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The Chips Are Down at Know 13, Vegas

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AriaThere is something so unique about visiting Las Vegas – Home to ServiceNow’s Knowledge13 this year

Quite apart from the breath-taking scenery as you fly in (we’ll forget about the nerve racking sprint through Chicago and making the connecting flight literally with minutes to spare for now), it is like a whole other world.

And that also goes for the resort complex – held in the Aria complex, it really was a location that had it all – shops, there was even a pub for us Brits!

The main themes for this year focussed on Transformation and Innovation, and certainly in the first Opening Keynote by ServiceNow’s CEO Frank Slootman, The End of No, The Beginning Of Now.

There have been a few memorable events since ServiceNow’s last conference – namely ServiceNow going public on the NYSE.

The popularity of the event has grown too, with more than double the attendees- almost 3900 attendees this year.

Frank Slootman’s keynote included representatives from large companies, all with a key story to tell about IT-Led Enterprise Transformations.

Now obviously as it is an event sponsored by a vendor, you would expect Servicenow to be at the forefront of the good-news stories, but at the tail end of the panel session that Alison Collop, Global Director of Coca Cola shared the key message behind the success of IT-Led Transformation:

Organisational Change Mangement- Empowered the team to make decisions and recognising it takes everyone to help change the way they work

It was the first time that any of the panel really addressed the mindset required, not just the technology – a bold move and the golden nugget at the end of this opening keynote.

The Fred Luddy Keynote

ServiceNow Founder and CPO Fred Luddy is a hugely charismatic character and this was the keynote that everyone wanted to see.

He treated us to a (literal) face off between Google Glass and Siri, but more importantly a look and how far the industry has come, but what we need to do to continue to move forward.

There are repeatable patterns, since the 1800s – Technology is used to streamline processes (get something to work a bit faster), and create a business differentiator.

And just as in the first keynote, we were shown the finalists for ServiceNow’s Innovation of the Year award – where businesses have seen something that IT have done (streamlining) and thought of a way to help drive the business forward by creating applications within the ServiceNow platform.

The winners were Target – their employees had demanded a more personal approach to IT, and had to look to manage up to 60 appointments a day.

Target used ServiceNow to develop a booking application, as well as a custom iPad application, allowing visitors to create an appointment in person, and to be able to track and assign work and on-site support.

The application has a customer satisfaction of 94% and has moved support out of call centres.

Conduct Unbecoming The Opposition? How To Professionally Demonstrate Your Product

What stood out for me was the demonstration of the ServiceNow functionality on tablets – perhaps for a different reason than intended:

As part of Fred Luddy’s keynote, he took the audience through some of the new innovations, particularly in the area of mobile devices.

He walked us through the specific optimisation they had done for tablet devices, and it had been important for them to ensure that the full product functionality existed for staff using a tablet, perhaps supporting services remotely.

They have also developed a specific iPhone application allowing resources to be accessed, and customised to suit the individual – all with the purpose of being able to use the product to either access catalogue items (via Service Request), log incidents or work on records, assignments – all through improvements to the mobile user interface.

As an analyst, I get emails from vendors and from consultancies every day about recent press releases and new happenings – it’s nothing new, it’s part of the job.

So when I headed off to Vegas, I was not surprised to get an email from someone representing another vendor, plugging their own mobile solution, having gathered that I would be entertained by ServiceNow.

But during the first day, the #Know13 hashtag was hijacked (for want of a better word) by people connected to this vendor (I hesitate to use the word employees, partners – we just do not know) plugging their solution.

No real problem, I guess – it is, after all, a free market economy, but if it was a mischievous, puckish prank, it soon backfired in the eyes of the attendees (remember, we are talking around 3900 people… count them!).

People chattered in the breaks and at the expo wondering “why?” – after all as far as I understood, the capabilities were very different.

In all, it was a bit unprofessional (in my humble analyst opinion), and being bombarded for the week afterwards by the same partner to talk to them instead did nothing to make me reconsider that view.

ITopia

Allan Leinwand took us through the Now State of IT respectively, along with the ITopia demo in full.

This keynote really helped reinforce one of the key messages of the conference – A Single System of Record.

