Three Key Themes from ServiceNow Knowledge16

Three Key Themes from ServiceNow Knowledge16

By |2019-04-16T10:57:34+00:00July 2nd, 2016|

Decompressing from an exhausting, inspirational few days at Knowledge16, the annual ServiceNow event…

From humble beginnings (my first Knowledge was a few hundred attendees in a tent in San Diego), Knowledge has become a global tour de force. This year, Mandalay Bay could barely contain more than 11,000 customers and partners (and the expo hall could barely contain more than 100 decibels of the tech equivalent of Queensryche). Getting into the keynote felt like rush hour on the subway in midtown Manhattan.

Monday’s analyst day launched the event with typical fanfare: the company committed to generating more than $4B in revenue in 2020, an ambitious but achievable target. I believe in the team and the product but more important I believe in the numbers: 3,000+ customers have invested in the platform because it’s much more than a ticketing system. Current penetration per customer is less than 15% and ServiceNow is deployed in less than a third of all service management organizations. At its current (probably unsustainable) annual growth rate of 47%, it will exceed $4B in 2019.

For ServiceNow, the biggest risk is also the biggest opportunity. Automating service management first requires automating operations management. In the years ahead, it will be impossible to deliver reliable services at scale without reliable infrastructure enabled by automated problem detection and remediation. ServiceNow, supported by partners like BigPanda, is the early leader here.


ITOM, operations management, is an adjacent $10B market that represents the company’s fastest-growing business unit and also well under 10% of its current revenue. My belief that the ServiceNow growth story is dependent on its success in ITOM is why I’m so bullish about what joint customers like Gap and Autodesk are doing with ServiceNow and BigPanda.


The rest of the week elaborated on why ServiceNow’s Sherman March to $4B will succeed. There were many competing announcements at the event but three key themes summarize what I learned and all indicate that the changing role of IT – the meta-trend best-associated with ServiceNow’s hyper-growth – is galvanizing business. We haven’t seen a shift this profound or rapid since the introduction of PCs in the workplace in the 80s.

Here’s what I heard…

Speed and agility differentiate leaders from laggards

ServiceNow’s torrid growth will be driven by infrastructure automation (ITOM) which will help customers get more value out of ITSM and the CMDB via closed-loop change management. That’s what is required to translate insights from machine data into better operational decisions.

Services are connected

ServiceNow announced additions to its ever-expanding portfolio of apps that included HR onboarding, security operations, and customer service. All are related, all are integrated, all rely on the same set of workflow patterns. My impression from hearing six customers present on how they’re using these new apps is that delivering any of them at scale first assumes a level of operations management maturity far beyond what is normal today.

IT has been millennialized

A new generation of workers that has never used a land line, fax machine, or modem won’t tolerate service outages. Snapchat can’t go down… and neither can HR, facilities, or the IT service catalog. Keeping millennials productive and engaged requires delivering services that are fast and reliable. The infrastructure supporting apps must be at least as robust as the service portal used to submit requests.

I left Vegas with one unanswered question: what’s ahead? The rapid pace isn’t slowing. The appetite for solving business problems with technology isn’t changing. The expectation from employees that every service is fast and reliable isn’t going away.

How will we as an IT community continue to reinvent ourselves? What role will new technologies like bots, artificial intelligence, and neural networks play? I don’t have answers… but I’m more excited than ever to define what’s next together at events like Knowledge.

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