Jun 09 2020

Knowledge 2020: 4 Main Takeaways From the Virtual Event

What you need to know from ServiceNow’s six-week digital experience.

Digitization is no longer a luxury; it’s a requirement.

That’s been the main message from ServiceNow’s Knowledge 2020 over the past six weeks, as attendees have heard from industry leaders, keynote speakers and instructors about how to successfully move organizations through these uncertain times.

The event itself had some uncertainty of its own to deal with. Knowledge 2020 was originally scheduled to be an in-person event, giving attendees a week packed with workshops and breakout sessions about the latest in digital transformation. That all changed amid the global pandemic. Knowledge 2020 shifted to an all-digital experience spanning six weeks that expanded the content, all available on demand and at no cost.

The subject matter changed as well. ServiceNow’s platform already addressed the needs of remote workers and leaders, but the digital transformation conversation had a renewed urgency as organizations tried to navigate new waters. Here are the main takeaways from this year’s event:

1. IT Departments Have Been Working Overtime

Knowledge 2020 opened with a big thank you to IT departments as they pushed to get the vast majority of Americans working from home in a matter of weeks — or in some cases, days.

“We’re in unprecedented times, and IT is absolutely the hero,” ServiceNow Senior Vice President of IT Workflow Products Pablo Stern said in his opening keynote address.

While the initial push may be over, he added, in many ways, the work for IT departments is just beginning.

“Digital is the new normal,” said Stern. “It’s to deliver an experience not only for their employees, so that they can be more productive, but for their customers, so they can get the service they’ve come to count on.”

MORE FROM BIZTECH: Knowledge 2020 opens with a big thank you to IT.

2. Successful Digital Transformation Is Dependent on Culture

One thing that industry leaders agree on is that in the new working world, digital transformation is no longer optional. The nature of remote work makes digitalization a necessity, but for companies who are early on in this journey, it’s important to make sure the organization’s culture is ready for the change. 

“Change is a fact of life in organizations,” said Richard Murphy, ServiceNow editor in chief. “But it has to be carried out in a way that makes people want to adapt to it.” 

He said that it’s important to make sure employees feel like they’re listened to, and that they’re part of the change.

“Employees get engaged when you enlist them in the process,” Murphy said. “When you train them, you can ask them to send in their ideas for feedback so they can see change happening.”

MORE FROM BIZTECH: How to build a culture that’s ripe for digital transformation. 

3. The ‘Next Normal’ Will Require More Than Just IT

To say there’s been a lot of talk about the “new normal” would be an understatement. But in a joint Q&A session, ServiceNow CIO Chris Bedi and Chief Talent Officer Pat Wadors spoke about what the different phases of that might look like, referring to the immediate future as the “next normal.”

“The pre-COVID workplace no longer exists,” Wadors said. “We will do dramatic shifts to make sure we’re safe, healthy, productive and adaptable for the new workplace.” 

Bedi added that different departments are going to have to come together to solve some of these new challenges, and technology will play a key role.

“You’ll have the head of talent thinking about things like virtual onboarding and how to keep employees engaged,” Bedi said. “You’ll have the CFO thinking about modeling out cash flow forecasts, supply chain officers thinking about logistics and routes to market. But there’s one thing in common, which is that it’s all powered by tech.”

MORE FROM BIZTECH: What will businesses need to succeed in the ‘next normal’?

4. Remote Work Is Accelerating Digital Transformation

If organizations weren’t already on their digital transformation journey, widespread remote work forced them into it. Businesses of all sizes across all industries have had to speed up their digitalization efforts in order to serve their customers and support their workforces. But amid that fast transition, organizations still need to take steps to make sure the process is a success.

“It’s like widening the road when you still have to drive,” said CDW Chief Architect for Service Management Solutions Steven Horvath. 

He laid out eight trends that business leaders should look at to help drive a successful transformation — adding that ultimately, it’s about people, process and technology coming together for a common goal.

“I liken it to a three-legged stool,” Horvath said. “The top of the stool is the vision, it’s ‘what are we going to do’ — but then, when you think about a three-legged stool, all three legs have to be in balance, and if they’re not in balance, the stool wobbles.”

Keep this page bookmarked for articles from Knowledge 2020 and join the conversation on Twitter @BizTechMagazine.

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