Fred Luddy, founder of ServiceNow, is not a traditional learner. He worked at a car wash and a mechanic shop, lived on a farm, and did various odd jobs while learning about his passion—computers and programming—from magazines, books, and tinkering with technology.
“I really didn't want to go to school,” he says, referring to college. “I was really interested in programming and anything dealing with computers.” Fred thought he could probably have more fun working. He landed a job in Silicon Valley during the early days of the internet and immersed himself in his passion.
A decade later, the technology Fred created became the Now Platform. Today, in addition to optimizing processes and connecting data and organizational silos for businesses around the world, it powers our internal learning and development platform, named frED in his honor.
Tailoring learning to the individual
frED replaces an older, cobbled-together system of learning modules from various vendors. The new platform “helps employees learn the right thing, at the right time, in the right place,” says Joe P., director of talent enablement at ServiceNow.
“In the past, workplace training was being pushed on you rather than something you wanted to do,” he explains. “We wanted to make it more of an experience of curiosity.”
Powered by artificial intelligence (AI), the new platform offers search and other personalized recommendations. It also allows employees to complete company and legally mandated training with an easy-to-use interface.
“We want to smartly surface learning you need to do, in a user-friendly way, on demand,” says Bhargav G., a ServiceNow product manager. “Our industry is in an ever-changing environment, so everyone should be learning. This is the tool through which they’ll be able to do it. We’ll continue improving the AI model so that recommendations can be made that are more tailored to the individual’s interests, current position, and ongoing career path.”
Working together for the greater good
The collaborative work culture Fred instilled played a huge role in bringing frED to life. Anitha L., a technical lead at ServiceNow, says the teams she worked with on this project went above and beyond.
“Teamwork feels very unique at ServiceNow,” she says. “When I go to another department for help, they give lots of information beyond what I’m looking for. They guide us, and they are there whenever we need them. Everyone did their part to make sure we got what we needed, and they recommended adds to the platform to make it even better,” she adds.
“My own team was formed for this release,” Anitha continues. “We were part of different teams before, and from the start, we had good chemistry. We could count on each other, and that contributed to the success. It was a very intense but also very fulfilling project.”
Ramanaiah S., director of talent development at ServiceNow, sees the project as a true customer zero initiative—using our own products to create great employee experiences and giving feedback to our product teams to further improve the capabilities.
“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” he says. “When it comes to leveraging our own product and building things on top of our platform, everyone chimes in. Everyone is equally passionate. There were five to six teams working on revamping the content itself, and many more teams working on the overall project.”
Bhargav refers to himself as a connector between teams on the project. “This was, for me, a really great opportunity to push the limits on what is possible to build on the Now Platform,” he says. “If you have the right vision and priorities as an enterprise, you can create magic.”
Improving manager-employee relationships
frED is quickly becoming an important tool for managers to support their team members in areas ripe for improvement.
“Let’s say your manager says you’re good at a certain aspect of your job but you can improve on a communications thing or managing your time better,” Ramanaiah says. “When your manager is in the system...they can immediately recommend some helpful courses to you. So, it’s in the moment, in all our experiences, that we can help employees grow their careers at ServiceNow.”
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