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ServiceNow throws AI at digital transformation ROI problem

Companies report they aren't getting their money's worth out of digital transformation projects. ServiceNow's new AI-based software looks to up the value of such projects.

Looking to accelerate the ROI on IT's digital transformation projects, ServiceNow has delivered an offering that combines an AI-based recommendation engine with a collection of support tools and technical support.

When ServiceNow started developing its new software, called ServiceNow Impact, two years ago, it interviewed 500 of its customers along with 200 software buyers. What the company learned from those conversations was the majority of organizations lacked the ability to map a strategic vision for transformation and then turn that map into an operating model.

IDC estimated in a report released this month that users have spent some $3 trillion on digital transformation projects in the past three years. However, less than half of those companies said those projects delivered the expected results.

At the root of the "value gap," as IDC described it, is the proliferation of point projects that do not work well together, the growing need for companies to devote resources to maintaining legacy IT systems, and the ongoing lack of trained personnel.

"The biggest challenge in any digital transformation project in development or in the market now is this proliferation of point product projects," said Geoff Woollacott, principal analyst with Technology Business Research. "That situation usually indicates a lack of agreement at the C-suite level. It's why the CEO has to be involved early in the project and show leadership."

Aaron Fulkerson, general manager, ServiceNow ImpactAaron Fulkerson

The major focus of ServiceNow's new offering is to present IT pros with a user-friendly experience, allowing them to collect information about what they hope to achieve, according to Aaron Fulkerson, general manager of ServiceNow Impact. The software then maps that information to the company's operating model, allowing users to maximize use of its personalization engine.

The personalization engine allows users to make recommendations about training, what their next best action should be and any new tools they can deploy for the task at hand. The engine can help users set up the value-tracking dashboards.

"What's different about this approach is we're taking what the customer expects to gain from their investment and mapping those expectations into a new software product that more quickly helps them fully realize their investment," Fulkerson said.

One analyst said ServiceNow is heading in the right direction with its approach to solving some of the hurdles that IT pros face with digital transformation initiatives.

Stephen Elliot, group vice president, IDCStephen Elliot

"We are seeing customers demand more 'how to' expertise, personalization, role-based tools and an outcomes-based approach to their journey with technology vendors," said Stephen Elliot, group vice president at IDC. "The market is changing, and so too is the way technology vendors have to manage their customer lifecycles."

The ability to manage the customer lifecycle is becoming a competitive sword, Elliot added, pointing out that CEOs and CIOs are looking for strategic vendor relationships that accelerate, in a measurable way, their digital transformations. 

"Aligning technology to the business strategy has always been very hard," Elliot said. "Proving [to CEOs] that the technology investments can drive the business strategy is even harder."

The biggest challenge in any digital transformation project … is this proliferation of point product projects. [It] usually indicates a lack of agreement at the C-suite level.
Geoff WoollacottPrincipal analyst, Technology Business Research

Many of ServiceNow's direct competitors in the digital workflow market, such as ZenDesk, have yet to deliver offerings similar to Impact. But Elliot said the purpose of Impact is less about outflanking competitors than it is about better managing user relationships.

Exploiting some of the existing AI capabilities of the Now Platform, ServiceNow Impact allows users to personalize digital transformation-related tasks such as peer and industry benchmarks, real-time tracking, and AI-curated content and recommendations, according to the company.

ServiceNow's new digital transformation software also helps users align innovation strategies to business outcomes to accelerate the delivery of results and provide prescriptive guidance. The company claims Impact is also built to meet users' demands at any point in a digital transformation project.

In concert with the release of ServiceNow Impact, the company rolled out an update to its Now Learning training and certification platform that provides on-demand customer training and certification programs.

ServiceNow has signed on a number of commercial and government accounts for Impact, including NewsCorp, Infor and the state of Montana.

Impact will be available in four different packages. Base is available at no charge to all net new users; for pricing on the Guided, Advanced and Total offerings, users need to call their ServiceNow salesperson.

As editor at large with TechTarget's news group, Ed Scannell is responsible for writing and reporting breaking news, news analysis and features focused on technology issues and trends affecting corporate IT professionals.

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