Pre-Knowledge17 Q&A with AIM Consulting’s Principal Consultant of ITSM Shawn McCoy
Shawn McCoy | 05/03/2017 | Cloud and Operations | Thought Leadership
ServiceNow’s Knowledge17 conference, taking place May 7–11 in Orlando, Florida, features more than 400 sessions delivered to an expected audience of 13,000+ industry professionals on the latest in the ServiceNow platform. AIM Consulting Principal Consultant of ITSM, Shawn McCoy, who has been attending and sponsoring these events since Knowledge13, shares his views on the ServiceNow platform and what he’s looking forward to learning from ServiceNow and customers at Knowledge17.
Q: According to Investor’s Business Daily, ServiceNow plans to reach $4 billion in revenue by 2020. Another source shows ServiceNow with a 25% market share of the ITSM market in Global 2000 companies. In your estimation, what makes ServiceNow a leading platform?
A: There’s a lot ServiceNow has been doing that’s allowed them become a leading platform.
One thing that’s always been there is their ability to meet a wide variety of customer needs when it comes to automating business work flow. Reducing manual labor and inefficient steps has always been an important focus at Knowledge in terms of messaging and it’s been an important factor for many of their clients in choosing ServiceNow.
Another thing that has really helped them in being a market leader is the extensibility of the platform. At AIM, we see a lot of customers building their own custom applications with the platform, integrating new applications with existing ones and building service management capabilities for teams outside of IT. When I first started attending back at Knowledge13, the messaging was all about what was possible for IT organizations in the delivery of their services. By Knowledge15, the messaging moved beyond the artificial IT boundaries and is now about Enterprise Service Management (ESM). HR, Finance, and Facility teams all have services that can all be built on the same ServiceNow platform that IT services have been succeeding on.
Q: What is your purpose in attending Knowledge17? What do you think will be a big focus at the conference?
A: I attend Knowledge to educate myself about new features being released. I want to see where ServiceNow is taking the Enterprise Service Management conversation and where they’re continuing to make platform investments.
One of the features we are excited about is Customer Service Management. This is a key investment for ServiceNow that is relatively new. It expands beyond the capability of servicing the internal organization to serving the external customers. In the past, we’ve had clients with an interest in business-to-business and business-to-consumer scenarios, so I’d like to sit in on a few of those discussions.
Also of high interest is automated testing, which is brand new this year. I’d encourage every client with a development team in attendance to invest some time checking out the automated testing capabilities being introduced. You’ll see me and some of my team looking at the latest there.
Security is another area of focus. Security concerns have been around for a while and they are not going away. The challenges are complex and organizations need ways to more effectively deal with the threats that are out there. ServiceNow has a lot of new features and teams dedicated to helping out with security operations. Just brushing through the catalog of breakouts and labs for Knowledge17, I’ve seen a lot of opportunities for attendees to get their hands on great information for how they can take advantage of what the platform offers in this area. With the newest version of ServiceNow, Istanbul, we are seeing attention to threat intelligence with new features for automated threat intel lookup. ServiceNow has always been attentive to reducing the amount of time it takes to work through a set of activities and they’re bringing that attention to reducing the time it takes for security ops team to hunt down and deal with threats more readily.
Q: In your experience, what challenges are customers facing with ServiceNow?
A: We touched on a few already. Security, for example, is certainly something companies are continuously looking to have more success around. We’ve also heard of dev teams needing better insight into the overall health of the platform they’ve been making all these changes to. To address this challenge, our team added platform and process health checks to our mix of offerings.
And, of course, achieving a successful implementation is still an ongoing challenge. The issue I keep coming across is that implementations or changes to the platform aren’t generally accompanied by a plan with clearly defined success criteria. I’d say that’s a miss in a majority of engagements. Often when I sit down with a client, they’re very open about the problems they’re encountering but haven’t identified, or don’t know how to articulate, what they want to do about them. There is no broader vision. If they have a roadmap, it contains only high-level item call-outs like incident management or asset management. In other words, they’ll often plan and communicate around a feature to be delivered without touching upon the value sought. This is a missed opportunity, especially as it doesn’t even have to take that long to get a better roadmap in place. We’ve worked with companies that knew what they wanted and were able to put a good plan together in 2-3 weeks with them. It’s absolutely necessary and worth taking a little bit of time to pull together.
