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Author  Chris Gallacher

VP & Principal Consultant, Forrester Research and contributing author to ITIL 4 Digital and IT Strategy

November 26, 2021 |

 4 min read

  • Blog
  • Service management
  • Customer engagement
  • Digital transformation
  • Customer needs
  • ITIL

The biggest thing for organizations over the past 12 months has been dealing with uncertainty.

However, though Covid-19 has not gone away, many organizations have been able to continue working and even more productively than before. Demonstrating the ability to adapt has been a strength.

To achieve this, enterprises have had to innovate more quickly, which might mean developing and releasing products that are not perfect but are helping them to remain “in the game”.

The move to home working was a completely new practice for some organizations, for example the US Government. Normally, any such shift would require strict governance and testing. However, high velocity IT was critical to enabling organizations to respond and pivot rapidly with behaviour adapting accordingly.

In this way, the concepts in ITIL 4 Specialist High-velocity IT (HVIT) have come true by accident rather than by intention.

Skipping steps to new concepts

Process-driven businesses can be bureaucratic and it can be a hard sell for IT to incorporate DevOps/Agile methods, particularly for those organizations that are risk averse.

Circumstances have changed and this period offered the chance to explore the value of these approaches. In effect, skipping a few of the usual steps to change tack.

Conversations about ITIL 4 have also changed, particularly about the use of practice areas rather than processes and establishing new ways of thinking rather than having an “IT cookbook” to follow prescriptively.

ITIL 4 HVIT has been critical in this discussion, with companies wanting to operate with Agile methods but unsure about how to marry them with practices and governance. This also requires focus on developing architecture capabilities to support the ability to swiftly integrate new solutions into a broader portfolio of technology.

The impact on staffing

Research that we’ve done at Forrester has shown that the focus on increased productivity with staff working longer hours at home is causing burnout. This will affect employee choices and increase competition for talent.

Consequently, as well as technology enabling remote working, it’s also allowed people to look at other jobs or careers beyond their local market.

Organizations can now attract talent from across the globe and companies’ ability to provide flexible working through technology has become part of the attraction for new employees looking for a different or improved employee experience.

Rapid modernization and digital transformation: the customer focus

The pandemic has helped drive digital transformation and much attention has turned to being prepared for customer demand.

For example, that might include looking at the cost perspective of moving to cloud services and matching platforms to the predicted demand. This is very much about enabling business functions to deliver the services their customers want and to enable competitive advantage.

ITIL 4’s view on this is having the conversation about demand early: thinking about demand as you’re building service solutions to ensure they’re of value and will meet genuine needs. It is also critical to capture how customers perceive value to help understand what will drive and influence demand.

Minding your language in customer experience

Having central IT organizations that are serving other functions/departments and talking about customer experience can be a source of tension.

Someone working in finance or marketing might say: “Don’t call me a customer because if I was, I wouldn’t be buying from you!” The concept of capturing and responding to customer needs in ITIL 4 is right, but it doesn’t always resonate with the internal, end user.

So, it’s vital to get the language right; using ITIL 4 practices as a guide but thinking broadly about the reality on the ground and how it will be received.

Systems that make business sense

The past 12 months has increased organizational agility; bureaucracy around governance has lessened and given everyone a taste of iteration and agile.

Now companies are getting things out a lot quicker, they are right to question the value of previous processes and are turning to value stream mapping to evaluate them to reduce the time to deliver value.

In turn, I think the biggest challenge will be managing technology duplication, for example the risk of technology sprawl and confusion with the raft of collaboration tools now in use.

This means a greater need for control, standardization and oversight of the technology that’s let loose on the user. Therefore, a heightened focus on enterprise architecture should ensure that new technology decisions integrate with existing systems and support business capabilities.