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Digital visionaries: Navigating ITSM for successful transformations

Express Over Espresso

Episode 30


36 minutes

Richie Adetimehim stands as an eminent visionary in IT Service Management, renowned for his expertise in driving successful ITSM deployments that fuel digital transformation. 

With a fervent passion for innovation and customer success, Richie leverages technology to elevate service excellence, playing a pivotal role in aligning digital strategies with organizational visions. His distinguished leadership and problem-solving acumen have led to the triumphant implementation of various ServiceNow projects, underpinned by a commitment to upskilling, process refinement, and automation. A trusted resource for Fortune 500 companies across industries, Richie’s dedication cements him as a guiding light in the realm of digital transformation.

Podcast transcript

Khushboo: Hi Richie, happy Friday, welcome to the Express over Espresso podcast. How are you today?

Richie: Yeah, I’m doing all right, thanks Kushi for having me here. 

Khushboo: Yeah, I am super excited to get into your world and your journey around ServiceNow. But before we dive into that, why don’t you give our audience a little bit of background about you, like where were you born and raised, what was childhood like? Also tell us about your family dynamics. 

Richie: Yeah, thank you. Let me first introduce myself, yeah,  I’m Richie Adeltamin. I’m a visionary thought leader in IT service management. I’m known for my expertise in driving successful deployments, continual maturity of ITSM practices to support digital transformation journey. 

And I put a strong emphasis on enhancing employee experience,  customer experience, achieving operational excellence, ensuring CMDB data integrity is well captured, and accelerating service delivery and promoting robust usage and adoption, especially of ServiceNow platform capabilities. Back to your question, I was actually born and raised in Nigeria, in Africa, within a decent family of six children,  I’m the fourth child. 

So you can imagine yourself growing up in a communal environment where you are bound by certain rules,  and you’re also influenced by cultural beliefs and values. So coming from that perspective, and being a Christian background, we’ll wake up early, we have to,  clean up the house, do some prayers,  sometimes,  those early morning devotions, you have no choice other than to do that. 

Sometimes,  due to lack of water supply, you have to fetch water,  maybe from your neighbor, you go to the stream,  you have to sweep it before heading to school. So as a child, I participated in various traditional cultural activities,  ceremonies, play soccer,  on the streets,  with children of my age, age group, I was involved in a lot of activities while growing up,  we, I mean, in the evening, sometimes we have to meet with the elders who give us some storytelling,  we refer to those as tales by moonlight,  it was more folk tales kind of, and I can tell you that those storytelling, they were very recreational to me, and they formed,  the integral part of my upbringing,  back home while growing up in Nigeria. 

But today, you can see kids are more influenced by the use of devices like tablets, right, they play on the internet, but back then, we were used to storytelling. So,  from family dynamics standpoint, I can tell you,  in our family, every child is meant to respect elders, you dare not call your, yeah, you dare not call your immediate elder sibling by name, you have to say,  sister John Doe, or brother John Doe, so it is a cultural thing, and we so much honor that,  that culture and the values,  and whoever is old enough to be your mom or your dad, you call them by mommy or papa, I can tell you that those ones are still there, though they are fading away due to influence from other cultures and modernization. 

So, in Africa, we have a saying that it takes a village to raise a child, right? So, sometimes,  when you see kids misbehave, it’s not only the parents that will correct the kids, but elders,  in the community can also talk to the kids, but,  those things are no longer there, again, I mean, I don’t know, maybe it’s modernization that is changing the world, so, but back then, we used to believe so much in deciding and doing things collectively rather than an individual. 

So, my upbringing,  with family, extended families, uncles, aunties, it was really, really great and cohesive. You have to do things, before you do anything, you have to tell your parents or you tell your friends or your family or whoever it was, so they can guide you on exactly what to do. 

Khushboo: Yeah. Awesome. That’s amazing. And,  like growing up in Africa and now, like,  you’ve built a career for yourself in America. Now, how did you get inspired to be in technology, first of all? Like, when you were growing up, like, what were your career options and how did you get excited to be in the world of technology and innovation and then ServiceNow? So, what was that career journey a little bit? 

Richie: I can tell you that it wasn’t a smooth journey, but, I mean, it’s a mixed feeling of,  feeling forward, make mistakes, but I can tell you the trigger has to do with when,  internet came to Nigeria, I got inspired by how quick,  I could send messages,  or make calls digitally and respond quickly, right? You get a response from maybe from your family based in other parts of the world and all that. 

