The way we work has changed – possibly forever – so it’s important that CIOs reassess their businesses roadmaps, placing digital at the heart. Mark Ackerman, Senior Director – Middle East and Africa, ServiceNow, tells Intelligent CIO’s Jess Phillips why it’s crucial that businesses implement smart workflows in order to ensure they are future-proof.
What workflow challenges has the shift to remote working created?
Legacy technology and the ways of work have never been so challenged as they are right now. We’ve heard this pandemic being referred to as the world’s greatest ‘proof of concept’.
Collaboration can present some of the biggest challenges – e-mail, Slack, Teams, Zoom and WebEx are thrust into the mix and, while these are helping, it also means that data is being distributed further. I know I’m often caught looking for an interaction with a customer or a colleague and having to look into multiple sources.
Making work flow between the various systems of record should be the biggest priority – while also the biggest challenge – and this starts by ensuring there is a single system of interaction.
This ‘Platform of Platforms’ can consolidate all the collaboration and disparate processes and create simplified digital workflows. Legacy technology is not going to help and therefore a rapid adoption of SaaS based solutions is really the only option.
Great experiences for employees and customers should be the purpose. Once you have this objective in place you can start focusing on IT workflows, employee and customer workflows.
How are organisations in the region adapting to this new normal?
Remote work now has technology at the heart of every interaction.
For some, this whole shift is going to be massive. We may find that traditional managers have become so used to the structure of physical office meetings that the leap is going to be very hard to handle. We know that some people feel that they have to be in the room with other people in order to get things done. They don’t have the ‘soft skills’ needed to express themselves effectively over video and voice calls.
But as companies are starting to accept that projects and operations can work without large offices, we are already seeing businesses plan for no return to office for several types of roles. Our customers are actively looking for ways to reduce operational expenditure, outsource contracts and salary bills by allowing their workforce to permanently work from home.
What are the some of the key requirements from customers – both yours, and more generally – right now?
We are witnessing a historic paradigm shift that is forcing businesses to reinvent their processes. This paradigm shift is loosely referred to as ‘Digital Transformation’, a phenomenon that some people consider to be the fourth leg of the industrial revolution.
While this transformation was going to happen anyway, the pandemic has dramatically accelerated the revolution.
What would normally take years or decades is occurring in weeks and months. The requirements from clients is not only to continue this modernisation, but to accelerate the implementation.
How are you working with your customers to meet their current needs?
On the front lines of business, we’re seeing how digital technology foundations enable companies to develop great experiences for employees and customers. Now more than ever, enterprises must leverage technology to deliver great experiences, unlock remote productivity and fuel innovation.
Our customers and new prospects are approaching us now more than ever to use a single ‘Platform of Platforms’ to reduce complexity, drive down costs and duplication of expenses and technology and to ensure the workforce is enabled for the new way of work.
What will be the long-term impact of this new way of working?
We will see a massive shift from office bound to work from home which will change every industry, massive office blocks and big sales conferences while regular business class flights will be something of the past. Digital experiences for employees and customers will matter more than ever.
The best companies will identify the experiences and related digital workflows that are the most important and improve them to build better customer relationships and attract new customers.
Our customers will need an innate understanding in order to make the shift to online marketing, sales and communication channels, not only in the consumer world, but also in sectors such as insurance, banking and telecommunications.
Leading companies will make significant improvements to their digital channels, eliminating inefficiencies, and will prioritise important customer ‘moments that matter’, such as late payments, cancellations and moves to online service.
How important is it that businesses implement smart workflows to ensure they are future-proof?
Organisations that focus on digitisation are 30% more profitable and productive because they maximise the value from their entire workforce, recent studies have shown.
Leadership is about learning from adversity and looking ahead. Talented organisational leaders who can see past this pandemic will be quicker to develop agile workflows that address employee and customer requirements while consumerising the experience.
They’ll be faster to adjust operating models to respond to changing business conditions. They will be able to harness the full potential of their employees and the customer-base.
What are the implications for organisations which do not reassess and adapt their workflows?
Organisations who hang onto the past and are not able to adopt and change to a digital workplace will most likely not be around for very long.
What best practice advice would you offer CIOs looking to implement a smarter workflow?
Firstly, get executive support. We’ve all been there. Amazing plans with no support from leadership often die on the vine. Buy-in from the C-suite is critical. Period. This approach allows for the right mixture of carrot and stick to prioritise work across multiple teams.
Let me elaborate on our own workflow and Digital Transformation within ServiceNow.
From the very first internal meeting of those tasked with ServiceNow’s Digital Workflow Transformation, there was cross-department agreement on two goals: unlocking productivity and delivering great experiences.
These were defined as such:
- Goal 1 – Unlocking productivity: This means finding ways to automate and digitise workflows across every department, on every type of device and across all relevant stakeholders, and personas served.
- Goal 2 – Delivering great experiences: We wanted to focus on what people encounter or experience over the course of their interaction with our applications, products or services.
Simply put, increased productivity plus great experiences translate into happy employees. Happy employees plus increased productivity means happy customers. And happy employees plus happy customers lead to greater profits.
Research bears this out. Happy and engaged employees, on average, have 17% higher productivity, 10% higher customer satisfaction metrics and generate 21% higher profitability.
Can you tell us about ServiceNow’s Knowledge 2020 event?
The Knowledge 2020 digital experience will showcase all the ways you can unlock productivity through modern digital workflows, highlight the latest customer and platform innovations, and inspire the ServiceNow community to continue to create great experiences for businesses.
- Get inspired – Hear success stories and best practices from customers and thought leaders.
- Get educated – Choose from hundreds of breakout sessions and labs to help you transform your work.
- Get connected – Network with our community of customers, partners, and experts who can help you work better.
*The Knowledge 2020 content is available on demand until June 10 and is available here.