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Doubling down on digital transformation: the time is now

IT leaders often like to talk about the value of 20/20 vision. After this year however, it’s fair to say that the meaning of ‘2020’ might have shifted for many of us, says Mark Cockerill, a vice president at ServiceNow, based in Ireland

history has shown us that when we are in difficult circumstances, or a downturn, that is exactly the moment when investing in the business and committing capex can have the biggest impact.

History has shown us that when we are in difficult circumstances, or a downturn, that is exactly the moment when investing in the business and committing capex can have the biggest impact. Photograph: Getty Images


While we have witnessed unprecedented change in what work means for people, we have also deepened our understanding of just how important it is that we look out for everyone – both at a personal and an organisational level.

If we are to truly make the world of work, work better for people then we need to fully understand the impact of the changes we have seen this year.

ServiceNow’s latest global research, The Work Survey, brings fresh insights into the impact of the changes we have witnessed in 2020 on both business decision makers and employees.

The research shows how 2020 has given everyone in every sector a new perspective, however I want to look at what the findings mean for Ireland specifically.

Ripe for innovation

One thing that employers and employees around the world agree on is that the Covid-19 pandemic has created a perfect environment for innovation — and this trend is strongly reflected in Ireland.

A notable 94 per cent of executives in Ireland say the pandemic has made their company rethink how they work. Perhaps more importantly, 93 per cent of Irish employees say their company has created better ways of working since the crisis began, compared to 83 per cent elsewhere in Europe.

Perhaps some of this is down to the fact that Ireland has been more conservative than other EU countries in terms of the Covid measures it has put in place. As a result, Irish employers and employees have been working with the reality of work from home for the long-term more than most.

More significantly though, 96 per cent of executives and 93 per cent of employees in Ireland say that their company has transitioned to new ways of working faster than they thought possible. I’ve seen this first hand, with organisations demonstrating a phenomenal level of adaptability and ingenuity during this crisis.

One of the biggest findings is the positive changes that working remotely has brought. Managing hundreds of people, each in their own ‘personal office’ is a skill – and one we all have to master — yet people have seen that it can and does work. More to the point, it’s highlighted the inefficiencies that we all want to eliminate from our jobs.

A rising tide will not lift all boats

Photograph: Getty Images
Photograph: Getty Images

Alongside the positive feedback on more innovation and greater productivity, The Work Survey uncovered a big concern: almost half of Irish executives (48 per cent) think the ‘new normal’ will be even more challenging than the initial shock of Covid-19. As a result 52 per cent say their priority is returning to how they worked before the pandemic.

Part of this attitude might be explained by the fact that many firms still feel at a digital disadvantage – 90 per cent of executives in Ireland admit their organisations still rely on many offline workflows.

It might also reflect that, until this year, progress on digital transformation had been steady but incremental. Of course, 2020 has been a serious shock to the system, but the acceleration in digitally transforming has been way beyond what companies themselves thought they could achieve.

Going back to old bad habits will only derail the significant progress that has been made. At the same time, capitalising on the progress that has been made is something that needs to be seized – it cannot be left to chance.

In the current situation a rising tide will not lift all boats equally. If your competitors are doubling down on digital transformation, can you run the risk that your boat has a hole in it?

The time is now

The inclination for many organisations, particularly in sectors where revenues have been decimated, is to feel like they have ridden the worst of the storm and now it’s time to batten down the hatches.

It’s understandable, but history has shown us that when we are in difficult circumstances, or a downturn, that is exactly the moment when investing in the business and committing capex can have the biggest impact.

I admire those companies that are seeing this opportunity clearly and doubling down on transformation, because there is no reason why the momentum of progress cannot continue.

There are new muscles we have found this year that we need to continue to train. New ways of working and collaboration aren’t just created by collaboration tools. It takes a certain mindset, supported by having the right infrastructure to underpin all of your vital processes so that they are as smooth and frictionless as possible.

Although there have been huge challenges this year, ServiceNow is working with our partners and customers to seize the moment and make a huge leap forward in making the world of work, work better.

The upside of the progress that been made is simply too great to go back to the old ways.

Learn more about how ServiceNow gives you the power to make work, work better—no matter the circumstances. Visit