ServiceNow is absolutely killing it in the cloud computing software world. And Fred Luddy, the company’s founder and visionary, has a new plan to keep it that way.
ServiceNow had an awesome IPO in 2012, the first company to go public after Facebook’s IPO disaster, and has been firing on all thrusters ever since. It just reported a solid beat-the-street quarter, too, telling investors that it expects to grow 2014 revenues by about 55% to finish at $US652 million to $US657 million. Analysts had previously expected $US644.24 million.
The company’s flagship offering helps companies diagnose and manage tech problems when glitches occur, and automate routine technical tasks, so a human doesn’t have to.
Next up, Luddy wants to turn you into a programmer, giving you the freedom to write the apps you need for work for your PC, smartphone and tablet, with no programming experience whatsoever, Luddy told Business Insider. You would just point, click, drag some stuff around and you have yourself a new app.
About a year ago, it introduced the basic service for this, called “ServiceNow App Creator” and on Tuesday it introduced an app store where those homegrown apps can be shared, called ServiceNow Share.
This is a concept called “citizen programmers.” In 2009 Gartner predicted that by 2014, 25% of new business apps would be created by non-programmer business users.
That hasn’t exactly happened. Most of us are still dependent on our IT department to give us a new app for our smartphones, tablets, SharePoint or the web app to do our work.
Or we go out and find a cloud app that works, and buy it ourselves. While that helps us, it has created an IT security horror called “shadow IT.” That’s when a company’s sensitive data winds up stored in all kinds of places in the cloud, or on devices, that the IT department doesn’t know about. Good for hackers. Bad for keeping the company’s materials secure and compliant with laws that regulate how they protect information.
There’s is a rising tide of companies trying to change this move to shadow IT by offering citizen developer tools. These include TrackVia, Interneer, Appery.io and ServiceNow.
So instead of using someone else’s cloud service, you create the app you want yourself. For instance, business users have created apps that reports maintenance issues in office cubicles, handle requests for marketing materials, track equipment loans, and so on.
The downside is, your company would have to buy a subscription to ServiceNow App Creator. It’s not something you can fire up on your own.
We recently spoke with Luddy about this concept of the developers and his ultimate vision for his company:
BUSINESS INSIDER: Why are so interested in turning business users into citizen developers?
That’s just not right. People used to create [business] forms on typewriters. Why should it be any more difficult than that?
I had an experience where I was in a ski shop called Dave’s ski shop in Tahoe City. I rented skis and the whole thing was completely online. I asked the guy, ‘Who did the programming?’ He said, ‘Nobody did any programming. We used this thing called Google Docs.’
That’s the answer you want: How to get people to do things with technology where they don’t even think is programming.
BI: What’s been the impact of this on ServiceNow so far?
FL: My drive has never been about money. My drive has always been about putting a smile on someone’s face because their lives got a little less painful.
The thing I’m most envious about Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook is that he has 1 billion+ happy users.
I want a billion+ happy users. It’s that simple and it has nothing to do with money.
BI: So, once you get a billion people all writing their own apps, what happens to the professional developers? Do their jobs die?
FL: There’s always going to be room for programmers. Do you know who the Luddites were? It’s a question like the Luddites in the industrial revolution.
Right now you have a lot of programmers doing a lot of mundane things and we want to liberate those people from doing the mundane things.
There’s so many opportunities now with new technologies, from big data analysis to building platforms like ours that enable real people.
The value of technology is equivalent to the number of people that can take advantage of it. The demand for the programmers of the world has risen by orders of magnitude.
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