The pandemic has prompted a lot of organizations to enable digital transformation initiatives driven by SaaS platforms. In a Digital CxO Leadership Insights series video, Mike Vizard, General Manager and Editorial Director at CxO, speaks with Chris Bedi, CIO at ServiceNow, about what patterns he has discovered in how people are using SaaS platforms to drive innovation.
“CIOs, chief digital officers, regardless of the title, they’re betting and taking a platform-based approach,” said Bedi. “All the 20th century architectures, so to speak. There’s a lot of systems of record out there, but what’s broken today is work actually flowing across those systems of record to provide great experiences to customers, to employees, to help things just simply operate better.”
The digital business transformation initiatives that are driven by SaaS platforms are customizable via a low code/no code tool. While low code/no code tools have been around for awhile, we are just now starting to see them really take center stage. “I think low code/no code has been around for a while, but has sort of been off at the edges. I think low code/no code is coming into center stage, so to speak, and I think there are a couple factors that are driving that. One is there’s an insatiable appetite to go digitize things, and there’s no shortage of things to go do, and it just simply cannot get done by the central tech organization,” Bedi continues, “The second thing around it is the talent entering the workforce today. They’re equipped – I read a recent study that said up to 40 percent of today’s workforce at the average company is equipped to participate in low code/no code at development. Now that’s a combination of a very tech-savvy workforce coming into the organization as well as low code/no code evolving. So it’s easier to get things done.”
Even though low code/no code has become prominent, it’s still important that developers of these platforms think through the more nuanced aspects of continuous delivery. The key to this is coupling low code/no code with the right governance. “I think now it has to be low code/no code with the right governance, where the central tech organization doesn’t have zero role. They have a really important role, all the way from the intake process to make sure duplicate apps aren’t getting developed, but also as the CI/CD change pipelines get built, those almost have to be invisible to the person doing the low code/no code.”
A concern with low code/no code is that there will be an influx of citizen developers who may not have a fully adequate understanding of how to develop a really attractive application, coupled with additional concerns of security and scalability. Bedi mentioned that ServiceNow uses several criteria during the intake process to deter this from happening. First, if somebody has an idea for low code/no code, they make sure the application doesn’t already exist. If it does, it can either be improved upon or killed all together. Second, they try to address it up front if they think an idea isn’t a great case for low code/no code. Third, if they feel someone is in over their head with an idea, they will suggest working as a team.
Additionally, the post-pandemic boom of digital transformation projects appears very reactionary. There has also been an increase in supply chain issues as well as a lack of talent. As we enter the next phase of digital transformation, we may begin to see a more proactive and tactical approach as organizations try to solve more specific issues. “What’s very clear is digital transformation certainly got a jolt with the pandemic. It is the agenda for every single C-suite. It’s not just putting a mobile app in front of my customers and calling it a day. It’s more of how are we gonna create a digital experience that’s going to create brand loyalty, that’s gonna boost NPS, that’s gonna lead to more top-line revenue? Because there’s a lot of choices consumers and customers have out there,” said Bedi. “In terms of supply chain and talent shortage, we’ve certainly seen employee experience rising up in the agenda of the C-suite as well, because whether it’s talent acquisition, talent retention, engaging that talent, organizations need to care about that far more because of the scarcity of talent and make their workplace a place that people want to be.”