So, that really inspired me to kind of put out that curiosity to find out exactly,  what technology could drive beyond just making calls or sending mails via internet and all that. So, and I remember in around 2000, 2001, people were embracing technology, I mean, use of the internet. 

It came around like 1998, 99 back then when I started using the internet, yeah. But I remember,  in my previous organization before I came to the U.S. about 10 years ago,  I had the opportunity to use a SAP platform. It’s an ERP, as  we use SAP for accounting, work activities, and I got more involved when I moved to the U.S., about 10 years ago, I started off,  working in a call center. Then from there, picked up,  ServiceNow,  where we’re working,  to create tickets. And,  the rest is history. 

Khushboo: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. That’s amazing. What a start and,  incredible to see your journey. At least your LinkedIn says you started in 2012 at Xerox and fast forward to today where you are, like, leading the enterprise service management and governance at Takeda. Now, if I have to ask you between from where you started to where you are now, if you have to tell me, like, your most powerful, your most successful stories that you’re very proud of,  like something that you feel like, okay, I’ve accomplished this in my career, and I have this solid, powerful story to tell you today, what would that story be? 

Richie: Yeah. Thank you so much for that question. I can tell you,  it’s a tough experience,  with ups and downs and tears of joy and all that mixed together. So I know, maybe I didn’t tell you before, but just to kind of help the audience here, I joined Takeda in 2020, then I left Takeda, I’m no longer with Takeda, now I left Takeda in 2022. But I can tell you that the award of recognition that I received from Takeda, from Azdeku, when I led the ITSN team in collaboration with other teams from cloud, core infrastructure and operations team, also from HR and the business, right, to drive a cloud transformation program, was over $300 million. 

And that resulted in playing up over 1,000 applications, 6,500 operating system instances. We retired half of them, migrated over half to six AWS regions, and we closed down about nine or 10 data centers in the US, Europe and Asia. Being awarded, right, with that certificate of excellence, my contribution, I really appreciated my contribution being recognized,  on my team as well. But I can tell you, it was really rough and it was exciting,  learning new things in the digital transformation world, because the cloud transformation program was one of the key components of Takeda’s digital transformation journey. 

And in digital transformation, you’re going to see new ways of working, cultural shift,  ways of working, shifting from what it might be, right, traditionally into digital,  leveraging technology capabilities. And I can tell you that that is one of my biggest,  achievements. And beyond that, I’ve been fortunate to be a partner with PeopleSat on behalf of Accelos,  being a licensed trainer with PeopleSat on IT4 Foundation, and also,  being a strategic leader. 

Khushboo: Wow, what an achievement. That’s really amazing. And while we’re talking about the achievements, and  like, wins are always good, but then failures are also part and parcel of life. And I think we’ve all failed at some point or the other, in our personal and also for professional journey, right? So may I ask, like, what have been your most epic failure in the career that you’ve built for yourself so far? And also, how did you come back stronger from that failure? Because we’ve failed, but then also we know from that failure that what not to do, right? So how did you transform and how did it kind of helped you in the long run? 

Richie: Yeah,  failure is something that everybody does not want to have an experience of, right? Yeah, I can tell you, I mean, I love to feel fast,  I tell people feel fast, and feel forward. Managing tools or technologies,  be maybe very easy to a great extent, but I can tell you, managing people can be a very daunting task. I’m a very passionate person. And,  I love to give my all to get things done efficiently and more effectively. 

But sometimes,  you can get clouded with DIY, I mean, do it yourself kind of mentality, rather than delegate. But I’m happy that I’ve learned a lot from creating that balance between performing individual tasks and teamwork. Most times, I love,  to do things on my own. But I can tell you that from my learning experience,  working with people managing teams,  cross functional teams, either direct reports or indirect reports, especially coming from vendors, that has really helped me to be able to provide more mentorship and coaching my team, right? Rather than do it myself, right, guide them, coach them, show them exactly what to do. And so they can have that confidence. And that way, I can build some trust and have confidence to delegate and democratize and guide my direct reports to be successful. 

Khushboo: Awesome. And now like, let’s get started about your experience and get some golden nuggets from you in the world of ServiceNow. So to start with, ITSM is,  one of the most popular modules within the ServiceNow ecosystem, right? So if I have to ask you, like, why do organizations implement ServiceNow, ServiceNow is ITSM in their journey? Tell us more about that. 

