ITIL really is over the top of the hype curve

A couple of years ago I wrote about how ITIL was heading for the top of the Gartner Hype Curve . I feel it is now deep into the "Trough of Disillusionment" .

There are bellwethers everywhere. The latest is this blog post from one of the best ITSM bloggers around, a newbie to the blogosphere "psychitsm" Peter Johnson. I agree with Peter that ITIL is in decline but not that it will necessarily be the "slow death" of ITIL. If it follows the hype curve it will have a minor resurgence to settle down in mediocrity as a useful tool among several. So the decline is in hysterical following of hype, not necessarily in the ITIL core industry.

On the other hand I think Castle ITIL is also damaging the core through lack of transparency, governance and due process, so Peter may turn out to be right about the slow death of ITIL after all.

I'm amused to note I first started this blog post you're reading exactly a year ago but never finished it (like over 40 others in my queue). Back then I called ITIL "over the hump of the hype curve and hurtling down like Calvin on his toboggan". Now we're really into the trough, I guess like Calvin face down in a creek. For the record, a year ago I picked out these signs:

Three headlines in a row on ITSM Watch, a usually upbeat source (even if they do occasionally publish my diatribes):

  • New ITIL Adoption Slowing: A new report shows that companies are less inclined to embark on ITIL
  • Defending ITIL’s Value: ITIL is on the verge of being labeled a fad
  • ITIL/ITSM Governance Lacking: Survey finds most organizations do not define, implement or enforce ITSM governance

On LinkedIn discussion boards, there are so many nay-sayers Juan Jimenez is driven to remark "Sounds like Wally World has a special on Devil's Advocate costumes... "

Even Aiden Lawes has joined the skeptical ranks - crowded ranks too: lots of people skepticking these day about ITIL!

Look at the Google Trend.

I'm not saying the cash registers are slowing down, just that the zeitgeist is turning gloomy.

Why are you all looking at me like that? I like to think I called it early (four years ago in fact), but I don't flatter myself that I was a factor.


ITIL barely mentioned

It's not just the hysterical anti-ITSM faction (looking at you Stevie) who are deep in the "Trough of Disillusionment" with ITIL. Even ITSM proponents are over it

[At] the SDI Conference ... the lack of mentions of ITIL are deafening. At the time of writing, not once have I had a conversation, or attended a session, that even mentioned ITIL, let alone debated its fine details...

Twitter... is not going to transform IT services to the level that justifies the hype [I agree]. However, at least it gives us something to talk about other than ITIL.

Its Security thats hot.

With all the breaches, hacks and leaks, the headlines are all about Security.
That is where the attention lies. Working with clients that have well established operational processes.
Now we are building on those for Security. People may not talk ITIL anymore cause its part of how they do business.

I still like V2 Operational Management for the security team approach. But must say that CSI and Event Management are lending a great support in discussions. Talk to how to classify security monitors and logs using event management workflow. Its a cool tool.

I think ITIL may have reached a critical point where its adaptabke to situations without the resistance.

2 canadian cents contribution.

Number of certifications going down

I had a discussion somewhere here (sorry about my lousy memory, but I cannot find the conversation) about the decreasing growth numbers of ITIL training. Now I have seen 2009 numbers (actually only the 3 first quarters but I extrapolated). Last year the number of Foundation exams decreased for the first time. The last three growth numbers are +49%, +18% and -15%. It seems that V3 growth does not offset V2 decrease. I would not be suprised if 2010 will bring at least -30% drop.

Another interesting detail in the numbers is the failure of advanced V3 training. There were in 2009 only about 1.100 students per Intermediate course GLOBALLY compared to 3.700 per V2 Manager course (SS or SD). The V3 training schema clearly does not work.


shift from classroom to online

Also there is a big shift from classroom to online training. Check out the prices of the big classroom vendors - reportedly dropping

Online is a good thing

Isn't the fact that courses are now available online and via CBT just another indication of the market penetration?
ITIL has passed through the valley of discontent and carried into public awareness.

