May 20 2021

Knowledge 2021: Meeting the Challenge of Modern Workflows

Streamline operations with a customizable platform that prioritizes artificial intelligence, integration and automation.

A lot has been said about the disruptions of 2020. From remote work to virtual classes, the year will forever be remembered for the pivots that both the public and private sectors had to make to establish some form of continuity amid a historic global health event.

Less has been explored about the tools organizations used to make those pivots. Solutions such as videoconferencing and whiteboarding have been lauded for facilitating productivity, but productivity goes deeper than simple collaboration. Organizations needed — and continue to need — platforms to facilitate operations, both internally and with their customers.

“It’s time not for linear thinking but for exponential thinking,” said ServiceNow CEO Bill McDermott at the company’s Knowledge 2021 virtual event. “We’re helping our customers dream big and build their bridge to the digital future.” 

In his opening keynote address, McDermott said that these unique circumstances left no other option for ServiceNow but to keep up with increasing demand for its Now Platform. 

“Go big or go home,” McDermott said, “But we’re already home, so we have to go big.”

It’s become critical for organizations to adapt operations to a distributed workflow, something that isn’t a passing trend.

“Digital transformation is no longer a buzzword but a business imperative,” said Lara Caimi, chief customer and partner officer at ServiceNow.

Throughout the keynote, ServiceNow leaders demonstrated how the Now Platform has been put to use during the pandemic, as well as what’s in store for the product over the long term.

The Future Pillars of Workflow

Operations can vary greatly from organization to organization, but they all follow the same general structure, said ServiceNow Chief Innovation Officer Dave Wright.

“They all start with desire and they all end with the deliverable,” Wright said. “Now, what happens in between those two stages is just a set of repeatable actions that use resources and data to link those two things together.”

These actions can be both internal and external. For internal operations, the end desire is coming from employees. For external operations, the desire can come from customers or citizens, depending on the sector. When the path is decided, it can unlock true efficiency for the organization.

“Once you’ve got that workflow, you can automate it and optimize it as much as you like,” said Wright.

Automation is one of three main components that ServiceNow is focusing on for the Now Platform, according to Chief Product Officer CJ. Desai, along with artificial intelligence and integration. One of the new tools utilizing AI is a topic recommendation feature that can help streamline IT requests.

“There are many simpler tasks that people have requests for or they file incidents for, and topic recommendations identifies those topics and deflects those incidents for IT,” said Desai, adding that AI is also powering ServiceNow’s virtual agents to better serve customers and citizens. 

When it comes to integration, ServiceNow is focusing on tools that will help organizations in the new way of working, such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Microsoft Teams.

“Workflows without integrations do not make sense,” said Desai.

ServiceNow will also be adding robotic process automation capabilities to its platform soon. 

WATCH: Learn how to get ahead with automation and security in the new normal.

How Workflow Tools Have Helped Through the Pandemic

While most organizations had to shift during the pandemic in some way, the industry requiring perhaps the most pronounced pivot was sports. Professional leagues had to completely shut down and had to take drastic measures to resume playing.

WNBA Commissioner Cathy Englebert had just come to the league the year before.

“To be out of the sports landscape for 20 months would have been existential for our league,” said Englebert in a prerecorded video played during the keynote. “The first thing I said was, ‘We have to have all hands on deck here to figure out how to have a season.’”

When the idea of holding the season in a “bubble” came up, with players and staff remaining in a contained area while they completing the season, the league didn’t have the technology tools to bring it to life.

“We were turning our business model on a dime,” said Englebert. “We had no infrastructure, no systems, no processes, and we definitely had no workflow.”

The league turned to the Now Platform to create customized apps to track players and staff and to maintain records of the more than 25,000 COVID-19 tests they administered during the season.

Whether serving professional athletes, citizens or employees, being able to deploy customized apps for operations can be crucial in the hybrid work era. Keeping customer and employee desires at the center of that strategy can lead to successful implementation.

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