Last week’s ITSMF Czech Republic conference, held online for the first time, had several trendlines that were shared among many of its speakers. Those themes included the effect of the pandemic on accelerating digital transformation, understanding what’s new in the ITIL4 standard and the proper role of top IT managers in companies.

There was wide agreement that the coronavirus pandemic has radically accelerated the push toward digital transformation in companies, and speakers agreed that even if the virus is brought under control, it will be near impossible for companies to go back to the pre-covid status quo.

The pandemic has accelerated the rate of change massively. This means your strategic planning cycles will shorten,” ITIL4 expert David Cannon said in his keynote. “I don’t know a company with a strategic cycle longer than a year or six months,” he said.

MIT Sloan School of Management Senior Lecturer and keynote speaker George Westerman had a similar message.

From a personal side, it’s terrible, and from a business side it’s terrible as well. Covid has made our companies adapt. There was a joke a while back: Who led the digital transformation of your company? A) CEO, B) CTO, C) Covid-19.

In my university, remote teaching before covid was something interesting,” Westerman said. “Now it’s something that’s necessary…One question we need to ask: We changed quickly, but did we change well? The first thing to think about is how you can rethink your business for the digital age. Covid has unfrozen the way people think and you can take advantage of this,” Westerman said.

Jan Zadák, until recently one of the highest-ranking Czech managers in the world, had a similar message.

Covid is a huge accelerator because it touches on all the areas we have talked about. We have to use this and learn from it. We have to create new sales channels, new business models and the potential we have in our employees.”

The pandemic also affected the preparation of books on the ITIL4 standard, ITIL Lead Architect Roman Zhuravlev said.

Like everything, the publications were greatly affected by the pandemic,” he said. “But it forced us to look at how ITIL4 can deal with a time of uncertainty.

ITIL4 was discussed in several sessions. ITIL expert Paul Wilkinson said that he often uses the Service Value System model to show how it fits together in a holistic view.

The most important view is value. Most companies don’t know what value looks like. There are so many conflicting demands being thrown at us,” he said.

ITIL4 should be part of a larger, holistic model, one that combines several practices such as IT4IT, DevOps, SAFe, Scrum, SRE and TOGAF to create a digital management capability, said  IT4IT Forum Chair Rob Akershoek said in his talk.

It’s really about an end to end view of how things can be connected,” Akershoek said. “Most organizations are not there yet. Creating a bigger picture is about getting these pieces together, identifying key owners and then the value streams from there,” he added.

Digital transformation has to be led by the CIO together with the CEO, several speakers agreed at a panel on the topic. 

I’ve talked to a lot of IT people who said digital is fast but our IT department is slow,” Westerman said. “And that the only way to solve things is to get around the IT department. The role of the CIO is to lead that transformation,” Westerman said.

Everybody says the CIO has to be in the boardroom,” Wilkinson said. “One company had their ITIL managers become business relationship managers. And then they got better in touch with the business’s work, and they went back and innovated based on what they saw. And the CIO got into the boardroom.

Between digital and covid, this is the time to step up and be more strategic,” Westerman added. “Every business wants to be more agile. Use this opportunity to do that, because if you don’t, they’ll find someone who can.

GuideVision is a proud sponsor of the itSMF Czech Republic conference.


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