ServiceNow and the future of work

John Donahoe kicks off Knowledge18

LAS VEGAS—ServiceNow President and CEO John Donahoe took the stage this morning in front of some 18,000 registered customers, partners and employees at the company’s annual user conference.

During his 90-minute presentation, Donahoe laid out an ambitious vision for the future of work, based on ServiceNow’s purpose, a core aspect of which is the belief technology should enable people – and help make the world of work, work better for people.

He also unveiled a new brand identity for ServiceNow reflecting this purpose, showcasing the company’s Customer Success program and previewing new mobile capabilities in the upcoming ServiceNow Platform (Now Platform) release. “We’re at an inflection point in history,” said Donahoe. “The next three to five years will be a revolution at work.”

He compared this revolution to the sea change in consumer tech experiences over the past decade since the launch of the iPhone – the advent of intuitive, cloud-based consumer platform offerings from the likes of Amazon, Uber, and eBay & PayPal, the company Donahoe ran before joining ServiceNow in early 2017.

Donahoe argued workplace IT experiences have generally lagged behind the consumer world. “With born-in-the-cloud platforms like ServiceNow, there’s no reason not to serve up the same great experiences at work that we get at home,” he said.

ServiceNow sells cloud-based workflow automation software. Donahoe noted there is public debate about how automation and AI are shaping the future of work. “Is the goal to eliminate jobs or to enhance the quality of jobs?” he asked, referring to widespread fears automation will put people out of work.

Donahoe made clear ServiceNow is in business to enhance the quality of work. The company’s goal is to provide experiences that enable people to focus on more meaningful work, not just be more efficient and productive.

He contrasted the new ServiceNow logo (play video below), which features a human form in the design of the letter “o” in “Now,” with the old logo, which featured an “o” in the shape of a PC power button. The goal was to place people, rather than technology, at the center of the brand, he said.

Donahoe described ServiceNow as a proud partner to the thousands of IT pros in the audience who are using the Now Platform to deliver great experiences across the enterprise, from IT to HR service delivery, customer service management and security. He unveiled ServiceNow’s new Customer Success program, which he said has been a top strategic priority for the company over the past year.

Designed to help customers maximize the value of ServiceNow in their organizations, the program includes dedicated Customer Success teams and an online hub that presents best practices drawn from the company’s most successful customers.

Donahoe noted top-performing ServiceNow customers share four common traits:

  • First, they are committed to using out-of-the-box functionality, while minimizing customization. This allows them to accelerate upgrades and benefit from the latest Now Platform features and tools.
  • Second, successful customers tend to have clear leadership and governance protocols in place. This allows them to upgrade the Now Platform in weeks, not months.
  • Third, they also invest in change management by working with partners who deploy certified ServiceNow professionals and are building ServiceNow centers of excellence inside their organizations.
  • Finally, Donahoe explained the most successful ServiceNow customers use the Now Platform to drive business outcomes. They set clear goals, and then monitor and measure rigorously to make sure they achieve those goals.

Donahoe reinforced his points by calling customers to the stage to share how they use ServiceNow to deliver great experiences for employees and customers. Patricia Tourigny, senior vice president for HR shared services at Magellan Health, explained how this healthcare provider used ServiceNow to build a self-service employee portal called VERN, short for Virtual Employee Resource Center.

Later in the morning, Accenture CIO Andrew Wilson explained how his team uses ServiceNow and other key platforms to deliver great experiences not just to the consulting giant’s 442,000 human employees, but also to the thousands of nonhuman algorithms that work alongside them. “There’s an irony there,” Wilson said. “In an age of ultra-fast technology, humans are more important than ever.”

ServiceNow’s Founder and Chairman Fred Luddy was seated in the front row of the audience for Donahoe’s speech. One of the biggest applause lines of the morning came when Donahoe asked the founder to stand and recalled why Luddy started ServiceNow in 2004.

Luddy’s goal was to “build a cloud-based platform that would enable regular people to route work effectively through the enterprise,” Donahoe noted. And 14 years later, this remains the core of ServiceNow’s purpose as a company.