Business-IT Integration, ITILv3 and Cultural Transformations – Part I

In the last decade or so, we all have witnessed the business enterprise evolutions caused by the emergence of the Internet and IT. Immediately following the .com bubble burst, business enterprises have, justifiably, gone through the state of denial (IT is necessary evil, IT is not important, IT is back-office, and so on) by attempting to outsource as much of IT as possible. When companies like ebay.com, amazon.com, and many others demonstrated how IT and the Internet have enabled these business enterprises to emerge as leaders in their respective verticals, others, that were previously in denial, have started realizing that IT could truly enable these business enterprises to capture new markets, to enter new regions, to offer value-add services / products to their end customers, to be more profitable, to generate greater wealth for their shareholders, and so on. Proctor and Gamble reported savings of over $500MM through an innovative use of IT and implementation of service management, amazon.com, in these slow times, have shown all the potential to be profitable and to be able to pass through these tough times, and so on. There is an increasing degree of dependencies between the core business processes of business enterprises and capabilities provided by the Internet and IT. As a result of these dependencies, most recently, IT organizations have found themselves under increasing pressures, from the businesses / customers they support, to evolve their respective organizations and to ensure tighter business-IT integration.

ITILv3 most definitely provides a unique set of guidelines that creates a view of how mature IT organizations should be able to provide effective business service management. ITILv3 is unique in a sense that it spans across a wide range of IT industry practices, standards and disciplines to bring all into a larger perspective i.e., business-IT integration. ITILv3 will enable IT organizations to plan and implement their transformations / improvements to achieve business service management. We also understand that business enterprises do evolve and business process evolution is always one of the key components of such evolutions. In order for these evolutions to be efficient and successful, business enterprises continue to depend on and look towards IT to support and enable these evolutions. In such situations, IT organizations are expected to be agile and be able to respond to ever changing business environments and competitive drivers. However, the challenge for lower maturity level (organizational maturity level 2 and lower) IT organizations is that they always find themselves reacting to such business demands and they do so in a way that is not efficient and causes a lot of disruptions e.g., service outages, slow response capability, expensive changes, lack of alignment between the needs and the solution, and so on. In addition, since these IT organizations are largely disconnected from their businesses / customers, they are unable to appreciate and proactively plan to build the right IT capabilities to support and enable business evolutions in a timely manner.

Depending upon the role that IT plays in enabling the core business processes, the rate of IT evolution may be critical to the overall business success and profitability. For some business enterprises, implementing service management may be transformational and embarking upon such a journey may sometimes be more about cultural transformations than any other single factor. It may need major shift in how people think about and manage IT. These shifts may include:

  • IT is for the business and IT is not for IT
  • Targeted technology capabilities investments to maximize business profitability
  • Fire-fighting is not rewarded, pro-active fire-prevention is rewarded
  • We will thrive not just survive, and so on.

Cultural transformation, an aggregate of small behavioral transformations over time, is achieved through:

  • Well-aligned business and IT vision & strategies
  • Clear definition of enterprise architecture standards and governance policies
  • Thoughtful management of changes in people’s attitudes and ways of thinking
  • Careful planning, management and incremental implementations of a range of continual service and service management process improvements
  • Business-IT organizational re-alignments.

To learn more about ITIL, check out Learning Tree’s course, Achieving ITIL Foundation Course.

Ahmad Shuja

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