Enterprise software and workplace management orchestrator ServiceNow announced rosy revenue numbers in its Q4 2022 earnings call Wednesday evening, saying that total revenues topped $1.9 billion, which represents a 20% year-on-year increase.

IDC analyst Stephen Elliot noted strong corporate management and the company’s expansion into the workplace experience market as contributing factors in the reported growth.

Most of ServiceNow’s revenue came from service subscriptions, which rose to $1.86 billion in the quarter, a 22% year-on-year rise. The company’s current remaining performance obligations, which represent contract revenue that will be recognized as such in ServiceNow’s numbers within the next 12 months, rose to nearly $7 billion as of the reporting date. That’s a 22% increase compared to the fourth quarter of 2021.

Chairman and CEO Bill McDermott was bullish on the company’s performance, saying that the market conditions that have helped grow ServiceNow’s revenues should remain strong in the foreseeable future.

“Our Q4 surge in new business shows that the secular tailwinds of digitization aren’t going anywhere,” he said in a statement accompanying the results. “The world works with ServiceNow as the end-to-end platform for digital transformation.”

ServiceNow’s substantial growth exceeded profitability guidance, according to CFO Gina Mastantuono, who credited net-new annual contract value gains for much of the surge.

“What’s more, our results were generated with a lower mix of early renewals from 2023, providing us more opportunities to drive further expansion throughout the year,” she said in the statement.

Despite the growth, ServiceNow’s stock price dropped nearly 8% in after-hours trading, for reasons that weren’t immediately clear. McDermott, however, has vowed “absolutely no layoffs in 2023,” according to a report from Bloomberg, bucking a trend among technology vendors of late.

IDC’s Elliot, who is group vice president of I&O, cloud operations, and DevOps, credited a healthy corporate culture for ServiceNow’s continued success, saying that, while rapid growth can sometimes cause companies to lose some of their strengths over time, ServiceNow has managed to avoid that.

“I’d say that they’re hitting on all cylinders,” he said. “I also think that they have been very consistent and focused on what customers are looking for, and translating that into investments in the company.”

This isn’t a surprise, Elliot added, given the strong leadership across ServiceNow’s management ranks. He credited McDermott, in particular, for helping to minimize internal politics and other distractions that can sap a company’s momentum as it expands into new business areas.

“They’ve had so much success with the IT management business,” he said. “And over the course of the past five years, the expansion into field service management, HR, employee experience businesses; [their focus] has continued to drive them.”

ServiceNow, Technology Industry

Differentiating your brand in the telecommunications market is hard—just ask Vodafone’s CDIOScott Petty.

Despite the British multinational telco’s continued investments in fibre and 5G, and growing consumption of broadband and cellular services, intense price competition, rising energy prices, market regulation and economic headwinds have made for an industry where single-digit revenue growth is difficult to find.

But with a new insourced operating model and a ‘mixed matrix’ team—which gives autonomy centrally and to local markets—Petty believes Vodafone is on a journey to become a next-gen telco.

Vodafone’s digital transformation strategy

Over the last three years, Vodafone has used digital transformation as a centrepiece for how it unlocks efficiencies and new growth opportunities.

Underpinned by its 2025 tech strategy—which commits to building in-house scaled platforms, launching products and services to market faster, building a talent pipeline, and establishing Vodafone as a gigabit broadband leader—the firm’s digital transformation strategy has three pillars.

Operational efficiency: The company is leveraging automation and observability tools to improve efficiency, as well as data analytics, machine learning (ML) and AI through Google Cloud Platform to make better decisions and find incremental savings. An example of the latter is its use of ML and AI to overlay data—such as customer movements from social media as well as profitability—to find out where to deploy new base stations. Dubbed ‘smart capex’, Petty says Vodafone has found a 15% efficiency and £500m in cost savings through this since 2019.Digital channels: Petty says digital channels enable Vodafone to “sell more, service better and reduce costs”. The company app, chatbots and websites have all driven opportunities to better serve customers, particularly through retail-specific events, such as the launch of Apple’s iPhone 14, where web traffic can grow 500% within an hour.New platform businesses: Created in parallel to its legacy connectivity business, new platform businesses aim to drive revenue growth. Vodafone now has an IoT platform connecting 150 million devices, including connected cars, smart meters and smart home monitoring systems. In Africa, it claims to run the largest payment platform, while it’s adding new financial servicing in Europe—such as handset insurance—to wrap around standard tariffs. Petty says that 10% of total company revenue is now coming from these platform businesses.

New operating model, a mixed matrix team

The key to achieving transformation at scale, and delivering better products and services for customers, has been the creation of a European digital and IT organisation that combines the expertise of local markets with the breadth and scale of centralisation.

Last April, Vodafone Technology created a pan-European digital & IT organisation with nearly 17,000 employees led by Petty, bringing together IT functions from 12 European markets to work as one team.

