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ITIL can be an important aid in Digital India, smart cities programmes

ITIL can be an important aid in Digital India, smart cities programmes

The Digital India programme will look to leverage IT to meet its stated objective "to transform India into a digitally-empowered society and knowledge economy".

Arvind Rongala (Head, Global Training Delivery, Invensis Learning) Arvind Rongala (Head, Global Training Delivery, Invensis Learning)

Arvind Rongala (Head, Global Training Delivery, Invensis Learning)
The Digital India programme, an initiative launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in August 2014, will look to leverage IT to meet its stated objective "to transform India into a digitally-empowered society and knowledge economy". The project has begun on a positive note, with several global and Indian organisations showing keen interest in participation. As this initiative would work on a PPP (public-private partnership) model, it requires alignment of technology, infrastructure and qualified professionals for its success. A robust framework for service management that lays down best practices for such an integration of resources is the need of the hour.

ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) is a widely-accepted IT service management approach in both public and private sectors across the globe. ITIL implementation has delivered great results and the methodology is being currently used in many world-renowned companies and public sector organisations such as Microsoft, NASA, P&G, IRS (Internal Revenue Service), HSBC, IBM, HP, Walmart, Target, Citi, Essex City Council, Barclays Bank, Bank of America, Sony, Disney, Boeing, Toyota and others.

Focus of Digital India and ITIL's Suitability as a Best Practice Approach

The Digital India programme aims to provide the much-needed thrust to nine pillars of growth in the country:
1.    Broadband highways
2.    Universal access to mobile connectivity
3.    Public Internet access programme
4.    e-Governance: Reforming government through technology
5.    e-Kranti - Electronic delivery of services
6.    Information for all
7.    Electronics manufacturing
8.    IT for jobs
9.    Early harvest programmes

The 100 smart cities planned as part of the Digital India programme will need robust IT services to get things moving in the right direction. The programme will require large-scale IT infrastructure set up to achieve its objectives. The ITIL framework will be of paramount importance as a methodology that delivers positive outcomes for this endeavour for the Government of India and the IT service enterprises that are a part of the project. The major advantage that ITIL can bring to this project is a customer-centric orientation. The guidance mainly demonstrates that since customers pay a premium for services, they have the right to demand quality services. In the public sector, the customer is the citizen who expects the government to deliver many services.

ITIL Processes

The knowledge of ITIL is divided into five core publications: Service Strategy, Service Design, Service Transition, Service Operation and Continual Service Improvement.

Service Strategy
helps align business and IT strategies. It puts priorities in place, confirms resource allocation and identifies risks.

Service Design stage in the IT service lifecycle takes the service strategy and turns it into a plan for delivering business objectives. This includes the entire IT organisation consisting of both internal and external service providers, process, people and technology.

Service Transition is about creating transition plans, testing services developed from Service Design, controlling risk and managing consequences. This ensures that new or changed services meet the required needs of the business as documented during Service Strategy and Service Design phases.

Service Operation is the stage where the value of the business is realised. As it is the most visible part to the end users, this stage draws a lot more attention, with incident management being a popular improvement activity.

All of the activities in Service Strategy, Service Design, Service Transition and Service Operation are subject to improvement and this is where Continual Service Improvement provides guidance and best practice for incremental and large-scale improvements.

Though technology and processes are key components within IT Service Management (ITSM), the real change has to be effected by people to make the best use of ITSM in an organisation and it starts with training the existing workforce in ITIL. Every successful ITSM transformation in an organisation begins with training the staff or hiring ITIL certified professionals who can bring the change.

Benefits of ITIL for Digital India Project Stakeholders and Participants

ITIL as a concept has found many admirers around the world for its set of best practices and robust framework that cater to the challenges of managing IT. The benefits of the guidance will also be applicable for the enterprises that take part in the Digital India programme:

1.     Improve efficiency: By aligning technology, infrastructure and people, application of ITIL principles can automate standard tasks and apply best practice principles to ITSM processes. The creation of metrics will also improve efficiency.

2.    Reduce IT security exposures: IT security incidents directly impact business revenue and threaten an organisation's reputation. With knowledge of IT security management, ITIL certified workforce can deploy processes which will reduce exposure to IT security threats.

3.    Bring good change management
: Having a thorough understanding of the ITIL framework helps to lay down clear communication channels for release schedules, which in turn helps to introduce new and changed IT services. The risks of change are well planned and managed in a timely fashion to ensure minimal disruption to the business.

4.    Better resource utilisation: Managing demand for resources requires an understanding of business priorities. An ITIL certified manager can help in identifying where resources can be utilised for the best results.

5.    Gain financial control: ITIL best practices will ensure funds are available for planned events. This fosters an environment of control to make sure IT services are used effectively and efficiently.

6.    Minimise disruption in IT services: A disruption or significant business outage can be detrimental to an organisation. The ITIL framework can ensure that alternate service options are in place to mitigate impact of business outages due to various reasons.

7.    Support emerging technologies: Experts advise the implementation of ITIL for emerging technology models like SMAC stack (Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud) and harnessing Big Data. ITIL can be leveraged to garner maximum return on investment (RoI) and align IT Service Management and its processes to organisational business strategy.

8.    Forecast and respond to the demand: ITIL implementation helps the IT department to forecast and respond to the demand for IT services in a cost-effective way. This is done by using techniques such as user profiling, modelling, off-peak pricing and differentiated service levels to provide optimal level of capacity and successfully manage fluctuating demand situations.

9.    Provide better customer service: ITIL ensures customers can use the services wherever they are by using ITIL availability management process, which helps to plan recovery, negate issues relating to service unavailability and manage continual service improvement.

10.    Derive maximum RoI: ITIL helps map customer requirements and deliver services at the right cost and quality. Moreover, it benchmarks the services provided and derives maximum return on investment.

The average age of India's population will be 29 years in 2020. However, industry leaders and hiring managers across the country believe fresh graduates are not industry ready and they lack necessary key skills across various industry sectors. Indeed, the Digital India project itself lays down an objective of providing 50 million jobs once completed in addition to 3 million IT jobs.

With its processes that are designed for practical application, ITIL is a knowledge area that will provide rich dividends for the IT and ITeS sector, both for the success of the Digital India project as well as capitalise on the opportunities that are being created in international business markets.

The author is Head, Global Training Delivery, Invensis Learning