The pressure on ITIL's future notches up

Further to my "Is ITIL dead in the water?" blog entry about ISO/IEC 20000 developing a life of its own and the center of gravity moving to the USA, the plot thickens. This press release, released today, reveals another potential threat to ITIL's hegemony:

HDI, ( the world's largest membership association for IT service and support professionals and the premier certification body for the industry, announced today an agreement with Zavata, Inc., a provider of healthcare business process outsourcing (BPO) services and technical help desk outsourcing and certification services. The agreement grants HDI exclusive license for the education and certification curriculum, online knowledge base and Mindshare resources of STI Knowledge, a division of Zavata.

The combination of expertise from HDI and STI Knowledge will result in the industry’s largest centralized repository for IT service and support best practices, industry benchmarks, training and certification. HDI will incorporate the best practices of both companies by creating a combined curriculum utilizing HDI’s open standards and the STI best practices. HDI’s training and certification programs are built on a set of open, internationally recognized standards, determined by an independent committee of global industry experts. STI Knowledge’s certification courses are focused on delivering leading edge curriculums, engaging students and fostering a collaborative learning environment. IT service and support professionals will now have a single industry recognized certification source encompassing all career levels from entry level support to support center director

To me, it sounds like a potential ITIL competitor.

My first skeptical response to this initiative is that it sounds (based solely on the usual obfuscation and hype of a press release) too much like ITIL.

In order for ITIL or HDI to survive, I think there are some fundamentals they both need to address. I've mentioned one, ISO/IEC 20000, already. There are others we will discuss in upcoming blog entries: as the world changes, the way these bodies of knowledge accept input, evolve, and disseminate needs to change or they will become extinct.


ISO20000 - where will it make a real difference

I don't know about you guys, but I think ISO20000 will be a good thing in one area - outsourcing. It is questionable about the value in "aligning" an internal IT department to ISO20000, but there are often political reasons for doing so.

If you have outsource suppliers however, it is different as my understanding is that ISO20000 requires the organisation to document its management processes and have the evidence available. Outsourcing the management of your key systems or IT services is a big risk so one way to minmise the risk both on transition and long term is to deal with suppliers that will deliver services using an ISO20000 framework.

My personal experience is that many outsourcers (also known as service providers) will not spend money developing or improving their management controls unless there is a good reason - because a customer wants it. The customer value is obvious - customers might be billed accurately for services, problems are not hidden from the customer (in case penalties are invoked), a record of all incidents and fix times is actually kept (rather than just the easy ones). When I've come across multi-party outsourcing (WAN, desktop, mainframe all separate suppliers) the tension and games that are played often revolve around controlling access to information. If ISO20000 becomes a common factor, at least the language is the same and an independent auditor saves the customer having to be more expert than the experts.

Its still early days as ISO20000 isn't a year old yet, but as many UK government organisations are specifying ISO20000 in outsource contracts, it will become significant.

On a positive side for the outsourcers. Those that are well managed and coordinate their offering around customers requirements should see ISO20000 as a way to get their value across without having to educate customers in management practices. As well provide consistency with all the changes that happen in any IT organisation.

It would be interesting to track on itskeptic who fails an ISO20000 audit. A supplier failing on its management processes would be embarrassing... would you want your systems managed by them?

ISO20000 is targeted at outsourcers

IMHO, ISO20000 is targeted at outsourcers. As you allude, I struggle to see the value for other organisations.

And some of the most enthusuastic embracers of ISO20000 will be the Indians, as they have been with CMM, ISO900x etc.

ITIL & ISO20000

I can't see how the HDI will compete with ITIL, it only looks at Service desk and support and ITIL is about far more than that. It seems a common misconception that IT is support orientatated, management of IT is just as important. The whole ISO20000 thing is interesting, I don't believe it will follow the path as ITIL as its an accreditation and ITIL is a philosophy. Albeit both are far too wooly with grey areas and overlap - I was expecting far more from ITIL v3

Competition for ITIL?

Good day Skeptic,

I hope all is well since our last discussion. My first reaction to this post was, "Who the heck are HDI and Zavata and why don't I know about them?" So I checked them both out. In short, they're minor players with very little known influence at a large enterprise scale. I asked decision makers in multiple large firms and no one has heard of either of them.

As much as the article you posted sounds like competition for ITIL, I think it has a long way to go before it can become viable competition. Many decision makers I speak with, in the Americas (which is a late adoptor of ITIL) have at least heard of it and understands it. No one I speak with seems to know anything at all about HDI or Zavata.

I do agree with your assessment that ISO20000 seems to slowly be taking shape but no matter who I speak with in the states, no one knows about it at all. If it does take root, like ITIL, ISO20000 will have to start a slow growth overseas and take it's place in the US only after many years of being fostered by other countries.

Anyhow, this leaves me with nothing but ITIL for now, which seems to only be starting in the US. Remember that this, like all fads will eventually be replaced by something else. Remember the days of RUP, of MSF, of MOF, of Six Sigma, of SDLC, of Extreme Programming, etc.? They all come and go. However, I have yet to find a single shop (and not to claim that I've been anywhere near all shops) that claims to use any of those best practices who actually follow any one of them to the letter. More realistically, these organizations seem to use these fads to create movement and change, within their own organizations. Not necessarily a bad thing. I believe that the next fad will come and replace ITIL, just like Extreme Programming came in and replaced RUP... and just like Agile programming came in and replaced Extreme Programming, etc.

Fundamentally, it doesn't matter which best practice you implement, since not a single one of them impacts your competitiveness. It just matters that you have a well-known and repeatable set of processes, policies, and standards, that your enterprise is constantly working to improve upon. In the end, common sense rules when running your enterprise. Organizations that work like a team by knowing their responsibilities, roles, policies, standards, and guidelines work more like an assembly line and typically produce more than organizations that do not. This seems to have been proven over and over again and doesn't seem to be fading away, at all.

Anyhow, ITIL will most likely still hold and grow for the next few years, since the US is just starting with it. It will take that long for the next fad to establish itself as a replacement.

I hope this helps and have a great day.


Frank Guerino
CEO & Founder
ITIL On-Demand

I beg to differ on this one.

Hi Frank

I beg to differ on this one.

How many people in the USA had heard of OGC or itSMF or ITIL three years ago? ISO20000 will do the same, and HDI could too.

HDI are a big organisation in the call-centre world. Kind of on their last legs if you ask me, and badly missed the ITIL bus. But big enough to recoup and attack with a competitive initiative Right now they are much too "me too" but if they pick up on trends that ITIl is missing and leapfrog ahaed they will be dangerous and within a few years too.

I discussed fads a while ago, and came to the conclusion that Service Management is not a fad, it is a fundamental sea-change, a "noo paradigm" as your country-men would say. I think it is much more important than all those development fads you listed. I wasn't sure ITIL is a fad, though I'm starting to wonder. If it is, then the accelerating rates of change mean that a new fad like ISO20000 or HDI could throw things into confusion before ITIL has had time to complete its Hype Cycle.

And I very strongly believe that implementing best practice can impact competitiveness: negatively. I think an over-blown best practice project can do much damage by wasting and diverting resources that would be better spent on doing something that advanced competitiveness. To stand still is to go backwards.

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