The IT services industry is currently in a bullish state. With 4.4% global growth expected in 2022, as per NASSCOM, CXOs are expected to increase their technology spending. In addition, 75% of CEOs project a healthy increase in the average IT deal pipeline this year, which translates into compelling opportunities for service providers. IT organizations must adopt the latest and best frameworks for finetuning service delivery in this environment, starting with IT4IT and ITIL4.
Why ITIL4 is a Significant Improvement
ITIL4 is the latest iteration of the once-popular information technology infrastructure library (ITIL) framework. However, in recent years, ITIL has failed to curry favour due to the rise of more agile technologies like the cloud and DevOps, which it could not accommodate. Originally, ITIL was designed to help organizations meet customer expectations, beat the competition, and stay compliant with superior service offerings — as opposed to just bare-bones technology solutions, which was the purview of traditional IT service management (ITSM).
However, the previous versions of ITIL focused primarily on processes and not practices, thereby missing out on a breadth of value generation opportunities. In contrast, ITIL4 embraces new ways of working, such as agile, DevOps, and CI/CD, while holding onto the most effective elements of ITIL. To achieve this, it combines the concept of a service value system (SVS) with excellence in four discrete dimensions:
● Organizations and people
● Information and technology
● Partners and suppliers
● Value streams and processes
In my experience, organizations that can combine ITIL4 principles and assets into their governance practices and guiding principles can achieve continual improvement and value generation.
IT4IT is a possible alternative (or, rather, I would say, a complement) to ITIL4. The Open Group maintains the framework with its consortium of 800+ It vendors and buyers, which has placed much of the framework’s reference architecture in the public domain. It is in direct contrast to ITIL4, which remains primarily governed by the private organization AXELOS.
IT4IT establishes a foundation on which to run virtually any IT service or practice, be it DevOps, agile, or Waterfall. It comprises four distinct value streams, i.e., Plan, Build, Deliver, and Run. Across these streams, the Open Group envisions four pillar activities — strategy to the portfolio, the requirement to deploy, request to fulfil and detect to correct. The ultimate objective is to find efficiencies in IT service lifecycles and provide a “how to” guide for frameworks like ITIL and ITIL4.
The most significant advantage of IT4IT is that most of its reference architecture is publicly available and actionable. So, even if a company failed to be proactive and is currently struggling with complexities, governance issues, etc., IT4IT enables course correction after the fact.
ITIL4 and IT4IT are Complementary When Reimagining IT Service Delivery
When working with CXOs and IT service leaders, I often answer, “which is right for me, ITIL4 or IT4IT?” While you may choose one or the other, the two frameworks are not necessarily unrelated. The benefit of ITIL4 is that it is a mature framework used for several years and across iterations. In addition, it tackles specific IT functions, while IT4IT is process agnostic and focuses on the big picture. As a result, they are most effective for digital transformation when used together or in tandem.
For example, strategy to the portfolio is a critical IT4IT value stream, which can be applied to IT functions such as policies and proposals. To complement this, you can adopt ITIL4 practices such as strategy, portfolio, and relationship management and use the methods and deliverables specified for the same. Similarly, the requirement to deploy a value stream can be augmented by ITIL4’s service design practice.
Given that most companies already have some form or version of ITIL, it makes sense to build on it and add IT4IT as a complement rather than ripping and replacing the entire framework. To achieve this, you can work with an experienced IT strategy advisor, preferably with knowledge of complementary frameworks such as COBIT.
Finding Synergies and the Way Forward
COBIT, short for Control Objectives for Information and Related Technologies, is concerned with the overall scope of an IT organization, while ITIL4 looks at every component process. In addition, IT4IT conceptualizes value streams that can help achieve excellence at both these micro and macro levels.
COBIT 5 is the latest version developed by ISACA, which comprises fundamental driving principles, enabling elements, and reference models. Companies that can arrive at a possible synergy successfully — using the most relevant and best-aligned insights from each framework — will find themselves in a poll position as the IT services sector enters its next phase.
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