Arun Balasubramanian is the Managing Director – India & SAARC at ServiceNow. With over two decades of leadership experience with global multinationals, Arun is passionate about helping customers achieve their transformation goals. Arun started his career with Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), which was later acquired by Compaq and HP. These acquisitions helped him fast-tracked understanding of technology, culture, and processes.
Here we have an account from Arun Balasubramanian, Managing Director – India & SAARC, ServiceNow
What is the most important lesson that you have learnt in your career so far?
Being a trusted adviser to your customers is the most important lesson I have learned throughout my career. When you put the customer first, you will build strong, long-term relationships that will last throughout your career. It is important to stay invested in the networks you build in your life; they will pay you back many times over.
How long have you been working with your current organisation and what are your major contributions?
Since the time I joined ServiceNow in 2019, we have grown our business tenfold. We have closed large banking and finance clients, securing one of the top partnerships in the APJ region. With our partners including Cognizant and WIPRO, we have created multiple client zero implementations across the country, where a customer begins with only one application but quickly realises the power of ServiceNow as a complete digital transformation partner. In the last 2 years, I have also seen our partners embrace ServiceNow not only for go-to-market purposes but also for internal transformation. India is now the fastest growing and the strongest performing market in the APJ region for ServiceNow.
My role at ServiceNow allows me to bring my entire professional experience together, which is exciting. It has been extremely rewarding for me to witness our customers transform legacy processes, implement workflows and create great experiences with our SaaS and enterprise solutions that enable transformation for their customers, employees, and all the stakeholders in a short period.
What are your strategies for business growth in 2021?
During the pandemic, with the retirement of legacy technology and adoption of newer technologies that enables business continuity, we witnessed accelerated digital transformation for companies
We have seen triple-digit growth for our India business and are witnessing continuous growth momentum in the country. We have made significant investments in India including the recent Intellibot acquisition and the establishment of two local data center facilities that will be operational by the first quarter of 2022. Our platform is already an enriched one with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) capabilities, and now we have added Robotics Process Automation (RPA). The combination of these technologies is creating a phenomenal opportunity for our Indian customers.
Did you encourage upskilling programs for employees? If yes, how did it change the working structure?
With the rapid adoption of new models and strategies to incorporate new-age technologies as well as address changing customer needs, many organisations are finding themselves in a state of skill and knowledge deficiency. As a result, organisations have recognised the importance of upskilling and reskilling as an essential business imperative.
Understanding that upskilling is the need of the hour, we at ServiceNow are encouraging our employees to do so and it is an important part of our L&D initiatives. We have been focused on industry specific upskilling of our sales teams to talk the language of our customers. It changes our conversations from being product centric to being industry thought leaders able to solve customer challenges specific to their industry.
Were there any new employee benefits introduced amid the pandemic?
The safety of our employees is of paramount importance to us. Keeping this in mind, we organised vaccination drives for our employees and their families in our Hyderabad office and helped facilitate vaccinations via a private health supplier for employers throughout the rest of the country. We provided salary advances and gave a spot bonus to all India-based employees to help them cover unanticipated expenses experienced because of the pandemic.
As the pandemic peaked from March through June, communication was key. We established a chat group for employees to share information on hospital beds, oxygen concentrators, vaccines, medicines and more. It was amazing how many employees were able to help each other out via their networks on the chat group. We also created an information hub which details the resources provided and changes to policies that were made to help during the crisis. For example, we amended leave policies to make it easier for employees to take time off to care for either impacted loved ones or themselves. The policy changes were announced via email with detailed FAQs on the hub.
What work structure – remote or hybrid – will your company follow now?
On a global level, ServiceNow employees will have the choice of working from home till the end of the year. Ultimately, we are assessing the situation in every market, including India, based on the latest circumstances within that country. Our priority will always be the safety and well-being of our employees. While at some point I anticipate we will go back to our offices when it’s safe, there is definitely a lot of room for us to adopt some of the benefits experienced in working from home and carry those forward with more hybrid styles of work.
How did you ensure the mental wellbeing of your employees?
The pandemic is impacting people across nations, and it is compelling the C-suite to prioritise workplace safety and employee well-being. ServiceNow makes available a telephone counselling service for employees.
The need to constantly communicate and check-in with our employees is a message that comes straight from the top and is repeated throughout the management structure. We have also introduced a slew of digital engagement activities, distributed wellbeing kits and hosted yoga and fitness sessions with industry professionals.
What’s your advice to people pursuing a career in your industry?
I believe that your dedication to customer satisfaction will lead to your success. This applies to any tech job, not just SaaS. Your accomplishments with your customers as well as their top of the mind recall for you, will stand as a pillar of proof to your talent. Solving a customer’s problem rather than selling them a solution necessitates patience and a thought process that if mastered, can be a game changer in one’s career.