What is ITIL®?

Since its inception, ITIL has become the world’s leading framework for controlling, coordinating and managing services. It is an internationally recognized, manufacturer-independent collection of Best Practices. ITIL can significantly increase the efficiency and quality of services and service organizations, which allows customers to benefit from consistent or even better services.

This is made possible by a process-based approach that encompasses numerous stages, from the service provider’s strategy and the inclusion of customer requirements to operation and continuous improvement.

Best practices wanted: Thus ITIL was born

ITIL was developed in the UK in the 1980s. With the growing influence of information technology on all sectors, IT spending rose — as it did in the British state. Here, the political order was shaped by Prime Minister Margret Thatcher and her neoliberal economic policies (Thatcherism). Her unbending attitude, especially towards socialists, earned her the nickname the “Iron Lady”.

She cut the budget for social services, subsidies and spending on education and environmental protection. The influence of the state on the economy in almost all sectors was reduced and the power of the trade unions was curtailed. With an iron fist, Thatcher rehabilitated the outdated British industry through rigorous downsizing. In this context, the IT efficiency of government agencies had to be increased as well in order to reduce costs.

Tried-and-tested, sensible standard procedures had to be found for IT operations. And so Skinner and Stewart from the Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA) developed a workable Set of Best Practices. In 1986, these still had the “Government Information Technology Infrastructure Management Method” working title with the unpronounceable abbreviation — GITIMM. Since ITIL was not really a method, the framework was later renamed “IT Infrastructure Library”, or ITIL for short. The collection of subject-related books describing ITIL became the namesake. The fact that the “G” for “Government” was casually dropped in the course of the renaming is probably one of the reasons why the framework was also able to establish itself outside the authorities. Nevertheless, ITIL remains true to its roots: Today, the trademark belongs to AXELOS, a joint venture between the CAPITA Group and the Cabinet Office.

Switching to ITIL 4: Ready for the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Today, ITIL is considered the worldwide service management industry standard for all service organizations, e.g. IT, Marketing, HR, After-Sales, and Field and Facility Management. Extensive updates contribute to this as well. The last framework optimization took place in 2019. Led by the community and industry, experts around the world — including 150 content writers, reviewers and IT industry personnel — implemented the improvements. In addition, the ITIL Development Group was founded, which currently has more than 2,000 members.

The name of the new ITIL Version 4 refers to the challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The entire value chain is always in mind since industrialization today focuses much more on the intelligent networking of all the elements involved than on machines, systems and energy. ITIL 4 provides a comprehensive guide to managing information technology in the modern, digital service world. In particular, the framework takes into account the fast-paced, complex environment we live in as well as new agile ways of working and practices. As a result, ITIL 4 is not only aimed at ITSM professionals but also appeals to a wide range of professionals in all areas of digital transformation.