Acorio’s EXPAND Executive Insights: ServiceNow’s Strategy for 2021

Last month, Acorio unveiled EXPAND Executive Insights, a new monthly series where we share stories of clients, executives, and teammates who challenge each other to take on the world of what’s coming next. 

This month we sat down with Acorio’s VP of Strategic Marketing, Meghan Lockwood, as she outlines the Acorio Leadership team’s perspective on what we expect for ServiceNow’s major priorities for 2021.  

This piece provides a comprehensive look into ServiceNow’s strategy for the year ahead, so keep reading to see what platform and strategic insights Meghan has to share, or scroll down to view her answer via slide share and video.  

EXPAND: VP of Strategic Marketing, Meghan Lockwood, on ServiceNow’s strategy for 2021  

When thinking about what’s next for ServiceNow, we have to understand that the platform is laser-focused on uniting and creating what they’re calling a “workflow revolution”, aiming to fuel change and Digital Transformation in modern companies.  

In fact, CEO Bill McDermott has identified Digital Transformation as the defining challenge, or rather, opportunity, for enterprises across the globe. While solving this challenge is clearly a tall order, I can say with certainty that I do in fact see our customers embracing the power of ServiceNow in their transformations.  

In order to achieve their goal of making Digital Transformation synonymous with the ServiceNow platform, ServiceNow has put several strategies into motion that will increasingly play out on an even bigger scale over the next year.   

Understanding ServiceNow’s #1 Priority: The Customer 

With many people around the world working from home, we’re seeing a lapse in traditional, walk-up retail experiences. This shift, coupled with the economic instabilities we’ve seen in 2020, has significantly challenged companies to transform in order to survive. This push creates a huge opportunity for technology to enhance and support today’s businesses, and ServiceNow is taking advantage of the need in several big ways. 

Lara Caimi moved from Chief Strategy Officer to Chief Customer and Partner Officer.

This shift in leadership responsibilities is a demonstration of ServiceNow as an organization aligning internally to deliver on their promise that their number one priority for next year will be an emphasis on customers. 

As Caimi partners with CRO, Kevin Harverty, to reach Now’s $10B goal, we predict the team will promote even more co-selling, co-delivering, solving for the customer, and driving true value for the platform. 2021 will certainly be a key year for Caimi as she strategizes how ServiceNow can best support its customers’ digital transformation efforts, while also aligning the entire partner ecosystem to support those goals. 

I see Partner and Customer alignment serving customers even better in the next year, now that Caimi oversees both the ServiceNow Parner ecosystem and ServiceNow’s Customer success and support. As she works with David Parsons and the Partner ecosystem, we can expect the continued maturing of the partner ecosystem, and increasing cohesiveness of the customer outcome strategy as it aligns with partners 

ServiceNow has increased their investments in data analytics.

These capabilities provide dashboards and analytics to clearly visualize the return on investment for ServiceNow for companies, while also providing a benchmark against peers. 

ServiceNow is using 2021 as a launch pad for a more verticalized strategy.

We know from the executive side that as they’re expanding throughout the enterprise, platform leadership is focusing on how to drive value from verticalized solutions. In other words, the go-to-market strategy and suggested solutions vary based on customer industry, so ServiceNow is working on better serving customers through an industry-based approach.  

As ServiceNow aims to better serve its customers, their strategy also has to include a focus on their product and expanding technology offerings. In times of accelerated and unprecedented change, users are wondering what types of new offerings the platform is developing to meet their needs, and ServiceNow must be ready to deliver.  

Paving the Way Ahead 

There has never been another software platform with such segment-defining enterprise technology and fast growth – particularly in terms of an Enterprise technology capable of cutting across so many different buying centers (from the CIO to the Head of People, and the Head of Customers to the Chief Transformation Office)

As a result, a lot of companies, including our parent company NTT Data Services and other big consultancies, are starting to name ServiceNow as one of their strategic investments for 2021 and beyond. 

