One of Sci-Fi’s favorite authors, Arthur C. Clarke, once said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is equivalent to magic.” ServiceNow was still in its infancy at the time of Clarke’s death, but I have no doubts that he would think ServiceNow and its transformational powers of Service Management would be nothing short of magical.
You might have noticed that the way we do business is rapidly evolving. New advances in the IoT and AI world (from predictive business intelligence to self-refilling refrigerators) can often seem like “magic” for firms looking to bolster efficiency and results.
The rising velocity of business and increasing visibility of a brand’s online footprint certainly offers more potential for profit loss and gain. It also elevates the importance of customer service – for both external customers and internal employees who consume business services.
In this new age of complicated technology, it’s actually the simple solutions that ultimately drive the best outcomes for your business. Here is where Service Management comes in. “Service Management” ensures that any request you make of an individual is both trackable and likely to receive a response, and the concept is taking companies by storm! Using this arguably simplistic idea, companies across the globe are turning to Service Management (and “magical” Service Management technology) to decrease waste and increase business velocity.
What is Service Management?
Simply put, quality Service Management ensures you get what you ask for when you want it. There are fancy definitions, of course. For example, according to the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), Service Management is the value of a service, defined by its utility and warranty.
This ITIL framework looks at the effectiveness of Service Management by asking two questions:
- Does the service fulfill your needs?
- Is the service available when you need it?
Whether that service is entertainment streaming, a phone carrier, or a customer request, the service needs to both fulfill the need (answer the phone call in the carrier example) and be available when and where we need it (your phone finally has bars!).
Your Service Management should be that simple.
Followed by many who have grown up in Technology Service, the ITIL methodology also helps companies define an IT service; design it, transition it into operations, operate the service, and then continually improve on that service – basically, covering its entire useful life. This is, admittedly, a lot to manage – particularly as you try to track the IT service over its entire lifecycle of that service from conception (“hey, we should offer this service”) through adoption (“let’s implement the service”) to the retirement or replacement of that service.
Deploying ITIL and Service Management Outside of IT
What’s interesting, and perhaps magical for some in the IT space, is that over time, as companies had adopted ITIL methodology in IT, they begin migrating the ITIL paradigm to improve other corporate functions outside of IT. It turns out that the ITIL methodology really can be applied to any service.
If Service Management is a means of formalizing the processes companies use to provide services and managing their life cycles, the process works both internally to other departments within the business and externally to customers.
This Service Management philosophy has always been a foundation to Acorio’s business. As Vice President and Head of Client Delivery, Marci Parker, explains, “Service Management is a way of looking at delivering a service from the customer’s point of view – whether that customer is external or internal from IT, marketing, HR, finance, or legal.” By adopting Service Management, and looking from the recipient’s (or customers) perspective, companies today are able to see the end-to-end experience their users have. With that perspective, they can structure their services and the delivery of those services around what their users are going to get.
Founder and VP of Platform Solutions, Ken Michaelson, expands on this idea, using HR as an example. “It used to be that HR (or really any department) would have a set of tasks: receive emails or questions and answer them, onboard, off-board, etc.. Well… without tracking, the business doesn’t have any metrics around the effectiveness of those activities. There’s no reporting. Service Management provides that framework to really take your business outcomes to the next level.”
According to Gartner’s Magic Quadrant: ServiceNow Dominates Available Service Management Tools
Because of the upside – namely, improved efficiency and the capacity to delight internal or external customers — most companies automate their Service Management processes.
In the past clients have picked an IT Service Management tool, like Cherwell, BMC Remedy, and a host of smaller IT Service Management options.
Today, there is one platform (not tool) that is so far ahead of its time that customers are rushing to adopt it. That platform is ServiceNow, the $1 billion cloud technology provider founded in 2004 which has experienced hockey-stick growth in the past decade, including an estimated 33% in 2017, and a 97% customer renewal rate.
ServiceNow’s Service Management capabilities are so rich and native that it’s managed to scale beyond IT, and help facilitate a Service Management strategy and advance both the workflow and technology abilities throughout the entire modern enterprise. Further, even when ServiceNow is initially deployed inside the IT department, our experience at Acorio (as well as ServiceNow’s own growth numbers) shows that the technology quickly leaps over other department walls to divisions like Customer Service, HR, Facilities, and more.
