Kevin Nanney, Service Now in our latest DWX leaders interview

Kevin Nanney: Taking Action Propels Digital Workplace Transformation

October 06, 2020 Digital Workplace
Sharon Florentine
By Sharon Florentine

Kevin Nanney is a former basketball player. Though sidelined by injury, basketball remains an important part of his life, not least of all because of the lessons it taught him on the court, through his career journey and in his current position at ServiceNow.

“Basketball is what got me through college; I had a full scholarship. I enjoyed it so much! What I still take with me is that you have to know your role on a team,” Nanney said. “What is your part in hopefully winning the game? How am I contributing to the team effort? Am I a leader? Do I want to be a coach type? That understanding of how the different parts of a team come together — that’s, I think, what I like best."

Now a senior director at ServiceNow, Nanney’s role encompasses elements of product, people, strategy, vision and execution. ServiceNow is a sponsor of Simpler Media Group's Digital Workplace Experience, held Oct. 13 and Oct. 14 as a free online event. Nanney's colleagues, David Reed, senior director, global talent care and technology, and Robert Teed, vice president, corporate services, are slated to speak at the event. Nanney spoke with SMG about preparing organizations for a digital workplace, the role of culture in digital workplace experience and shared thoughts on measuring success.

Preparing for a Digital Workplace: Relieving Anxiety

Simpler Media Group: How do you prepare organizations for a digital workplace?

Kevin Nanney: It’s a different conversation than what we would have had in the past. We have a whole set of products on the IT pillar focused on customer success — meaning for our customers’ customers. But, internally, we also have a huge employee workflow initiative. A year ago, the focus was about how to enhance employee satisfaction so they’re getting what they need. How do they feel attached? Now, the spotlight is on the workplace itself, and how do we engage the workforce, how do we get them ready for the new digital workplace? A lot of that is identifying and then relieving anxiety. Especially as it relates to COVID-19, how can we take the pulse of employees? How can we determine the kind of experiences they want to have as they come back to the office?

SMG: What, in your mind, is an 'ideal' digital workplace experience? How does that differ from what organizations are delivering?

Nanney: I think there’s differences in 'ideal' across industry types. What’s ideal looks different in IT, manufacturing healthcare, etc., but I think the commonalities are knowing where to go to get whatever information you need and then acting on that information quickly. I’ve seen this in working with so many customers and seeing the different digital workplace initiatives that companies are trying to implement — of course, for some, that’s not the priority. Some folks are focused on other priorities right now, like supply chain or logistics or whatever, but I think it comes down to knowing where to go to get the information you need and then making it happen quickly. Where to find someone, where to reserve a desk, where to file an IT ticket, for instance.

I can only speak for the places I’ve worked, but here, at ServiceNow, I think we do a very good job of this. All of our employees know where to go! A lot of customers are working toward this goal, because they understand that it matters for employees — that basic principle shouldn’t change if the issue is IT, or if it’s personal, or whatever, it’s important to know where to go and how to get it to the department or person or people that can help address it.

Kevin Nanney, SeviceNow: "It’s important not just to take the pulse of the employees .… being willing and able to act on those responses is even more important than the measuring itself."

SMG: What’s the relationship between culture and a good digital workplace experience? 

Nanney: I think good experiences inform the culture; it makes it more productive. People aren’t wasting time. And then the technology, or platform, becomes a communication channel.

As an example, think about an employee service portal where they can go to requisition equipment, or ask questions or get information from HR. They start to use that as a launching pad for other things. And if they have that information and access, then the culture changes. Because the information, and access to it, is more open, people feel more comfortable. And they’re spending time doing their job instead of searching for answers to things. At the same time it’s more open, it’s also more secure. People can ask, 'What about bonuses?' Or ask about benefits, things like that, which are personal. You don’t want to be going around asking a zillion different people about these things if you don’t have to. So, it makes you feel connected to the larger organization because you know where to go to be in the know.

It’s What You Do After you Measure That Matters

SMG: How can you measure success in DWX? What metrics should you be tracking and why those? 

Nanney: The best measure of success is employee satisfaction, and you can measure that on many levels.You want to know if people feel they are part of a good culture, are they satisfied? Do they have a good work/life balance? Do they feel connected?  Behind all of these questions I think are two fundamentals: One is, 'Does my company care enough to send such a survey and measure these things?' And two is, 'What do they do once they get those answers?'

It’s important not just to take the pulse of the employees, but I would say being willing and able to act on those responses is even more important than the measuring itself. It shows that the company truly cares and demonstrates that people are their greatest assets. People don’t leave companies, they leave because they don’t have a good connection with their manager, they leave a bad culture, they don’t feel like they’re heard. So, having that engagement so they’re connected to something larger than themselves is extremely important.

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