Knowledge 2023: Ready for the exponential enterprise, says McDermott

ServiceNow CEO Bill McDermott called for IT and ‘the business’ to finally come together in what he called the ‘exponential enterprise’ at the supplier’s Knowledge 2023 conference in Las Vegas

ServiceNow CEO Bill McDermott called for IT and the business to come together for a new future in what he called the “exponential enterprise”, at the supplier’s Knowledge 2023 conference in Las Vegas.

The company, which has its origins in the cloud delivery and management of IT services, styles itself as a broad platform for digital transformation, by way of digitising and further automating workflows. It has exhibited substantial revenue growth in recent years, reporting full-year 2022 revenue of $7.2bn, up 23% on 2021.

Some 15,000 attendees heard McDermott (pictured) evangelise as hard for ServiceNow as he used to do for SAP, as its CEO.

“The next 18 months will be the most active ever for technological revolution in the history of the world,” he said in his speech. “There have been times in history when systems have changed the world. This new period of hyper-automaton will be bigger than all of them combined…. And to maximise this moment, we need to understand the difference between linear and exponential thinking.”

In a press and analyst news briefing on the eve of the show, McDermott said he spent his first hundred days at ServiceNow, four years ago, trying to find a customer who did not like the product. “I wasn’t used to not finding people that didn’t like the product,” he said, adding that the value of the company’s conference lies in having its customers talk to each other, with ServiceNow “getting out of the way”.

Behind the CEO’s rhetoric, the supplier announced a raft of enhancements to its “Now” platform.

“The next 18 months will be the most active ever for technological revolution in the history of the world”
Bill McDermott, ServiceNow

It said it had introduced new finance and supply chain workflows to automate critical business processes. It also announced generative AI to its existing artificial intelligence functionality, including an AI-based product for employee growth and skills development. Another announcement was what it calls an “end-to-end observability solution for cloud applications”.

Alongside the technology developments, it announced a non-profit division called It said this would “help with technology, employee and customer experiences, as well as low-code app development to enable disaster deployment, refugee resettlement, volunteer and member management, resource management and research trials”.

It also announced “RiseUp with ServiceNow” partner courses to upskill one million individuals on the ServiceNow platform by the end of 2024.

In a statement, McDermott added: “There is an app for everything, but no one wants every app. CEOs need a single platform that can orchestrate the entire technology value chain to drive faster business outcomes.

“Knowledge is the place where our customers and partners realise how they can address the biggest challenges facing their businesses today. As the intelligent platform for end-to-end digital transformation, ServiceNow is meeting people where they engage with fully automated solutions to build great experiences in a new generation of cloud software”.

At the same time as he was giving his keynote address at the conference in Las Vegas, his successor as CEO of SAP, Christian Klein, was speaking at that supplier’s customer and partner conference, Sapphire, in Orlando, Florida.

It too announced that it is embedding AI capabilities into systems across its portfolio, with “SAP Business AI”.

Klein said, in a statement: “The innovations we’re announcing at SAP Sapphire draw on our rich legacy of responsibly developed, ground-breaking enterprise technology designed with decades of industry and process expertise to ensure our customers thrive, both today and in the future.”

ServiceNow and SAP both announced closer working with Microsoft.

ServiceNow said its generative AI enhancements for the Now platform are enabled through an expanded ServiceNow and Microsoft strategic partnership. “New capabilities include ServiceNow Generative AI Controller, allowing organisations to connect ServiceNow instances to OpenAI and Microsoft Azure OpenAI, and Now Assist for Search, bringing the power of generative AI to Portal Search, Next Experience or Virtual Agent,” it said.

Meanwhile, SAP declared “the next step in SAP’s ongoing collaboration with Microsoft, using the latest in enterprise-ready generative AI innovation to help solve customers’ most fundamental business challenges.

“The companies will partner on integrating SAP SuccessFactors solutions with Microsoft 365 Copilot and Copilot in Viva Learning, as well as Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI Service to access powerful language models that analyse and generate natural language. The integrations will enable new experiences designed to improve how organisations attract, retain and skill their people”.

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