Richie: Yeah, I think there are a couple of reasons why organizations will want to implement ServiceNow. So the first thing I always like to have audience, especially people that don’t know exactly what ServiceNow is, ServiceNow is a cloud-based platform that unifies platforms digitally. And so I always call ServiceNow,  platform of platforms, because it connects multiple platforms together via integration, seamless workflow, you know. 

ServiceNow started,  as an ITSM tool, but it has grown into what I refer to as enterprise service management. So when I say enterprise service management, I mean, it has to do with,  that practice that drives how we standardize and extend the use of ITSM principles or capabilities in different business functions other than just IT, right, to improve visibility of work, access to services,  performance and accelerate service delivery with key outcomes, right, I mean business outcomes. 

So it’s a holistic platform that kind of brings together multiple digitally enabled services, right, across the enterprise to create more of a strong,  synergy between IT and the business, so they can be able to have better business outcomes. So it goes beyond just, ServiceNow goes beyond just ITSM,  it has so many capabilities like SQLs, GRC, HR, service delivery,  there’s IT asset management, dashboards are reporting,  telecoms and all that.  I can tell you that many organizations are, they’re creeping into implementing ServiceNow today because of some key reasons, and I can tell you the first thing I always want to talk about is it has to do with the key drivers. 

Why do organizations implement ServiceNow? It could be as a result of challenges that they are facing with their IT operations, it could be maybe they do more manual task routing or manual approvals via email, and so there are a couple of challenges,  it could be scale of operations, right, maybe they’re trying to scale up their operations in a way that is more automated, right, or they have unstructured and manual processes, and sometimes end users are not even aware of the technology that they are using, but I can tell you ServiceNow has really helped, many organizations to transform through implementation templates or guides that they provide via their partners, and then the adoption of ITO practices as well.  

ServiceNow has been a key driver of ITO framework,  from inception, and that has really helped many organizations to tightly look into how best they can drive their operation. That area, we still have so many opportunities, right, in terms of how ServiceNow supports digital transformation initiative and how,  business demands for better ways of working,  can be driven, right, in terms of aligning the business and technology together, so because there are two different things that many people always feel like, well, when it comes to digital transformation, we’re talking about the tool, but it has to do with IT and the business, aligning them together, bringing that synergy, right, so that IT-enabled services can be delivered based on the requirements or the needs of the business, and the other key driver that I always,  talk about has to do with,  poor user experience or customer experience, right, experienced by many employees or customers, right, using other tools. 

ServiceNow has done a great job, right, automating, providing those key functionalities that can support employees to get things done quickly without the need of calling the service desk. We can use virtual agents,  there’s AI and machine learning capability on ServiceNow,  to kind of look into the historical trend, right, of how tickets have been resolved in the past. Instead of bouncing tickets,  we could reduce that to zero, right, or drive more self-service, so ServiceNow has really grown beyond just an ITSM tool, so we have a way to report,  provide KPIs and metrics for leaders to make decisions based on data, right?  many organizations today could have inaccurate and incomplete data in their CMDB, but ServiceNow CMDB has grown to be one of the best in the world, where you can track the completeness, the correctness, and the compliance, right, of your IT assets, right, based on their CI classes in the CMDB. 

So these are key drivers that are making different organizations to venture into ServiceNow implementation, because they want to have visibility to the IT assets and operation. Leaders want to make decisions, they want efficient IT support and,  quick or accelerated service delivery, and then they’re looking for ways to kind of move away from siloed data or multiple systems tracking. They want to kind of centralize and unify everything in just one spot, so ServiceNow is able to drive all that, including data governance as well. 

So these are the key things that ServiceNow has been able to,  drive, and it’s really pushing many organizations to move into that realm of invest wisely, so you don’t want to be reactive. And,  with the trend that ServiceNow is going right now,  there’s a buzzword about digital transformation, and ServiceNow is one of the,  the big companies out there that is leading that effort of how do we leverage our capabilities or how customers can leverage ServiceNow capabilities to succeed in their digital transformation initiative. 

