Windward Consulting Group commissioned a survey of over 200 enterprise ServiceNow executives. The driving force behind the research study was the economic upheaval and remote work revolution which took place during 2020. Windward wanted to know how companies and organizations were using the ServiceNow platform differently. When and why did enterprise-level organizations deploy ServiceNow? What are their plans moving forward, as the “new normal” evolves into whatever comes next?
The survey was meant to measure the relative maturity level of adoption of ServiceNow across an enterprise. It also tracked how IT leaders were approaching short-term and near-term IT goals, budgets, priorities, and resourcing for ServiceNow Fortune 1000 companies in the United States. This was a quantitative survey that featured 10 core questions about current implementation of ServiceNow and projected plans where IT leaders self-reported.
Results and Highlights from the Study
Role of ServiceNow in the Enterprise
When asked what role ServiceNow plays in the Enterprise, 70 percent of those polled responded that it was critical to their infrastructure. This is a testament to not only the expansion of the platform’s services and products but also the digital transformation of enterprises.
As companies expand their operations, digitalization across departments (not only IT) is necessary. IT functions are becoming more central to the organization as a whole. ServiceNow offers workflow management platforms for HR, CSM and other business functions, which shows it plays an integrative role in the digital ecosystem of enterprises.
It is clear in 2021 that ServiceNow’s expansive suite of services and products reflects the maturity and breadth of its platforms. As it gets utilized to support broader business functions, its contribution can be easily seen and appreciated by the C-Suite.
This represents an opportunity for savvy CIOs to drive value across the organization, and reap the rewards of their integral role in increasing efficiency, streamlining operations and improving user experience for employees, customers and other stakeholders.
ServiceNow as an Enterprise Solution
ADP and Salesforce are the large contenders on the field for CSM and HRSD platforms, but ServiceNow is gaining traction. According to the study, a majority of respondents are either implementing or considering implementing ServiceNow. Sixty-eight percent are already using ServiceNow as an enterprise solution, with an additional 28% considering it. Only 4 percent still view it exclusively as a niche IT solution.
One of the main reasons for this is to gain a competitive advantage. Companies want to take advantage of the robust integrated solution set from ServiceNow. The broader the use, the greater the return on investment.
Implementing ServiceNow across departments creates cohesion and collaboration within the company’s internal operations. It is also easy to deploy with an experienced IT team that can support expansion with internal resources.
Once a company has invested the time, money and resources to implement ServiceNow for IT, it’s a relatively small step to extend it into other business functions. They can also see it in action, and feel relatively confident in the platform’s stability, ease-of-use and potential to increase efficiency with workflows and automation.
Investment Priorities for ServiceNow
As we enter the tail end of 2021, over 90 percent of companies are looking to prioritize their investment in ServiceNow at a high or middle level for the coming year. This is a signal of the speed at which deployment across the Enterprise will occur.
While ServiceNow integrations continue to evolve, this does not deter IT leaders from investing. If anything, the lessons learned during the downturn have made the advantages of using workflow and automation supported by ServiceNow even more appealing.
Workforce Mix for ServiceNow Support
Supporting the ServiceNow environment takes more than full-time staff alone. The study revealed that the majority of respondents use a mix of full-time staff and outsourced vendors to assist in the management of the ServiceNow environment.
A hybrid environment provides the flexibility to bring in outside contractors for projects requiring specific expertise, while trusting skilled internal resources to manage daily administration. However, the drawback is increased complexity in managing a mixed workforce. To avoid this, it is necessary for vendors to provide support to a company that meets their business goals and directives. As ServiceNow continues to grow and expand, it is imperative to have an available workforce of developers, engineers and analysts who can provide niche support and work closely with internal teams to provide agile expertise.
Maintaining Skills for ServiceNow
Piggybacking off of the previous section, when asked if there was an internal staff ServiceNow skills gap, over half of respondents said yes. Teams could definitely use training or professional development on process and analysis skills related to the platform.
While the NOW Platform covers multi-facets of business domains – from HRSD to CSM to IT management – this makes it difficult for companies to hire a trained individual who has knowledge that covers the entire spectrum of the platform.
As companies continue to expand their ServiceNow platform integrations, it is important to consider investing in and training the staff who have expertise across the entire suite. This could be a challenge for companies, especially with ongoing updates and feature releases.
