If you attended Knowledge18, ServiceNow's annual conference in Las Vegas, you might have noticed some themes permeate the conversation. From the beginning John Donahoe, CEO of ServiceNow, during his keynote spoke of work and the importance of work in our lives. ServiceNow at its core is a platform that enables people to do work, and do it well. The impact that work has on our society is not lost on the attendees. It is why we were all there. Mobility was a big talking point. How come we have such amazing access to mobile apps and are able to get things done with such ease in our personal lives, but when it comes to the network we access through our occupation, that work is stifled. Think about it...most of our personal lives are enabled by some type of cloud app on our phones, but when we need something at work, we have to log into some disparate software program, then log into another program to log our daily tasks, then log into something else to request time off. This is not efficient, clearly.
When people ask me what I do, I say that I promote software that helps companies do work better and more efficiently. Every time I say this I am dumbfounded how large organizations manage work every day. So you have 20,000 employees, and your IT department consists of 5000 people. How are these people working together? How are they getting work done efficiently? Without some sort of platform or strong leadership, there is no way work is being maximized. To that end, during Knowledge18, my colleagues and I noticed some common themes among users of ServiceNow. The issues brought up seemed to be independent of the software itself, but more had to do with cultural differences or norms within these organizations. 3 common topics came up throughout the week:
- Development Backlog - Almost every customer we talked to has some level of dev backlog. The typical IT department has tasks that never stop, and growing companies experience this on an even great level. The development work seems to get shelved because of the immediate needs of today. The reason the development tasks were documented in the first place has to do with making the system better and more efficient. Yet it gets shelved. There are many reasons why this can happen...lack of resources, lack of priority, lack of process and efficiency. Something drastic has to happen to right the course.
- Process - Many organizations are struggling with overall strategy or the level of process needed within each business unit. The term "right-sizing" was used many times. Some teams have too much process. Simple tasks are bogged down by drop downs and boxes to check that are unnecessary and slow work. Tier 1 customer service might only need 3 or 4 pieces of information so they can route the call to the right team, but because the process is too cumbersome, it takes minutes to figure out where to send the customer. Some processes are too "process light" and therefore items and key pieces of information are missed. This only causes more work down the line, or a customer whose needs are not met appropriately. There are certain business units where a deep process needs to be built to get all the right information. This is a case by case basis. Someone who understands organizational process and efficient work flow must be tapped to help strategize and fit the right processes to the right business unit.
- Strategy - Within IT Services management, it is clear that strategy taking a back seat. It takes a pretty high level approach to determine the strategy between services within a large organization. Typically a CIO is the kick starter of this high level strategy. When you start looking at every business unit as a service, that strategy and its impacts get way more complicated. If you think about it, every group within the org is really a service. HR, Operations, Facilities, these are all examples of business units that need services. They request things like setting up a new employee, new HVAC systems, marketing materials, etc. The list goes on. So simply picking a strategy of how these groups should work, the processes they need to be successful, who should be involved in each incident or request and why, its not so simple.
Mobility, strategy, process...these are the items that are top of mind right now. What are you doing to discuss strategy...how are you enabling your employees and customers to move towards mobility...what processes are you putting in place that allow teams to collaborate and get more done? It starts with a platform that allows your company to build a foundation from which to do work. The days of spreadsheets and phone calls are done. I think it is fair to say that every company can improve in these areas, but I will also say that some companies are figuring this out. They are experiencing the benefit when these initiatives are deployed. This is the year of the customer, and the customer benefits the most from these strategies when they are executed well.