The business community has always thrived on service. The fundamental best practice of serving customers has always been a necessary ingredient to long-term success and a sustainable business model. You simply can’t expect to have staying power – whether you’re serving retail or business customers – and fail to think about their needs (and respond to them!).
As information technology has grown in prominence among business users, many of us became caught in a technology trap where the tech took center stage and it was up to customers to conform. The result has often been problems with cost, efficiency and consistency as technology is adopted due to a less-than-whole perspective on who will use it and why.
Back in the 1980’s, the proliferation of information technology across different departments in the United Kingdom government was occurring at a pace that left things like consistency, relevance, applicability and utility behind. It sounds strange because these are just the sorts of things information technology is supposed to support or even introduce into an environment. But rapid adoption by multiple points within the same entity (e.g. the UK government) makes for a lack of continuity and a resulting jumble of confused and colliding implementations.
Enter ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library), a set of standards first envisioned in the late 1980’s by the Central Computer Telecommunications Agency (a division of the UK government). This blossomed over the years into many volumes of publications covering best practices for IT management, application and service. The focus remained on Service Management; specifically, a perspective on IT management that is centered on the customer’s perspective of IT.
This customer-centered approach represents a major competitive opportunity for businesses in 2011 and beyond. Due to several years of difficult economic conditions the corporate lens is focused on finding ways to save costs and create efficiency, and ITIL certainly offers both of these advantages.
Those with ITIL certification have an opportunity to stand out in this economy. Being able to bring this sort of perspective is a difference maker for those already employed or seeking a new position. Companies large and small are looking for an edge and the user-focused best practices of ITIL make a strong business case for accomplishing real savings in any and all IT investments moving forward. Businesses are already well-educated on the importance of this after several decades of technology deployments with very mixed results.
If you are currently employed and in the position to manage IT services, consider obtaining ITIL certification training that will enable you to get certified. By making a case for efficiency and cost control you may be able to get your employer to pay for it. If you are unemployed and looking to secure a new position that includes IT service management then ITIL certification could be a way to distinguish yourself.
Employed or not, taking a page from the ITIL philosophy on IT management and singing the tune of customer-focused service is sure to be one that resonates with today’s top employers.