Saturday, July 20, 2024

How Technology Can Offset Macro Headwinds 

by Chris Ellison, Vice President and General Manager, Canada, ServiceNow

If I asked you what’s holding your organization back, what would you say? If you’re like many of the enterprise-level companies that ServiceNow Canada works with, you’d probably name stubbornly high inflation, elevated interest rates, labour shortages and other macro forces that continue to weigh on companies of all stripes.  

And amid the struggle to deal with these forces, organizations are still expected to drive growth, boost productivity, retain customers and remain competitive.  

Fortunately, there are readily available solutions for enterprises of any type. By investing in technology, leaders can future proof their companies, enable their teams to do great work, and turn economic uncertainty into significant business advantages.  

Automation software as a deflationary force 

From my position as Vice President and General Manager of ServiceNow Canada I can see that inflationary pressures in Canada are showing no signs of abating. Enterprise-level businesses are looking to technology to cut costs to outlast the economic headwinds. According to a recent survey of 1,000 global C-suite executives, more than 70% of companies are planning to increase digital innovation investments in the next year, with 40% saying it is a top strategic priority. Respondents indicated making investments in customer experience, employee experience, and cybersecurity for the near term, as those areas are expected to drive the greatest impact and time to value. 

Automated processes offer some of the most significant benefits for enterprises by shouldering repetitive tasks and allowing employees to focus on more strategic issues. For example, automated document processing helps to expedite payroll, finance, and procurement processes, saving organizations time, eliminating human error, and allowing employees to focus on the implementation of the insights. 

Technology is key to redefining the future of work 

In my experience with ServiceNow Canada, when the world changes, businesses and their leaders need to be ready to automate, drive productivity, and address today’s needs while building a promising future. They want value, they want it fast, and they don’t want to make trade-offs along the way.  

For example, Acronym Solutions Inc., a Canadian provider of telecommunications networking services, was challenged with siloed, legacy IT systems creating challenges in customer orders and support costs which impacted revenue. Acronym was able to automate manual processes with digital workflows and gain visibility across internal processes and customer systems. This resulted in a 39x increase in service request volume without increasing headcount, and a 60% increase in customer satisfaction scores by fulfilling customer orders 50% faster. The streamlined operations and lower costs enable Acronym teams to focus more time on increasing revenue by delivering new services. With the help of an integrated platform, processes that previously took its teams days can now be done in minutes, and new services deployed in just hours. 

Building organizational resilience in the Workplace 

The way I see it, in the current climate, how and where work gets done continues to evolve for every company. Leaders need an accurate view of how the workplace is being used to make informed decisions about office space and leases to help control costs as well as redesign workspaces as employees’ needs change. Technology can provide real-time data which can be used to optimize space usage, reduce real estate costs, and improve employee productivity. Innovative solutions can help organizations create a more flexible, agile, and productive workplace that meets the needs of both employees and the business.  

For example, when education workers went on strike for two days in November 2022, the Toronto District School Board needed to find a way to keep its classrooms open. TDSB’s executive officer of IT Services Peter Singh, was asked to create an app that would allow non-striking staff to sign in from anywhere, including from home or the classroom. Singh and his team were able to create a user-friendly app in less than an hour that enabled staff to sign in with just two clicks. The app allowed the school board to track which staff members had signed in and whether they were working remotely or in a school building. Implementing the technology helped to improve TDSB’s operations and provide better support to their students and to staff. 

Today’s business environment is complex. An organization’s technology strategy should be synonymous with its business strategy. Organizations need to do more with less, transform their business models to grow revenue, and gain a competitive advantage. Ultimately, those that can find ways to accelerate the business impact of their technology investments will be best positioned for long-term resilience. 

Chris Ellison is Vice President and General Manager, ServiceNow Canada


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