How ServiceNow plans on remedying employee workplace woes

The Californian SaaS company wants to close the gap between our digital experiences at home and at work

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At the first ServiceNow Knowledge event back in 2007, 38 people turned up and founder Fred Luddy hand-wrote all the attendees' name tags. This year, ServiceNow is hosting 20,000 people in a conference centre on the Las Vegas strip.

"The future of work is our very purpose as a company," ServiceNow CEO John Donahoe tells the crowd in his opening keynote. "We are motivated to change the future of work. We want to make the world of work, work better for people."

ServiceNow has long been releasing products designed to improve the world of work across HR, IT and finance functions, to name a few, and the announcements that have been made at Knowledge 2019 prove the company still has the future of work set firmly in its sights.

Since the launch of the iPhone in 2007, everything from how we shop, consume news, view media and order a taxi has become digitised.

"Mobile technology has enabled us to completely transform our lives at home," he notes. "While our lives at home have become simplified, our lives at work are still complicated and complex."

Unfortunately that continues to be the reality of work for most. Departments are still siloed, paperwork is still king, and the kinds of applications and services consumers can access in their personal lives are not mirrored in the technology we use at our jobs.

Donahoe predicts that the future of work will change more in the next three to five years than it has done in the last twenty, and ServiceNow wants to enable this with its 'New York' release, which will become available at some point in Q3.

Part of this relates to the company's long history of supporting its customers in building new business applications or extending those already on offer in its twice-yearly releases.

Chief product officer CJ Desai claimed in his opening speech that ServiceNow currently boasts 100 million regular app users and 270,000 developers that use the Now Platform to improve IT, as well as employee and customer workflows. These apps can be designed, built and integrated within minutes and allow organisations to connect enterprise workloads across a number of silos.

The proof is, as they say, in the pudding. United Airlines and Virgin Trains were paraded in front of the audience as two examples of companies that had taken full advantage of these application development capabilities.

"We are a platform company at our core and we have stayed true to that core by having a single cloud platform with a single data model for all of our products," Desi told the crowd.

The question ServiceNow is hoping to answer at Knowledge 2019 is 'what does a great experience at work look like?' As the generational makeup of the workplace changes, bridging the disconnect between expectations and reality has never been more crucial.

In recent years, enterprises have been generally keen to stress the difficulties in finding and retaining top talent. However, Desai calls the onboarding processes of many of these companies "unacceptable" and "cumbersome".

In the New York release, ServiceNow hopes to remedy this with the 'Mobile Onboarding' app, which aims to make the process of joining a new company as pain-free as possible.

Joe Davis, head of mobile engineering, demonstrated the app with a show of how easy it can now be to complete your 'employee badge'. Users can upload a photo from your phone's gallery, or order a work laptop – an in app-shopping experience not too dissimilar to Amazon – and sign any necessary paperwork with the built-in electronic signature capabilities, removing the need for paper documents.

The app is, apparently, simple to use - and when opened provides a list of tasks a new employee needs to perform along with the deadlines by which they need to be completed.

'Now Mobile', meanwhile, is an app designed for employees that will also be availabile in the New York release. It uses AI technology to communicate with employees in a Siri-eseque manner, allowing them to improve the way they report incidents, claim back expenses and keep up to date with all the latest internal company information.

While the technology isn't necessarily groundbreaking, making the workplace better is surely a welcome endeavour. As Donahoe stated in his keynote, the company wants to automate the mundane and ultimately allow "the workforce of the future to instead focus on doing its creative best".

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