Frameworks & Standards Reality Check: Let’s ask Google Trends
In my last blog I wrote about ITSM & the Agile Manifesto, which was shortly after followed by a hype around creating an ITIL Manifesto. Coincidence? It doesn’t matter. Anyway, it’s now time to do something different, to do some solid statistical work.
So my simple question was: BPMN, ITIL, Prince2, CMMI, Six Sigma, Kanban, ISO20k (…) – What are people looking for? After having played around with Google Trends, I think this tool gives us a pretty good answer. Google Trends shows us the Google search volume for specific keywords (or topics) over the last 7 years. Don’t forget, first of all, this is ‘just’ data (and it’s BIG data), which reflects real crowd behavior.
You therefore have to be careful when drawing any conclusions or doing casual analysis out of Google Trend data. Otherwise you might end up in the same situation as recently the Princeton University researchers, which made some predictions about Facebook (very funny, don’t miss this article). So basically you can read the following out of Google Trends:
- Volume per keyword (relative to each other): This is a good indicator for overall search popularity, but not necessarily for the specific importance.
- Trend over time: This is a very good and valid indicator. It shows the change in popularity over the last 7 years or any other shorter timespan.
- Geography: By splitting results by country, this gives you an idea about regional differences in keyword popularity or trend
- Keyword drilldown: Very interesting. It shows you what the people are really looking for (per keyword). E.g. ‘ITIL’ very much relates to ‘ITIL certification” or “ITIL v3”, but DevOps rather to ‘What is Devops?’
Setting the Scene: Keyword List Definition
I collected a list of known standards and frameworks, some you might also call methods or approaches. The thing they have in common is that they are all relevant for IT, but many of them not exclusively. They cover Project Management, ITSM, Governance and Process Management and other areas, some of them are industry specific. I decided also to include Standard like ISO 9000 as this is relevant in comparison to other QM-focused IT frameworks. Below chart shows the terms I was using (btw created with wordle.net):
Let me know, if I missed any important standard, framework or method and I will add it.
Search Popularity Analysis: The ‘Big Five’
I compared all the keywords, some refined by topics or negative keywords. For example, the term Scrum also refers to sport (rugby). Additionally I discovered that something is wrong with ITIL: It’s an extremely popular search term in Indonesia, which made me curious. After consulting Google Translator I found out that ITIL means Clitoris in Indonesian Language (funny, isn’t it?), which explains the regional spike. Again, I was able to filter all that irrelevant data out. Looking at the ‘Top five’ (Snapshot as per now), we have the following picture:
If we go further down the list, the ranking continues like this (exact order):
- Rank 6-17: Prince2 , PMBOK, CMMI, Devops, Cobit, TOGAF, BPMN, ISO20’000, ISO 27’000, XP, DSDM/Atern, eTOM
- And at the end (all at an almost 0 level or ‘no data available’): Bisl, OMBOK, USMBOK, Standard and Case, IT4IT, ITOCO and Obashi
Analyzing the Trends over Time
Looking at the big five, one surprise for me was ITIL: Many people say that there is a decrease in popularity. It’s not true. Over the last 3 years the trend is flat, preceeded by a peak at 2007 (obviously related to the publication of ITIL V3) and a decrease which stopped 3 years ago.
Another observation is the continuous and impressive increase of popularity of Scrum over the last 7 years. In the agile area, Scrum seems to continuously rule out other agile frameworks/methods like DSDM/Atern and XP. No surprise. However, if we look at ISO 9000/9001 and Six Sigma, there was a huge decrease of popularity since 2007. Going through the whole list, we see the following:
- Winners: Scrum, DevOps (First appearance 2011, now Rank 9) and TOGAF (slightly)
- Evergreens (flat curve): ITIL, Kanban, Prince2, PMBOK, BPMN, ISO20’000, ISO 27’000 and Cobit
- Losers: Six Sigma, CMMI and ISO 9000 /9001, XP, DSDM/Atern
- Newcomers (first appearance in the last few years and not yet dead): DevOps, IT4IT, Standard and Case. They might reach the plateau of producitivity one day or become obsolete
This is just observation. It’s up to you to make any conclusions.
As a side-note: Statistically, evergreens are actually still winners. An already infected community cannot be re-infected. This has an impact on search behaviour.
Doing a geographical analysis, I don’t see very much regional difference in popularity, with the following exceptions:
- ISO 9000/9001: Although worldwide loss of popularity, it’s still unbroken popular in whole Latin America
- SixSigma is rather popular in India, the US and some Asian Countries, but not in Europe
- The UK (including the Scottish) & the Netherlands love Prince2
- PMBOK is rather popular on the American Continent than in Europe or Asia
Again, I present here just the data. I leave it up to you to interpret it.
I picked a couple of frameworks & standards and looked into the related searches:
- ITIL: It’s all about doing a certification or training. Top searches include ‘ITIL certification’, ‘ITIL foundation’, ‘ITIL training’, Prince2 goes into a similar direction
- In contradiction to that, DevOps is rather about searches like ‘What is DevOps’ and ‘Reaction to DevOps’. DevOps is new and popular and people want to know more about it
- Similar to that, searches on Cobit, Scrum, PMBOK, CMMI and other are very much related on the content of the respective framework
So this was just scratching on the surface. But I think there were some interesting observations. Try it yourself and do some research on Google Trends.