Outsourcing ServiceNow Administration
As the ServiceNow ecosystem matures and expands, more companies are considering outsourcing their ServiceNow support fully to contractors. Nearly half of respondents noted that they are currently or would consider outsourcing ServiceNow administration to a remote vendor solution.
Those who noted that outsourcing is not an option may have had no choice but to keep their ServiceNow administration in-house for security and compliance reasons. It is a matter of trust and reliability for critical business processes. Many organizations cannot leave ServiceNow administration in the hands of third-party vendors, especially with breaches on the rise within the last year. However, those who can consider taking advantage of managed platform services for daily administration will free up their internal resources to work on higher-value projects and priorities.
Ranking ServiceNow CMDB Maturity
When asked about the maturity of their ServiceNow Configuration Management Database (CMDB), the data showed a bell curve of responses.
The data represents a major leap forward for the ServiceNow community overall. Twenty-two percent of respondents have either a manual CMDB, or none at all. However, 20 percent have achieved a fully automated, integrated CMDB solution across their enterprise.
Still, there’s room for improvement in order to fully realize the potential of the ServiceNow implementation. It is important for CMDBs to be accurate, updated and trustworthy. A hybrid or manual system will never provide the most accurate data that is possible with an automated solution.
While CMDBs are difficult to implement, the Paris release of ServiceNow offers new features that align with the process around CMDB. This includes built-in tracking mechanisms to make CMDB management easier. These numbers may improve as organizations update to Paris.
Value of ServiceNow Across the Enterprise
ServiceNow is living up to its brand promise – “The Smarter Way to Workflow” with 69 percent of respondents identifying workflow automation as adding the most value to their organization. This further lends itself to the company’s messaging around “making the world of work, work better for people.”
The key point is that ServiceNow’s workflow automation and integrations with software create efficiencies that enable enterprises to improve customer and employee experiences. Outside of the realm of IT, they are showing the greatest value in Customer Service Management (CSM) and Human Resources Service Delivery (HRSD).
With 59 percent of respondents reporting improved customer service and 52 percent report improved employee experience, these features can only continue to grow in necessity as companies digitize their operations. This is important since user experience is the most common point of interaction for an enterprise. ServiceNow is bringing ease of use to the forefront of how enterprises interact with consumers and their employees. And it is paying off.
However, not every area of expansion is proving value at this point. From an end-user standpoint, ServiceNow is still pretty far off on no-code development maturity (15% identified this as an asset of the platform). It’s still a desirable feature, but it doesn’t appear to be driving value at the enterprise level yet.
2-Year Outlook for ServiceNow
Despite strong indicators that customers view ServiceNow as an end-to-end enterprise solution, planned budgeting doesn’t fully reflect that perspective. The biggest area of anticipated growth is still in IT-related functions, with less than a quarter of respondents planning to invest in CSM and HRSD.
Nearly half of survey respondents haven’t deployed ITOM, an insight that connects back to the earlier question about CMDB maturity. It begs the question, what specific areas of ITOM are organizations planning to invest in? It’s possible this indicates an intent to move from incident management to change management – a shift that would require more real-time visibility that a fully automated CMDB could provide.
Strong interest in Portal could be a reaction to ServiceNow’s efforts to make it easier to create simple, enjoyable end-user experiences that reduce friction and improve efficiency. Again, making the technical more human is paying off by making the platform a more attractive investment.
Customers are clearly looking to invest across the enterprise. Since IT support has implications for employee experience and customer service management, those are the logical next steps for expansion. Virtual Agent serves as the bridge between IT and Customer Service Management (CSM), which is the next biggest function in terms of predicted growth. HR Service Delivery (HRSD) will be an area for growth with almost a quarter of respondents.
Feedback on challenges with ServiceNow revealed a variety of needs. According to the survey results, cost is the biggest challenge an organization faces with ServiceNow. A few key areas that drive cost are: 1) ServiceNow is the market leader and 2) It is less complex than comparable alternatives, but the essential tasks an ITSM solution must accomplish are intrinsically complex. This means that there is always a cost to a platform and the skilled technicians needed to implement it successfully.
This leads into the next area of challenge where the rapid acceleration of data and requests to be managed outstrips the available workforce with ServiceNow expertise. This further adds to the cost and requires some justification in front of internal stakeholders. It begs an answer from Enterprise IT leaders on the question, “What has business value?” They need to focus on finding solutions that will carry company-wide improvements, but may need some objective outside perspective to clarify what is needed moving forward.
Get the full results and insights of the ServiceNow Research Study.