The demo showed how ServiceNow could be used across the enterprise, using a single database to help automate and improve efficiency, involving a cast of people playing a roles across an organisation:

  • Data Centre Manager – using dashboards to manage on premise and cloud environments, linkage to Change, and automated provisioning via the Service catalogue
  • Network Operations Centre – moving away from reactive alerts to filtered events and more proactive practices, using collaborative tools to drive Change Management
  • Procurement – More accurate inventory information and dashboards to show contract expiration and licence information
  • Field Services Technician – working remotely with mobile devices with the same amount of functionality as he would expect if located centrally
  • Human Resources – Using automation to help drive the onboarding process for new employees
  • Help Desk – Knowledge Management and collaborative tools (LiveFeed and Chat tools) to help people contacting them in a more structured way
  • Development Manager – Seeing where software defects are being logged and who are having the issues
  • Development Operations – Using the new App Creator where all the information to create a new application on the ServiceNow platform is focussed in one place
  • Crisis Response Manager – how they could retire a best-of-breed external application by developing their own within ServiceNow to do the same thing and putting all the information in one place
  • Facilities Management – recognising that their request forms, with a little modification, and by adding items to the CMDB, could also use the same system
  • Business Line Manager – Dashboard focussed on projects and associated costs, as well as automation of repetitive tasks
  • Project Management – keeping track of resources and their assigned tasks, and making that information available to stakeholders in the organisation
  • Governance – Real time collation of evidence for audits and dashboards to help identify immediate risks
  • Finally, the CIO – to demonstrate the underlying theme of the conference  – how IT can help transform the enterprise from within a single platform.

Instead of having a number of applications, they showed how applications could be built in the platform, how dashboards be used across the enterprise to show pertinent information, how new applications can be developed, all using a single course for information – the single source of record.

And none of this is amazingly new fangled gadgetary that has materialised at the hands of aliens with super-powers (even allowing for the fact we were in Vegas for a week)!

This conference gave attendees an insight as to what was possible, using existing technologies, teamwork, collaboration, and dare I say it, a bit of common sense.

Something Fun & New – The Hackathon

A new addition to the ServiceNow conference was the introduction of the Hackathon, inviting administrators and developers to show off their innovative flare to create transformational applications using the ServiceNow Service Automation Platform.

There were no limits as to what could be built, but it had to be built on ServiceNow.

The winners developed a Project Incubator application allowing users to gather required resources for new projects, across an organisation.

What others had to say

Ken Gonzalez, Know13 Session Panellist and Senior Advisory Consultant (now Capita):

I think that the diversity and topics that are associated with that, and the sessions that I went to, they talked about the technology and they talked about how to leverage it but it had a nice blend of “hey you want to do real interesting stuff, here’s some things you want to think about”

I think it struck the right blend between being too prescriptive and too salesy

Mark Kawasaki, Know 13 Speaker and ITSM Specialist at Emory University

To me it was a lot of meeting some great, some new people too, especially some practitioners that I met that were really struggling with some things.

It’s funny, one guy came up to me and said he had just spoken on CMDB and gave the exact opposite points that I gave on CMDB.

It was good discussion I had with him on different ways you can look at it.

Adam Mason, Know13 Hackathon Winner and featured customer as part of Frank Slootman’s Presentation.

I really enjoyed the quality of presenters that I saw was very high calibre and I thought the expo hall was fantastic

It was nice to see what others are doing with the product besides just customers that were trying to push the envelope a little bit so I thought that was impressive.

The Hackathon was just a ton of fun, it was a good communal experience too and I would hope they do it again

Stephen Mann Former Forrester Analyst, now Senior Manager – Product Marketing, ServiceNow

The things that really stuck out for me:

Firstly the size and the enormity of it – to get that many people who use a single product rather than parts of a portfolio of products is absolutely crazy.

Second thing would be the organisation and then within that the quality of the content, particularly yesterday – Everything consistently seemed great throughout the day.

What resonated with me

There were a lot of phrases bandied about throughout the week.

From the beginning of the week, ERP for IT and the excessive use of the word ecosystem perhaps made me roll my cynical analyst eyes, but in the panel session as part of Frank Slootman’s keynote, and in a Q&A with customers, the real drive for transformation innovation came from within the teams, with a passion and drive to innovate using the technology that exists today.

For me – the concept of Single System of Record and ITopia continue to promote applying common sense, technology and teamwork to solve business problems.

I conclude with my own thanks to Dawn Giusti and her team – their organisation on the ground was superb.

With so many attendees, it was flattering to feel that you were under their watchful eye, known by name, and that they would take care of things for you.

A great week, all round.

Knowledge 14 will take place – April 27th to May 1st 2014, at The Moscone Centre, San Francisco.

See you all same time next year?




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