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Disney Corporation’s Information Technology Infrastructure Library Case Study

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Updated: Jun 24th, 2021

Introduction

The Walt Disney Company is an internationally famous corporation that operates in the domains of media and entertainment. Having grown from a small cartoon studio, the company now operates in more than 40 countries around the world and includes such major departments as studios, parks, and experiences, and consumer products (“About the Walt Disney Company,” n.d.). The division of Theme Parks and Resorts is one of the busiest branches of the corporation, with 13 parks, over 40 resorts, and more than 118 million visitors each year (Winter, 2010). To succeed in such an environment, the Disney company adopted the best practices of IT service management as outlined in the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL). Although the implementation of ITIL might require significant changes in the work of organizations, the example of the Disney corporation demonstrates that the adoption of the framework is associated with many benefits, like improved customer service and increased business revenues.

Reasons for the Introduction of ITIL at the Disney Corporation

Glen Taylor, who joined the Disney Parks and Resorts team in 2008, actively supported the adoption of ITIL as the means of creating an integrated approach to service management (Winter, 2010). Aiming to enhance the quality of customer services and provide visitors with an unforgettable experience, the corporation strived to strengthen the “availability, reliability and maintainability” of its IT systems (Winter, 2010, para. 8). Furthermore, the goal was to increase the efficiency and technicality of the Parks and Resorts division while reducing its costs. Thus, ITIL was to serve as the tool for evaluating the quality of IT services and improving them. In addition, the introduction of the framework was expected to help with the management of outsourcing contracts.

Challenges for the Implementation of ITIL and Possible Solutions

In organizational culture, any major changes are hard to implement due to workers’ reluctance to accept new standards and relearn. People tend to be afraid of new things and need time to become accustomed to novel working approaches. In the case of the Disney corporation, the task of ITIL implementation was even more challenging as the size of the company required major financial and time investments in order to educate and retrain its employees. The decision to introduce the new framework also meant taking great risks since the failure to complete the adoption of ITIL could disrupt the work of IT services. Because of this threat, Taylor had to consider multiple factors that could impede the transition process before initiating any changes. It is likely that the vice president foresaw such challenges as the lack of managerial commitment to the new approach, unrealistic expectations from ITIL, and the long duration of the transition process with little immediate gains.

Having previous experience with the adoption of ITIL practices, Taylor applied effective transition strategies that can be used as a guiding principle for overcoming problems with the implementation of the framework. First of all, the company employees were made aware of the ITIL principles and their benefits for the corporation. Taylor used both top-down and bottom-up approaches to distributing this information. “Lunch ‘n’ Learn” meetings allowed the company management to educate their workers about the coming corporate changes, while the internal networking application facilitated employees’ engagement in the discussion of ITIL-related matters (Winter, 2010). Then, a tailored training program was devised to suit the specific needs of the Disney company. For instance, the education period was made shorter, and relevant examples were addressed (Winter, 2010). Importantly, employees could choose whether they wanted to pass the exam, which was likely to decrease the pressure experienced by the trainees. Finally, Taylor acknowledged the importance of creating organizational commitment by choosing 20 people to become experts and champions of ITIL (Winter, 2010). The main task of those workers was to share with others their knowledge of and passion for the new approach to service management.

Results of ITIL Adoption at the Disney Corporation

Thanks to the expertise of Taylor, ITIL was successfully adopted at the Disney company. The transition process went smoothly, with little resistance from employees. The newly implemented framework allowed the corporation to gain a better insight into how its customers reacted to the provided services, increasing Disney’s return on investment. In addition, the adoption of ITIL resulted in enhanced revenue and subsequent growth of the corporation that was reflected in several major acquisitions made in 2006-2012 (“About the Walt Disney Company,” n.d.).

The crucial role in this success was played by the pre-transition preparation. The company would be less likely to thrive if Taylor did not create a thorough plan for transformation before the first changes occurred. By communicating his ideas and explaining their impact on the corporation to all employees, the vice president created a favorable climate for change and reduced workers’ resistance to new corporate strategies. What is more, Taylor avoided introducing dramatic changes when they were unnecessary. Instead, he adapted the existing tools and procedures, which facilitated the adoption of ITIL. Finally, the vice president helped employees to appreciate the relevance of organizational changes for their work by focusing on practical aspects of the new service management style.

ITIL Versus the ISO/IEC 20000 and Val IT Frameworks

Although it is commonly used and well-regarded, ITIL is not the only framework for IT service management. Another well-recognized system is the International Standard Organization ISO/IEC 20000 that was developed as a cross-national standard. While this framework overlaps with ITIL, there is a significant difference between the two approaches in relation to certification and audibility (Cots, Casadesús, & Marimon, 2016). In order to be awarded a certificate, organizations should strictly adhere to ISO/IEC 20000 guidelines, whereas ITIL can be implemented to any desired extent as there are no formal procedures for verifying its adoption. In this sense, ITIL is more flexible, which means that it can be easier introduced to a big corporation like the Disney company.

Unlike ISO/IEC 20000, Val IT (i.e., value from IT investments) system offers a set of best practices rather than standards. The framework is similar to ITIL in its absence of certification and subsequent flexibility. However, information system concerns addressed by Val IT are different from those covered by ITIL. For example, the former approach primarily focuses on managing budget, competencies, and projects; whereas, the latter framework is designed to regulate services, changes, and availability and assist clients (Bahsani, Semma, & Sellam, 2015). From this comparison, it is clear that the needs of the Disney corporation were better satisfied with the adoption of ITIL.

Conclusion

Concerned with the quality of its IT services, the Walt Disney Company introduced ITIL in the mid-2000s as a way of ensuring the stability of its systems and improving client satisfaction. Taylor’s thoughtful approach to organizational changes, as evidenced by his choice of framework and gradual transition plan, contributed to the successful implementation of ITIL. The new system for service management aided the Disney corporation is increasing its revenue and strengthening its reputation.

References

(n.d.). Web.

Bahsani, S., Semma, A., & Sellam, N. (2015). Towards a new approach for combining the IT frameworks. International Journal of Computer Science Issues, 12(1), 118-123.

Cots, S., Casadesús, M., & Marimon, F. (2016). Benefits of ISO 20000 IT service management certification. Information Systems and e-Business Management, 14(1), 1-18.

Winter, K. (2010). Web.

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