Along with 15,000 other IT professionals, team BigPanda converged on Orlando for ServiceNow’s annual conference Knowledge17. There were actually even more people than that if you include the Gartner IT Operations Strategies and Solutions summit which was happening concurrently. With a presence at both events, it was a busy time for team BigPanda! (you can read about the Gartner conference here). Despite the craziness, our booth was consistently busy so it was an excellent opportunity to connect with customers and be a part of the ServiceNow community.
Here were our takeaways and key themes observed from Knowledge17:
Some Things Never Change (for IT)
During the conference, ServiceNow released a survey titled “Today’s State of Work: At the Breaking Point” to contextualize the challenges modern businesses are facing today. The nuance here is that IT organizations are not only expected to be a big part of the solution, but also to lead digital transformation initiatives. In some ways it is frustrating to still see many of the same problems that have challenged IT organizations for years, such as siloed monitoring tools and data, shifting IT operations from reactive to proactive, and ongoing service outages; but, there are also new problems to deal with such as exploding complexity and higher expectations for end-user experiences. Things have arguably never been more challenging for IT organizations who are being asked to be change agents in this brave new world.
Machine Learning and AI to the Rescue
The data an average organization creates is doubling every 2 years, so the data explosion ‘problem’ is real; but it is also multi-faceted. Companies who don’t know how to deal with it will suffer, while those who can manage and extract value from it will have a competitive advantage. These massive data problems are well serviced by Machine Learning and AI approaches, a belief BigPanda shares and has been doing for years now. These may be buzzwords at the top of the hype-cycle, but they are also legitimate approaches to solving these massive data problems. Utilizing services and platform capabilities powered by machine learning can enable enterprises to corral and make sense of all that data by normalizing and synthesizing it to help find the proverbial needle in the haystack.
Automation is the Answer
One of ServiceNow’s bigger announcements at the conference was the ‘Intelligent Automation Engine’, an application of Machine Learning and AI across their platform to assist with business transformation. The real goal here is increased productivity, as skilled knowledge workers are still often doing manual tasks that are not only low value, but also impede creative work. IT Operations teams specifically are ripe for disruption via automation due to the high number of repetitive tasks; automation can and will change the way not only people do their jobs, but fundamentally how businesses operate to provide better services and experiences for their customers.
These themes resonate well with us here at BigPanda, because we fundamentally share similar perspectives on these trends and challenges that lie ahead. With the deluge of data, the need to analyze it quickly to augment manual processes, and the role IT organizations will play in business transformation initiatives, it really is a perfect storm of opportunity.
To cap things off, the Knowledge17 closing party was held at Universal Studios Florida – wow! If exclusive private access to the ultimate theme park in a party environment sounds boring, then you didn’t miss anything all!