Help Desk Groups Merge to Mend Fences

FRAMINGHAM (07/07/2000) - In February of last year, some disgruntled members of the Help Desk Institute (HDI) broke away from the professional organization to form a new group that would better serve their needs.

But now, after more than a year of confusion within the information technology help desk industry, Colorado Springs-based HDI is joining forces with its splinter group, the Help Desk Professional Association (HDPA). The merger comes with the blessing of HDPA's founder, Ivy Meadors, who will take over as HDI's advisory board chairman, according to Ken Webb, HDI's chief operating officer.

Meadors couldn't be reached for comment.

Many of the groups' members applauded the news.

"What we really want is one organization, not three. Now there are two," said Eugene Ball, former president of the North Carolina chapter of HDI. "I think it will be good for industry."

The merger leaves Help Desk 2000 as the remaining alternative professional organization.

Peter McGarahan, chairman of Help Desk 2000 and former executive director of HDI, said he agrees that joining forces will be best for both HDI's and HDPA's members.

"With Ivy coming over to HDI, I would say the possibilities are stronger than ever for a cohesive agreement for the industry standards," he said.

HDI was founded by Ron Muns in 1989 to provide support for help desk employees.

In 1992, he sold it to New York-based Ziff Davis Inc.

But members weren't happy about the new ownership, complaining that it wasn't providing the services it promised, such as regular publications. So, in March of last year, Muns bought HDI back from Ziff Davis.

"Since that time, they've made a large effort at identifying membership needs and fulfilling them," Ball said.

Sharon Hite, president of HDI's Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, chapter, said she thinks the merger is advantageous because the combined organizations give members more networking opportunities.

But Margo Fullilove, a former chapter president and board member of HDI's Chicago chapter, said she wonders if HDI will be able to best serve members.

For instance, she said, the organization doesn't provide enough information for members who have advanced knowledge of help desk issues. Help desk professionals also need benchmarks, which HDI hasn't been able to provide, Fullilove said.

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