Officeworks has adopted a "platform mindset" to its use of ServiceNow software following a "re-implementation" three years ago, uncovering workflow and process improvements in IT, HR and facilities domains so far.
The retailer’s general manager of technology Damien Ballesty told the Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo for APAC that it had a long history with ServiceNow for IT service management stretching back a decade.
However, three years ago, it had “re-implemented” the platform and set it up as “our ERP for IT”, before finding a number of other use cases across the business since.
“We are definitely exploiting this with a platform mindset,” Ballesty said.
“We’ve taken the same mindset and applied it to HR case management, and vulnerability management that the security team are looking at.
“We have combined our facilities, HR and IT [service] desks so that people can ring in and log cases and cases can get activated and reacted to in a matter of days rather than weeks which it may have taken before.
“So I think there’s a huge productivity gain in thinking of ServiceNow as a platform for us to drive out inefficiency across our business.”
In one example of expanded use, Ballesty said that Officeworks had deployed a virtual assistant called ‘Penny’ and mobile app to its retail store staff, both underpinned by ServiceNow.
The virtual assistant reduced the number of support calls logged by retail staff by 67,000 a year.
“For the team members it means they can self-serve, fix issues themselves, get the guidance at their fingertips out in the stores and not have to wait for the IT helpdesk,” Ballesty said.
“Equally, for the IT helpdesk, it means that we’re not spending our time answering frequently asked questions, so we’ve been able to give career opportunities to people who would have been handling calls.”
The app, meanwhile, removes a lot of “paper handling and processing” previously required in-store.
“Through a focus on eliminating manual paperwork and manual tasks, we’ve implemented the ServiceNow app which has reduced over 200,000 sheets of paper that were printed for jobs lists and task lists that were being done in the stores,” Ballesty said.
Ballesty said that “enhancing the experience of our team members to improve our operational excellence [means] being able to serve our customers better.”
He also said the re-implemented ServiceNow platform had resulted in process improvements within the IT domain.
“We think of ServiceNow as a big workflow and platform engine for our technology team so we have been exploiting that as much as we possibly can.
“We’ve been hunting out areas of manual process or clunky process.
“We now automate the way that we will take on [new vendors] and prefill all of our vendor management contracts straight into the system.
“We use it for timesheet analysis, charging our teams out onto projects, and we interrogate the data to make sure that we’re not overburdening and that we’re properly resourcing our teams.
“Our security team use the incident response module within ServiceNow to keep track and get alerts through that, and we’re bolting on some of our defence layers straight into ServiceNow so we’re eliminating that sense of manual intervention,” he said, though he added that the company is maintaining “eyes on glass” for monitoring and operations purposes.
Ballesty anticipated further use cases for ServiceNow to emerge outside of the IT, HR and facilities areas that currently made use of the platform.
“We’re exploring [use of ServiceNow for] enterprise risk management across our business at the moment ... to leverage the platform so that we’re on top of and managing our risk in a much more automated and productionised way,” he said.
Ballesty said that reusing ServiceNow also opened the possibility of chasing smaller workflow improvements that might otherwise struggle to stand up an internal business case as a standalone piece of work.
He said that the ServiceNow work was part of broader technology work and growth, though he was reluctant to call that work a “transformation”.
“I’m always cautious with calling the journey that we’re on a transformation because that implies a start point with a defined end point,” he said.
“Actually, our business has been on a fantastic growth trajectory and we’ve set five strategies in place to drive this business forward.
“The evolution of how we modernise our processes, how we enable our processes with data, how we deploy digital tools for our customers as well as our team members is at the heart of that, so you’ll have found us doing quite a number of major investments in the way that we serve our customers, in the way that we enhance the experience for our team members, and in the way that we use and exploit data more.
“We’ve set ourselves a goal to achieve a number of targets by 2025, but I think in reality that’s just a waypoint.
“We have to evolve as our customers’ expectations evolve and we’re certainly on that journey.”
Ballesty said that Officeworks is “making big investments in IT” and would create “over 100” new roles in its technology operations this year “to double down on our technology offer within our business.”