A Year in Review for ITIL 4

Posted by on February 13, 2020

Strengths from ITIL 4

“Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday ITIL 4… happy birthday to you!” February 2020 marks 12 months since the release of ITIL 4’s first certification. And wow, what a year it's been!

Since ITIL 4 launched, we've seen amazing advances in business, customer engagement, and the way we provide support. Businesses are more focused now on providing value to their customers than at any other time in history. We are at the forefront of a disruptive and holistic business model change from a shareholder-only focus, where only a select few benefit, to a stakeholder-operational emphasis, where everyone (customers, investors, employees, partners, communities, etc.) benefits. This is apparent with the explosion of value-based activities such as customer experience (CX) and employee experience (EX) that we have been hearing so much about lately.

In a world of acronym-based service management models, ITIL remains relevant. Here's why:

  • ITIL 4 focuses on co-created value
  • ITIL 4 enables digital transformation and enterprise service management (ESM)
  • Integration, collaboration, and relationship management are key to success

To better understand the role ITIL 4 plays in service management, and why it's so very exciting, let's take a look at the forces driving business theory, as well as the many frameworks available.  

What's Behind the Customer-Centric Business Theory Change? 

The shareholder-first business theory model has been the norm in business for more than 100 years (Frederick Taylor, 1890), and while we have seen many iterations of this model since its inception, it’s no real surprise that a change, driven by customer-centricity, was inevitable, especially with technology making the world a “smaller” place and providing more options for customers than ever before.

The result of this change is that we are seeing a lot of competitive positioning from all business levels and organizational units attempting to address the theory itself and the supporting frameworks required to enable value, such as service management. Suffice it to say, these new and disruptive business theories, models, ideas, and frameworks centered around providing more and more value to customers, employees, and all stakeholders are not going away any time soon.

Which Framework Is Right for Your Organization?

What is surprising however, is the speed at which the adoption of change that is occurring and the sheer number of service management model challengers throughout the market today. The “shiny object syndrome” is definitely in full effect these days. From CX to business relationship management (BRM) to DevOps to Agile to LeanIT to Organizational Change Management (OCM) to ITIL 4 to ESM and beyond, many organizations and/or practitioners believe that whatever their specific focus is, is the correct and possibly only one that matters.

The conversations and pitches about these models are championed by passionate and enthusiastic supporters to say the least. So which framework is the right one? In short, all and none. DevOps is not THE answer. Agile is not THE answer. ITIL is not THE answer. Organizational change is not THE answer. No single framework or model is THE answer. The way people and frameworks all work together is THE answer. Collaboration is the key in creating value for customers.

So, which should you adopt and adapt? The real answer is it all depends on your organization. You should use what makes sense for you and to the extent that it makes sense for you. No two companies are the same and no two cultures are the same—therefore, what you use and how you use it should be tailored to your organization, its values and culture, and the customer needs at your company.

Collaboration Is Key

This is where ITIL 4 comes in and really shines. Specifically, ITIL 4’s strength is in its non-prescriptive model that enables co-created value by collaborating with, and for, all stakeholders.

Instead of getting into the differences between previous versions of ITIL and the current ITIL 4, let me summarize in saying that all the best practices and processes from the previous ITIL version are still relevant and included in ITIL 4. A process is still a process and you don’t have to change anything unless it makes sense for you to change it.

ITIL 4 is focused on co-creating value (for customers and providers). It serves as a flexible foundation for integrating various frameworks and approaches, is at the core of service management, and provides language and guidance for how all other frameworks can successfully collaborate to provide this co-created value between the provider and the customer.

ITIL Is at the Core

ITIL 4 officially launched a year ago in February 2019 with its Foundation certification. Since then, other ITIL 4 certifications including Create, Deliver & Support, Drive Stakeholder Value, and Managing Professional have been released with several others due out early to mid-2020. Official ITIL books for all ITIL 4 certifications (current and upcoming) were also released in 2019. There have been thousands of practitioners trained and certified in ITIL 4 this year and the excitement around ITIL 4 does not show any signs of slowing.

What did ITIL 4 promise and has it delivered?

First, let me say, ITIL 4 is not designed as a replacement of ITSM best practices but as an expansion of them. In expanding, ITIL 4 focuses on co-creating value and enabling collaboration between whatever tools, technologies, and frameworks that a company uses or wants to use to enable value for their customers. To that end, ITIL 4 uses all the best practices and processes of ITIL v3 and encourages the interaction, collaboration, and engagement of all other frameworks and best practices as well, while expanding collaborative efforts across and throughout the organization to enable value creation. For example, ITIL 4 not only has ITIL best practices, but describes and encourages the engagements of many other frameworks such as DevOps, Agile, LeanIT, OCM, BRM, and CX across all business units. While many of these other groups and frameworks do not specifically endorse ITIL or each other, it makes sense from a customer and business perspective to collaborate with the things that you already use and have invested in, and which are working in your environment. ITIL 4 has laid out a value framework extremely well and has begun showing the success of collaboration for those organizations adopting/adapting ITIL 4 with their existing frameworks.    

Why is ITIL 4 so exciting? There are many reasons—in brief, ITIL 4 brings together all frameworks to expand beyond IT transformation (where IT is sperate from the business) to enable digital transformation (where IT integrates and in intertwined with the business) and co-creates value between customers and providers (meaning everyone wins). This is necessary to engage ESM efforts in which all service areas throughout the organization (e.g. IT, Human Resources, Finance, Facilities, etc.) are working together to enable value in the most efficient and effective way possible. ESM is important because from a business perspective, it eliminates duplication of effort and expenditures across the organization, aligns the overall outcomes of all business units, increases employee satisfaction, and elevates customer experiences. Bottom line, ESM makes things better, faster, and cheaper.     

ITIL 4 Benefits: 

  • Help businesses navigate the new technological era
  • Provide a practical and flexible basis to support organizations on their journey into the new world of digital transformation
  • Be more relevant to software developers, service management practitioners and businesses
  • Retain many of the core elements of ITIL
  • Support faster quality and value driven delivery for people and organizations

One Year In, ITIL 4 Is More Relevant Than Ever Before

As ITL 4 has crossed the 12 months mark it is clear that ITIL 4 is positively helping enable co-created value, enable organizations for digital transformation and ESM, and is more relevant today than ever before!

We have seen many new business theories, focus changes, and frameworks come and go over the past couple of years. As we look at the world of service management (and all that entails), it is clear that effective collaboration is the key to service management success and organization’s ability to create value and derive benefits. ITIL 4’s strength is in the flexible way that it utilizes and engages processes, ITSM best practices, and other frameworks (DevOps, Agile, LeanIT, OCM, CX, BRM, etc.). ITIL 4 successfully extends all service management frameworks and best practices by being flexible, engaging new and emerging technologies both now and in the future, and adopting and adapting them in a holistic and non-prescriptive way.

Looking at the past year, it is clear that ITIL 4 has successfully enabled us to expand past IT transformation alone to both digital transformation and the beginnings of true ESM across the organization. This customer-centric and co-created value focus has opened the doors to fully enabling value for all stakeholders. I am very excited to see what the next year will bring. It is truly an exciting time to be in the service management world.

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