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Doing business with David Oakley of ServiceNow: Digital disruption is ‘a Silicon Valley term for finally getting it right’

Doing business with David Oakley of ServiceNow: Digital disruption is ‘a Silicon Valley term for finally getting it right’

“It’s not about continuing to build on legacy systems to evolve services, it is about revolutionising services without legacy constraints,” says the ANZ managing director for ServiceNow.

Uber didn’t build on the years of legacy taxi systems already in place – they threw away the playbook and started with a clean sheet.

Name: David Oakley

Title: Managing director, Australia and New Zealand, ServiceNow

Twitter handle: @MrDavidOakley

How long have you been in your current role? Just over three years.

What business technology issue is your role focusing on?

We save organisations time and money by automating their essential tasks and processes to reduce human intervention, eliminating bottlenecks and delivering better service experiences.

What are your interests away from work?

Spending time with my young family is my top priority. Outside of that I enjoy swimming and keeping fit through the warmer months and then hibernating over winter. Once June hits, my exercise routine is limited to shuffling between the fridge and cupboard. I just bought a hobby farm so I’m looking forward to getting my hands dirty and learning some new skills!

What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?

‘You’re ridiculous, so ridiculous.’ This was advice I just received from my EA. Not sure if it’s the best, but it’s definitely the most recent.

Get out and engage with the market – visit other organisations to see and touch what they’re doing.

David Oakley, ServiceNow

Professionally, who do you admire most?

There’s no single person that immediately comes to mind. I work with an amazing team of people at ServiceNow and I really admire the way they go above and beyond for our customers every day. I’m also very fortunate in my role to get time with a variety of outstanding customer executives. I always admire people who are passionate about making a difference in their organisation and who have the skills and buy-in from their teams to get on and make it happen.

Why big companies must learn from startups and the new players disrupting them

How long have you been working in your field? How did you get into your role?

I’ve been working for software vendors for more than 15 years now, the last eight in management roles. I’d always been very interested in technology and in my early career thought I wanted to be a programmer but found myself being drawn to the commercial aspects of the field. I’m comfortable I made the right choice!

If you weren't working in your field, what would you be doing?

I watched too many James Bond films as a kid so some part of me still wishes I’d been a secret agent. I like being under pressure and thankfully (?!) that’s something my current role regularly provides.

I’ve been known in the past for pulling off some very elaborate office pranks – I’ve sometimes wondered if I could turn that into a career! All in all though I feel very fortunate to have chosen a field so relevant to where the world is at today.

Can you share one key pointer for keeping abreast of business technology trends?

Get out and engage with the market – visit other organisations to see and touch what they’re doing and don’t be afraid to also engage with technology providers – most don’t bite and the good ones can provide a lot of real world insight and information. In the same light I’d also caution an over reliance on research and advisory firms in strategy and decision making. It’s hard to keep producing meaningful insight en masse and so a lot of what comes out has questionable value, in my opinion.

Prepare to be the disruptor - not the disrupted. How did you apply this insight to your organisation, or with a customer you have worked with?

The whole concept of digital disruptors is extremely topical, but what does it actually mean? Our chief of strategy Dave Wright calls digital disruption ‘a Silicon Valley term for finally getting it right’.

What he means is that it’s not about continuing to build on legacy systems to evolve services, it is about revolutionising services without legacy constraints.

Uber is an oft-quoted example, but that’s because it’s the perfect example of true industry disruption. Uber didn’t build on the years of legacy taxi systems already in place – they threw away the playbook and started with a clean sheet.

We’re working with our customers to help to free them from legacy constraints, enabling them to transform the way service is delivered across the organisation by using consumer-like service portals and automating processes. Organisations are adopting ServiceNow for a disruptive start and not the continual piling of layer upon layer in the manner of old legacy systems.

'It’s hard to keep producing meaningful insight en masse and so a lot of what comes out has questionable value.'
'It’s hard to keep producing meaningful insight en masse and so a lot of what comes out has questionable value.'

‘Redesign your business on a blank sheet of paper’

Send news tips and comments to divina_paredes@idg.co.nz

Follow Divina Paredes on Twitter: @divinap

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