Formerly CTO for Vodafone UK, Petty says Vodafone previously operated independent sets within countries, so each market was responsible for their region, with shared services for data centres and platforms, such as ERP. But this up and down model made code reuse difficult. Historically, scaling across markets was also complicated, with many overlapping projects, high expenditure and limitations in how many projects Vodafone could run simultaneously.

Vodafone didn’t move to centralisation—a model where you don’t have “proximity to the local market”—but rather to a ‘mixed matrix’ model, where each operational local CIO had a broader technology role for the organisation in addition to their local jurisdiction.

“Our UK CIO runs everything in the UK, but also digital engineering for all of Europe,” says Petty. “Our Spanish CIO runs digital channels and the Spanish technology. That model is replicated down into the organisation, so everyone has an operational function close to the markets they operate in, and a domain function, which is trying to execute our strategy. That creates interlocks between each other.” He also highlights that, for instance, the Italian CIO responsible across Europe for data and analytics needs analytics to run well in the UK, and to have a close working relationship with his UK counterpart to ensure digital engineering operates effectively in Italy.

Insourcing and reuse in engineering

A key component of this strategy was Vodafone’s approach to insourcing. Petty says the telecom provider was previously 30% insourced, and 70% outsourced, with a heavy reliance on system integrators and third parties. He says that model isn’t effective and doesn’t scale, with system integrators not incentivised to build replicable platforms.

“Our belief is you have to have a significant portion of your own engineering,” he told CIO.com. “There will always be a role for systems integrators, but integrating into our platforms and standards, not a free-for-all.”

Petty also says that investing in in-house engineering has an upfront benefit as its cheaper, but that it also gives the organisation the technical and engineering talent to build “horizontal scale”.

Vodafone, which has 13,000 software engineers with ambitions to reach 16,000 by 2025, sees a greater willingness for teams to share and reuse through this same model.

“They are more open to sharing and reusing,” he says. “And as they replicate that model in their teams, you just create the connections. Ultimately, culture is about humans and how they interact.”

Petty says staff across the European markets will volunteer their time for projects, such as building APIs for new cloud platforms, sensing the opportunity to do interesting work and develop their core skills. It’s this collaborative approach that’s also improving efficiency. He contrasts the new approach with how the Vodafone UK team once operated. Spending approximately £80 million each year on digital investments, and with 1,000 engineers developing capabilities in Spotify-style squads, the company experienced more defects, cybersecurity issues and slower business speed as the number of projects increased.

The new operating model and team restructure saw technology squads split into technical functions, such as cloud engineering and economics, with these squads responsible for service maintenance, cybersecurity quality and achieving performance across the various European markets.

“Taking this approach dramatically improved our velocity,” says Petty. “Our biggest supporter of hyper-scaling is our CFO because he sees that the more money he pours into engineering, it comes back as increased velocity and capacity. The business can go faster.”

Petty gives the example of Vodafone’s rewards app. Previously, the mere difference between a latte in the UK and café con leche in Spain would have meant the two regions building separate solutions. Under the new reuse model, the rewards platform was developed 100% in-house in Turkey, then launched in Portugal inside three months. The next market, Germany, took just one sprint to bring it to market.

He says the cost difference is significant too, explaining that while the first market spends 110% of their capacity (10% more to make the platform reusable), the payback comes as each subsequent market adopter spends significantly less.

“You start to get a flywheel effect on creating that reuse across your platforms.”

CDIO becomes CTO

Despite progress, there are hurdles ahead for Petty. He admits the skills shortage remains a critical issue, particularly in data science, and there’s the migration of on-premise platforms to Google Cloud Platform (GCP), through which Vodafone hopes to unlock more data and release new capability. Investment must continue on fibre and 5G through recession, too, while Vodafone has started exploring quantum-safe cybersecurity with IBM.

There are deeper changes in the boardroom as well. In early December, Vodafone announced its CEO of nearly 20 years, Nick Read, would be stepping down with finance director Margherita Della Valle taking over as an interim replacement. And with global CTO Johan Wibergh retiring in December 2022, a new role beckons for Petty, too, as he starts as the new CTO in early 2023. Together with Alberto Ripepi, the new Chief Network Officer, he will join the executive committee and expected to co-lead the Vodafone Technology group.

Petty says the hires were down in part to the success of the insourcing model, and a realisation that technology executives can challenge the business. “When we changed the operating model, we saw benefits for technology to challenge the business a little bit more,” he says. “You can work as a team to try and drive the right outcome.”

CTO, Data Engineering, IT Leadership, IT Operations, IT Skills, Operating Systems

Banking as a Service (BaaS) is revolutionising the finance sector. BaaS enables non-financial companies to provide customers with financial products and services such as personal loans, credit cards and digital savings accounts. It leverages the expertise and experience of trusted banks, such as Standard Chartered, so they can offer a wider range of services to existing and new customers.

When Indonesian e-commerce company Bukalapak wanted to provide their customers with access to financial services, they partnered with Standard Chartered to launch BukaTabungan, which is powered by Standard Chartered nexus (SC nexus) BaaS platform. While SC nexus already had a footprint on AWS Asia Pacific (Hong Kong) region, it had not yet migrated to AWS Asia Pacific (Jakarta) region.

