Sign in
  • Blog
  • Agile
  • Value
  • AgileSHIFT

Author  Erika Flora – Founder and CEO, Beyond20 and Lead Editor, ITIL 4 Digital and IT Strategy

January 15, 2021 |

 3 min read

  • Blog
  • Agile
  • Value
  • AgileSHIFT

The pace of change in digital and the challenge of being a sustainable business are more profound than ever.

With companies likely to have an average lifespan today of 20 years compared to 50 years in the 1950s, gone is the idea of being sustainable through sheer size, like HP or IBM.

Organizations used to believe they were the centre of their universe, orbited by customers. That idea has reversed for successful enterprises. Now, it’s about delivering what the customer cares about and observing competitors who don’t fade away.

These changes were already happening, but Covid-19 has really “floored the gas pedal” and upped the intensity. Digital transformation has accelerated overnight and many organizations are only beginning to feel the effects of moving workforces to remote working, brought about by the pandemic.

And, if moving to cloud services, how do organizations keep control of costs, pick the right vendor and ask the right questions in this new world?

Survival versus innovation

The majority of organizations are still responding to events rather than going on the offence; looking forward and being innovative, not just surviving.

Being innovative is coming up with things you’ve not done before. This is a risky and scary place to be and people are often too over-worked and lacking in brain space to step back, talk to customers and look beyond today. In situations like the pandemic we are faced with now, being innovative becomes even harder as organizations must focus on the near-term to keep the business going; and it becomes tough to also make space for creative thinking.

Within this level of upheaval, best practice guidance such as ITIL® 4 Digital and IT Strategy (DITS) offers a number of ways to pivot and support forward-thinking organizations, particularly when thinking about parallel operating models and moving from a focus on survival to one of innovation.

ITIL 4 Digital and IT Strategy: agile, resilience, Lean and continuous improvement

The digital leader needs to have an agile mindset; empowering teams to make decisions rather than expecting every decision to be made at the top.

Consequently, the ITIL 4 guidance can inspire digital leaders with concepts and approaches such as the guiding principle of progress iteratively with feedback, which means breaking down projects into experiments and prototypes to test with customers before deciding to invest fully. In addition, the guidance supports certain cultural behaviours including:

Resilience: Maintaining an outward-in focus/view and having a deep understanding of and frequent interaction with customers. Also termed a strategic ‘customer and market relevance’ approach in Digital and IT Strategy, this will make companies more resilient; moving in the same direction as customers and their shifting needs and not falling behind.

Lean: mapping out value streams – the vital steps to deliver a product/service – is high value work while the rest is mostly waste. This can be tackled via automation, processes and practices to ensure you are lean enough to take on new, additional work.

Continuous improvement: most of the Digital and IT Strategy book was created to reflect the continual improvement process, showing leaders the step-by-step approach to organizational transformation. So, having a compelling digital vision and flexible digital strategy and using retrospectives are examples of how to get better.

While continuous improvement has been “kicked down the road” in some organizations, 2021 will be a very competitive year. While many will remain stuck in survival mode, others will explore new opportunities and race past competitors.

Achieving value co-creation

We can’t have a mentality that customers will just tell us what they need and we will magically create value.

We need to work in partnership, collaboratively, to understand requirements and manage relationships carefully; organizations need to know their customers as well as they know themselves.

To stand a chance of becoming a sustainable business, there needs to be a balance between surviving today and figuring out the long-term improvements and innovation which have to be top of mind every day.

Learn more about ITIL 4 Leader: Digital and IT Strategy.