Typical guns and butter finanancial graph. The early adopters with deep pockets were willing to pay more. As the high end of the market drops off, the cost per unit drops to capture the next market segment.
Commoditization happens because it has now become routine. "Everybody can now access ITIL foundations"
However, the in depth learning and concepts require the expertise, knowledge and leadership that is provided by classroom formats. (Virtual or in person)

Economics dictate that certain spending fall off during tighter times. Check out MBA course enrolments as a comparison. Discretionary spending is... discretionary. Why pay for a course when I can get the same information online for free / or close to it. (There is an interesting discussion in Linked In about the value of certifications vs knowledge and practical experience.)
My opinion around this is that Service Management, ITIL. Cobit and process approaches give you tools to recognize what you know and what you don't know. They further provide a platform to research and improve your abilities. Either as a self directed whole life learner, or as a student practitioner.

Either way, Service Management provides a a fun? interesting way to see the world and share ideas and experience.

online training

I never said online training is a bad thing :)

The other benefit you didn't mention is accessibility (physical and financial) for remote and less affluent people to get certified.

ITIL is goind down

Personally, i never thought of ITIL as 10 GOD's commands. Even though it supposed to be guidance for IT managers, etc..., i was surprised how many of those tried to copy/paste every sentence without even thinking what's it all about. Second most arguing thematic was delegating names for particular things (is it processes, services, functions, systems etc,etc).

Never the less, even if education and big vendors are chasing something new, i doubt that ITIL in proper heads/hands cant be used even 10 years from now.

If something gave me even 5% improvement since yesterday, its cool in my book. And i beliave that ITIL, same as many others "fads" before it, have wisdom whose segments can be used for lot longer time then life time of a "cult" (as sceptic mentioned somewhere) which follow.


Skep - I agree and disagree

Skep - I agree and disagree with the sentiment.

Stampeding towards the ITIL (to quote from Monty Python), "Implementing ITIL" as a means to itself and to keep up with the Joneses or because you got suckered by a snake oil salesman is usually a waste of money, doesn't work anyway etc etc. Agree.

Dismissing common language and a framework out of hand because many people are swept up in the hysteria. Disagree.

But are any of the below things fundamentally bad ideas?
* Agreeing what you will do and meeting your promise?
* Learn from your mistakes.
* Giving service in a consistent manner at the quality/price the customer is willing to pay?
* Making sure you don't run out and don't have unnecessary surplus?
* Making sure you don't make things worse when you try to do new or different services?
* Deciding what is the best bang for your buck and focusing on those things?
* Getting a fair day's pay for a fair days service?
* Making the relationship between customer, supplier, user clearer?

They're all things that are somewhere in the books. They're all basic business principles.

Sure plenty of people take ITIL too bloody literally from time to time but I think that given the relative immaturity of the IT industry, ITIL has done some good for many who have used concepts from the books pragmatically.

my 20cents

I'm an ITIL fan

When have I ever dismissed ITIL out of hand? I'm a fan. it pays my bills.


* it's a cult. the world has gone mad.
* it is an unseemly money-grubbing industry that compares poorly with other professional IP systems
* ITIL lacks governance
* there is much debate about whether V3 was actually what the world wanted or needed
* the books have faults that folks should be aware of
* the books make some assertions which are not necessarily proven or generally agreed - folks should know that too

Do I throw the baby out with the bathwater? I think not. there are plenty of posts on this blog that make positive contributions to ITIL and/or sing the praises of ITSM.

I guess we're violently agreeing

Well, maybe not that violently.

Not meaning to lump you in with the money grabbers, but your book "Owning ITIL" should be part of the ITIL syllabus. Talk about a dose of reality check.