Sourced Group an Amdocs Company (Sourced), migrated SC nexus’ digital banking platform from AWS Asia Pacific (Hong Kong) to AWS Asia Pacific (Jakarta) within a tight timeframe. SC nexus was planning to make that migration by 2025. But to meet the needs and regulatory compliance of Bukalapak, that migration was brought forward. And while this migration typically takes about a year, Sourced completed the migration of the workload which was spread across four AWS EKS clusters coordinating 103 EC2 instances across three availability zones in just nine months. The accompanying data migration included eight PostgreSQL clusters and data sync for a Cassandra cluster and two Amazon S3 buckets.

As well as enabling Bukalapak to achieve its objectives, being able to offer BaaS from Indonesia broadens SC nexus’ market reach.

The migration was complex as not all the required AWS services were available in the AWS Asia Pacific (Jakarta) region. At the time of migration, Sourced needed to develop robust and compliant solutions as Kinesis Analytics, AWS Transit Gateway, AWS EKS and GPU instances were not available in the AWS Jakarta region.

Sourced’s expertise and deep knowledge of cloud services was a valuable asset in this complex migration. For example, the company was able to architect an automated solution for the data migration. This was a crucial factor that enabled the migration, that took nine months of preparation and planning, to be successfully completed in just eight hours.

The partnership between Sourced and SC nexus has supported and enabled Standard Chartered’s strategic priority of scaling up its mass retail presence through innovative partnerships and generating new revenue streams through digital initiatives. Being able to meet customers’ needs, such as those of Bukalapak proves that it is possible to offer reliable, robust and secure BaaS offerings that take into account the needs for data sovereignty and differing regulatory requirements.

Sourced has expertise in most major cloud platforms offered across the world. The partnership with SC nexus, which has grown over several years, has given SC nexus first-mover advantage in several countries. For example, Indonesia is one of the world’s largest emerging markets with almost 200 million internet users. The partnership with Sourced means SC nexus can offer BaaS in country with onshore services through AWS Asia Pacific (Jakarta) that are compliant with local laws and regulations.

Similarly, it can also do the same in Singapore as well as many of the over 30 markets Standard Chartered already operates in. With a proven track record in making SC nexus available in multiple regions through the partnership with Sourced, Standard Chartered has a platform that can grow beyond the Asia Pacific region and offer compliant BaaS across the world.

BaaS gives businesses that are looking for new services they can offer to customers a high-value service. And while banking has been extremely difficult to break into because of the high cost of establishing systems and licensing and maintaining regulatory compliance SC nexus enables businesses to offer banking services through a trusted banking partner. Sourced has enabled SC nexus to expand its reach across the Asia Pacific region and beyond.

Read the full case study here

About Sourced Group

Sourced Group an Amdocs company is an award-winning global cloud consultancy that enables enterprises to make the most of cloud services with a focus on security, governance and compliance. With offices globally we provide professional services for securing, migrating and managing the cloud infrastructure of large enterprise customers. We specialize in configuration management, automation, cloud computing and data management for a wide range of industries, including financial services, media, transport and telecommunications companies. By utilising our proven deployment frameworks, and trusted design patterns, we work with the largest and most security conscious organisations to unlock innovation through cloud computing.

About Amdocs

Amdocs’ purpose is to enrich lives and progress society, using creativity and technology to build a better connected world. Amdocs and its 27,000 employees partner with the leading players in the communications and media industry, enabling next-generation experiences in 85 countries. Our cloud-native, open and dynamic portfolio of digital solutions, platforms and services brings greater choice, faster time to market and flexibility, to better meet the evolving needs of our customers as they drive growth, transform and take their business to the cloud. Listed on the NASDAQ Global Select Market, Amdocs had revenue of $4.2 billion in fiscal 2020. For more information, visit Amdocs at www.amdocs.com.

Managed Cloud Services

Banking as a Service (BaaS) is revolutionising the finance sector. BaaS enables non-financial companies to provide customers with financial products and services such as personal loans, credit cards and digital savings accounts. It leverages the expertise and experience of trusted banks, such as Standard Chartered, so they can offer a wider range of services to existing and new customers.

When Indonesian e-commerce company Bukalapak wanted to provide their customers with access to financial services, they partnered with Standard Chartered to launch BukaTabungan, which is powered by Standard Chartered nexus (SC nexus) BaaS platform. While SC nexus already had a footprint on AWS Asia Pacific (Hong Kong) region, it had not yet migrated to AWS Asia Pacific (Jakarta) region.

Sourced Group an Amdocs Company (Sourced), migrated SC nexus’ digital banking platform from AWS Asia Pacific (Hong Kong) to AWS Asia Pacific (Jakarta) within a tight timeframe. SC nexus was planning to make that migration by 2025. But to meet the needs and regulatory compliance of Bukalapak, that migration was brought forward. And while this migration typically takes about a year, Sourced completed the migration of the workload which was spread across four AWS EKS clusters coordinating 103 EC2 instances across three availability zones in just nine months. The accompanying data migration included eight PostgreSQL clusters and data sync for a Cassandra cluster and two Amazon S3 buckets.

