ServiceNow’s CINO probes why some firms sink, others soar during a downturn

The chief innovation officer (CINO) at ServiceNow today outlined the challenges organizations will face as a result of the pending recession, and also what they must do to not only get through it, but prosper.

Dave Wright made the comments at the Toronto stop of the company’s World Forum 2022 program, a series of one-day events that have already taken place in Tokyo, London, Chicago, and Frankfurt, and will take place in Paris and Zurich later this month.

Describing the last three years as being a “complete roller coaster,” he predicted that it’s not over yet, and as proof he pointed to the global economic downturn.

“The interesting thing is that as I go around and speak to different companies, you see common themes,” said Wright, who, prior to joining ServiceNow in 2011, was the vice president of technical services for VMware in the firm’s Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region.

“Everyone is trying to deal with the fact you have massive inflation. How do you deal with the fact people are not spending as much, but it is costing you more to build products? How do you deal with the fact the supply chains are still massively disrupted?”

Wright added that it is not only computer chip manufacturers who are feeling the pinch, but every sector. He noted he recently bought a new sofa, and was warned by the salesperson that it would take 13 months before it could be delivered.

“How do you deal with the fact you have all this disruption? How do you deal with the fact there is continual stress around compliance – all these new rules in place that have to be followed?”

If all that was not bad enough, there is another major problem organizations face: finding good talent.

In terms of recruiting, Wright said the key metric used to revolve around creating an environment that was so enjoyable and equipped with everything from ping-pong tables to chillout rooms, that “nobody would ever want to leave the office.”

“When people don’t come to work anymore, that all goes out the window. Now, when you interview people, yes, they want to know what the compensation is. But they also want to know, what’s the purpose of your company? What does your company stand for, what is your stance around ESG [Environmental, Social, and Governance]? What’s the flexibility of the work environment that you provide?

“Now you interview people who have no intention of ever wanting to work in an office again.”

As for why some companies fail, while others succeed during an economic downturn, he referenced a Bain study that indicated “companies see more dramatic gains and losses in crises than in boom times. There are 47 per cent more rising stars and 89 per cent more sinking ships in downturn periods than during stable times.”

“Why would some people be amazingly successful?” Wright asked. “I think it depends on what you are doing from a business perspective.”

There is, he said, no better time to innovate, and that means going fully digital because the old ways of conducting business “really don’t matter anymore.”

In an interview with IT World Canada following his address, Wright also talked about the importance of AI when it comes to ServiceNow’s product offerings, and more specifically, the importance of its 2020 purchase of Montreal-based Element AI.

“Having that forward-thinking element was a great benefit for us, as well as getting the technologists that can actually build the system and do the research on what’s happening around the future.”

The initial intent of the acquisition was to use Element AI’s technology to predict hardware failure, he said: “So, based on a chain of events, how can I look at previous events and then predict with a degree of confidence that a system might fail at some point in the future.”

That is still the case, said Wright, but because everything sits on the ServiceNow platform, AI advances developed for one application, such as AI Operations, are now being ported to other areas, such as supply chain management and employee case management.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Paul Barker
Paul Barker
Paul Barker is the founder of PBC Communications, an independent writing firm that specializes in freelance journalism. His work has appeared in a number of technology magazines and online with the subject matter ranging from cybersecurity issues and the evolving world of edge computing to information management and artificial intelligence advances.

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