Knowledge 14: 'Cloudification' requires IT to evolve - ServiceNow CEO Frank Slootman

By Danny Palmer
29 Apr 2014 View Comments

The "cloudification of services" means that IT has become the backbone for every other part of the enterprise, and the department needs to evolve in order to keep up with the pace of change.

That's what Frank Slootman, president and CEO of ServiceNow, told the audience during his keynote at the platform-as-as-service IT solution provider's Knowledge 14 conference, taking place at the Moscone Centre in San Francisco.

Further reading

"We really think IT needs to start thinking differently about itself. Too many of us think of IT as another department like facilities, HR or a general services type department. We don't see it that way," he said, using the metaphor that IT needs to be strong enough to be the organisation's backbone as more move their services into the cloud.

"The influence of cloud - and the cloudification of services - the fact that enterprises as institutions have become completely cloudified and deliver themselves to their customers and through their core audiences as a cloud service, means that IT plays a very different role," Slootman continued, arguing that IT needs to think of itself as the "modern day manufacturing", with services rather than a physical product the item being created.

"We are the backbone that everything else rests on, it is the modern day manufacturing in many ways," he added.

Slootman also used his keynote to discuss how the IT department is perceived, demonstrating the negative perception it has among some with an image of Chris O'Dowd as Roy Trenneman in The IT Crowd wearing an RTFM [Read The ***ing Manual] t-shirt. He argued that this view needs to change in order for business to be successful.

"In a lot of organisations we've got to talk to the IT guy with the RTFM t-shirt," Slootman told the audience.

"It comes with the perception and brand image that people have of our organisations and it just doesn't flatter us, especially when we go home at night to sites like Amazon," he said, pointing out the difference in the service people get from their IT department compared with that offered by the consumer world.

The ServiceNow CEO argued that as more cloud services are deployed, not only are employees able to become more efficient, but the user-friendly nature of the services means that other departments are now able to develop their own IT strategies, such as the marketing department deploying its own apps, for example.

"The world of IT is changing right now, and you especially hear that here in Silicon Valley," he said.

"IT used to be the owner of the infrastructure and we owned the applications. But under the influence of cloud we see a lot of that infrastructure moving away while a lot of the apps side is moving into lines of business, with the chief marketing officer having more IT budget than the CIO does,"

Slootman doesn't believe IT is going to go away but he said it has to adapt in order to continue to play a role in business.

"There are a lot of reasons we need IT  - we don't see IT going anywhere - but they need to evolve and change to keep up with the realities right in front of us," he said.

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