Khushboo: Yeah, and that’s amazing the way you have so, like, simply yet meaningfully and insightfully explained, like, what ServiceNow is and the power of ServiceNow. I mean, at least for me, like, whenever, like, I have people joining my ServiceNow team, I’m going to use this podcast for them to understand ServiceNow,  somebody who doesn’t know ServiceNow. So you’ve so nicely explained the ServiceNow platform and its,  like, components. So thank you, Richie. It was very well said. And now, if I have to, like, continue the conversation and ask you, like, what do you think is missing at the C-level to ensure that ITSM practice plays a key role in the digital transformation space? 

Richie: Yeah,  I, I like to say something,  in this,  rapidly evolving,  ITSM landscape, where digital transformation investment, right, is driving how IT should operate, how IT should support a business, right, because we’re not just in the business of,  IT supporting IT,  we drive, we drive the business, right, or we drive IT to support the business. There’s an increasing demand,  for enhanced employee experience and operational efficiency,  from leaders. But most organizations,  why they do a lot of things to move the business forward, they are faced with key challenges, like poor collaboration with a lot of people,  at different levels,  in the enterprise. 

But I can tell you that what I think is missing has to do with the strategic alignment, right, between IT and the business. So IT and the business, I mean, the C-level executives from IT and the business, they need to come together, right, to actively engage in understanding the value that IT service management can provide for the business. Understanding the business goals is something that I would say that C-level executives from IT should pay attention to, come up with different technology initiatives that can directly contribute to the success of the organization by supporting the business goals. So that is one. 

The other thing that I also want to bring out there has to do with,  collaboration among teams. It’s kind of a reflection of what I just talked about in terms of strategic alignment between IT and business, but there’s a need to kind of,  break it down a little bit further for technology leaders to really encourage that collaboration between IT teams and the other departments, especially in the business, whether it’s HR or finance or wherever, right. 

There’s a need to kind of educate or, let me say, upskill and re-skill people across the enterprise, not just only IT. People need, I mean, employees need to understand the value of ITSM. How ITSM keeps the lights on, right, for operation. How ITSM is very relevant to how their services are managed, controlled, and delivered, right, to meet the business needs. 

These are very important things, regardless of whether you’re in marketing or operations or finance or customer service. Leaders need to break down these silos. I mean, the C-level executives need to come together and ensure that ITSM plays an integral role, right, holistically across the organization in terms of bringing the business together with IT so that it can get some value from IT service management, regardless of whether it’s ServiceNow or not. 

But I can tell you that ServiceNow has really done a great job with different solutions that they have out there to bridge that gap between the business and the technology leaders. But every organization has a set of duties to play to ensure that they come together,  to drive that cross-functional collaboration among teams, right? They need to define their metrics,  from the business. Before technology leaders would define their own metrics, right, to measure the impact of ITSM on digital transformation, they have to understand the metrics from the business. What is it that the business would like to track? What is it that the business are trying to achieve, right? Those are the things they need to start talking about. Data-driven approach will help them to be able to measure the impact of ITSM on digital transformation outcomes. 

Khushboo: Yeah, absolutely. And while we are on the subject of,  digital transformation and talking about this digital age, where data is a key component of driving decisions and making digital workflows work more successfully, right? So, IT operations seem to be reactive and fulfilling mundane or manual tasks, and that seems to impact productivity, CSAT score, etc. So, what do you think leaders should actually do to ensure that there is a shift to proactively make IT operations deliver more successfully and significantly? 

Richie: Yeah, I think this is in line, more like an extension of what I mentioned earlier. Shifting IT operations,  from a kind of reactive mode to more proactive is very important to enhancing productivity and improving the CSAT score and the overall operational efficiency in any organization. 

And all these are tied to data, right, and digital workflows, which I believe ServiceNow is doing great in that realm. I think one thing that leaders need to do, right, to shift quickly to a proactive way of working or making IT operations deliver successfully, they have to start to look into how AI or machine learning, right, can help to streamline and automate all those manual tasks that we have today. 

I can tell you we still have several companies that are still using email to drive approvals,  they are tax emails to tickets, even some of them that are using ServiceNow. What I think with AI or machine learning, leaders need to embrace those capabilities to ensure that,  decision making, they kind of delegate those decision-making mechanisms to the system, right, and allow employees to make decisions or do some tasks that do not require,  leveraging technology to do that. So that is very important. 

So this will free up the time for,  for the IT employees to focus more on strategic or value-added activities. That’s what I believe. And then the other thing that I think leaders need to ensure they do has to do with the insights to data. I believe so much in the power of data, right. So today, I can tell you there are so many organizations where before an issue, maybe there’s an outage, before that outage is resolved, they create incident ticket, they have to route it to a team, then that team says, no, we’re not responsible for this, they reroute, or they set up,  bridge call. 

