Supporting Digital Transformation with ITSM and ITIL 4


One of the principal challenges for digital transformation in 2019 was, and still is, whether the change affects a whole organization or just the IT department. Successful digital transformation is not merely about an IT revolution – or introducing automation because you think you should – it’s a holistic business change covering entire organizations and working together with the overall business strategy. It requires mixing people, machines, and business processes, with all the challenges this entails. It also requires governance, continuous monitoring, and intervention from the top to ensure that both digital leaders and non-digital leaders are making good decisions about their transformation efforts. It’s why organizations should use ITIL 4 for digital transformation.


According to AXELOS’ latest IT service management (ITSM) Benchmarking Report, which polled more than 1,600 ITSM professionals worldwide, digital transformation happens when organizations consider their customers, both internal and external, and evolve their operations to focus on customer value and experience. And, crucially, this is before seeking technology solutions.


ITSM’s role in digital transformation

What is the role of ITSM in supporting an organization’s journey to digital transformation in 2020 and beyond?


While digital transformation means moving with higher velocity to deliver products and services it needs ITSM to provide governance, stability, and understanding at the business governance level. Here, ITSM practitioners provide organizations with clarity about how services connect and how data is protected while enabling and supporting digital delivery.


However, the ITSM function also needs to show how well it understands business requirements and what value means for the organization and its customers. Within digital transformation initiatives, value is – in the language of ITIL 4 – “co-created” through engagement, interaction, and having the expertise to transform customer demand into valuable services.


Among our survey respondents, almost all (97%) said that ITSM is important to digital transformation. And they’re confident that their companies recognize this, with more than three-quarters (77%) saying that their organizations treat ITSM as an important part of digital transformation. Similarly, 74% agreed that the ITSM function is both sufficiently supported and resourced to deliver on the objectives of digital transformation.


Many ITSM professionals are currently certifying in the new ITIL 4 guidance, which now includes both Foundation and the first two Managing Professional modules.


Our benchmark report asked our respondents how the ITIL framework contributed to successful digital transformation. Based on their ITIL experience, they highlighted:


  • Improved service delivery and customer satisfaction (67%)
  • Keeping IT systems up to date through continual improvement (57%)
  • Creating a more stable service environment to support business changes (53%)
  • Providing better management of business risks, service disruption, or failure (51%)
  • Greater visibility of IT costs and assets (44%)
  • Reduced costs through improved utilization of resources (43%).


With the introduction of ITIL 4, ITSM practitioners now also benefit from a holistic approach to service management via its new operating model and an easier integration with other ways of working such as DevOps, Agile, and Lean. ITIL 4 also includes the Guiding Principles which help IT professionals to adopt and adapt ITIL guidance to their own specific needs and circumstances. In the world of digital transformation, there’s benefit in having a flexible, non-siloed approach.


Thinking of services as a way to co-create value means connecting and collaborating more; becoming an integral part of an organization rather than simply striving to align IT with the business. Creating a clear engagement with business needs and working end-to-end with all stakeholders is essential to value co-creation. ITIL should be adopted for the entire IT function rather than a framework for ITSM alone.


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