Chris Pope: Digital Workflows

ServiceNow is the digital workflow organisation that has been around for 15 years but has recently seen a huge rise in uptake for its services and has been catapulted into the media headlines following the arrival of high-profile CEO, Bill McDermott. Chris Pope, VP of Innovation at ServiceNow, joined Paul Esherwood on ERP Today Live! where he gave us the ‘how-to’ of digital workflows and explained why enterprises of all shapes and sizes need to embrace a better way of working.

The Q&A below is an abridged version of that live interview.

Chris, I want to take us back to basics in this session – in a nutshell, what is a digital workflow?

CP “Workflows today are very human centric; they’re manual in many cases, and they’re a bunch of steps to do things. Digital workflow is not just putting those steps on a platform – it’s automating them, it’s integrating them with other systems, and it’s also providing them in an experiential way that the end user can self-serve or self-help. It removes a lot of the manual, mundane, repetitive work that exists by automating it end-to-end”.

ServiceNow has been around for 15 years – why are we hearing so much about you now?

CP “I think we’re more relevant than ever before because of ease of use, but also because of the ability to quickly configure the platform, to do the things you need it to do without being locked in or over customising. With two releases a year, we’re always adding new innovation every six months, which, for many enterprises is still quite fast. They’re getting complementary capabilities all the time and when you put that in a world class cloud with the availability numbers we have, they feel secure. Customers can actually get on with focussing, solving their problems, and not worrying about infrastructure, databases, upgrades and all that sort of tedious stuff of the past”.

What are the main challenges that your customers are trying to overcome by implementing ServiceNow?

CP “It’s interesting because the challenges are ongoing. I think many of them embarked on a digitisation journey, but actually, they’re all individual parts. For example, an organisation may have put a new ERP platform into the finance department; they may have done something in IT on their journey to the cloud.

“But what it is, is bringing all of those processes together, connecting all of them into one seamless experience. That’s really the holy grail, if you will, of digital transformation”.

Do you think that there is a situation where CIOs are having to make a choice about where they spend their money right now because of budget constraints?

CP “Most organisations have maybe six or eight core platforms: usually an Office 365, an SAP or an Oracle. There’s probably Salesforce or Dynamics in there, and a few others. Those are all great, but you get to the point where you want to know who can deliver value and outcomes quickly. In many cases, CIOs say to us, ‘I need to deliver in the same year that we make the transaction.’ That’s really hard to do and by the time you get through your RFP process, half the year is probably already gone.

“For us it’s about delivering meaningful impact with value. A good example would be if customers signed with us just before Christmas, within a week they’d have had their production and non-production environments up and running and ready to log in to. That’s not unusual in the software as a service world, but at the same time there’s prescriptive workflows that our other 7,000 customers have contributed to over time. It’s not that we’re following a particular methodology, if you will. It’s guided by our customers in what they do, not what we think they should do. And therefore, they’re up and running”.

When you first switch ServiceNow on, does it come with pre-built configured workflows that you can just tap into immediately?

CP “Yes, absolutely. And like any platform, by the time you’ve configured your authentication, you need your people data and a few other things needed in any other platform, then you’re up and running, and whether that’s the core ITSM applications, incident, problem, change, CMDB, etc, that’s good. That’s up and running. But if you turn on say, the HR application, you’ve immediately got the employee service centre, benefits portals, onboarding, offboarding, and so on”.

What, in your experience, is a typical time frame from engaging with a new customer to them being productive, not just switching the lights on, but actually getting something meaningful out of using digital workflows?

CP “It’s almost like you saw my 10 o’clock meeting in my diary from this morning. We had this conversation with an organisation with over 200,000 people. It’s a really good question because it takes us back to the problem we’re trying to solve and what is the benefit in solving it?

“Many organisations can quickly stand up that shopping cart experience, Amazon-esque, let’s call it, and start to populate their services behind there.  We’ve tried to do this with massive customer input and Fred, our founder, has a phrase that still lives with us today: “Listen, Learn and Act. And if you’re not sure, go back to listening again.” That’s guided a lot of what we do and what we try to do. With every release, we have customers that give us input into where we’re going, which is an ongoing maintenance, if you will.

“What that means is when we engage with a customer and they’re deploying customer service management, or employee workflows, they’re able to get up and running in six to eight months, live in production and start to see the benefit and the value”. 

Watch the full interview at erp.today/live    

5 things you need to know about ServiceNow

  1. As of Q4 2020 ServiceNow had

  • More than 13,000 employees
  • 99% subscription renewal rate

  2. During the 2020 financial year:

  • ServiceNow had 6,900 customers
  • 80% of Fortune 500 companies used ServiceNow
  • ServiceNow had 1,093 customers with over $1m ACV
  • ServiceNow had $4.29bn in subscription revenues
  • ServiceNow experienced 32% year-on-year growth

3. Now Platform Test and Trace for NHS Scotland

  • NHS Scotland developed a ServiceNow CSM case management-based contact tracing app for test and trace in six weeks
  • COVID-19 vaccinations: On 20th January, NHS Scotland launched their vaccine management system which was developed on the Now Platform and scheduled 220,000 vaccination appointments in its first 12 hours.

4. Safe Workplace Apps

  • In May 2020, ServiceNow released a four-app suite and dashboard, free of charge, designed to help companies manage essential steps for returning employees to the workplace

5. Emergency Response Apps

  • In March 2020, ServiceNow released four COVID-19 emergency response apps, free of charge, to help organisations across numerous verticals manage the crisis
  • They were used by The City of San Francisco for organisational readiness in healthcare, law enforcement, fire and city essential services