EXPAND: Marci Parker on the Evolution of Experience

Can you believe this month marks the halfway point for our 2021 EXPAND Executive Insights? To celebrate, we sat down with one of Acorio’s most influential and inspiring leaders: Marci Parker, VP of our ServiceNow Practice, to talk about the platform’s ability to ‘workflow anything’, the globalization of tools, and the evolution of experience in relation to Service Management and Digital Transformation strategy.  

Looking for quicker access to Marci’s insights? Catch the highlights in the video below or keep scrolling to get all the details in writing.  

Experience: The 1-Word Summary of Today’s Service Management Strategy 

I’ve spent over two decades working in Service Management. In that time, the evolution of client needs can be summed up in a single word: experience.  

For a while, ‘user experience’ was the big buzzword around technology trends. It focused on the usability and visual components of technology and products, but recently that focus has shifted as we enter a new era of Service Management and Digital Transformation.  

Today’s most modern companies are now zeroing in on the overall employee and customer experience. This differs from UX because its perspective is based in humanity, rather than technology. In other words, it challenges firms to think about how different people can best interact with technology to serve them, rather than solely focusing on optimizing the tool itself. 

Customer and Employee Experience (CX and EX) goes deeper than User Experience by not only asking about the layout of a tool but going the extra mile to consider how the user feels while they’re using it. This ensures the tool’s behavior is as intuitive as possible. As most offices transitioned to remote work this past year and continue to serve their customers and employees virtually, this trend and its digitization have only accelerated.  

 At the beginning of last year, many organizations were still functioning with outdated and analog systems of service. Those who relied heavily on face-to-face interactions were hit the hardest with the switch over to remote work. We’ve been trying to get firms to see the need to embrace digital transformation for years, but the pandemic was the ultimate event to emphasize those existing gaps. I’d go so far as to say that we’ve seen the digital business landscape undergo more change in the last 18 months during the COVID-19 pandemic than it has throughout the last 20 years. 

See the slideshare on LinkedIn  

EX in Action: Globalization of Tools  

One of my favorite examples of the importance of EX comes from earlier in my career when I used to be an Asset Manager. One of my responsibilities was to build reports on a system whose user interface was very practical, yet mostly unremarkable. Unfortunately, the system lacked native reporting capabilities, so I had to develop a solution using Microsoft Access which, at the time, was written completely in German. As someone who doesn’t speak German, I had to manually translate all the table names and fields in order to generate reports. 

Even though I don’t remember any of the German that I learned, I can still viscerally recall the experience of translating the tool and the challenges it presented. Luckily, nowadays we have so many globalized tools that offer language capabilities to serve users around the world. This internationalization of tools is a key example of platforms stepping up to elevate their EX and CX.  

Keeping Up with the Platform: Acorio’s Commitment to Continued Learning  

In addition to expanding their global audience, many tools today continue to expand their services by consistently adding new innovations. ServiceNow is no exception. The platform has two major releases every year so it’s very important that our Acorio team keeps up with all of its latest and greatest transformations. In order to do so, our company strategy incorporates a combination of both structured and unstructured learning approaches.  

ServiceNow has a very structured approach to managing training and certification for its new releases. One example of this is their delta certifications, which are short tests that ServiceNow releases after each new upgrade to test those with existing certifications solely on the aspects of the platform that have changed in the most recent release. ServiceNow facilitates this program with clear deadlines, so we hold our team accountable to following those guidelines and staying current with the platform.  

Internally, Acorio hosts a series of team meetings in both small and large settings where our experts can really dig in to understand how the platform is changing. This time allows our employees to share insights on why our clients will care about what’s changed in the newest upgrade, explain what’s in it for our clients, and reflect on why we care about what’s changed within the platform. With each release there’s always a series of business facing improvements as well as technology facing improvements, so these meetings allocate windows of time for us to also focus on each of those areas. 

As ServiceNow continues to expand, we have to mirror that growth in our team: both in sheer size and depth of skill. Acorio has a foundational commitment to continued education for our employees, and we’ve come to find that passionate and curious people are those who tend to be the most successful here. When it comes to hiring, we look at the nature of people’s personalities and qualities that we can nurture and refine to be great consultants.   

Recent Platform Strategy Shifts Among Clients  

Our people’s curiosity is what ensures we can best serve our clients amidst difficult or unprecedented circumstances, especially during moments like the last 18 months when many of our clients were making key roadmap shifts.  

One of these roadmap shifts is highlighted by HR’s expanded responsibilities in the modern enterprise. As the pandemic moved the majority of workers back home, we’ve seen that HR teams have a much larger voice than ever before.  