The "is ITIL dying/dead" thing got me thinking. Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) was the flavour of the month (well, actually the hysteria lasted about 5 years). When Gartner first published the "true" cost of a PC back in the 1990s, vendors scrambled to TCO-ify their products, services companies trained people up as "TCO Experts" and paid USD$20k for an annual licence of Gartner TCO Manager software. Gartner ran conferences - I remember the size of a rack of bbq ribs in Dallas in 1999 when attending a TCO conference. I drank the coolaid at the time got certified and conducted probably 30 TCO asessments.
But what that point in time hype brought was actually some valuable things:
* A chart of accounts - list of cost buckets that included HW, SW, consumption, labour and the immortal "soft costs" of end user operations and "productivity".
* Some basic ROI smarts, NPVs, paybacks etc
* Some "science" around cause and effect of process automation, eg: automate software distribution = reduce desktop engineer costs
* Some experience being torn apart by sceptical CFOs.

Anyway, when the dot.con bubble came along TCO was largely forgotten, or at least it was off the radar when people got greedy and conveniently forgot about basic fiscal responsibility. Of course ITIL had been banging on about Financial Management for IT Services for years, but the Finance & Accounting professions have been doing this since the dawn of time.

I remember being very unpopular when I questioned whether my employer should be selling loads of Cisco kit to a new customer who didn't seem to have much of a viable (e)business model. Was it ethical to sell kit that they probably would never use? Was it good business to sign-up companies for 3 year support models where we only turned a profit in years 2-3 and they might not be around in 18 months time? (and they weren't)

Fast forward to the mid '000s and the rage became selective sourcing and managing relationships better. Ever since Venus & Mars tried to get along this has been essential to happiness. Some good ideas that went out of vogue, or maybe they're just assumed as tickets to the dance now.

Nowadays it is cloud computing. Honestly, I wonder whether cloud computing is just an excuse for a buyer to abrogate themselves of any risks - hide it up in the cloud and she'll be right mate.

So it is pretty clear to me. Whether you're internal ICT or a customer/supplier dynamic, some good comes out of almost every fad.

Lately I've been thinking that the two best "new" concepts out of v3 are Portfolio Mgt and Catalogue. They could be paraphrased as "make good business decisions" and "make clear promises and be easy to access". I'm certain that the "Business & IT alignment" conundrum can be pretty easily fixed or at least made better by having a business services catalogue for the business and a technical services catalogue for IT and linking the two at some level. No you don't need to spend bazillions on a CMDB with every CI and every attribute under the sun.

Of course SPM and Catalogue are not new, but if they've got a name now that is loosely understood my more people than not (which is not the case yet), they will endure.

If one bundles up the best from the fads:
* TCO provides a base for financial measurement - but in the Skep's terms - beware crap factoids.
* Relationship Mgt = tell the truth, live good values, collaborate.
* Cloud computing = consolidate, standardise, make some architectural decisions, balance risk/cost/quality
* SPM & Catalogue = builds on TCO but also rolls in some basic marketing fundamentals.
Product → Solution
Promotion → Information
Price → Value
Placement → Access

So my point is that the IT industry is simply adopting more and more general business management disciplines.
It is slowly growing up. The good stuff will endure. The good stuff in ITIL will endure.
The naive will still get suckered, the greedy will sometimes prosper and leave a trail of destruction behind them.

Everyone should read the preceding comment

Great post Tom. We agree.

One point about "the Business & IT alignment conundrum can be pretty easily fixed or at least made better by having a business services catalogue for the business and a technical services catalogue for IT and linking the two at some level". My simple suggestion (which gets regularly howled down by the geeks) for the link is that the BSC and TSC have the same services in them. They are just different views of the same services. there is no such thing as a "technical service". Call me naive but isn't that was service management is supposed to be about?

perhaps a matter of semantics

Yep - the Business & Technical catalogues can easily be different sides of the same coin. It is probably more a question of what is left out of the business one - more details around what happens under the covers.

But we're on much the same page.

