ServiceNow CTO identifies the workflow snags that are getting in the way of digital transformation

ServiceNow CTO
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ServiceNow CTO Allan Leinwand knows an opportunity to eat his own dog food when he sees one.

The enterprise service management firm was working with a systems integrator that was providing it racks of hardware based on products from Dell, Juniper Networks and other firms, which were drop-shipped to various data centers. At a certain point, however, that same integrator became a ServiceNow customer as well as supplier.

“I saw a possibility to do something cool,” Leinwand told a crowd of customers at an event ServiceNow hosted in Toronto on Wednesday. “Now, when (the integrator) buys from Dell, there’s an API integration between their ServiceNow (system) and ours.”

That means Leinwand gained complete visibility into the workflow of his vendor, spanning from the moment the integrator receives the hardware to when it gets configured on a rack, to the moment gets shipped out to a data center.

This shift from managing enterprise business processes through paper or even e-mail to something cloud-based and automated is a major gap in most organizations’ digital transformation (DX) initiatives, Leinwand said. To really be successful, he said, B2B firms need to both “reinvent the core” — make big changes to back office and operational processes — while also “innovating the future” based on new business models, channels and products.

“You can’t take the process of an HR or IT and customer support team and just pop it onto a new platform and say ‘ta-da!’” he said. “You often need to blow the process up and start over again.”

A good example of that is Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Magellan Health, which Leinwand said took the unusual step of turning off all e-mail addresses and phone lines that its employees were using to ask HR-related questions. Instead, a portal powered by ServiceNow has allowed the firm to resolve 50 per cent of all enquires “immediately,” he said, creating a 37 per cent boost in productivity for the HR team.

In other cases, ServiceNow customers are not shifting the channels they use to manage workflows but getting more organized. Leinwand cited Epicor, another business software company based in Austin that consolidated 50 customer support portals into one. This allowed the firm to identify and engage customers more quickly, and to create better workflows across support and engineering teams, he said. As a result, the firm has seen a 10 per cent increase in its Net Promoter Score (NPS) for support, Leinwand added.

It might be easy for other enterprises to optimize their processes for DX by looking to consumer apps like Uber, Leinwand suggested, which replaces the steps involved with looking for a taxi and paying for it with something that’s both automatic and easy to monitor from a smartphone.

Leinwand actually practices what he preaches. Like many firms, ServiceNow needs to work through many different requests for proposals (RFPs) and non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) in the course of its business, which then have to be reviewed by its legal team.

“I would just wait,” he recalled. “Vendors would be wondering what’s going on . . . I got frustrated and wrote an app. Now it uploads the NDAs and RFPs, sends it to the legal team, and we can ServiceNow to see when they’ll review it, sign it and get it back.”

This all aligns to how ServiceNow describes the future of work, which Leinwand shared in his presentation: “The future of work will centre on increasingly capable technologies to improve productivity to the point where we can focus on the creative, value-added businesses problems that only humans can solve.”

Leinwand encouraged corporate buyers to get started now on figuring out who can get them to that point — including ServiceNow but likely several others.

“We’re not arrogant enough to think we’re going to build all the software you’re going to need in the enterprise,” he said.

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Shane Schick

Shane Schick

Shane Schick is the Editor-in-Chief of B2B News Network. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of Marketing magazine and has also been Vice-President, Content & Community (Editor-in-Chief), at IT World Canada, a technology columnist with the Globe and Mail and was the founding editor of ITBusiness.ca. Shane has been recognized for journalistic excellence by the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance and the Canadian Online Publishing Awards.