ServiceNow takes on next least popular department

Published on the 10/05/2018 | Written by Hayden McCall

IT service management provider has HR in its sights to extend footprint…

The vendor, better known for the rapid growth it has achieved in IT service management circles, has announced a range of findings from global research into the use of digital in HR.

And the result may be a strengthening of the role of the CIO into managing internal and external experience delivery for customers and staff alike.

In choosing to make the announcement in front of 18,000 customers, employees and partners at the annual Knoweledge18 conference in Las Vegas, the ITSM vendor is signalling a drive beyond IT into HR processes as a core strategy as it seeks to maintain 35-40 percent year-on-year growth.

The study of 500 ‘CHROs’ – or senior human resource executives – is no doubt an important first step on the path, because it shows that HR managers are motivated to digitise their processes.

As in all facets of life, digital experiences have made life simpler, easier and more convenient and ServiceNow has recognised the opportunity to provide the same for employees as a differentiator.

The research across 12 countries, including 45 CHRO’s from Australia and New Zealand, reveals that providing a technology-enabled employee experience is becoming an important tactic in the war for attracting and retaining talent.

But indications are that HR leaders in Australia and New Zealand are lagging behind their global peers when it comes to adopting technology to improve experiences at work. One in six (16 percent) of local HR leaders say they do not use technology to improve HR outcomes, compared to just one in 50 (2 percent) in Japan.

More broadly, less than half (47 percent) of HR leaders across A/NZ say that the HR function is a driver of digital transformation at their company, behind global peers at 57 percent on that score. Globally, 78 percent of CHRO’s believe HR strategy is an important differentiatior for the company, yet in A/NZ this falls to just 51 percent.

Asking CHROs about the criticality of their role in transforming the organisation might be expected to yield a predictable response, so the measure perhaps says more about Antipodean humility, than any lesser desire to digitise painful processes.

Retaining talent however is undoubtedly an issue for A/NZ managers, with only half of HR leaders (51 percent) saying they are successful at doing so, despite 82 percent saying it is a top strategic priority for the business.

“The best talent today expects great digital experiences at work,” said ServiceNow Chief Talent Officer Pat Wadors. “Top talent can work anywhere, and they are choosing companies that embrace advanced technology to make work simpler, faster, and better…companies that don’t offer this will find themselves losing out on, or struggling to hold on to, the best talent.”

“Top talent can work anywhere, and they are choosing companies that embrace advanced technology to make work simpler, faster, and better…”

And Wadors should know. She was the HR lead at LinkedIn during its acquisition by Microsoft and specifically responsible for keeping attrition below the benchmark 20 percent. Wadors, using ServiceNow, implemented an early release of ServiceNow’s virtual assistant (also announced at the show) and used it to rapidly listen and learn about employee concerns via an FAQ portal. As it turned out, despite hitting her KPI target, Wadors was one of the 18.1 percent that departed.

According to the survey, the largest movement that has occurred over the past three years is in digitising the lifecycle of the employee experience, indicating a need for a holistic approach to transitioning staff through the “moments that matter” as Wadors puts it.

And the future is clear: more than half of CHROs surveyed (56 percent) say the ability to create a digital, consumerised employee experience will define their roles in three years, compared with only 6% who say their role will continue to be defined by traditional human resources activites.

The question, then, is if CHROs are up to the task.

Chris Bedi, CIO at ServiceNow, suggested that there is an emerging role he calls the “Chief Experience Officer” where the CIO and CHRO roles merge to deliver digital experiences across the enterprise. While Bedi’s role is internal, and in this context eating one’s own dogfood comes to mind, he has a very outward view on digital transformation and the buzz words that are prevalent: Artificial intelligence, machine learning and automation. His perspective is that delivery of these technologies needs to be made meaningful: “These days the focus is speed over cost, there’s a sense of urgency and success is defined by three key factors – speed, intelligence and experience.”

One gets the sense that digitisation of the ServiceNow employee experience will have a lot to do with Bedi’s success in rolling out these capabilities. “Analytics and dashboarding are yesterday’s needs. If you are not employing data science to provide users with human suggestions on next actions to take, you are falling behind.”

Given the long suffering IT department is likely also the owner of the original ServiceNow implementation through its use to support ITSM functions, Bedi may be prescient in terms of where the responsibility for digital delivery of HR functions will rest.

The global report The New CHRO Agenda: Employee Experience Drives Business Value, commissioned by ServiceNow from Oxford Economics, details trends across North America, Europe and Asia, as well as looking at specific industries such as finance and health care.

The full APAC report can be accessed here.

Note: The author attended Knowledge18 courtesy of ServiceNow.

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