This should come as no surprise, as HR is no longer solely responsible for payroll, benefits, and answering requests – they are now tasked with the ultimate challenge of making sure that every employee has exactly what they need to do their best work from home, wherever that may be. This ties back into the tremendous EX trend we’re seeing across enterprises as many firms race to either add EX initiatives to their ServiceNow journey for the very first time or accelerate existing EX initiatives to the front of their roadmap.  

Another big strategy shift we’re seeing is that, after more than a year of uncertainty, confidence amongst business leaders is finally starting to return as businesses begin to reopen on a national scale.  

As businesses reopen, we’re seeing a tremendous hunger from organizations to tackle several business initiatives simultaneously. My advice to clients here is to always make sure that everyone has the right pacing, specifically in terms of what their teams can handle. We’re starting to see more clients with a project appetite that is larger than they can handle, so we have to help them find the right cadence of improvements for their platform and set expectations for what is most realistic to achieve their desired results in a way that is also sustainable for their teams.  

Top Two Business Initiatives for Clients in 2021 

If the last year has shown us anything, it’s that today’s companies must evolve and transform to be more responsive to how work gets done these days. For the enterprises preparing to welcome our national workforce back into the office, that means automating paper-based or email-based processes. For this reason, Employee Experience is at the top of the list for 2021 client initiatives.  

Also in the area of automation, the second top focus for clients this year is the core data within their Software Asset Management (SAM) data’s Configuration Management Database (CMDB). This foundational data drives so many other process areas, whether it be in the IT space, the business management space, or elsewhere.  

Recently, one of our Financial Services clients completed a SAM project that effectively pulled them from a customized ServiceNow environment with a CMDB that didn’t generate accurate, trustworthy data on software assets, to one that is properly configured and keeping an accurate record of assets. They now have the ability to use that data to transform other areas of the business, facilitating automation and reducing software spend.  

Finishing 2021 on a High Note: ServiceNow’s Strategy 

As we get farther into 2021, we’ll continue to see enterprises reopen and accelerate their strategic initiatives to better serve their clients and their employees. I also anticipate that partners and ServiceNow will respond to this by adding new innovations to offer expanded support for a safe Return to Work.  

Today’s businesses have to serve and accommodate a mix of employees working in the office, completely remote, and in a hybrid model. Within that challenge, there are ample opportunities for ServiceNow to better support people and processes. The question then becomes, how do you find the right mix of strategy and tools to support your business and its people?  

Once we get through the initial ‘Return to Work’ wave, I think the next focus for business leaders will be evaluating the experiences they’re providing and automating processes wherever possible: making processes smoother, more transparent, and efficient for the end user and the employees serving them every step of the way. In terms of the future of automation, the opportunities for clients to take advantage of this capability are endless.  

“Workflow(ing) Anything”: ServiceNow’s Latest Catch Phrase  

ServiceNow’s CEO, Bill McDermott captured the essence of this boundless potential during this year’s Knowledge keynote where he confidently asserted that ServiceNow ‘can workflow anything’. To me, this phrase eloquently demonstrates the underlying power of the platform.  

Some may argue that it’s too broad of a statement, but I would counter that’s the beauty of the phrase: it introduces another level of conversation to understand how it works and what that looks like on a tactical level.  

It’s challenging to explain succinctly to those outside of technology all of what ServiceNow can do. My daughters, for example, used to describe my job to their friends by saying their mom gives Internet to the world. With this new catchphrase “workflow anything”, ServiceNow is able to concisely capture how it aims to achieve its fundamental mission to make work, work.  

Finding Inspiration Around Us 

ServiceNow’s mission is a call to action for its Partners, and one that we take seriously.  

Along the way, I’ve been so very, very fortunate to work with such an amazing team of leaders here at Acorio that inspire me daily – I really put this team of leaders at the top of my list of people that have provided me the most coaching, support and vision that I’ve ever experienced. Specifically, BrianMeghanJuliet and, of course, Ellen have been tremendous resources for me, and I continue to look to them as we’ve developed and as we continue to grow as a company and as an ecosystem as a whole. 

Now more than ever, it’s important for teams to stay united and focused on a mission. For us at Acorio, that means serving our clients to face whatever challenges are thrown their way.  

About Marci  

With over 20 years of IT experience, Marci has a special talent for marrying technical implementation and operational functionality. Prior to joining the ServiceNow ecosystem as an Engagement Manager, Marci served as the America’s Region Director of Asset Management at CSC, where her global team of 120 asset professionals delivered to 35 Fortune 500 companies. Today at Acorio, she runs our ServiceNow practice, supporting 80+ active projects each month.