ITIL Global Adoption Rates, Well At Least A Good Indication Of Where It Is At

ITIL is such a commonly used word in the kingdom of IT service management (ITSM) that it is easy to assume it to be a global phenomenon (how many people say “ITIL” when they mean, or should mean, “ITSM”?). After all the Official ITIL Website (http://www.itil-officialsite.com/) cites ITIL as:

“The most widely accepted approach to IT service management in the world. ITIL provides a cohesive set of best practice, drawn from the public and private sectors internationally.”

We know that ITIL exam numbers continue to be strong: with ITIL Foundation Certificate pass rates between January 2009 and July 2011 as follows courtesy of http://itsminfo.com/?p=245:

  • ITIL V2 Foundation: 142,000
  • ITIL V3 Foundation Bridge: 33,000 (existing certification holders updating)
  • ITIL V3 Foundation: 548,000

But how is this and ITIL adoption spread around the world? The short answer is that I don’t know yet; but what I do know, thanks to the itSMF UK, offers some insight into the global adoption of the ITSM best practice framework.

Global TSO Book Sales

The following shows the top 2010 sales countries for TSO ITIL publications based on quantity (rather than revenues) and the expected sales for 2011 based on the first six months of the year. Obviously the ITIL 2011 update in July 2011 will have had a big impact on sales (cue cash register sounds) but it is nonetheless an interesting insight into who is buying into ITIL where.

Country

2010

2011

UK

46.30%

40.91%

USA

15.14%

19.72%

Australia

6.36%

7.03%

Germany

5.75%

8.95%

Canada

3.63%

4.51%

Japan

3.54%

2.43%

Denmark

2.72%

2.07%

Sweden

2.55%

2.85%

China

2.02%

0.02%

The Netherlands

0.83%

0.89%

Belgium

0.74%

0.18%

France

0.66%

0.87%

Poland

0.60%

0.32%

Spain

0.49%

0.28%

Switzerland

0.38%

0.52%

Brazil

0.36%

0.08%

South Africa

0.33%

0.29%

Finland

0.24%

0.07%

Mexico

0.21%

0.09%

Singapore

0.19%

0.09%

Norway

0.17%

0.62%

India

0.12%

0.12%

New Zealand

0.11%

0.07%

Malaysia

0.09%

0.17%

Saudi Arabia

0.09%

0.38%

Ireland

0.08%

0.09%

Italy

0.08%

0.07%

Slovenia

0.07%

0.00%

Hong Kong

0.06%

0.04%

A quick look at the winners and losers

Firstly, while this is interesting information it is just an unscientific snapshot from a single perspective; please don’t use it for any commercially-related decision making.

As expected the UK continues to dominate followed by the USA; but there are interesting areas of growth such as Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Norway, and Germany (the highest year-on-year levels) and significant drops in  Slovenia, China, Brazil, Belgium, Finland, Mexico, and Singapore. It would be great to get more insight into both the ups and the downs from ITSM practitioners, tool vendors, and consultants alike. The China snapshot is very, very interesting.

Final thought

Please don’t see this as an ITIL-knocking piece; ITIL has its faults but it also has its merits as per Glenn O’Donnell’s and the itSMF USA’s “The State Of IT Service Management In 2011” which describes ITIL as having delivered significant benefits to adopting organizations across service productivity (85% of the 491 respondents), quality (83%), business reputation (65%), and cost savings (41%). ITIL has definitely made a difference to IT delivery; the real question for me, however, is whether ITIL has made and continues to make enough of a difference.

Anyway, what do you make of the stats? Any surprises? Please let me know … especially if you are in Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Norway, Germany, Slovenia, China, Brazil, Belgium, Finland, Mexico, and Singapore.

 

UPDATE: Two popular ITIL-related blogs:

Comments

Two views

Interesting to compare your quote from Glenn's paper with Rob England's meta data study for APMG "None of the scientific methods of assessing reliability and validity are applicable to ITIL studies" and the halo effect is common around ITIL implementations.

It's common in all walks of life ...

... people like to "big up" what they have paid hard earned cash for (seems the more expensive something is the better it is these days). We like what we know (or have) and heaven forbid we admit to making a mistake.

Alternative reply ...

What? The great James Finister has time to read my blog? << swoons>>

... I thought you might comment on Belgium.

India

You know I never miss your blog.

I was wondering what those sales look like in conjunction with other stats such as propotion of global IT spend per country

That would be great ... I'll look into it ...

... I myself wonder if any canny ITSM tool vendor has significantly invested in understanding more about the status quo and the potential from a tool sales rather than ITIL sales perspective.

It sounds a naive question on my part but ITSM tools have historically driven ITIL adoption and ITIL adoption tool sales ... so could LANDesk "own" the Latvian market say?

Some more statistics...

As part of the SDI & LANDesk UK Service Desk Benchmarking Report 2011, we asked a couple of questions around the adoption of ITIL and ITIL qualifications and compared these with the responses from 2009 - the results are as follows:

Q1: Frameworks/standards adopted by your Service Desk

ITIL 77% in 2009
ITIL 68% in 2011

Q2 What qualifications have you or any of your staff achieved over the past year?
ITIL 65% in 2009
ITIL 57% in 2011

These statistics form part of a wider survey and certainly support our view at SDI that the adoption of ITIL seems to be declining in the UK and based on our customers' experience this is in part due to the challenges of not being able to demonstrate value and ROI.

@Tessa Troubridge

Are you able to state what framework people are moving to if not ITIL?

I assume they aren't giving up on ITSM altogether and going their own way (??)

More Stats

Hi Simon
Here are the rest of the stats that relate to these questions. You'll see overall that there is a reduction across the board in the take up of best practice standards and frameworks. I certainly don't think that people are giving up on ITSM best practice in fact it’s the opposite. What we are seeing much more of at SDI is organisations not rigidly following one standard or another, but taking the 'best bits' from all the best practice standards and frameworks, that they can apply practically for optimum service improvement and value.

What qualifications have you or any of your staff achieved over the past year?
2009 2011
ITIL 65 57
SDI qualifications 32 18
Technical (MCSE A+ or similar) 37 37
None 20 22

Frameworks/standards adopted by your Service Desk
2009 2011
ITIL 77 68
SDI Site Cert 11 7
ISO/IEC 20000 10 5
ISO 9000 12 9
EFQM 2 0
COBIT 4 0
MOF 0 0
COPC 1 0
Other 6 4
None 20 11

What the figures are actually saying

One word of warning about those figures - back in the (V1) day we got ITIL sales figures like this from TSO - they are TSO's sales figures - not purchase figures. This is where TSO sold the books to - lots of ITIL purchasers around the world buy their books from resellers not direct form TSO, especially from itSMF UK (because they give a discount to all itSMF members globally). Those sales show as UK because TSO sold the books, wholesale, to a UK reseller. So you need to dig a bit deeper to get actual end-customer sales figures. We did that - on smaller sales of course last century - and the result was markedly more cosmopolitan!

Great example of how metrics might say what they are (sales figures) but get read as something else (purchase figures) - good job that kind of metrics confusion happens so rarely in service manageable LOL.