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Fred Luddy – The E F Hutton of ITSM

E F Hutton has nothing to do with ITSM. However, he was well known for a series of commercials created in the 1970s with the message “When E F Hutton talks, people listen” 

When Fred Luddy, ServiceNow founder, walked out on the stage at Knowledge15 in Las Vegas last week, you could have been forgiven for thinking you were at a Star Trek convention and William Shatner had just appeared.

I sat in the audience and thought , “What are these people on?” After all, this is a user-group conference for a Service Management toolset; this is not the sort of stuff that normally elicits such fervent adulation. What has made ServiceNow a global phenomenon in the ITSM industry?

The AllThingsITSM team attended Knowledge15 as members of the press, recording interviews with a number of speakers and attendees and using our networks to share what was being said through the Twitter stream. I guess we succeeded in doing that.

As for ServiceNow, the tool works…it does what it says on the tin, but so do the vast majority of ITSM tools in the marketplace. It has some pretty cool features and a heap of flexibility, but it is not the only tool that has.

Trying to understand just what it is that has created such a hugely loyal and responsive customer base, I had a chat to some of the everyday ServiceNow users who were at the conference. One common theme was that ‘they listen to us’. Customers at every level of their organizations see the ServiceNow partners and developers as being highly responsive and they see benefits from this relationship through seeing their suggestions for product enhancements being incorporated into releases.

There were some nice features presented to the conference audience and the new mobile features attracted a very excited response. But, getting real here, the new stuff does not represent new technology. It is an incorporating of things that have been successful and popular on some very familiar platforms into the tool. Just like iMessenger, Facebook Messenger and Skype, you can see when the person you are chatting with is typing, or is online and listening to what you are saying. You can see the locations you are interested in on maps within the mobile interface – pretty sure I have seen that somewhere before too!

What is actually really good here is that ServiceNow have not tried to dress these features up and make them look like something new, they have made them look familiar, and therefore very easy for a generation who has grown up mobile and connected to navigate, because it looks like every other app they use in their lives. This makes both the customer and service provider ‘time to value’ much shorter as there is a greatly reduced time needed to become familiar with the technology they are using…it is their native environment.

I think the excitement we saw from the audience was simply them understanding, instantly, what they were seeing and knowing exactly how they were going to use it to improve both their own work life and their customers’ experience of their service.

I heard a few comments around me in the audience as the new features were being unveiled such as “What are they getting so excited about, we were doing this in high school?” Quite right, we were not seeing new, groundbreaking, technology. We were simply seeing new applications of tried and true features incorporated into an ITSM toolset…and not for the first time, there are other tools out there that do all these things. But ServiceNow has quite obviously got the user experience and communication strategy right.

Rather than trying to disrupt what ServiceNow is doing, as HP did with an extensive, and probably expensive, Twitter campaign during the Knowledge15 event, other vendors need to be learning from the way that ServiceNow engages with the individuals and organizations that use their products.

ServiceNow is telling a story, engaging their users and listening to their customers. This has created a loyal and invested community and, for as long as they are able to maintain that sense of community ServiceNow will grow and prosper.

ServiceNow is at a critical stage of their lifecycle…they are no longer the new kids on the block, they are an established part of the ITSM landscape and will have to tread carefully if they are not going to become part of the scenery, as many who have been on this path before have done. They need to keep disrupting the industry and keep an edge. This what many members of the ‘ITSM establishment’ have forgotten. Having experienced success they rested on their laurels and expected their customers to stay there with them…how is that working for you?

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