Each year, a San Diego-based company releases its product up to 45 times. The company develops several new releases concurrently and, as you would expect, each release is subject to extensive testing and compliance requirements.

But this isn’t a software company I’m talking about. This company’s product dates back thousands of years: beer.

Stone Brewing is one of the largest and oldest craft brewers in the country. Craft brewing has become a fast moving and highly competitive market, so the company releases as many as forty-five new beers each year.

This pace of new development and the need to compete in a fast-moving market led Brian Andrews, the company’s VP of IT, to turn to ServiceNow as a platform that could help him automate critical business processes. Beyond merely increasing automation, he saw an opportunity to use the platform to drive the organizational transformation of the business itself.

This story, however, is not limited to one company or one industry. Leading companies are increasingly turning to ServiceNow as a means to drive organizational transformation. It is an emerging trend that business and IT leaders should be watching.

Overcoming Organizational Inertia

When John Lee assumed his role as the head of innovation for Canada’s TMX Group (best known for The Toronto Stock Exchange), he knew that one of his greatest challenges would be helping the organization’s employees realize that they couldn’t keep operating as they always had.

Image credit: Joseph Morris

“As the world gets more and more rapid, the pace of change is only going in one direction,” he explained at Knowledge17, ServiceNow’s annual customer conference. “The traditional ways of doing things are not sustainable. Being able to collate and automate business process — and to re-evaluate them continuously — is a key business capability for us.”

He set out to find an automation platform that could help him change this mindset by exposing people to what was possible.

“You can’t start by running. You have to crawl first,” Lee shared. “From a cultural change perspective, we needed to lay the foundation both from a data and technology standpoint. It lays the foundation to start looking beyond IT and looking at the business processes.”

Building Political Capital from the Outside In

For both Andrews and Lee, the key to overcoming organizational inertia was starting not in IT, but with the business imperative.

“When we brought in ServiceNow, we put the business applications first and put IT on the back burner,” Andrews explained. “We knew we had to deliver for our customers first.”

Image Credit: Four Brewers

When he joined Stone Brewing nearly four years ago, he found that a number of the business units needed more advanced automation solutions if they were going to be able to keep up with the increasing pace of change. The plant maintenance, facilities, safety, and marketing teams were all actively looking at new automation solutions.

By starting with these functional units — rather than deploying ServiceNow as an IT solution — he was able to demonstrate the value of having everyone on a single platform. More importantly, he built the political capital necessary to help drive deeper and more strategic organizational transformation within the company.

The success of this effort became evident when the company moved the entire beer release management process to ServiceNow. The various functional teams each manage their piece of the project in their own workflows, but can rapidly share information and manage each new beer release at an organizational level.

Andrews concisely summed up the success of the effort thus far: “We’re getting more beer out the door.”

Moving Up the Transformational Food Chain

Significant changes in any organization create fear and resistance. Overcoming this challenge requires that teams understand both that real change is possible and that the results of the change will be positive.

Organizations like Stone Brewing and TMX Group are turning to ServiceNow as a platform to help them power these transformative changes, because it enables them to deliver incremental change that lays the foundation for further and more impactful transformation down the road.

“Being able to drive automation and drive accountability and traceability is critical for us,” Lee said. “The real value comes from eliminating the manual hand-offs and being able to more effectively manage our data and ensure its reliability. We started by seeing ServiceNow as a tool for workflow automation. But then we realized that it could enable us to drive our business transformation more quickly by allowing us to continually experiment and prototype.”

In Andrews’ case, those early successes created a groundswell of demand as other functional units saw the advantages of an integrated platform, in particular, how it could help them move more quickly and collaboratively.

“All the core groups are now fully entrenched and asking that we roll the beer release tool out to our facilities in Virginia and Berlin,” he said. “It’s really all about the partnership. The CEO fully backs this and wants to get the workflows in the various departments lubricated and expand ServiceNow across those departments to get them unstuck.”

The Intellyx Take

It’s tempting to discuss digital transformation only in the big picture context. But while transformation is a strategic endeavor, the actual act of transforming often requires smaller and more incremental activities. Moreover, transformation cannot occur without first winning the hearts and minds of employees.

Companies like Stone Brewing and TMX Group have found that they can use ServiceNow as more than an automation platform — and instead, use it as a transformational platform. While the transformation may begin with simple activities that look decidedly non-transformational on the surface, such activities lay the important groundwork of helping their teams understand that change is necessary and that they play a critical role in leading it.

Copyright © Intellyx LLC. ServiceNow is an Intellyx client. Intellyx retains full editorial control over the content of this paper.

1 Comment

  1. Hi Charles, excellent article! I think, this kind of initiative is only possible coming from the top management. Normally, the IT people cannot convince business people because they already have many debts with these areas. That’s why the “shadow-IT” phenomena is increasing year over year.

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