I'm writing one at the moment. It is a slog.

must be

the Business & Technical catalogues "can easily be " different sides of the same coin? Must be! That's the whole point - one which ITIL V3 makes so weakly (or not at all) that many don't get it. If a customer can't see it, it isn't a service, whatever catalogue it is in.

the whole point is for tech and business to talk about the SAME services - that IS the linkage, the alignment, the integration...whatever buzzword


defining services is all a matter of perspective

John M. Worthington
MyServiceMonitor, LLC

V2 and Slope of Enlightenment

Few thoughts on this:
First, we see new technology merging all the time. Some never make it into the mainstream because individuals just cannot see the value. (Anyone ever buy those TV glasses?) Like technology , the parts of ITIL that add value are well past the triugh of disillusionment.... Think back 10-15 years and consider the following:
1) Incidents, Change Request, SLA... All built into tools now, work flows come out of the box. even the concept of a help desk was new in 1990. There is more functionality now, and vendors build the better mousetraps when they see a market.
2) ISO20000 a framework to manage IT directly linked to the core of ITIL.
3) Colleges in Canada have built ITIL concepts into their computer science courses. The interns coming into positions know the core concepts and language without knowing its called ITIL.
I think that the concepts that are not adding value are stuck in the mud, the rest get taken up and become part of the furniture.

Sidebar, re: Indonesia, ITIL makes them grin in classes in Singapore and KL.... We spelled it out I.T.I.L.
Wonder what Cobit means?

I'd add that there is also a

I'd add that there is also a new body of topics quickly climbing the early peak that can be traced back to ITIL. Few folks were discussing Service Portfolio Management, for example, prior to v3. Service Catalogs, in several archetypal forms, and their linkages to the Financial Management is another hot topic.

Heck, even the shift in focus from process to service was rather light prior to 2007.


According to Google Trends, ITIL's hottest buzz is in Indonesia. Odd, don't you think? Hold on, let me perform a bit of due diligence before making broad assertions....

Ah, mystery solved. Itil is the Indonesian word for clitoris.

old news

Yes. old news sorry

makes for an interesting twitter feed on the search for itil too...

Dose of reality for ITIL and any other framework

The economic perfect storm has the disinfecting effect of sunlight for any ITSM/ITIL styles initiatives, and especially 'projects'. It seems quite reasonable to me that management should ask 'whats in it for me/us' when such a leap of faith is proposed. When the economy is thumping along merrily these types of stealth ambitions can easily be started and hidden. Now they find themselves walking around management meetings like the King in the proverbial 'Emperors New Clothes' story - naked.

What is most galling for me is the crass, useless and often feeble attempt by so many that carry an ITIL or PMP designation to offer a plausible business case for embarking on such a journey - ITSM. Surely (stop calling me Shirley), now is the time for increased efficiency through better practices. So why are so many initiatives being shelved and canned? Why are so many of the experts still suggesting management adopt a 'field of dreams' strategy (build it and benefit will come), with long term efforts that are a black hole for critical resources and funds.

Really - has anyone costed out a service catalog effort? Sure - it will return dividends - if you can get the back office workflows in place to process requests for service emanating from an 'actionable catalog'. See - benefit is there but it follows months of an upfront effort to package what IT does for customers in the form of responding to service requests that are bundled as part of service... phew...

Service management is a must do from a customer perspective! It should be a self funding and self perpetuating initiative that helps return the focus of the IT organization to the interests of the customer. Anything different, such as a focus on process improvement in the absence of a defined effect on customer satisfaction or results, deserves being paused, even deleted from the project schedule - until funds and resources become more available.

If ITSM a la ITIL is so cool, so good for us all - where are the case studies from the fanzine that endorse the lauded benefits? More thoughts and rough rider verbiage on this at my own blog. Perhaps any downturn in interest in frameworks such as ITIL by IT management is a result of the feeling the ROI is just not that obvious, and as many have said to me - it looks like it will add to the operational cost through extra bureaucracy at the outset, and reduce agility, rather than improve it...

We need more experts to speak to this! Perhaps this is where OGC is going with their recent call and commissioning of a 'Service Value Management' book and credential....

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