Handling Permacrisis: The Shift of the ITIL® Ecosystem


As I write this, I’m in between travels from one client to another in New York. In many ways, the city looks exactly like I remember — but something feels different. 

We've faced so many global changes over the past few years — you may be wondering what could possibly be different this year. But that’s precisely it. Nothing is different. It’s clear that there is no end in sight for the constant change and uncertainty – and the constant adjustments that organisations have to make to remain competitive.

"We must be ready for challenges facing the entire ecosystem, and doing so will become the new norm."

For example, I’m currently working with a large financial services client that has completely redefined its entire business operating model as a result of the pandemic. Because of the endless possibilities now available to financial customers online, they are more concerned than ever about the threat of competition. Broadly, the pandemic has drastically changed consumers’ attitudes, preferences, and perceptions toward the virtual world. They have become more open to virtual interaction, information-sharing, and buying. In turn, companies have had no choice but to invest in more training for staff in the areas of technology and communication, among others, because competition in a virtual world is so much fiercer.

Permacrisis: A word I never thought I would be referring to in my career and yet a word that perfectly summarises the situations that many of my clients are now facing. [1]

Over the past year, I have witnessed many clients making last-minute restructures, unplanned layoffs, and recruitment reductions to address unforeseen challenges. I believe that if we had had better access to material and guidance to support us through these uncertain times, we could — and should — have avoided many of these types of reactive actions. Unfortunately, the pandemic was a unique and unpredicted shock that continues to have ripple effects even today. The silver lining is that we will see more guidance on handling uncertainty moving forward.

The impact of the pandemic is just one aspect of the shift we've experienced. Drastic political changes all over the world have caused another shift (if you're in the UK, all you have to do is look at the constant leadership changes last year to see some of what I'm referring to). Additionally, we can't ignore the Ukraine-Russian conflict, which has resulted in one of the most significant surges in pricing for oil and gas in living memory. 

Furthermore, the legacy operating model of supply and demand is more complex than it seems, with a majority of the demand being significantly influenced by all of the change, both locally and globally, which impacts the opportunities organisations leverage. You may argue that demand has always been a variable, but demand has become even more volatile in the last few years, making it a more dangerous concept to manage. More than managing customer expectations is needed, too, because customers are facing the same permacrisis as organisations. As a result, service providers will still face extreme pressures to react and realign where required. 

The ITIL ecosystem, like the world around us, looks very different today too. In 2018, when ITIL4 was initially released, the focus was on all the practices and related processes. Still, since then, the challenges of the recent pandemic, social and political changes, new legislations and the pressures on organisations to become more environmentally friendly have changed the game. As a result, ITIL is beginning to focus more on areas like digital strategy, workforce, and talent management.

For those who may not know, ITIL is a best practice framework that assists organisations in delivering value. The four dimensions – people, technology, suppliers, and value streams – cover all the areas an organisation has to consider in its goal of delivering products and services, which ultimately have a big part to play in genuinely realising the full potential ITIL can provide. The alignment of the four dimensions with PESTLE – a strategic framework for analysing the impact of external factors on risk and opportunity -- ultimately defines the ITIL ecosystem for every organisation.

"It’s clear that there is no end in sight for the constant change and uncertainty – and the constant adjustments that organisations have to make to remain competitive."

This extended period of instability and insecurity (permacrisis) that we’ve been experiencing is now reshaping how organisations update their digital IT strategies. For example, I've witnessed closer alignment between business and IT, the creation of new roles (with alignment to best practices) to ensure this alignment, detailed discussions with suppliers to share universal lessons learned, and increased focus on workforce and talent management – all of this as we also adjust to our new virtual societies. 

In the true spirit of best practices, we need to prepare ourselves for changes in requirements, which doesn't include just business needs. We must be ready for challenges facing the entire ecosystem, and doing so will become the new norm. To learn more about the challenges we’re expecting to face, watch my on-demand webinar, The Shift of the ITIL Ecosystem.

ITIL famously mentions the guiding principle of keeping it simple and practical; I think it's fair to say, for the coming months ahead, nothing will be as simple or as practical as we've planned. However, once stability has arrived, external environments have settled, and the pandemic becomes a topic of the past, then and only then would I expect us to return to our previous norm of a more predictable ITIL ecosystem for many clients. 



[1] Collins English Dictionary. Definition of 'permacrisis'. Copyright © HarperCollins Publishers. Retrieved January 9, 2023.


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Hitesh Patel

Written by Hitesh Patel

Award-Winning ITIL Author, Instructor & Transformation Consultant Hitesh Patel is a world-renowned ITIL trainer and consultant who has helped many international clients successfully adopt ITIL within their organizations.

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