As well as enabling Bukalapak to achieve its objectives, being able to offer BaaS from Indonesia broadens SC nexus’ market reach.

The migration was complex as not all the required AWS services were available in the AWS Asia Pacific (Jakarta) region. At the time of migration, Sourced needed to develop robust and compliant solutions as Kinesis Analytics, AWS Transit Gateway, AWS EKS and GPU instances were not available in the AWS Jakarta region.

Sourced’s expertise and deep knowledge of cloud services was a valuable asset in this complex migration. For example, the company was able to architect an automated solution for the data migration. This was a crucial factor that enabled the migration, that took nine months of preparation and planning, to be successfully completed in just eight hours.

The partnership between Sourced and SC nexus has supported and enabled Standard Chartered’s strategic priority of scaling up its mass retail presence through innovative partnerships and generating new revenue streams through digital initiatives. Being able to meet customers’ needs, such as those of Bukalapak proves that it is possible to offer reliable, robust and secure BaaS offerings that take into account the needs for data sovereignty and differing regulatory requirements.

Sourced has expertise in most major cloud platforms offered across the world. The partnership with SC nexus, which has grown over several years, has given SC nexus first-mover advantage in several countries. For example, Indonesia is one of the world’s largest emerging markets with almost 200 million internet users. The partnership with Sourced means SC nexus can offer BaaS in country with onshore services through AWS Asia Pacific (Jakarta) that are compliant with local laws and regulations.

Similarly, it can also do the same in Singapore as well as many of the over 30 markets Standard Chartered already operates in. With a proven track record in making SC nexus available in multiple regions through the partnership with Sourced, Standard Chartered has a platform that can grow beyond the Asia Pacific region and offer compliant BaaS across the world.

BaaS gives businesses that are looking for new services they can offer to customers a high-value service. And while banking has been extremely difficult to break into because of the high cost of establishing systems and licensing and maintaining regulatory compliance SC nexus enables businesses to offer banking services through a trusted banking partner. Sourced has enabled SC nexus to expand its reach across the Asia Pacific region and beyond.

Read the full case study here

About Sourced Group

Sourced Group an Amdocs company is an award-winning global cloud consultancy that enables enterprises to make the most of cloud services with a focus on security, governance and compliance. With offices globally we provide professional services for securing, migrating and managing the cloud infrastructure of large enterprise customers. We specialize in configuration management, automation, cloud computing and data management for a wide range of industries, including financial services, media, transport and telecommunications companies. By utilising our proven deployment frameworks, and trusted design patterns, we work with the largest and most security conscious organisations to unlock innovation through cloud computing.

About Amdocs

Amdocs’ purpose is to enrich lives and progress society, using creativity and technology to build a better connected world. Amdocs and its 27,000 employees partner with the leading players in the communications and media industry, enabling next-generation experiences in 85 countries. Our cloud-native, open and dynamic portfolio of digital solutions, platforms and services brings greater choice, faster time to market and flexibility, to better meet the evolving needs of our customers as they drive growth, transform and take their business to the cloud. Listed on the NASDAQ Global Select Market, Amdocs had revenue of $4.2 billion in fiscal 2020. For more information, visit Amdocs at www.amdocs.com.

Managed Cloud Services

Salesforce’s third-quarter financial report Wednesday showed a solid 14% year-over-year increase in revenue, beating analysts’ expectations, but was overshadowed by the announcement that company co-CEO Bret Taylor will be stepping down. The move will leave company  founder Marc Benioff once again running the company as lone CEO.

Salesforce’s revenue growth, totalling $7.8 billion for the quarter ending October 31, was largely driven by subscription and support revenue, which increased by 13% year-on-year to $7.2 billion, while professional services and other revenues saw a 25% increase over the same period, to $604 million.

Earlier in November, the cloud-based CRM software maker announced it would cut about 950 jobs from its global workforce, facing pressure to cut costs since activist hedge fund Starboard Value took a stake in the company and immediately called for the company to increase its margins.

However, despite the strong third quarter performance, Salesforce’s share price fell more than 9% in Thursday morning trading, as much of the commentary from industry observers centered around Taylor’s resignation.

Speaking to analysts on a conference call after the results had been published, Benioff said “this quarter has been further proof of our commitment to profitable growth, continuing our operating margin growth, continued focus on our revenue growth, continued focus on our market share growth.”

It was on this same call that Benioff announced the news that Taylor had made the decision to step down from his role as co-CEO of Salesforce.

“While there is absolutely no easy time for a transition like this, I really do feel that now is the right time for me to return to my entrepreneurial roots, particularly given the technology landscape and the economy going through such tectonic shifts,” Taylor said.

He added that he would remain as co-CEO through the end of the fiscal year to ensure a smooth transition and a “a strong close to the quarter.”

