Journey into Tech
Hi, Erica. Welcome to our Interview Series. You are one of the leading HR Technology executives in the industry. How did your journey begin?
I often think of my career as pre- and post-ServiceNow because, before joining, I had an incredible 23-year journey at Deloitte Consulting. During that time, I played more roles than I can list, but they always centered around a passion for people, for culture, and change.
During my time at Deloitte, I became incredibly passionate about the future of work and played an important role in helping to cement Deloitte’s leadership position in that space. I co-authored the Global Human Capital Trends report for many years and, towards the end of my tenure, led Deloitte’s Global Human Capital practice, which was a $2B business, with 12,000 employees strong. I also had an opportunity to serve on the Management Committee and the Board Advisory Council.
Ultimately, everything I did was grounded in transformation and that’s what I love to do. The bigger the shift, the better. That was ultimately why I came to ServiceNow to transform and redefine the very nature of how work gets done. ServiceNow’s purpose of ‘making the world work better for everyone’ has deeply resonated with me because, throughout my entire career, I have been focused on the evolving dynamics of work and how that can translate to meaningful business value and impact.
What is your current role at ServiceNow?
My current role is the Senior Vice President of Global Partnerships at ServiceNow where I spend my time helping to strengthen the bridge between the value of our partner ecosystem and the power of ServiceNow’s incredible platform. With a $500 billion market opportunity for the Now Platform and associated partner services, we’ve been making a profound shift in the way we work with partners. It’s rooted in an intimacy that celebrates our partners’ unique contributions to the ecosystem. I’m thrilled about ServiceNow’s transformed partner experience that puts our partners at the center of everything we do.
Alongside my current role at ServiceNow, I also am a member of the HR Advisory Council for Betterworks, which brings together leaders in the field of HR to collaborate around best practices in continuous performance management.
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According to the latest report, organizations look to drive digital transformation with new technologies. How does workflow automation fit into their transformation journeys?
New technologies such as automation, AI, and machine learning are all long-term solutions in that they boost productivity and free up employees from mundane, repetitive and time-consuming tasks, allowing them to instead focus on meaningful work. For example, by implementing workflow automation in the onboarding process for tasks like creating new user accounts and alerting IT to technology needs, HR teams can instead focus on the more high-touch and personal steps within the process. But it doesn’t stop there. Automation and AI drive operating efficiencies and help companies manage spending, too.
By making strategic technology investments in workflow automation, leaders will be more resilient and better positioned to navigate business disruptions– and they will come out of it with minimal disruption to their business.
What role is ServiceNow playing in solving emerging workplace challenges? Could you highlight some of these challenges that can be solved with workflow automation tools?
ServiceNow is front-and-center in solving emerging workplace challenges. We often say we serve as the “connective layer” that integrates seamlessly across various solutions, removes complexity, and breaks down siloes so businesses can run smoothly.
One key challenge we solve is a lack of connectivity across the enterprise, a challenge that was perpetuated by COVID and the shift to hybrid, distributed work. Employees are regularly interacting with multiple apps, systems, and teams to get their jobs done – and this is often met with a lot of friction. ServiceNow Employee Center serves as a unified, cross-department portal that brings together the resources and tools employees need to be productive – from anywhere.
We also know that the role of the manager is more complex than ever before, and burnout is at an all-time high. 46% of middle managers say it’s likely they’ll quit their jobs within the next 12 months because of work-related stress. To support managers in this new normal, we launched Manager Hub—a single portal that helps managers stay informed and engaged with their teams, regardless of where they’re working. Manager Hub delivers relevant training opportunities and resources to foster personal and team growth and makes performing everyday tasks, such as approving expense reports or PTO requests, seamless. There’s no need to jump from one system to another to manage teams efficiently, we provide a one-stop solution to make managers’ work lives easier.
Companies are facing no shortage of major workforce challenges, and we don’t see this slowing down anytime soon. But customer challenges are an opportunity to make work better, and we’re committed to innovation that helps our customers weather whatever storm comes their way.
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For a very long time, HR teams sat outside the box in tech investments. How has that changed in the last 3 years?
Simply put, that is no longer an option. To create an extraordinary employee experience, HR and IT must be true partners. Both have skin in the game, and they have to work together to be more strategic, predictive, and proactive.
The question we need to ask is: How do we best enable our people with tech? Traditionally, HR leaders tended to stop at an HCM solution. That’s an important core, of course, but it’s not the answer to all the complex challenges facing the workforce. Technology needs to support the entire employee journey – from before they join a company to after they leave. By working hand-in-hand with IT, we can create data-driven, digital organizations that focus on the end-to-end experience.
What kind of benefits do digital automation companies like ServiceNow bring to employers when we speak about talent retention and performance management systems?
As organizations navigate an unpredictable economy and many look to do more with less, leaders don’t want to sacrifice experience for agility. They need purpose-built solutions that create great employee experiences while accelerating business value.
This is where ServiceNow comes in as the platform for end-to-end digital transformation, with the ability to provide consumer-grade employee experiences that are simple, consistent, and easy to use.
Some of the benefits:
- We connect siloed systems and streamline processes, meaning employees can spend less time looking for answers and more time focused on the work they were hired to do. This helps drive productivity while improving the employee experience.
- Automation technology can enable personalization, which means employees are delivered content, pieces of training, and resources that are relevant to them – often in their normal flow of work – meaning employees have what they need when they need it.
All of this leads to better experiences, which drives loyalty.
Please tell us about the ideal HR Tech stack that every CHRO or Peoples Officer should look to build from day 1.
While I am not in HR currently, I am still very passionate about this topic!
The ideal HR Tech Stack that every CHRO or Peoples Officer should look to build from day 1 should be unified and personalized to support employees at every stage of their journey. The systems that employees use every day are too often disconnected, and time is wasted toggling back and forth between various apps. Today, employees are working in disparate systems, and they need a central place they can go to find information and resources, get help and ask questions across the enterprise from wherever they are working.
Additionally, these tech stacks must be personalized to each employee. When employees have access to HR technology, everything they touch should be personalized to them and their career journey. They expect tailored training and development resources to help advance in their career, the ability to give feedback to direct reports, or see recognition from colleagues directly to them. Organizations that simplify employee experiences in their HR tech stacks by consolidating services and communications onto a single, personalized, platform will thrive.
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Your take on the future of AI-based workflow automation platforms for HR organizations:
It seems like everyone is talking about AI these days, and it’s for a good reason. AI has the potential to drastically improve the employee experience if it’s used effectively and responsibly.
At the most basic level, AI-powered automation helps HR teams and employees prioritize work, find information, and complete tasks. For example, AI-powered virtual agents, or chatbots, can provide employees with personalized responses and step-by-step instructions to requests and questions. AI-powered search can surface the most relevant answers, so employees and HR teams get responses to their questions right away, without needing to sift through pages of documents.
On the back end, AI-powered workflow automation can help uncover data that is critical to business decisions. It can identify patterns, help understand productivity, and detect areas of opportunity to improve the way work is done.
Thank you, Erica! That was fun and hope to see you back on HR Tech Series soon.
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Erica Volini is the senior vice president of partner go-to-market operations at ServiceNow. She helps strengthen the bridge between the value of our partner ecosystem and the power of the Now Platform. Before joining ServiceNow in 2021, Erica spent 23 years at Deloitte Consulting in various roles that centered on her passion for people, culture, and change.
ServiceNow makes the world work better for everyone. Our cloud‑based platform and solutions help digitize and unify organizations so that they can find smarter, faster, better ways to make work flow. So employees and customers can be more connected, more innovative, and more agile. And we can all create the future we imagine. The world works with ServiceNow.