Is IT4IT the next threat to the IT Management market?

AAEAAQAAAAAAAALeAAAAJGU3ODBlNTE1LWY3OTItNDVmMy05M2VmLTA4NDgwNzU5OTQ1MQThe Open Group has adopted a new product: the IT4IT reference framework. The market seems to be responding well to this new leaf at the IT management tree.

As usual, consultants will be jumping the bandwagon to profit from from this great new opportunity to distinguish themselves from the competition, and to deliver the next big thing in their consultancy portfolio.Customers will simply have to follow up, as they really shouldn’t miss this great opportunity to solve all their problems with this magic stick.


Am I judging too hard? Too cynical? Maybe. But that may help to get the message across.

Why should a warning be in place here? After all:

  • the model works from an architecture point of view….
  • the model embraces popular frameworks and standards…
  • the model is supported by several large, global vendors…
  • the model is owned/managed by a global consortium of 450+ member organizations…

That should be a guarantee for success and value delivered, wouldn’t it? After all, ITIL (with the itSMF and now Axelos as the managing party) and COBIT (managed by ISACA) had the same signature, and these frameworks delivered great value to our world – in the sense that they delivered more value than cost. Haven’t they?

“The cost of ITIL and associated products can be ciphered in the order of 1 trillion dollars.”

And these illustrious frameworks were developed by the best minds available. The leading vendor companies in the market put all their knowedge together to bring us the solution. They provided the authors for the frameworks and the accompanying books. And they will provide the products that will help us solve it in our practice.

By the way – who created that mess? And who profits from it?

Now we have IT4IT. Initially set up by a number of vendors (Accenture, CapGemini, HP, PwC) and some user organizations (Shell a.o.), but then transferred to the Open Group, where it was handled by again some of the global leading consulting organizations and a number of user organizations (read Geoff Harmer’s analysis). The faces of IT4IT now are Accenture, HP, and of course a few customer organizations to avoid the idea of a commercial interest (Shell, Achmea).

Is IT4IT new?

Not really:

  • it adopts Porter’s Value Chain, published in 1985
  • it largely adopts the three-fold model of prof. Maarten Looijen, published in the late 1980’s (until recently a well-hidden asset of Dutch information management theory)
  • it follows the SAME model, documented as early as the mid 1990’s

Then why should this be the magic stick?

  • Because large vendors push it? History has demonstrated clearly that there is a huge risk in that strategy…
  • Because it embraces popular frameworks? If these frameworks have not delivered the solution, then why would you base a new one on the old ones? Adopting the popular frameworks unfortunately is a guarantee that the historical errors in terms of process management are inherited.
  • Because it is process-based? Unfortunatly, IT4IT also finds its roots in a best practice approach, where processes have essentially been ignored and results were based on procedure and work instruction level instead.
  • Because it adopts an architecture starting point? Now there we have an argument… At least this offers the opportunity of a more solid, principle-based approach that could align with any practice. A Service Management Architecture (SMA) has long been missing in this market.

How can we profit from this opportunity….?

  • as usual: be critical, beware of the hype
  • as usual: don’t trust the majority of vendors who want to sell you a solution, unless you have completely understood what they actually offer
  • as usual: find yourself a methodical approach, and then use the offered frameworks as references for your dot on the horizon.

Should you avoid IT4IT? Definitely not. It encompasses some major improvements compared to the ‘old school’ frameworks. I invite everyone to read┬ámore about it.

Should you adopt IT4IT as-is? Definitely not, like you should not adopt any of the other frameworks as-is. IT4IT is not a method (read “What is a method?”). It provides guidance, but you will only be able to achieve your result effectively and efficiently if you have your own management system firmly in place.

Is IT4IT a threat for the IT management market? For vendors, it’s a great new asset to profit from ignorant customers, delivering complexity that generates turn-over. For customers, it’s a great opportunity to adopt some architecture into their management system. For both, it’s a great opportunity to take a step forward towards value delivery, both in consulting and in IT service management. It can get you closer to the long desired business-IT alignment. But I’m afraid only a limited number of vendors and customers will be able to really profit from this – as history has shown so abundantly.