Full Disclosure: Acorio’s business is 100% focused on our ServiceNow consulting practice, so we are arguably biased to see the best of the product.
However, this focus also means we have extensively looked at both the pros and the cons of the platform – and remain convinced that we’ve put our bet on ServiceNow and for good reason: ServiceNow dominates other comparable technologies in pretty much every category you can measure.
For evidence of this domination, you can look no further than industry analysts Gartner, who’s magic quadrant evaluation of IT Service Support Management vendors is generally considered the gold standard for technology.
In the chart above, you can see ServiceNow significantly outperforms competitors in both their ability to execute on their Service Management platform, as well as the completeness of the full enterprise platform vision.
“In the former ITSM realm, there’s nobody that really competes with ServiceNow on a broad scale,” explains Adam Mason, Acorio’s VP of Solutions and Innovation. “Your organization can all work together on one platform and see what each other is doing. If you want to streamline work, then you put it in ServiceNow.”
While some niche players certainly have a continued role to play in the industry, we still see them competing in specific arenas, because of particular focus in that area, they have more maturity, depth, and functionality than what you might see in a similar process model in ServiceNow. However, the breadth of ServiceNow’s offering is truly the game changer. There are very few competitors able to match both the depth, breadth, and capabilities of the Enterprise platform. And, with bi-annual platform updates (such as last week’s Jakarta launch), even nascent product offerings rapidly improve and mature.
ServiceNow’s Competitive Advantages
ServiceNow’s strength lies in two places – as a single source or record and platform automation. From transactional “just getting work done” to tracking records and updates, etc., the backend ServiceNow CMDB database is fully robust and it doesn’t go down.
“The workflow engine is second to none,” explains Mason, “If you spend any time trying to build a workflow in a lot of other toolsets, there are some that are really simple and elegant – and that’s great. But, they do nothing with the integrations, they do nothing with automations. They don’t have all these runbooks and orchestration options that come out of the box from ServiceNow (if you license that component from ServiceNow).
“It’s more that ServiceNow is an enabler for other technologies than a replacement for other technologies. If 80% to 90% of what you need is in ServiceNow, then the advantages of having a fully-integrated platform really do outweigh the extra features you get with another package.”
This results in customers getting much more with ServiceNow (with a simpler integration and rollout) than you would see if you bought the individual components and tried to integrate them.
To solve for that “build it” or “buy it” question, ServiceNow also offers strong API integrations with hundreds of standard IT systems.
Mason concludes, “ServiceNow is just a better platform, so it’s going to be a better investment than developer time.”
The Power of THE Service Management Platform
Choosing the Service Management technology that’s right for you comes down to aligning with your company’s needs. Look at your business objectives and align them with the technology capabilities on a case-by-case basis.
In over 250+ go-lives, we have found that nine times out of ten, ServiceNow is able to handle pretty much any scenario a customer has asked for, which is why Acorio, and really most of the IT ecosystem, now considers ServiceNow the Enterprise Service Management platform of choice.
In addition to platform power, many customers prize the value of having a single pane of IT glass – the Service Management’s equivalent of a magic mirror. With ServiceNow, all your data lives in one tool, providing value in a myriad of directions.
Take a Customer Service department, for example. With your whole firm tracking work in the same place, Customer Service can easily investigate an issue internally, find out if it is an IT issue or a Development problem and they can take appropriate action from there. When everyone works on the same platform, uncovering issues and resolving them becomes almost simple – the original ITIL goal we discussed at the beginning of this article.
We typically see customers starting their Service Management with IT Service Management (where there has been a ton of pain!) but as the example above shows, a Service Management strategy can encompass a host of different internal services.
Long Term Outlook: ServiceNow Continues to Drive Real ROI for Businesses
Over time, ServiceNow has delivered proven ROI – recently reported as 195% return rate with a 9-month payback period by Forrester Consulting. These impressive numbers are achieved by reducing the overall cost of development while increasing the efficiency of how work gets done. These changes in cost and efficiency increase internal capabilities beyond what a company could realistically pay someone internally to code something on their own.
In terms of Acorio’s bet, we still see some Service Management magic up the sleeves of ServiceNow leadership, lead by new CEO John Donahoe.
“At Acorio, we’re always looking in the future,” Ken Michaelson offered as we discussed Service Management’s evolution, “but at least for the next couple years, we don’t see anything catching up!”