High-velocity IT – a way for the digitally-enabled organization

Two IT service management practitioners sat on circular sofa with laptops in office with network of connected round icons spanning the image

An interview with Mark Smalley, author of ITIL® 4 Managing Professional High-velocity IT.

Q: Why should ITIL practitioners see value in the High-velocity IT module within ITIL 4’s Managing Professional certification?

A: The module is aimed at practitioners who are now confronted with a world of more digitally-enabled organizations and who want to become more valuable and remain relevant in this new era.

The way digital technology contributes to enterprises today requires a different way of thinking, working and a new concept of high-velocity IT.

Q: When you say “high-velocity IT”, does that just mean faster?

A: This is not only about velocity (i.e. speed and direction) but also quality. And it goes beyond IT to also encompass operational technology. Ultimately, it’s the application of digital technology for significant business enablement.

One of the key characteristics of digitally-enabled organizations is working with complex adaptive systems. These are by equal measure unpredictable and intrinsically error prone. Consequently, practitioners can’t rely on pre-determined processes; rather, it’s about taking small, experimental steps to see what works. This needs both a mindset change and a decision to move away from traditional root cause analysis.

Q: How does the High-velocity IT module handle digital services and how they support business needs?

A: There are some specific areas of knowledge and skills relating to digital services in the High-Velocity IT module:

  • Digital services: these are directed more at providing services to customers or external users/citizens where digital technology is embedded (e.g. a smart phone app).
  • Digital product lifecycle and the ITIL core operating model: traditional IT is a shared entity for various business functions dictated by Service Level Agreements. Conversely, a digital organization is less centralized and more embedded in specific lines of business, where business and IT people work closely and understand each other’s language much better – in other words, a convergence rather than alignment; where the distinction between business and IT is difficult – and often unhelpful – to make.

Q: How will the module support different ways of working?

A: The module refers extensively to ways of thinking and doing from the DevOps movement plus Lean and Agile communities. ITSM Practitioners will benefit from having an appreciation of how DevOps people and practitioners from other disciplines work.

Also, Software engineering is, increasingly, turning into social engineering. Therefore, IT engineers can’t distance themselves from decisions they make, and ethics needs to become a part of practitioner education; in turn, they are more aware of the possibly unintended consequences of their work.

Q: Why do you think the High-velocity IT module is an important part of ITIL 4 Managing Professional?

A: In a world where digital product-based teams are growing, ITSM practitioners need the skills and knowledge to contribute and remain relevant.

This is about making a choice to “enrol” in the new working world where digitally-enabled professionals operate in a certain way.

Therefore, with practitioners and business colleagues “facing in the same direction”, this means not working in splendid isolation but being involved in discussions with customers and having to become more business savvy, with a better understanding of the customer journey and customer experience.

The High-velocity IT approach in ITIL 4 is a radical re-think of how to operate in ITSM: it means reconstructing service management – by taking it to bits and putting it back together to improve the ways of working.

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