How to Turn Chaos into Competitive Advantage with ServiceNow Workflows

COVID-19 is a historically disruptive event.Organizations have long been under pressure from new competitors, supply chain shifts, additional regulations, the digital skills gap, and changing customer buying habits. These incremental shifts failed to create an immediate imperative to change. With the coronavirus wake-up call, we have no other choice. It has put the hammer down on an already existing need to transform. In the long run, this might not be such a bad thing.

Creativity, adaptability, agility

Creativity, adaptability, and agility these traits are incredibly important for companies when it comes to responding appropriately to black swan events.

Business processes and technical infrastructure must be agile enough to ensure a quick response to changing requirements. An agile infrastructure allows companies to accommodate surges or reductions in demand. A firm’s connected ecosystem should enable this agility, which means choosing technology partners that support it.

Also in order to adapt, a company must have its antennae tuned to signals of change from the external environment, decode them, and quickly act to refine or reinvent its business model and even reshape the information landscape of its industry.

There’s nothing like a crisis to ignite innovation. In New York, the founder of a technology center and the head of a product design and development company collaborated with a dispersed network of scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, physicians, and regulatory experts to design and produce a low-cost ventilator. In one month, the group completed work that would typically take a year or more. The resulting “Spiro Wave” is now approved for hospital use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

On the other side of the Atlantic, Mirakl, a French e-commerce company, built the pro-bono stopCOVID19.fr marketplace in just 48 hours to connect global manufacturers with organizations needing healthcare supplies.

An agile mindset can lead to remarkable results. Forbes has described three principles of agility which would serve us well to remember once the pandemic passes.

Agile principle #1: Organize around the value

Both the Mirakl and Spiro Wave teams had a well-defined problem they sought to solve, which provided them a clear purpose. The Spiro Wave team knew, for example, that New York faced a shortage of ventilators, largely because they are difficult and expensive to manufacture.

Their goal was not to replicate existing ventilators but develop one that was cheaper and faster to produce. The end result is a “bridge” ventilator ten times more affordable and meant to treat less critically ill patients.

Agile principle #2: Involve multidisciplinary teams 

Nearly every story of pandemic-related innovation involves an ecosystem approach.

Mirakl’s marketplace stemmed from conversations with the French government. Mirakl provides the technical talent and experience to run the platform, while the government vets those using it and addresses supply chain challenges. Similarly, the Spiro Wave relied on manufacturing, engineering, and medical experts working side-by-side, each with their own specialized knowledge contributing to the creation of a successful product.

Enterprise-level problems are no different, and solutions are most effective when created by a multidisciplinary team. By tapping a diversity of backgrounds, skills, and ways of thinking, organizations ensure a well-rounded outcome that meets user needs.

Agile principle #3: Set challenging timelines

Accelerated development has been on full display during COVID-19 and shows that aggressive goals can be met when teams are sufficiently motivated.

Today, many companies seem to be discovering agile on the fly. The innovations they are creating weren’t part of a strategic plan.  They spotted an urgent need, dropped lower-priority activities, broke typical bureaucratic procedures, and transformed themselves to survive into new normal.

At the beginning of the pandemic, ServiceNow developed and released a suite of free emergency applications-a platform to manage employee health and workplace safety within weeks. Developing apps within a matter of days that did everything from support drive-through coronavirus testing to helping organizations maintain business continuity.And helping to simplify the complex workflows involved with returning to the workplace

The pandemic will end at some point. But the recovery and transformation will take years, and the ripple effects it leaves in its wake will be seismic.As this spur-of-the-moment agility is fragile and innovations happen sporadically rather than systematically. With one of these agile approaches, companies can create opportunities out of rapid change.