ServiceNow’s fourth annual Knowledge14 conference was held this week in San Francisco to approximately 6,000 attendees, roughly 2,000 more attendees than last year’s conference in Las Vegas. This interest reflects the growing importance of service management, driven by digitalization and the move to cloud-based services. I also see this increased interest stemming from organizations’ need to build their skill base to address the new challenges faced by their IT organizations.
Frank Slootman, President and CEO, kicked off the first keynote with ServiceNow’s view of the entire world through service: both service awareness and service orientation. The digital transformation that businesses are facing is a clear opportunity for IT leaders to drive this conversation around service as it tries to make what is being offered in the cloud less opaque. In the process, it clarifies and brings transparency to the IT workflows behind business workflows, regardless if it’s in the cloud or in-house. This is especially relevant for repeatable, scalable activities, where there is the most opportunity for cost savings and, most likely, ROI. Moreover, automation brings rapid fulfillment, which brings happy customers, both inside and outside the business.
As the world of IT is transforming with the “cloudification” going on inside businesses, there needs to be an integration between the cloud and the business’s activities, whether in human resources, procurement, customer service, etc. This integration expands on IT service management to support enterprise service management, driven by information technology.
So, what is the model for a service-oriented enterprise as described by Frank Slootman and team during the keynote?
service taxonomy --> service experience --> service delivery --> service assurance --> analytics
Service taxonomy is the process of defining and classifying services that bridges the services IT is providing; ideally before creating your Configuration Management Database (CMDB). Once the service taxomomy is defined, it is then bridged into the CMDB, which enables the service-oriented enterprise to track which services are connected to specific IT activities, and then measure and track those services. For an IT service portal, the taxonomy could include, for example, options to request a new password, open a trouble ticket, order software, etc.
This taxonomy translates into a web-based front end interface that look very similar to regular consumer websites that end-users are comfortable navigating. This can be defined as the service experience. The front-end demo during the keynote included a chat option with a drop-down menu where users could chat with IT, a Data Center or HR, just like a standard customer-service chat feature on a retail or finance website.
This whole migration to a service-oriented enterprise is key, as it forces IT to stop, analyze and evaluate which workflows – and what processes within each workflow – can be automated.
Next, with service delivery, IT brings process to the workflow. The ServiceNow executive team illustrated two new features here, coming with the Eureka release later this year:
- the demand management application, which can assign resources to a request and then consolidate those requests into a timeline roadmap that gives CIOs the big picture view of what projects are on the horizon.
- A new DevOps feature, which creates change requests automatically by dragging and dropping projects from testing to production within a cloud infrastructure.
Next, to demonstrate Service Assurance – aka the fusion of service and systems management – ServiceNow demoed the ability to drill down into the infrastructure behind specific services, in order to show the impact view, as well as the downstream workflow impacts of an outage.
Last, for service analytics, ServiceNow illustrated how automation of an HR function brings large amounts of SLA data, which can subsequently be mined and disseminated to share with management. Also, by having data around questions most frequently raised, the business can automate the most popular inquiries, and also help departments like HR see where their resources are being spent. Also included was a preview of the forthcoming Financial Reporting feature, which mines IT data with the general ledger to create dynamic allocations of infrastructure costs. This gives businesses the context around their IT spend to illustrate value for cost.
advice & recommendations
Given the challenges that IT is facing at the moment, Frank shared some excellent advice for IT staff who are in the midst of taking these transformations to a service-oriented enterprise. First, from Patrick Lencioni, an organizational health author and consultant: IT sometimes sees itself as too technical, and it needs to know the business better. If the IT department doesn’t set an example and innovate within itself (and adopting a service-oriented IT model could be considered an innovation – or revolution, depending on your starting point), the business isn’t going to look to IT when they’re ready to innovate. This is important both organizationally and from a technical perspective, as ultimately IT is responsible for what is happening within the business.
Next, from author Geoffrey Moore: IT is moving from managing systems of record to system of engagement, which requires a different management model. While cost savings drove systems of record in the past, systems of engagement aren’t driven by cost, but rather customer, employee and partner engagement (social media, for example). This requires transformation, which is expensive, and to look at the real cost, you can’t just cost the tool; in fact, the most difficult (read, expensive) part of a transformation is skills and the acquisition of those skills.
The most interesting aspect of the event this week was seeing the breadth of successes and innovations using the ServiceNow platform – from facilities management to automated new hire onboarding for Human Resources. There were other company examples, including Starwood, OtterBox, Sephora, and CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research. Pictures are worth more than words, though, so I’ve shared the image below from the CERN implementation of ServiceNow (click on the image to visit the full case study on ServiceNow's site).
If you attended the event, I’d be interested in your thoughts on the evolution to enterprise service management. And, if you have any questions about this migration to a service-oriented enterprise in the context of the ServiceNow platform, feel free to leave a comment as well!
PS: you can view videos of the keynotes on ServiceNow's website here.
image © alex_aldo - Fotolia.com
I've spent more than 17 years in global telecommunications, and was formerly responsible for international social media activities at Orange Business Services. I enjoy making technology accessible to non-techies and I'm a strong supporter of flexible working.