6 min

There are few software platforms more important to (large) organizations than ServiceNow. Yet a very strong ITSM image still clings to the company. This while it is now much more broadly relevant. Jean Pierre van Tiggelen, Country Manager ServiceNow Netherlands, sees this too, but also sees that it is changing.

ServiceNow has grown very strongly in the past ten years. While only about 275 people were employed by the company in 2011, there are now about 22,000 worldwide. It is clear that growth has been tremendous during that period. And it just keeps on going, Van Tiggelen tells us. He talks about 27.5 percent YoY, to about $1.86 billion per quarter. Within a few years, the company wants to reach annual sales of 16 billion. So the stretch is far from over.

Despite ServiceNow’s strong growth and relevance to many organizations, there is also a somewhat typical image surrounding the company. It was founded with a platform as its vision but primarily known as an ITSM company. That was also the first thought Van Tiggelen had when he was approached several years ago for the position he currently holds at ServiceNow. He didn’t quite see what he should be doing at such a company. Many customers still have the same perception, so Van Tiggelen was certainly not alone in his perception. By his own admission, the scales fell from Van Tiggelen’s eyes when Bill McDermott (CEO SAP 2010 -2019) took the helm. If someone like that is going to lead ServiceNow, there must be more to it than ITSM (IT Service Management), was his thought.

The great simplifier

From ITSM, ServiceNow steadily expanded the platform in the direction of HR, CSM (Customer Service Management), Security and App Development, among others. All are part of the same platform. This platform stands out for its quality, according to Van Tiggelen. According to him, it is a strong platform with a uniform codebase. “I am hardly ever pulled out of meetings for problems with the product,” he indicates. The implication here is that this is not so obvious at all. That quality is good can also be seen in ServiceNow’s renewal rate. At 98 percent, it is very high. This is not something companies do when they have doubts about the quality of a platform.

In addition, the big four system integrators/consultants (KPMG, Accenture, Deloitte and EY) are also building large ServiceNow practices internally. Then very quickly we are talking about very large strategic deals with clients. That can only happen if the platform can be deployed more and more broadly. With ITSM alone, it’s virtually impossible to achieve those kinds of sums. This development also ensures that ServiceNow is entering the highest layers of organizations.

Ultimately, Van Tiggelen sees ServiceNow as the great simplifier. Within organizations there is a lot of complexity and everything is neatly arranged in silos. HR, IT, Finance, Facility are each in their own silo, while processes more often cross many functional domains. “Many companies then rely on Human Middleware, someone with a checklist that verifies that all the process steps between the various silos have gone well. None of that gets anywhere,” Van Tiggelen believes. The answer is not to scrap all those silos then. Silos can be annoying, but there is also a reason they are still there. You shouldn’t lump that in, Van Tiggelen said, “ServiceNow accepts this and merges the different silos.”

Invisible, silent force

The fact that many people don’t have a clear picture of what ServiceNow does doesn’t just have to do with its image as an ITSM vendor. ServiceNow is also quite invisible to most people. The portals built using ServiceNow are not recognizable as such. As an example, Van Tiggelen mentions the Disney+ Customer Service Portal. That is a ServiceNow environment, but it is not visible in any way. He also says Heineken has an application running within ServiceNow. There’s just no one who notices.

In itself, of course, being the silent force behind a lot of innovation within organizations is not bad at all. It just doesn’t really help if you would like to create a different perception in the market. Because the fact that ServiceNow’s role is changing is very clear, according to Van Tiggelen. For example, they are now increasingly engaged in verticalization. ServiceNow is developing solutions for specific sectors, for example, telecom and the public sector. With that, they are going more in depth and so the platform touches even more the various parts of an organization.

Speaking of vertical industries, it is also worth noting that ServiceNow in the Netherlands made a tilt some time ago. It focuses on four vertical industries. The first is financial and business services, the second manufacturing and retail, the third government, healthcare and education, and the fourth is energy, utilities, telco and high-tech. Remarkably, none of these industries is more important than the others. All four have equal numbers of sales people. Again, this clearly indicates that ServiceNow is becoming more relevant across the board.

New conversations

Van Tiggelen sees the types of conversations ServiceNow is having within organizations changing. In doing so, it is notable that the industry that has always been at the forefront, financial and business services, now seems to be suffering a bit from the law of the inhibiting lead. Whereas ServiceNow is entering the other three industries very broadly, within financial and business services it takes a bit more effort to get past the ITSM angle. In the other three, conversations are mostly about the experience; Customer Experience, Employee Experience, Technology and Operational Excellence. Around the platform, it’s currently all low-code and no-code that’s ringing the bell.

“On top of the core low-code/no-code platform, we offer the Experiences. If organizations are missing something, they can build it on the ServiceNow platform,” Van Tiggelen summarizes. In doing so, he also notes, incidentally, that the low-code/no-code ambitions are not necessarily on the Dev side of DevOps. Traditionally, ServiceNow has focused more on the operational side, not so much on app development. ServiceNow’s low-code/no-code capabilities primarily serve what the company offers on its platform. For now, its ambition is not to compete with parties such as Mendix and OutSystems in this area.

Finally, Van Tiggelen also sees that more conversations around risk and security are taking place. According to him, that is not so strange, because you have to deal with those topics the same as with IT. You want a uniform approach and a uniform picture of these components. You can achieve that with ServiceNow’s service-aware CMDB, according to him. “That makes ServiceNow within a SOC very good at helping with SecOps processes precisely because you have the overview in your CMDB,” he states.

It’s all about being of service

All in all, ServiceNow’s technology is primarily conceived to be of service. That is, the platform rarely comes to the fore. The technology is merely a vehicle to provide different experiences. That may sound a bit floaty, but is ultimately what it’s all about. No one is interested in what platform an HR portal or a customer service portal runs on, as long as it delivers the experience that is expected or demanded. ServiceNow has understood that pretty well. Looking toward the future, we are especially curious to see how verticalization initiatives will fare. Will it then remain possible to be primarily the glue that connects different components together, or will ServiceNow then also have to develop and roll out parts of the silos itself? And how deep does that verticalization go? All questions for the next time we speak to someone from ServiceNow.

TIP: Several years ago, we already wrote an article about exactly what ServiceNow does. As we state in the current article, that is not always clear. Read an overview of what ServiceNow is doing and what you need it for as an organization here.