Taylor first joined Salesforce in 2016 when the CRM software provider acquired his previous company, Quip, and has since held the position of president and chief operating officer at Salesforce prior to his promotion to co-CEO last year. He also played a key role in Salesforce’s $27 billion acquisition of Slack in 2020.

In addition to his role at Salesforce, Taylor was also chairman of the board at Twitter when Elon Musk tried to terminate his agreement to buy the social media platform for $44 billion. After publicly announcing Twitter would pursue legal action to enforce the purchase, Taylor lost his role as chairman when Musk eventually took over and immediately dissolved Twitter’s board.

This is not the first time that Salesforce a co-CEO has chosen to leave the company. In 2018, Benioff named Keith Block co-CEO and he remained in the position until he stepped down in 2020.

“Co-CEO arrangements are historically challenging long-term relationships, but it seems to be one which Marc seems to favor for succession planning as well as allowing him to pursue broader philanthropic interests,” said Jason Wong, VP analyst at Gartner.

He added that the co-CEO situation, which started with Keith Block, also allows Benioff to scale executive responsibilities, given the size and growth of Salesforce which now has several business units in MuleSoft, Tableau and Slack, all of which have their own CEOs.

“Marc is still very much committed to running Salesforce and has set several milestones, such as surpassing SAP as the largest enterprise applications vendor by revenue this past year and a target of $50B in annual revenue by 2026,” Wong said. “I believe he would want to be at the helm as these milestones are achieved.” While it’s unlikely Benioff will announce Taylor’s successor in the immediate future, Wong said he would not be surprised to see another co-CEO appointment from within.

CRM Systems, Technology Industry

There’s no doubt that today’s small- and medium-sized business leaders are facing several unprecedented challenges. And building resilience to weather any upcoming storms is essential.

In this first episode of our 5-episode podcast, Essential Connections: The Business Owner’s Guide to Growth During Economic Uncertainty, we welcome Jamie Domenici, Chief Marketing Officer at GoTo. Jamie’s unique expertise in marketing and hands-on experience in small- and mid-sized companies makes her wisdom and best practices especially relevant and meaningful.

“My passion is around small businesses,” she says. “And my whole life honestly, has been associated with small businesses. And now working at larger companies, I really spend a lot of my time and my efforts thinking about how we help small businesses navigate some of those more challenging experiences.”

Navigating today’s turbulence requires a strategy that allows for agility and strength. Jamie’s advice? “Resilience is all about the ability to bounce back,” she says. “I think a resilient strategy is one that allows you to adapt quickly to market changes, view mistakes and failures as learning opportunities, and most importantly, anticipate problems so you can prepare for them in the future.”

Listen in to learn all the details, including Jamie’s actionable insights on how to use marketing and technology for differentiation.

IT Leadership

Live shopping is one of the most exciting retail experiences in a long time. As shoppers become increasingly eager to buy via live shopping on social platforms such as Instagram and TikTok, retailers face new challenges: How to capture the shoppers’ attention on social media when the urge to buy hits? How can retailers create seamlessly interactive and immersive experiences that prompt consumers to hit the “buy button” during the live stream?

While retailers see the opportunity to pounce on this new trend, the hurdles they face are immense:

Connecting social commerce touchpoints like TikTok and Instagram, as well as built-in chat, video and voice functions, to commerce experiences is a must for seamless omnichannel experiences. Still, it’s not always easy to deploy new features and channels in their current commerce platform.Autoscaling traffic peaks from the live shopping experience is necessary, so consumers don’t face slowdowns or crashes when buying a product. When shoppers see a 404 error page, they’re not likely to come back. Unfortunately, most retailers still face scalability problems during sudden traffic spikes. Experimenting with new touchpoints enables brands and retailers to be ahead of changing customer demands now and in the future. Yet, experimentation is challenging to achieve in today’s IT environment.

These challenges stem from the rigid and monolithic nature of commerce platforms most retailers and brands still use today. These solutions, built for the desktop eCommerce era, lack the flexibility and scalability needed for spontaneous and high-volume sales powered by live shopping.

Flexible, scalable, agile: modern commerce starts with MACH

What’s the alternative for retailers looking at live shopping and beyond? As customer demands and market conditions change quickly, retailers and brands must move faster to capitalise on new ways to sell, such as omnichannel commerce, digital clienteling and personalisation. This means adapting customer experiences on the fly by adding new touchpoints, products, features, locales, currencies and every aspect of commerce without hassle.

This maximum flexibility and scalability philosophy is powered by the principles of MACH (Microservices-based, API-first, Cloud-native and Headless). In a nutshell, MACH-based architecture breaks down functionalities  such as integrating Instagram as a commerce channel  into modular pieces that can be easily customized, deployed, scaled and managed over time. In contrast to all-in-one legacy platforms, retailers using MACH can experiment, scale, change and adapt any functions at any time without disrupting their commerce backend or customer-facing storefronts. As 81% and 88% of adults under 55 years of age in Australia and New Zealand respectively shop online, and nine in 10 retail dollars spent offline during Australian peak season were influenced by digital, retailers are urged to rethink their digital commerce infrastructure to succeed in this new landscape.

