ServiceNow - putting the 'platform owner' at the heart of digital transformation

Rebecca Wettemann Profile picture for user Rebecca Wettemann June 19, 2023
A look over the key announcements from the recent ServiceNow Knowledge conference.

An image of Bill McDermott, ServiceNow CEO, on stage in Las Vegas at Knowledge 2023

CEO Bill McDermott has his sights set on ServiceNow being the end-to-end platform for digital transformation. At ServiceNow’s Knowledge user event, he laid out a vision that puts the ServiceNow 'platform owner' at the core of digital transformation. The key points of his thesis:

  • Recognizing that digital transformation is necessary for survival, CEOs are looking into all those digital bits – and realizing that while point cloud applications may have met certain business needs, they also have resulted in data siloes and disconnected processes.
  • A platform such as ServiceNow, which has been used by IT teams for years to manage IT service management (ITSM) workflows, can be the integration and workflow layer that pulls together disparate databases and applications, and enables digital transformation.

Technically, this is absolutely true, and at Knowledge, thousands of enthusiastic ServiceNow customers convened to discuss how they could be the drivers of digital transformation in their own companies. The big hurdle is that the vast majority of ServiceNow champions are IT leaders, not business leaders.

In the early days of cloud solutions, business leaders in sales, marketing, and, later, HR and finance, went to the cloud because IT was a roadblock, and they could deploy cloud solutions without the need for IT.

McDermott argues that the days of the old IT-business alignment narrative are over, and that IT strategy is now the business strategy. However, for that to be true, IT has to overcome the shortcomings it had that brought business leaders to run an end around them in the first place:

  • They have to be able to prioritize demands and backlogs based on business impact and risk.
  • They have to recognize that they don’t own the keys to the technology castle anymore, and if they don’t deliver the business will go around them.
  • Finally, and perhaps most importantly, they have to shift from being the conductors making the trains run on time to the tech sherpas identifying opportunities, experimenting with emerging capabilities like AI, and leading the digital transformation conversation.


To that end, ServiceNow is investing in initiatives to help its platform owners meet the challenge. ServiceNow’s Rise Up initiative has the goal of skilling 1 million tech professionals by 2024, and so far has trained 400,000. That will help make more ServiceNow-skilled resources available, and produce more of a community of champions that can collaborate and share best practices.

Amy Regan Morehouse, one of the architects of Salesforce Trailhead, is driving the charge as ServiceNow’s senior VP of global education. A key part of her job will need to be ensuring RiseUp delivers not just technical training, but a broader business skill set for aspiring platform owners so they can better understand, communicate about, and deliver on needs for the business.

Beyond training, ServiceNow is also investing in enabling those IT-business conversations.

Its Impact solution is both a service offering and a product that enables ServiceNow champions to identify business objectives and the capabilities of ServiceNow that will support them. A business dashboard enables them to track progress toward those objectives based on platform usage, and quantify business benefits based on that progress.

Announced last year, Impact has been deployed by more than 1300 customers who are using it to track the value ServiceNow delivers. The Impact dashboard --- as well as varying levels of professional services – help them identify and address hurdles (such as slow adoption of training) gaps that are keeping them from achieving their objectives and quantify and communicate the business value delivered by the platform. Impact’s Value blueprint is the script for that expanded IT-business conversation, tying objectives to platform capabilities to line of business results (Valoir’s take on Impact is here).

As ServiceNow’s champions skill up to become advocates for its use beyond IT, RiseUp will help them build technical (and hopefully business) skills, and Impact will give them the data and talk track for a broader conversation with business leaders. Now, it’s up to them.

My take

As ServiceNow seeks to drive adoption of its automation platform beyond IT workflows, its internal champions will need a new set of skills and the ability to expand their conversation beyond IT. ServiceNow’s investments in Rise Up and Impact are important enablers toward that goal.



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