Knowledge 2021: Week 1

James ‘The Grafter’ has put down his thoughts on the sessions he enjoyed following week 1 of Know21, which aspects resonate the most & how other companies are making the most out of the Now platform…..

from the first week at K21

Another year, another all digital ServiceNow Knowledge conference, credit for which goes to Covid-19. At whyaye, we’ve spent the previous 14 months consistently delivering outcomes for our clients virtually, and in this past week ServiceNow have proven they can prepare, market, and produce high quality video content for the second year in a row. 

Much of the keynote, quite rightly, focused on their efforts to use the platform of platforms, within their customers, in the fight against COVID. From employee health screening to vaccination status, the safe workplace suite of applications has benefitted organisations across the globe. Furthermore, closer to home, NHS Scotland have leveraged the Now Platform to enable the hugely successful rollout of their vaccination programme to the public. It does go without saying however, that I am thoroughly looking forward to getting stuck back into in-person working and attending an in-person K22.  

This year I chose to pay particular attention on sessions focussed on employee workflows. One of my current customers is a large global retail customer who is introducing a new recruitment and onboarding process in ServiceNow. The first presentation to catch my eye was by PepsiCo, which, as an organisation, parallels with my customer, most notably being that they have operations in over 100 countries. PepsiCo are going live with case, knowledge, and document management, supported by the employee service centre, in the next month. This is around a year later than us, but it is clear the business outcomes and objectives are similar. The focus, primarily, being on their employee’s ability to connect to the right experts first time. Further to this, they have difficulties in their factory-based workforce, where HR is less digitally able, specifically around employee document management. At present the majority of those working in factory-based environments have their HR records still in a paper-based format. PepsiCo want to leverage the Now Platform, and its mobile app to digitise these records. 


The ultimate ambition, starting with HR but across all the functions in GBS, is this becomes a one stop shop where you can go for everything that’s on your mind from an employee services perspective
Amedeo Guaracci, PepsiCo

Bristol Myers Squibb ran an informative session on how they have used ServiceNow to revolutionise their employee onboarding. Their goal is to engage a new hire at the right time, allowing them to connect to the right people before they walk through the door on day one, and give them the opportunity to input into their own onboarding. Most interestingly, they surveyed over 250 of their most recent new hires to understand how and where their current process could be improved on, and they found areas of improvement they’d never considered. This session really did resonate with me, specifically around a couple of hot topics that I am currently in discussions about. None more so than how do you make a global process localised? When operating in more than 100 countries, it is essential there is a global process, however, for those countries that have specific legal or regulatory requirements, ServiceNow allows us to cater for those through campaigns, knowledge, and to-do lists. From a technical perspective, they had the same challenges we are encountering around SSO and circumventing that for new hires who are yet to receive a company ID. I found BMSs top takeaways particularly poignant. Have a robust change plan, focus heavily on adoption among hiring managers and recognise that this is primarily an experience project where functionality comes second to the user experience. 

Moving away from employee workflows for a moment, I did get the opportunity to watch SwissRe’s presentation on getting back to OOTB. This was a great success story to listen to, how they were in a position where upgrades were highly complex, they were unable to activate new platform features when they came along, and they were running 7 custom applications. By implementing a governance model, during their re-platforming they focused on driving business outcomes, rather than processes, and only introduced customisations where necessary. This allowed them to introduce simpler and more automated processes through a mantra of business transformation, not technical transformation. We are beginning to see a lot of legacy ServiceNow customers in this position, where they have customised at a time where it was seen as the most appropriate thing to do, and when ServiceNow was not a feature heavy as it is today. The approach SwissRe have taken sounds not only sensible, but spot on and is a fantastic customer success story. 

Technical refactoring is not enough, there has to be a culture change to ensure that we are using the OOTB capabilities and not just hacking our way through with customisations
Ibi Morakinyo, Swiss Re

ServiceNow released Quebec in March and with it came new features in HR Service Delivery. Of these, my favourite must be listening posts, the ability to send employees short pulse surveys based on predefined criteria. Whilst these can be sent as email notifications, what I am excited about is the ability for these to appear as small widgets on the employee service centre. Once you have raised a case, you will be invited in the moment to give your feedback on it. These are simple star ratings, with an optional comments box and being so easily accessible and quick I can see customers gaining a much clearer picture of their level of service. 

There’s nothing more that I enjoy than providing value to my clients through the Now platform, and hearing all the success stories of companies across the globe has been a highlight of the past week for me.

My final thoughts are on case studies that hold the most power. It’s all well and good convincing customers to purchase a product like ServiceNow based off other customer case studies, but one thing that really interests me is the Now on Now sessions. This year they ran one on how they have been able to use ServiceNow Ramp Up to streamline and enhance employee transitions into new roles. At the core of this, was, again, the employee experience and their sense of belonging. They were able to see who their buddy is, interact with them directly through the platform, order their choice of merchandise and share feedback on the experience. In addition, it shows them their progress through the 90 days ramp up process, reducing their time to contribution inside the organisation. This is so important as it shows the ServiceNow themselves have great interest and belief in the power and benefit of their own product. 

There’s nothing more that I enjoy than providing value to my clients through the Now platform and hearing all the success stories of companies across the globe has been a highlight of the past week for me. Knowledge continues this week with some further live sessions and after that I am looking forward to the next two releases of ServiceNow before rolling into Knowledge22. Here’s to hoping it’s not from behind a screen! 


By James ‘The Grafter’

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