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Friday, 11 November 2016 07:01

Service is now the thing

By Graeme Philipson

Here’s a new one for you. “Service as a service”. I thought I just made it up, but of course when I googled it someone had already thought of it.

The phrase came to mind when I attended ServiceNow’s user conference in Melbourne yesterday. In only its third iteration in Australia this annual event attracted 1200 delegates, testimony to the company’s massive growth in the region.

ServiceNow is one of the fastest growing companies in the IT industry. It is breasting US$1 billion in annual revenues. The company’s product is service. It is, in many ways, the ultimate cloud company, using the techniques of “as-a-service” delivery to – wait for it – deliver services that help companies deliver services.
NowForum Melbourne

This may sound a little silly, but it is an important idea and the reason for the company’s phenomenal success, which has seen it more than double its Australian customer base and staff numbers in less than a year.

Every enterprise sized organisation has a large body of internal customers and service providers. People in one department are constantly requesting services from people in other departments. Front-line sales staff need help from the product people. Product people need help from the IT people. IT people need help from procurement people. Procurement people need help from finance people. Finance people need help from the legal department.

They are constantly making these sorts of requests. This sort of stuff is the minutiae of everyday life for most workers. What ServiceNow does is automate these tasks, which it estimates can take up to 40% of the average worker’s day.

Cut that time in half, and you save a day a week. No wonder the company is doing well.

ServiceNow grew out of automation of traditional ITSM (IT service management) disciplines. ITSM has been around for decades as a technique for bringing some structure to the way IT departments interface with end users in the organisation.

ServiceNow has used cloud-based technology to automate that process further, and extended the techniques to other areas of service delivery within the organisation. It is a basically simple concept, and it obviously works well.

Judging from the presentations at the NowForum user conference, its users are a pretty happy bunch. Senior service deliver staff from organisations such as Australia Post, IAG, RACQ, NSW GovDC, the University of Melbourne and Woolworths all spoke highly of the way ServiceNow has improved their internal service delivery.

At the conference ServiceNow release the results of a survey it conducted in eight countries, including Australia. Of managers’ experience with the service they experience as everyday consumers with those they receive as internal customers of the organisation’s services.

Australia ranked poorly. On a scale of 0-100, processes used for consumer services, such as ordering an Uber or shopping with Amazon, scored an average of 64 on the Service Experience Index, while processes used for work services, such as requesting a PO or getting IT Support, scored an average of just 26.

“This highlights an opportunity for Australian companies to invest in automation and improve the employee experience,” says David Oakley, ServiceNow ‘s ANZ managing director. “The Internet has given rise to a huge number of online consumer services, but too many workplaces are still implementing manual, unstructured tools, making routine tasks a lot harder and more time-consuming than they need to be.”

Oakley says the Service Experience gap in the Australian workplace is driven by outdated technologies that reduce productivity:
•    Managers are four times more likely to use email for interdepartmental services than for consumer services.
•    Managers are nine times less likely to use a mobile app in the workplace for interdepartmental services, than for consumer services.
•    Only 31% of managers use the web or a mobile app to request workplace services, versus 80% who use the web or a mobile app for consumer services such as online shopping
•    Over half of managers (51%) say that current workplace services leave them less time for strategic initiatives.
•    Over half of managers (56%) say that current workplace services lower their productivity.

“Most companies invest heavily on the customer experience because they know that building consumer satisfaction and loyalty is integral to its success. But this strategy is not being built into the employee experience. If companies start to invest in automating their internal processes, we believe they will be able to drive competitive benefits and cost savings by reclaiming skilled management time,” says Oakley.

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