For example, the Canadian menswear retail chain, Harry Rosenimplemented digital clienteling that sparked online traffic peaks. With MACH, the company had 0% downtime even as page views per session increased by 150%, coping with a three-fold increase in online sales without disruption.

Australian retail giant Kmart opted for MACH-based infrastructure to elevate personalisation and product categorisation, as well as autoscaling capabilities. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Kmart handled three times the online volume compared to pre-pandemic levels, and still, their eCommerce infrastructure was twice as fast. The company doubled the conversion rate and, just as importantly, operated at a third of its previous infrastructure costs.

Lastly, fashion retailer Express saw online traffic spikes that were three times higher than the busiest hour of Black Friday after a sales promotion went viral. Thanks to MACH, the company could avoid downtime and slowdowns to its webshop, fully capitalising on the sudden surge in sales.

Many retailers are shifting to MACH-based platforms to cope with traffic spikes from digital shopping. With modern commerce, retailers can add new touchpoints and experiment with new ways of reaching customers without constraints to the commerce infrastructure. 

E-commerce Services

Macroeconomic conditions led by the pandemic and the geopolitical crisis in Ukraine have further slowed down growth of Amazon’s cloud computing unit, Amazon Web Services (AWS), in the third quarter of 2022.

Amazon on Thursday said AWS had raked in revenue of $20.5 billion for the quarter ended September 30, up 27.5% year-on-year.

However, revenue for AWS grew at 33% year-on-year at 19.74 billion in the previous quarter (ended June 30). For the quarter before that, revenue grew 36.5%.

The steady decline in growth can be attributed to macroeconomic conditions, due to which the company is seeing a slowdown in customer expenditure, company executives said during an earnings call.

“We do see some of the consumers are cutting their budgets and trying to save money in the short run. I would say that although we had a 28% growth rate for the quarter for AWS, the back end of the quarter, we were more in the mid-20% growth rate. So, we’ve carried that forecast through to the fourth quarter,” CFO Brian Olsavsky said, according to a Motley Fool transcript.

Other factors affecting AWS growth, according to Olsavsky, were inflation in employee salaries due to stock-based compensation and rising energy costs alongside continued investments in its data centers.

“We’re also seeing energy costs that are materially higher than they had in pre-pandemic, electricity and the impact of natural gas pricing. So, we’re fighting through some of that as well, which is a new thing for the AWS business. But we’ll continue to look for ways to optimize our operations to use less energy,” the CFO said during the earnings call.

AWS to work with customers to lower their costs

To continue its revenue momentum, AWS said it was working closely with customers to lower their costs.

“When I talk about enterprise customers in AWS, yes, we’ve been working with customers to lower their bills. Just like all companies, they want to lower their spend when they’re faced with uncertainty in the market,” Olsavsky said while responding to a question on customer behavior.

During the quarter, rivals Microsoft and Google have increased their cloud revenue by 35% and 38% respectively.  

AWS, which still leads the infrastructure-as-a-service (IassS) market, also has been gradually losing ground to these rivals, according to a report from market research firm Gartner. At the end of 2021, AWS retained 38.9% share of the market against 40.8% dominance in 2020, Gartner said. Microsoft increased its market share by 1.4% market share to 21.1%, the report showed. Google gained a percentage point, for a 7.1% share of the market.

Cloud Computing, Technology Industry

Workflow automation provider ServiceNow on Wednesday said it remained optimistic about growth for the rest of the year, despite the uncertain macroeconomic environment, hoping the situation will in fact boost demand for its offerings.

“As you know, they (enterprises) are either not hiring, they’re laying people off, and they have to do more with less. We’re built for that,” said Bill McDermott, CEO of ServiceNow, during a call with analysts to discuss the company’s third-quarter earnings.

“They need the computers and the platforms to do the work so that people have a more pleasant experience on the employee side … we take care of that,” McDermott said, according to a Motley Fool transcript

Though the company is not immune to the macroeconomic environment, its sales team is preparing for uncertainties by doubling down on staying closer to the customer to understand their needs, added company CFO Gina Mastantuono.

In fact, Mastantuono said the company will continue to keep hiring for the rest of year, in contrast with several large technology companies—such as Google, Oracle and Microsoft—that have been laying off large number of employees.

“ServiceNow is hiring and will continue to hire and we are investing for growth. So, we are absolutely committed to continuing to build up our world-class, go-to-market organization,” Mastantuono said, adding that ServiceNow will also hire critical engineering staff.

ServiceNow reports robust Q3 results

ServiceNow reported strong quarterly results Wednesday, with 25% year-on-year growth in revenue backed by at least 69 deals that were worth over $1 million each.

The company reported total revenue of $1.83 billion for the quarter, with subscription revenues accounting for $1.74 billon, an increase of 28.5% year-on-year, without considering the effect of currency fluctuations.

