Perhaps since SAP’s cloud business is twice as big as ServiceNow’s and is growing about 75% faster, ServiceNow has decided to snatch some of that SAP momentum by glomming on to SAP’s hugely successful “Rise with SAP” program.
During ServiceNow’s Q3 earnings call on Oct. 26, CEO Bill McDermott opened his remarks with a quick overview of the company’s momentum and unique position in the Cloud Wars, including how ServiceNow helped one customer generate “more than $1 billion in cost efficiencies for just one of our many ERP wins this quarter.”
As McDermott put it, “We could do it because ServiceNow was born in the cloud.” That’s a key point that McDermott frequently makes to differentiate ServiceNow from some ERP vendors that he did not name but that were certainly not born in the cloud.
Instead, the two heavyweights in the ERP field were born in the old on-premises days 50 years ago (SAP) and 45 years ago (Oracle); however, both now have fully modern cloud ERP businesses that are booming today.
But McDermott’s reference was to the decades-old stuff those and other software companies offered in the past and that today, in most cases, are simply incapable of meeting the demands of modern digital businesses.
“Some of the world’s largest manufacturers, for example, are consolidating hundreds of old procurement processes into a modern workflow experience,” McDermott said. “This declutters the legacy environment,” he said, resulting in the “$1 billion in cost efficiencies” for a ServiceNow customer as noted above.
“Where there is complexity, we simplify,” he said. “In this need-for-speed environment, the ServiceNow platform is becoming the strategic center of gravity for our customers.”
Hey, I buy in unconditionally to the “need-for-speed” thing — after all, Cloud Wars is now a part of the Acceleration Economy network.
McDermott then went on to describe a very cool new program that ServiceNow is launching and that I think will be a huge success in today’s environment where skills — the right kinds and blends of skills — are becoming immensely valuable.
I’ll mention a little bit about the program, and then get to the thing about ServiceNow apparently wanting some of SAP’s fire.
The new ServiceNow program will “skill 1 million ServiceNow certified professionals by 2024,” McDermott said, and “we’ll give people the knowledge to seize” the big-growth opportunities that ServiceNow sees “everywhere.”
So what name did ServiceNow choose for this very cool new program? Drum roll, please: RiseUp with ServiceNow.
But hold on a darned minute: That name sounds a whole heckuva lot like RISE with SAP, which SAP introduced almost two years ago and that’s become a major factor in the company’s, uh, rising level of success in the cloud over the seven quarters since then.
So we have:
- RiseUp with ServiceNow, born in late October 2022; and
- RISE with SAP, born almost 2 years earlier in January 2021.
Now, I don’t believe in coincidence. And while I think “RiseUp with ServiceNow” is a slick name for an excellent vision, it is 100% impossible that the terrific people at ServiceNow were unaware that SAP had created the “RISE with SAP” brand 22 months earlier. For those new to the Cloud Wars, Bill McDermott was CEO of SAP for 10 years until he moved to ServiceNow three years ago and one of ServiceNow’s top marketing and communications executives held a similar post at SAP under McDermott.
So what’s the big deal? Well, I find it interesting that while McDermott appears to go out of his way to never mention SAP by name but instead chooses to refer to it indirectly as a “legacy” player, his company chose a name for a vital new program that’s as close as is linguistically possible to a cloud initiative launched 22 months ago by SAP.
If we take 90 seconds, we could probably come up with 20 words that ServiceNow could have chosen other than “Rise” to capture the power and potential of its new program: Skill, Build, Grow, Accelerate, Reach, Soar, Create, Run, etc.
Yet, ServiceNow chose “RiseUp.”
And on many levels, that’s perfectly fine.
But Bill McDermott is as intelligent and perceptive and honest as any executive you’re ever going to meet. And I’ve openly expressed my admiration for him as a business leader and equally so as a person many times.
So I was surprised that neither he nor his company chose to acknowledge — even indirectly — the lineage of that name and to give at least a head-nod toward the company that McDermott drove to unprecedented heights from 2010 to 2019 and that, afterward, gave birth to the “Rise” thing.
Oh well — I doubt that Christian Klein and SAP are losing any sleep over that omission. But in an industry that’s powered by innovation and has become the greatest growth market the world has ever known, I think it’s important for leaders to, if I may say so, rise to new standards.
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