CEO Bill McDermott on the Secrets of ServiceNow’s Success

ServiceNow CEO McDermott, who came to the company from SAP, said that the CRM of the past is really part of the past, and that ServiceNow has been built to provide both the solutions and support that customers want today. ServiceNow CEO McDermott, who came to the company from SAP, said that the CRM of the past is really part of the past, and that ServiceNow has been built to provide both the solutions and support that customers want today.

ServiceNow CEO Bill McDermott onstage

On Tuesday, ServiceNow kicked off their Knowledge customer event in Las Vegas, the fourth of four large global Knowledge events, with CEO Bill McDermott attending his first such event in the U.S. in the flesh, following the customary run of virtual shows over the last two years. McDermott focused more on fleshing out the big picture in terms of what ServiceNow is doing now, and how it has evolved from selling a point product to being the dominant platform provider in the digital workflow space.

“We have created a culture here at ServiceNow where the engineering is always built around your dreams, and where speed is often the differentiator between winning and losing,” he told his keynote audience. “We are now in the biggest talent war in the history of society, and there will be millions of shortages due to the digital skills deficit. That’s why we dedicate our time to low code. It’s the only way out of this big skill deficit. 750 million apps have been projected to be created in the next three years, more than have been developed in the last 50 years. All of this is coming together on a platform strategy to help you win.”

McDermott provided two examples of how this process is unfolding. One was the CEO Dashboard, which he had ServiceNow make for him.

“I told our CIO that I wanted to see every operation in the company in real time – using ServiceNow and only ServiceNow,” he said. “The premise of the real time business was so elusive for so long, and now the dream is the reality.” It also accentuated another point McDermott emphasized – that ServiceNow’s IT strategy had become their business strategy.

McDermott then highlighted the importance of this process by making a reference to a comment to him from the leader of what he termed ‘the company that many think most epitomizes the future of the world.’

“He said that if I don’t invest in the short term, I’ll slip back in the mid-term and might not be around in the long term. There is no other $10.7 trillion market in the world in the next 4 years.”

McDermott discussed the evolution of the company, and how they managed to rise to a position of dominance in the digital workflow space while other players in areas like ERP and ITSM, who at one point had significant advantages of scale and name recognition, did not.

“We got started in IT because IT pros understood how to use the platform for service management,” he said. “That was the beginning. The platform enables automation of existing processes to consumerize the experience – so it took off in IT. We made a determination to be an enterprise platform. It had been happening steadily before I got here, and when I arrived, we were already a multi-billion dollar franchise. Our philosophy around the employee experience was in its early stages, but was definitely resonating. We really kicked it into gear when I got here.”

McDermott emphasized that their focus on customer experience was something that competitors were not great at when it came to managing a services process. A lot of companies do a great job on one side of CRM – selling, But the product that you sell might not perform to expectations at times. The customer expects the brand to know you and deeply understand your history, to get you back to very satisfied. Many of our leaders were in prior generation CRM companies and they saw that this is the future.”

As an example of how providing service entails more than just taking the company’s money, McDermott cited the example of Xerox.

“The majority of Xerox field level techs were at retirement age, which meant they were expensive, and they needed a next generation,” he said. “We used a YouTube lab to train 18-22 year olds  and get them up to speed so they could be mentored by the older employees. This kind of thing completely changes the business model of the company. This is customer service management at a whole new level of proficiency.”

“We have lived through an era of tech sprawl, with lots of islands of automation, but PWC says 85% of tech projects do not deliver ROI because of integration issues,” McDermott continued. We are completely integrated on one platform with one integration model. We are getting into a world where customers don’t want to experiment any more. There will be the big hyperscalers – and we will be the other enterprise platform in the cloud that people will be on because they know that it works.”

In concluding, McDermott emphasized that the CRM of the past is of the past.

“We are the only enterprise software company in the world that does seamless upgrades the way that Testla upgrades the Tesla,” he said. “We don’t do a good enough job of telling this story. It’s where the world is going in terms of how you provide service with a platform – seamless upgrades and no disruption.”