Bay Area-based ServiceNow has big promises on the front page of its website.It is possible for companies large and small to actually satisfy both shareholders and customers. Founded in 2004, the company develops cloud computing platforms designed to help manage digital workflows within enterprises.
ServiceNow put together a small video in which employees try to explain their job. Cloud computing, like accessibility, can often feel vague.
ServiceNow may be familiar in certain circles, like its contemporaries at Salesforce, whose unique efforts in the disability inclusion space have been well documented in this space over the past few months, but accessibility arena. After all, cloud-based solutions for business are not paragons of relevance when it comes to accessibility.
ServiceNow has been honored to do its part to raise awareness in this area. Around this time last year, the company announced the launch of what it called a Center of Excellence in Accessibility, a “cross-functional organization,” along with the press touting the hiring of Eamon McErlean as his vice president and global head of accessibility. issued. At the time, ServiceNow explained that the establishment of the aforementioned center was intended to “make the Now Platform more inclusive for a wide variety of needs, whether physical or cognitive.” , added that the center will work with partners and internal employee resource groups throughout. Years to collect ongoing feedback. According to ServiceNow, the ultimate goal was to make accessibility a priority in the design process from the very beginning. McCarleen was brought in to oversee and lead these initiatives.
At a conceptual level, ServiceNow’s Center of Excellence for Accessibility is more or less similar to Salesforce’s own Office of Accessibility. While companies may have distinctly different methods, their functional goals of promoting disability inclusion throughout their organizations and beyond are very much aligned with each other.
Living in Oregon via Northern Ireland, McErlean’s background is in software development, working for high-profile places such as Nike and Apple. In an exclusive interview with me earlier last month, he explained that his first exposure to accessibility was through his Apple retail store. A blind employee complained that he could not access the company’s EasyPay system. This is his iPhone (or previously his iPod touch) that an employee carries with him to help customers checkout or find inventory. McErlean called “really [dive] into the [accessibility] I learned as much as I could from members of the disabled community. After her eight years at Apple, McErlean said she joined Nike, this time continuing her work on accessibility, including in the company’s apps.
According to McErlean, part of his journey to understanding and embracing the importance of accessibility and equal access has been overcoming his previous preconceptions about what accessibility really is. He candidly admitted that there are many things he initially described as “naive” on the topic. he simply didn’t understand it. Even though McCarleen has friends and family with disabilities. The “epiphany moment,” as he called it, came when he began talking and working with people with disabilities on various projects.
Fast-forwarding to their work at ServiceNow and McErlean, like Salesforce executives Derek Featherstone and Catherine Nichols, say ServiceNow is doing “a good deal” to promote disability inclusion compared to accessibility. explained. Most of it comes from so-called portals, parts of the UI that customers interact with on a daily basis. At the heart of McErlean’s mandate is maintaining coordination. That is, “he’s about making sure that he creates one cohesive plan when it comes to accessibility,” he said. In practice, it means choosing a multifaceted approach.
“What we can do over the past year is create what I call a multi-pronged or multi-disciplinary approach. [technical] Due to the issue, we have also started training to ensure all teams involved are trained accordingly. This is now cross service. “Everybody in design, UI/UX, software development, high quality, high speed engineering content needs specific content for accessibility training. The thing is, we’ve added a whole new etiquette to how we interact with our customers: we’ve put that firefighter mode off. [instead being] Be more active in this various customer forums [finding new] It’s a way to engage with customers and increase transparency. “
Among the various strategies, two are particularly noteworthy. According to McErlean, ServiceNow is using a new reporting analytics system designed to help solve current accessibility issues. Additionally, there is something called Early Insights. This helps the company partner with members of the disability community to identify issues and best practices from the early stages of design and development. According to McErlean, the goal is to build accessibility into the structure of the product from the start, so that it “allows builders to take a more holistic approach” to software.
Feedback on what ServiceNow is doing has been positive so far, according to McErlean. It’s a matter of wear and tear: Along with the accumulation of people asking for new features and other enhancements, past lessons from McErlean and team that produce better products. It even brought a lived experience. Overall, layers provide a more empathetic and inclusive software structure for everyone. “One of the things he did when I got here is he really opened up the mindset of all the teams, not just the UI. [and] UX, but all of our teams,” says McErlean. “Being conscious of working [on accessibility] By being with diverse individuals as soon as possible and as often as possible, you will learn more than anything else. “
McErlean feels that if you look at the technology industry more broadly, accessibility generally comes in one of two ways. He opts for a more glass-half picture and expresses optimism that the industry (and society at large) is increasingly embracing the needs of people with disabilities. However, he acknowledged that accessibility often comes down to business decisions. “A lot of times it’s really hard to justify having the money and resources to truly devote to it,” McErlean said. People need to understand, he said . Businesses should work on accessibility. that’s rightMost important from a business perspective, however, is the realization that thoughtful accessibility efforts can be a surprising competitive advantage. For proof, find out what Apple is doing with his iPhones, Macs, and other products. Apple is widely considered the leader in assistive technology precisely because their software, in the case of the iPhone, adds another layer of differentiation to the best smartphones on the market.
“Looking at the options, technically, many of us in the community overwhelmingly chose Apple. [are they] good [products] It’s easy to use and everything else is simple, but accessible,” said McErlean. “I don’t think tech companies think enough about it.”
What Apple is to consumer technology, ServiceNow aims to be for the enterprise.
“If we put this effort into accessibility, people will flock to our servers and so on. [else] We decided to do that,” McCarleen said.