How business optimization efforts stack up

  • About ServiceNow
  • AI and Automation
  • 2022
  • Lana Gates
January 19, 2022

Business optimization: A businessman walking in front of a cityscape

As we emerge from the pandemic, organizations worldwide are focused on optimization efforts desgned to reap the rewards of:

  • Decreased costs

  • Greater revenue

  • Reduced risk

  • Faster issue resolution

  • Better employee engagement

New research by ServiceNow and ThoughtLab found 35% of organizations have made significant or very significant progress toward optimizing risk management and cybersecurity. Similarly, 35% of organizations have made headway in optimizing strategy and planning, according to the global survey of 900 senior business leaders. Close behind, 33% have invested in optimizing IT services and support, followed by 30% in customer experience and service.

What is optimization?

We define optimization as “the simplification, integration, and redesign of processes to improve speed and agility,” according to Dave Wright, chief innovation officer at ServiceNow, writing in the Workflow Quarterly Winter 2022 issue.

Toward that end, more than half (58%) of organizations have modernized their IT platforms and systems. Just under half (46%) have improved coordination across departments and functions. And 43% have integrated digitized workflows into the enterprise platform.

Nearly the same percentages of organizations plan to follow suit in these areas in the next year or two (see Figure 1).

Top 10 steps to optimize processes

Figure 1: Top 10 steps to optimize processes

What’s driving optimization?

The cloud is the top driver of optimization, used by 76% of survey respondents (see Figure 2). By offering safe, anywhere access to data and files, it helps business move with speed and agility, increasing efficiency.

More than two-thirds (68%) of organizations use the Internet of Things (IoT), wearables, and sensors to inform decision-making with data and streamline operations. Mobile technology, robotic process automation (RPA), machine learning, and AI account for 40% of optimization efforts today.

Interestingly, optimization leaders have made the biggest investments (49%) in data management solutions and workflow automation, compared to 27% and 31% of non-leaders, respectively.

Top 10 technologies to drive optimization

Figure 2: Top 10 technologies to drive optimization

Areas for improvement

In the next one to two years, 54% of organizations plan to optimize the areas of risk management, cybersecurity, employee experience, and workflows. On their heels, 53% intend to take steps to improve IT services and support. And 50% aim to optimize strategy, planning, and customer experience and service.

One of the biggest areas for improvement to help ensure optimization success is a commitment to training and upskilling. Simply providing modern technology isn’t enough, the survey found. Investing a little to empower employees to make the most of the tools can go a long way toward building an optimization culture.

Find out more about optimization, including process mining and AI, in the Workflow Quarterly Optimization issue. To stay abreast of emerging tech and business trends, subscribe to the Workflow newsletter.

© 2022 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.


  • Total experience companies outperform: prism refraction with an arrow pointing to the right
    Employee Experience
    Survey says: Total experience-focused companies outperform
    Organizations are aligning employee experience and customer experience to create a positive total experience. See findings from the latest research.
  • 4 ServiceNow employees who worked on support case creation and auto-agent workflows
    Now on Now
    Streamlining support case creation and administration
    When customer feedback revealed areas ripe for improvement, ServiceNow employees listened and upgraded two support workflows: case creation and auto-agent.
  • Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe): business man looking at phone while standing on bridge overlooking a city
    IT Management
    How the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) truly supports business
    The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) delivery model can help IT leaders manage the transition from a stability-focused to a continuously evolving infrastructure.

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