There are so many manual ways of working going on there. For leaders to shift right into that proactive way, whether they want to leverage AI or machine learning, I think there’s a need to ensure that they have insights to IT operations in terms of data, right? So they need to have dashboards to monitor performance metrics. They need to find a way to identify different patterns and use AI to predict, right, potential issues that could escalate to something that might cost the company several millions of dollars. So using insights can help to make informed decisions and take proactive actions, right, before issues happen. You want to do more self-healing,  we’re using these cloud capabilities out there right now,  helping organizations to be able to drive self-healing. 

So I think organizations or leaders in organizations need to begin to look into how to have those data analytics so they can make decisions from there. Then the other thing I think leaders need to do, right, to become more, to help organizations become more proactive, it has to do with training. The knowledge of yesterday, right, cannot solve the problems of today or tomorrow. There’s a need to invest wisely in continual training and upskilling, right, reskill, upskill,  employees. 

Why? Because digital transformation has given birth to new technologies, new business processes that require new knowledge, right. Those processes or those technologies require new knowledge, new ways of working. And there’s also a cultural shift in terms of helping employees to rethink the way they work to deliver quality services to the business. I think that is very, very paramount. 

I mean, it should be paramount in the minds of the leaders. Yeah, so, yeah. Then lastly, I mean, there’s something that came to mind again, which is very, very important. We have to prioritize how we think about our customers. Leaders need to be more obsessed, right, with the demands of the customers, regardless of whether the customers are based internally from the business or from the technology side of the house or their external customers. These are very, very important, right? They need to identify where they have their points, challenges or bottlenecks and look for opportunities to improve them by tracking all those things,  from Cisco’s standpoint. I think that will help them to make the right decision. 

Khushboo: Awesome. All right. And last but not the least, like now that the world is talking about AI and,  like all these platforms like ChargeGPT and GenAI solutions. Now, what role do you think AI will play in particularly transforming the future of ITSM in different tools and technologies and environment? 

Richie: Yeah, I believe AI has come to stay, right. There’s no going back on AI. Yeah. Why AI has so many shortcomings has been reported in different articles today, right? But I can tell you that it benefits,  outweighs,  the challenges that AI could cause in any environment. So the future of ITSM is really bright, but I can tell you, we’re in the generation of practicing more like cognitive service management from what BMC Remedy mentioned in one of the articles in the past. 

And this has to do with leveraging AI or machine learning to drive new levels of agility and productivity or efficiency to reduce cost. Leaders want to reduce cost. They want efficient way of delivering services, right? They want to facilitate self-service as much as possible through digital assets. They’re looking for ways to improve predictability, deliver scalable services and enhance service levels, right? 

I can tell you that with the advent of AI, AI has come to help us to look into how ITSM can be rebranded or restructured to auto-categorize tickets, you know. Today, ServiceNow has machine learning to kind of auto-route tickets to the right team or even do self-service, right. With AI, you can enhance the self-help,  by sending email notifications based on certain content, right, to the business user. So AI can help to predict issues quickly and proactively resolve that issue before the users are even aware of that issue. 

And that is part of self-healing,  that I was talking about. So with machine learning, right, we can leverage all these new technologies to look into the historical data in a system and easily predict exactly the patterns, right, of how certain issues happened in the past and how we could resolve them faster before those issues impact the business. So I see a lot of,  evergreen future for ITSM from this standpoint. 

Khushboo: Awesome. That’s an amazing and very interesting angle to AI into the world of ServiceNow. So thank you, Richie, for joining us today and sharing these amazing insights and intel from the world of ServiceNow and ITSM. I can’t wait to do another podcast with you focused on CMDB. That’s another area that you are an expert on and I’m sure there’s so much to learn and take it back from that conversation that we can plan soon. But for today, I really appreciate you hopping on this and sharing these amazing insights and nuggets from the world of ServiceNow. 

Richie: Absolutely. Anytime. Thank you so much. I really appreciate you bringing me on this podcast, Richie, and I really wish you and your team the very best. So please feel free to reach out to me anytime and I’ll be glad to make myself available for the next podcast. 

Khushboo: Thank you. I will, for sure. Thank you so much. And I wish you nothing but the best. 

Richie: All right. You too. Thank you. Bye for now. 

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