ESM: How we break down silos, boost productivity, and reduce costs

4 happy employees: Enterprise Service Management improves productivity and breaks down silos for a better employee experience.

Nick Borgwardt, director of ITx workflows at ServiceNow, co-wrote this blog.

How do I reset my password?
How do I add someone to a distribution list?
How do I request ergonomic home office equipment?

At many companies, when employees have questions like these or need help, they face the complexity of threading together siloed processes. Sometimes a task can require getting in touch with multiple departments, creating friction and frustration. Other times, it’s not even clear where to start. Seemingly simple requests such as submitting a name change are actually fraught with complexity because they involve multiple teams across HR, IT, finance, and workplace services, among others.

When departments deliver services separately with different portals, systems, and processes, employees get a fragmented and inconsistent experience. The burden is on the employees to figure out the right tools, learn to use them, and coordinate between different functions.

Hide the complexity

Enterprise Service Management (ESM) improves productivity and performance through the application of IT service management across the business. By using automated workflows on a common platform, ESM helps remove friction and accelerate innovation.

ServiceNow has been on an IT digital transformation journey for three years. We use the Now Platform® to bring together numerous processes across many different functions, ranging from legal to procurement to IT to finance.

Most of our employees may not even notice how complex the service delivery is. That’s the whole point of ESM: to hide complexity and create delightful experiences for employees—all while digitizing workflows to grow at scale.

Grow the ratio, not the budget

ServiceNow is growing at around 30% per year. But we haven’t increased our IT budget at the same rate. Last year’s unprecedented world events saw a worldwide decrease in IT spending by 3.2%, according to Gartner, just as enterprises needed more—not fewer—resources to keep the business going.

We were lucky that we could use the Now Platform to drive speed, efficiency, and productivity. By doing so, we supported the company’s ever-increasing workforce with a nominal growth of IT support staff. In fact, over the last three years, our headcount has been flat. That means we’ve steadily increased our employee-to-IT-support ratio during a time of continued growth.

Employee-to-IT-support ratio. In 2018, ServiceNow had 240 employees to 1 IT staff; in 2020, the company had 336 employees to 1 IT staff.

Also noteworthy is that the 2020 figure of 336 employees per one IT support staff member only takes into account full-time employees. When we consider the contractors that IT supports, the actual ratio is even higher.

Meeting employee expectations

When we set out to transform the employee experience, we quickly identified three key expectations from employees that were going unmet:

  • Round-the-clock self-service capability
  • Digital experience across multiple channels
  • Consumer-like experience

In response, we made it easy to use self-service and Virtual Agent, leveraging machine learning and AI. Today, we count more than half of ServiceNow employees as monthly active users of chat-based self-service, automating common requests such as Okta multifactor reset, deleted email recovery, and HR case status check—all on Virtual Agent without human intervention.

Learn more about our journey, as well as results and specific use cases, in our Knowledge 2021 session, Now on Now: Scale enterprise service management. See for yourself how we use ESM to grow and innovate.

© 2021 ServiceNow, Inc. All rights reserved. ServiceNow, the ServiceNow logo, Now, and other ServiceNow marks are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of ServiceNow, Inc. in the United States and/or other countries. Other company names, product names, and logos may be trademarks of the respective companies with which they are associated.


  • Open-source Azimuth logo
    Introducing Azimuth, an open-source project from ServiceNow
    Azimuth open-source software helps AI practitioners better understand their dataset and model predictions by performing thorough dataset and error analyses.
  • integrated risk management in telecom: businessman on phone with communications cables in foreground
    Customer Stories
    How a telecom company elevated integrated risk management and security
    When telecom company ATN International wanted to elevate its integrated risk management program, it chose the Now Platform from ServiceNow. Find out why.
  • Business resilience: employees walking through an office
    Now Platform
    Building a more resilient business with the Now Platform Tokyo release
    The Now Platform Tokyo release is designed to tackle complex, interconnected problems and deliver value. Find out how It helps boost business resilience.

Trends & Research

  • Total experience companies outperform: prism refraction with an arrow pointing to the right
    Employee Experience
    Survey says: Total experience-focused companies outperform
  • Customer service: smiling businessman on phone walking outdoors
    Customer Experience
    Survey: 3 tips to deliver world-class customer service
  • Enterprise SRE (site reliability engineering): where service reliability and business agility meet
    Application Development
    Service quality and the rising need for enterprise SRE