Multiple products including IT service management (ITSM), IT operations management (ITOM), Customer and Employee Workflows and Creator Workflows were included in the top 20 deals signed by the company, McDermott added, pointing out the diversification of the company’s products portfolio and increasing customer awareness.

“In Q3, both ITSM and ITOM were in 17 of our top 20 deals, with six deals each over $1 million. Security and risk were in 15 of the top 20 with five deals over $1 million,” McDermott said.

Customer and Employee Workflows were also a part of 12 of the top 20 deals signed during the quarter in question, along with Creator Workflows, which featured in all the top 20 deals, the CEO added.

The company reported that it had a total of 1,530 customers with more than $1 million in annual contract value by the end of September.

The number of customers paying over $10 million in annual contract value grew 60% year‑over‑year by the end of September.

ServiceNow announces new training program

ServiceNow has also introduced the RiseUp with ServiceNow program, aimed at training  one million ServiceNow certified professionals by 2024.

As part of the program, the company will offer 600 free courses along with 18 job-related certification paths.

Service Management Software, ServiceNow, Technology Industry

There’s an old saying when something you value changes and no longer brings you the joy the way it used to, “it’s not like it used to be.” For those who remember the good old days, great service was an essential part of the customer experience. Nowadays, customer service is not what it used to be. For decades now, customer service has become a necessary cost center. The emphasis on scale, automation, speed, and margins have also come at the cost of customer experience. However, new research now shows that the role of service is shifting back to “service,” to unify the customer’s experience.  

Since the dawn of the contact center in the 1960s, customer service evolved into a transactional entity. Over the years, executives learned to think of service as a numbers game, cycling customers on and off the phone and closing-out tickets as fast as possible, regardless of whether or not customers had a positive impression of the company in each interaction. That mindset would serve as models for deploying next-gen technologies, including IVRs, knowledge centers, chatbots, automation/RPA, text/messaging, with each designed to scale transactional engagement vs. delivering the level of service customers hope to receive. 

Customer experience reflects all customer engagements; Service can no longer serve as the weakest link 

The customer experience — the sum of all engagements, beyond customer service, a customer has with a business — is core to business success today. A related study of customers and B2B buyers published by Salesforce, the “State of the Connected Customer,” showed that nearly nine-in-ten respondents consider experience to be as critical as the product, itself, in deciding whether or not to buy from a company. This means that the experience you deliver is also a product.  

Nearly all respondents to that survey said a positive service experience makes them more likely to make a repeat purchase (94%). The same study also found that 71% of customers had switched brands in the last year with 48% switching companies for better customer service. These are critical insights especially in the current economic environment, when budgets are tightening, and loyalty becomes more important to the bottom line.  

Every facet of that experience must contribute to the great whole of the brand experience you promise. If customer service is viewed as a cost center and metrics prioritize speed over quality and transactions over relationship, it will always take away from the customer’s experience instead of enhancing it.  

There’s good news to report for service professionals. In its fifth edition of the “State of Service,” Salesforce found that companies are increasing investments in employees and technology budgets to match case volume and customer expectations. Over half of service organizations (55%) report increased budgets — up from 32% in 2020. And 51% report increased headcount — up from 19% in 2020. 

Mindset: The value of service shines when it’s meant to enhance the customer experience 

As customers become increasingly connected and empowered, their expectations soar. Service as a cost center is no longer a viable strategy to stand out against competitors where everything either takes away from or adds to the experience. It comes down to a shift in mindset, from a cost center mentality to a revenue generator. When executives invest in customer services that enhances their experience, customers are more likely to make repeat purchases and stay loyal.  

That truth is increasingly penetrating the hallowed walls of C-Suites and the boardroom.  

More than 50% of respondents in Salesforce’s survey of customer service professionals say their management now views their department as a revenue generator, rather than the cost center it may have perceived to be. That’s a significant tipping point that makes service performance all the more important not just for companies as a whole, but for the people in charge of delivering customer service. 

If you need more proof of this phenomenon, consider that over one-third of customer service leaders are now in the C-level — an unprecedented level of representation at the highest reaches of business structures.  

The fact that these are sourced from customer service ranks speaks volumes. And there’s appetite for this trend to continue. Nearly nine-in-ten of customer service respondents who don’t have C-level representation see its value. 

With the rise of roles such as chief customer officers and chief experience officers, service becomes one, albeit critical, part of the overall customer experience. It no longer has to represent the weakest link in the customer journey. 

Connection is the heart of service 

Driving customer success starts with connection to engage customers to meet and eventually exceed customer expectations. 

Think about the myriad of touchpoints that proliferate the path to purchase — and repurchase and loyalty — today. We often talk about this in terms of striving for omnichannel engagement. But beyond business buzzwords, a customer would never use the word omnichannel, it’s important to humanize the customer experience by considering the different, disconnected, departments that touch the customer journey. For example… 

Are service agents aware of marketing campaigns a given customer has received when they make contact? Do they have an informed sense of how a customer has navigated the company’s e-commerce touchpoints? Is the customer’s historical experience, preferences, previous purchases, available to service agents and all frontline executives responsible for customer engagement through their journey? Is integrated data and insights available to power AI in ways that present next best actions and experiences at a personal level, whether that’s an agent, chatbot, or self-guided path? If in a B2B company, are they aware of salesperson interactions?  

