How and Why ITIL Was Adopted by Disney

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Posted on Tuesday, 11th April, 2017 - 09:00

According to the Walt Disney Company’s 2016 financial report, Theme Parks and Resorts is their 2nd biggest revenue generator, behind Media Networks. This division generated $16,974,000,000 in 2016 (pg. 31). That’s over 30.5% of their total revenue for the year. Disney is one of the most famous companies to have adopted ITIL, but you may be wondering how and why they did it.
 

Why Disney needed ITIL

 
Disney is a huge umbrella corporation, invested in many industries. Even their theme parks involve things like restaurant management and event planning. This makes it hard to imagine how much they invest in IT, or what a Disney IT infrastructure looks like. To give you an idea, their IT department employs nearly 1,000 people globally. The Walt Disney Company has over 1,800 servers and 800 applications.

Nearly 45% of these applications are dedicated to theme parks and resorts. Some of these applications include:

  • The Disneyland mobile app. This app features an interactive, GPS-enabled map with attraction wait times and character locations. It’s crucial to their IT service management, since it’s customer-facing and must be up-to-date and accurate.
  • Handheld devices for tracking inventory on mobile retail carts. It allows for quick reorders when stocks run low.
  • A global costume management system, used with Radio frequency identification. It lets cast members find the right costumes and schedule swaps with ease.

 

How Disney implemented ITIL

 
It was Glen Taylor, Vice President and Chief Information Security Officer of the Walt Disney Company, who brought in ITIL. He was an advocate of the framework long before joining Disney. Glen took a three-step approach to ITIL adoption:

Step 1: Marketing ITIL to the staff. The staff understood how Disney did business, but didn’t have working knowledge of ITIL. For top-down approval, Glen used the company’s “Lunch ‘n’ Learn” sessions and manager meetings. He made executives aware of the company’s issues and how ITIL could help. For bottom-up marketing, he used “BackLot”, the company’s internal social network.

Step 2: ITIL Foundation education programme. 250 people, from the CIO level down, received ITIL Foundation training. After that, they had the option of taking the certification exam. 50% of those trained chose to get certified.

Step 3: Electing ITIL Experts. 20 others, a mix of people with different levels of responsibility, were put on the Expert level path. This was about solidifying buy-in and organizational commitment. The 20 were picked for their persuasive personality and ability to articulate the vision for the processes they manage or work with.
 

How you can implement ITIL

 
The key takeaway is to get buy-in from all levels. Glen marketed ITIL to hundreds of staff members, as well as the executives. This helped ITIL’s cultural embedding ahead of its adoption. Glen used Lunch ‘n’ Learn sessions, manager meetings and BackLot. You’ll have to identify what works at your company. Then you can use your organization’s most popular communication methods to market ITIL.

ITIL has become a staple of the Walt Disney Company. If you’d like to learn the same IT service management framework that Disney uses, you can study for a Foundation certificate here. If you have any questions about ITIL Training, you can contact us here.