Organizational change is another area that often gets overlooked. There is often a sweet spot when determining how much value and change to introduce in any organization. Too much change can turn a great implementation unsuccessful. While everyone seems to understand this, there’s still little change mitigation that takes place. The result is that some teams will get overly excited and try to implement too much too fast. Others will take an overly cautious approach, not introducing enough value early on to keep the stakeholders happy or to maintain momentum throughout the engagement.
These challenges are so much easier to talk about than to live through, though! It really is hard, but clients don’t have to go at it alone. We try to think about these challenges and how to mitigate them as part of our engagements, so that our clients can realize the value of learnings we gain from the experience of doing this over and over again.
What are AIM’s capabilities to help customers sustain or support ServiceNow implementations?
We’ve talked about this a little in reference to our managed services capability, but in summary we have three offerings we talk to potential clients about when it comes to Enterprise Service Management:
- Service Strategy Assessment and Roadmap
- Service Quality and Process Optimization
- Service Technology Enablement
Assessment and Roadmap: The first thing we do is understand what organizations need and then help them put together a meaningful roadmap to drive successful delivery. This is for either process or technology delivery but often includes both. The whole intent is getting to a place where what is being implemented aligns with a cadence of value that we can bring to the business. Part of that is ensuring it’s something the business can viably absorb and accept.
Quality and Process: The second thing we focus on is in identifying solutions to service-related concerns. That often means assessing capability or helping out with process optimization efforts. More recently, it’s also included performing platform checks, where we take a look at the platform and make recommendations to address upgradeability or potential performance and other health concerns.
Technology Enablement: Third, we are also implementation partners for ServiceNow. We have resources committed in providing successful implementations using a best practices approach with an eye for quality, functionality, maintenance, and adoption.
In addition to these offerings, AIM also specializes in agile processes. If you want agile transformation help, you can work with our Delivery Leadership team. We also use agile methods when providing implementation support for ServiceNow, but it’s not the only way we can deliver. We’ve found it best to align where needed to the culture of the organizations we’re partnering with and recognize that if a team has existing processes in place, it’s best not to disrupt their velocity. Instead, we make alignments where we can to keep the cadence. It just makes sense.
Finally, over the last couple of conferences, I’ve heard from several companies that development teams are having challenges in keeping up with business demand. For example, some companies have a huge backlog that demand doesn’t allow them to keep up with, or there may be administrative sustainment activities they need support with, or they are looking to upgrade to the next version of the platform and need some help. To respond to this, we established a ServiceNow managed services offering. It is cost effective for development and administrative support and augments the great work many client teams are already doing. Being able to throttle up or down the availability of platform development resources has been an important part of our clients’ success.
What are some examples of how AIM has delivered ServiceNow offerings to its customers?
We’ve had some great successes. Here are just three examples:
- We’ve done a lot of standard module delivery and custom application work for a company that focuses on eDiscovery for legal case management. They were looking for ServiceNow expertise with the core platform. That included the standards of incident, problem and change management as well as project portfolio management and demand. They also asked us for help with implementing the HR (human resources) scoped application. But one of the more challenging and in some ways really exciting things we were able to assist with is the integration with their customer facing platforms–allowing for them to have visibility into those services and producing service and customer project related metrics from within the ServiceNow platform.
- Another client, a technology company, had a software asset management (SAM) process that just wasn’t working for them. We assessed their environment and provided recommendations and a roadmap that illustrated how to achieve their SAM goals over a 12 month period of time. This included the software management, related licensing and contracts, governance and accountability and reconciliation. We also showed how this would be enabled across the technology they had, which included ServiceNow.
- We also just started up a new managed service contract for ServiceNow support with a very large wholesale warehouse company. They have a development team that supports the steady stream of ServiceNow projects but were looking for occasional yet dedicated support for smaller enhancements and other well-defined requests coming to the team. It has allowed them to be much more responsive to various business priorities and has improved the velocity of work the team is able to work through, due to there being less distraction.
Q: Any last thoughts? What else are you looking forward to at Knowledge17?
A: We like to focus on learning and understanding what organizations need when it comes to the services they’re managing. What are companies needing from a people, process or technology perspective? What are the current pain points and challenges, like operations security or health and performance visibility, etc. that customers are discussing? There are so many different opportunities to learn from each other and ServiceNow does a great job at giving customers and partners a platform to do just that at Knowledge.
Having some fun is also always good thing to have on the agenda. I love getting to meet new people and hearing their stories in a more casual setting. You’ll see all of us from AIM at the social gatherings and intermingling sessions throughout the conference.