This is all critical context that service reps need to meet elevated customer expectations for efficient, tailored engagement. 

So, have companies met those customer expectations for connected engagement? According to the “State of the Connected Customer” survey, they have not.  

Three-in-five respondents say they generally feel like they are interacting with different departments rather than one company. And unfortunately, two-thirds say they often need to repeat information to different agents. When nearly all customers say a positive service experience makes them more likely to make a repeat purchase, is this status quo serving service’s elevated business mandate? 

This attests to a cost-center vs. growth mindset. In each case, the outcomes are very different. 

Compare high-performing service teams — those with the highest customer satisfaction levels — and their underperforming peers. The top teams are empowered to treat unique customers with unique engagement, think freedom from restrictive policies that don’t put all customer situations into a single category of service. Top teams are also more empowered with contextual information that details a customer’s entire journey, whether with service, or another team.  

In these cases, over three-fifths of service teams now share the same CRM software with their colleagues in other departments like ecommerce, sales, and marketing.  

Context matters in a digital-first world 

Let’s talk about the other critical element of meeting elevated customer expectations: digital channels and, more importantly, customer context. 

Even though the world is opening up, the use of digital channels, such as social media and customer portals, have not backtracked. In fact, customers say they are likely to spend more time online than before 2020. This is leading to the adoption of more digital-first touchpoints. Nearly three-in-five customers now prefer to engage through digital channels.  

Before you ask, yes, that preference skews higher among younger demographics. But still, channels such as phone and email are dropping, and digital-first touchpoints are rising across the board.  

Responses to this trend are represented in the increasing adoption among service organizations of channels like mobile apps, forums, and especially video. But a wholesale shift to digital channels ignores critical nuance…context. 

Key objectives are shifting to reflect a focus on efficiency, cost savings, and doing more with less 

Customers veer towards different channels depending on the circumstances. For instance, 59% of customers prefer self-service tools for simple issues while 81% of service professionals say the phone is a preferred channel for complex issues — up from 76% in 2020.  

Wherever they go, customers want their interaction to be easy, seamless, and fast. Let’s focus for a moment on the preference for self-service for simple issues. This is a great example of where customer and company priorities meet — in this case, in the pursuit of efficiency. 

Customer success excellence in today’s environment isn’t easy. Salesforce research found that 83% of customers expect to interact with someone immediately, and 83% expect to resolve complex problems through one person.  

Service professionals are feeling the pressure too, with 60% recognizing the increase in customer expectations since before the pandemic. 

Shifting KPIs reflect a focus on efficiency 

The preference for self-service for simple matters coincides with a heightened focus on efficiency for companies facing uncertain economic conditions. 

Organizations are being asked to do more with less and reduce costs. This is reflected in the rise of efficiency-related service KPIs, such as case deflection, customer effort, and first contact resolution.  

While self-service is a great foray into this pursuit, it can only go so far. How else can service organizations maximize customer satisfaction while using resources most efficiently? 

The answer lies at least in part in technology. Specifically, nearly three-fifths of service organizations now use at least one form of workflow or process automation — freeing up agents to focus on the higher value, more complex work that customers with more pressing or unique needs demand in exchange for repeat purchases.  

Users of automation reported significant benefits, such as time savings, better customer focus, and fewer errors in addressing customer needs. 

Three takeaways to transform service into a growth (and customer relationship) engine  

Service plays an important role in delivering a connected, efficient, and product customer experience. More importantly, service itself is shifting from a necessary cost center to a strategic growth engine. 

Service organizations are now at the forefront of strategic shifts across industries. Leaders are investing in continued momentum as well as future disruptions as customer expectations only continue to increase. 

1) Shift from a service mindset to an experience mindset 

Customers don’t see a “service department” — they see one company. As elevated, connected experiences become more commonplace, any instance of a disconnected, siloed experience across sales, service, marketing, and beyond will stand out and prompt customers to seek out better alternatives. Connecting service people, processes, and technology with their cross-functional counterparts helps mitigate this risk and elevate the overall customer experience. 

2) Empower employees as much as customers 

Scaling digital engagement offerings for customers has its merits, but we need to also think about what capabilities employees need to engage across these channels and provide the tailored, empathetic, and contextualized service customers deserve. Technology is a big part of this equation. But all the technology in the world won’t make much of a difference without the evolved policies and processes that transformation requires. 

3) Audit metrics for efficiency, scale, and experience 

Tried-and-true service metrics aren’t going anywhere, but a narrow focus on closing out as many tickets with as few agents as possible is a recipe for CX and service failure. Think about how KPIs can help identify areas of improvement as you scale across new channels, for instance. As resources get scarcer among economic uncertainty, look for ways to do more with less, without compromising the experiences customers have and take away from each engagement. 

Business Services