganized and difficult to navigate, so they will be doing something about that. Granted, the user interface is not terribly intuitive and is badly in need of redesign – and I do appreciate them listening to their user base and responding – but that’s not nearly enough.

I like that they have member-written white pages.
I like that they have links to LIG’s and SIG’s.
It’s nice that there is access to some vendor-sponsored white pages.

What I find starkly absent, however, in what is supposed to be the “Information Technology Service Management FORUM”, is the voice of the members.

Much of what is prevalent on the site appears, to me, as sales pitch.
Much of the rest is “About Us”.

I am an ITSM professional. What I’m looking for is interaction with others in my position. I’m looking for information regarding approaches to common challenges, industry best practice source, emergence of new perspectives, challenging points of view to push me and, as the itSMF name would imply, a place for open engagement and discussion.
Yes, that is exactly what the LIG’s offer, but why stop there? Why limit the scope of my industry influences to the people in my immediate geographic area, the few who were able to get a white paper published on the site and paying vendors?

In reference to people complaining about ITIL putting out “another version”, I recently posted…

If it were up to me, I’d never even put out hard copies, because the landscape is changing so rapidly, by the time the books come off the presses, they are ready for a refresh. Put it all on the web and keep it in flux, just as the industry is. ITIL could be, and I believe it was intended to be, the unaffiliated, non-profit, unbiased (therefore inherently honest) alternative to the likes of Forrester and Gartner. ITIL should be an open resource of information reflecting current good practices, leading best practices and emerging trends in Information Services Management.
ITIL is where Service Management leaders should turn to see what other Service Management leaders are doing, consider the advice, learn from them, weigh it against their own first-hand experiences and adjust the direction of their institutionalized ITSM practices.
(from: PLEASE Stop Comparing ITIL to ISO20000!)

This, I think, is the gauntlet itSMF USA needs to take up.

We, as a community, need a place to go where we can perform a simple search and be presented with quoted best practice source, recent industry white papers, references to books, references to websites and, most importantly, a place to have a voice and read feedback from other members of the community.
The itSMF website does not feel like a community at all – so why would I bother returning to the site?
The site would be immensely more valuable to me if it was designed to offer what the LIG meetings are intended to offer.

Build a discussion forum where people can start and participate in open conversation, engage in heated debate or simply ask a question.
A section of the forum could be dedicated to posting relevant links to websites.
A section could be for tool reviews.
A section for book reviews.
A section…
Allow the members to offer feedback to each of these posted threads with a simple to use interface that stores the feedback in a simple to quantify & rate data structure (a social object oriented stucture, if you will - thanks for the wonderful term, Chris Dancy).

Let's say I go to the site and search for “Enterprise Knowledge Management”.
My results page displays:

There are 6 open discussions that match my search. I can see how positively (or negatively) the members have rated each discussion. Many of the users have also tagged the discussion with meta-tags, so I can get an idea of the subject and contents of each discussion at a glance.

There are 3 tool reviews that match. Again, rated and meta-tagged by the other members.

The site only has 3 member-written white papers, but we have 6 vendor-written white papers (although 4 of them have been marked as unhelpful spam by 70% of the users).

8 member reviews were written about The CMDB Imperative.

There are several references to book & page numbers from ITIL Core – several of those references have spawned their own discussions.

There is a link to the KCS Wiki Page and a link to the KCS website – both have ongoing discussions attached to them.

I think you get the idea… The itSMF website should, in my view, be a vast knowledge base for the ever-evolving industry information and FORUM to openly engage in discussions about these things with other professionals in the field.
The itSMF website should both reflect the pulse of the industry, and help to steer the direction of the industry.

Until it does, I will be hard-pressed to find any real value in visiting the site.

November 08, 2010, 10:00:17 am

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