This commitment and attention from partners will drive even more innovation and value for customers, fueling even more additional growth in ServiceNow’s marketplace coming in 2021. Last year was a year of market-defining growth for ServiceNow, but I would expect them to beat that in the next 12 months ahead 

Delivering on Transformation’s Vision: ServiceNow Investment Continues to Grow in the Enterprise 

This evolution and growth that we’ve seen across the entire ServiceNow platform is a clear testament to the rise of ServiceNow as a strategic investment for Enterprise organizations — and just how many firms are taking note of the transformation promise!  

In fact, as we watch year over year data from Acorio’s Insight and Vision research report, we’re seeing firms across industries increasing their investments for ServiceNow strategic roadmaps. Whereas the first time we launched our Insight & Vision Survey three years ago, only 40% of companies even had a strategic roadmap for ServiceNow, today early data from our 2021 survey indicates that more than 67% of companies now have a strategic transformational roadmap on how ServiceNow is going to drive digital transformation (or it’s cousin, service management, in their company.)

This rise in strategic planning for the platform speaks to how more and more business leaders are recognizing how much more valuable ServiceNow can be when planned thoughtfully with the future in mind. With so much change taking place in the last 12 months, firms are looking to re-evaluate themselves in order to keep pace with today’s business climate: this is what digital transformation is all about.  

As ServiceNow’s role as the EAS backbone for the modern enterprise continues to expand beyond the IT, Customer and Employee workflows – into Finance and even Vaccine Distribution, roadmaps will become even more crucial.  

Without a roadmap strategy for such a valuable and expansive system, firms more easily lose focus. In other words, you’re certainly not evolving the platform nor enhancing a strategy in any true direction without a clear roadmap to guide the way.  

McDermott Makes his Mark  

CEO, Bill McDermott is entering his second full year leading the team, and with that, we expect to see even more action and movement. Traditionally when new executives join a team, they often start with a listening tour, going through and aligning leadership, strategy, and organizational transformation. After that is when they really start to drive results.  

While McDermott certainly accomplished significant achievements in 2020, I have no doubt he has even bigger plans for 2021. If you look back at 2018 and 2019, ServiceNow was tracking three to five major announcements and acquisitions annually up until Bill McDermott entered the scene in November of 2019. Since then, we’ve seen upwards of 15 major new acquisitions and partnership announcements, so my expectation is that number will double or may even triple next year.  

As for the focus of those acquisitions? My bets are on even more verticalized strategy, in addition to adding rocket boosters to the company’s AI and Machine learning capabilities. We may also see more and more acquisitions aligned to help businesses meet the new challenges they’re facing today – if there are any companies out there whose entire existence lies in developing intelligent automation on vaccine distribution or just-in-time healthcare supply chain functionality, I bet their phone lines are pretty busy right now.  

ServiceNow’s Expanded Digital Strategy 

On a different note, I expect 2021 to bring even more digitization to ServiceNow’s go-to-market efforts. The business circumstances of 2020 made this shift inevitable, and NOW customers and partners alike are facing shared challenges in reaching their audience at home.   

As ServiceNow pivots to enhance their digital footprint, we expect to see a shorter Knowledge than last year’s award-nominated six-week event.  

ServiceNow’s annual Sales Kickoff event last week really set the tone for a strong year ahead, particularly for ServiceNow’s digital events. From rolling out new commercials (Willy Wonka theme, anyone?) to sharing client success wins in bit-size clips, ServiceNow is focused on elevating their digital brand with new marketing campaigns.  

ServiceNow CMO, Alan Marks, let the team in on the secret that they will be expanding their messaging on the Workflow Revolution into ever-more elements of the buying cycle this year, so look for more interesting brand campaigns and even more engagement at K21 Digital – I especially like the smaller chunking of content and keynotes that allow audiences to absorb content without being overwhelmed!   

With safety measures and stay at home orders appropriately in place in many US cities at the moment, ServiceNow’s workflow revolution campaigns will remain digital for at least the first half of 2021. But I for one am eager to see how the platform experiments with different messaging over the course of the next several months and beyond.   

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With a strategy laser-focused on customer success, ServiceNow is positioning themselves to make 2021 the year where the platform assumes its role as the go-to strategic enterprise operating system, linking together all underpinning technologies and aligning workflows to really become the heartbeat of the modern enterprise. In the meantime, we’re watching closely and hanging onto our hats for the ride.  

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