Check out the keynote descriptions on the ServiceNow Knowledge17 site.

The New CEO's Keynote

Engage Now

By the time of the conference, John Donahoe will have been in his new role as ServiceNow's CEO for just over a month. For those unaware of this leadership change, ServiceNow made the announcement at the end of February in this press release. I remember Frank Slootman's address to the partners at the 2011 conference in San Diego. He made some pretty extreme claims about the pace of growth he planned for the company over the ensuing years. He then proceeded to deliver.

Donahoe comes to the company with a strong resume, but I will be watching closely to see what he plans to do in his new role. The description of his keynote is relatively generic and aligns closely with the marketing for the company and conference in a broader sense: fast (lightspeed!) pace, smarter systems, and a work paradigm shift. We're racing toward a business world with a much greater degree of automation and intelligent systems, and I'll be interested to hear whether Donahoe will offer any specific announcements as to ServiceNow's direction in these arenas.

Don't miss the first keynote: The Lightspeed Enterprise with John Donahoe, President & Chief Executive Officer of ServiceNow.

The Chief Product Officer's Keynote

Speaking from my experiences, ServiceNow seems to struggle with the reputation of being a SaaS ITSM tool. ITSM has, historically, been an excellent entry point into a lot of businesses for ServiceNow. It still is and will probably continue to be for a while longer. ServiceNow isn't just an ITSM tool, though. The company pushed hard with the "Everything as a Service" marketing in 2015 and was relatively successful in broadening the software's reputation to brand itself as supporting services throughout the organization rather than solely within IT.

What does this have to do with the CPO's keynote? I'm getting there. ServiceNow is more than a suite of apps to support services. It's an application development platform. It's a PaaS that makes delivery of custom applications easy and fast. Some organizations are starting to pick up on the opportunity to use the platform to replace legacy homegrown applications (outside of ITSM) and deliver functionality beyond the standard SaaS offerings that come from ServiceNow. I have seen fewer organizations picking up on this opportunity with ServiceNow, however, than picking up on the same opportunity with Salesforce and the platform.

I continue to be surprised by the lack of acknowledgement that there is competition between Salesforce and ServiceNow. A recent Forbes article attributed some remarks to the new CEO, John Donahoe, and states, "ServiceNow focuses on a 'system of action,' rather than a system of record, says Donahoe, which is why it works with rather than competes against its two cloud classmates." I'm just not seeing it that way.

CJ Desai's keynote description promises discussion of "the Now PlatformTM, and custom applications for every department and process." I look forward to hearing what he has to say on the topic and to seeing what changes to the ServiceNow reputation as a PaaS will come in 2017.

On top of the PaaS conversation, I'm interested to see how the "proactive, innovative intelligence and automation" will play into the SaaS offerings and the platform. Are we talking about simple enhancements to workflows, orchestration, and the like? Machine learning to support ITSM processes? Or are we talking about enhancements to the core platform that will enable incorporation of AI, machine learning, and other technologies into custom applications?

Don't miss the second keynote: Working at Lightspeed with CJ Desai, Chief Product Officer of ServiceNow.

The CreatorCon Keynote

From the description, Pat Casey's CreatorCon keynote sounds to be more granularly practical in the nature of its announcements. I'm always excited to hear about the enhancements coming to the platform as I expect we will with the roadmap and the "new features that will speed your development." I am interested in what is meant by "intelligent automation" as it could refer to workflow automation, orchestration, and the like or it could refer to more exciting enhancements to the platform around machine learning and the like. I figure it's likely the former, but we'll soon see.

Don't miss the final keynote: Build Apps at Lightspeed with Pat Casey, Sr. Vice President Development Operations of ServiceNow.