Is the ITIL Buzzword something of the past? Is the ITIL hype finally on the decline?

Aaaah the days of hearing about ITIL in every meeting…… 

They were everywhere!  ITIL enthusiasts, most trained by ITIL evangelists, were virtually in every meeting you attended. Statements like “…but that is not Best Practice…” or (my favourite) “ITIL says…” were often used as a final trump card to win arguments and debates. And before you knew it, IT personnel across the world scrambled up the hierarchic ladder by quoting ITIL, blaming ITIL and sometimes even plagiarising ITIL.

Now of course we would all like to believe that we are excellent at spotting a good initiative, and let it not be said that we do not keep an eye on “What’s HOT in IT today!”.  Most importantly we know the value of obtaining internationally accredited certifications to ensure we don’t get left behind in this constantly changing and competitive industry we call IT. And that’s where it all started – “What do you mean you haven’t done ITIL yet…..”

Well, if you offered anything ITIL related in those days the joy ride on the ITIL buzzword bandwagon was a breeze. And indeed, when Foster-Melliar’s 1st competitor arrived on SA soil, our business did not decrease, it actually increased. In fact, fast track to 2016 and you will find more than 10 companies that offer ITIL related products/services as a major source of their income. But for how long?

The reality is, any fad/buzzword has a limited lifespan and soon the hype starts to dissipate. The fad hunters soon start looking for the next “Big Thing” and a new buzzword for their impressing vocabulary armour.   That is simply the nature of those who try to impress without any real substance. We all know them – they walk amongst us. 

Does that mean that we should scratch the ITIL project from the to-do list? 

Before you make a decision, let me further explore some other nuances that take place when you faced with product hype.

And as it is my field of expertise I want to focus on the certification aspect of the ITIL hype. You see, when you attach an award (certification) to knowledge gained, a number of things take place. Some people learn the theory, write the exams, pass – Objective achieved. The certificate is framed and displayed and an additional line gets added to the CV. For those who want to “name drop” the process is completed and the search for the next big hype starts again. However, there are also those individuals who learn the theory and realise that it is not only words on paper but great information to use and make a difference. They will also learn, pass and get the certificate, and there is nothing wrong with being proud of your achievement. But something else, very important happens, they understand that it’s not just about the piece of paper but rather the assimilation of knowledge that can make them a better person. 

And for those people ITIL will forever remain an important part of their curriculum. The books have changed a number of times and certifications and offerings have changed, but one thing that has remained constant since it first got developed in the 80s was that it contained excellent knowledge on how to manage your IT services.  

So, is ITIL’s status of “buzzword of the times” wearing off? Should we worry that Gartner has listed ITIL as one of the products currently in the “troth of disillusionment”?

Why not do your own research? Ask those who’ve been there. 

But to be sure you can spot the fad chaser who will usually:

Have a number (if not all) of certificates – all on foundation level

Will often name drop more than one best practice acronym in the same breath (ITIL, CoBit, CMMI, etc.)

Might use phrases such as “we’ve been doing ITIL for years now”, “oh ITIL/CoBit/CMMI? Yes, we have implemented/will be implementing that.” 

If you were to ask me, I would tell you that I believe every IT employee should read and learn about how ITIL approaches delivering IT as a service. I would tell you that if you want to be good at your new management position within IT, you should absolutely study more about IT Service Management and that ITIL certifications is an absolute must. I would tell you that those who have taken ITIL’s advice and used it to improve services have been very successful and are currently making enormous impacts in the IT industry. 

I would tell you that I’m glad ITIL is losing its hype status, because I’m looking forward to sharing ITIl’s advice with individuals who want to make a difference. I’m looking forward to seeing the new ITIL student who cares about making a difference to their customer and not just impress the auditor. I’m looking forward to being a significant contributor in the grooming of well-rounded and successful CIOs and IT Managers.

I’m looking forward to seeing you on my next ITIL course….

Author: Madeleine Du Toit

Title: Service & Governance Specialist at Foster-Melliar



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