What\u2019s in a name? For Chris Bedi, who joined ServiceNow as CIO in September 2015, a lot: the company recently gave him a new title, chief digital information officer, and rebranded his IT team as \u201cdigital technology.\u201d\n\n\u201cThe rebranding is an acknowledgement of how the role has changed,\u201d he says, but is also intended to reinforce various mindsets that he wants the whole team to adopt.\n\nWhen Bedi joined the company, his primary mission was to enable \u201cscale-for-growth.\u201d Back then, he says, the company had around 2,800 employees, a quarter of the headcount today, and was still seen as an IT solutions company as its other workflow management products hadn\u2019t yet taken off.\n\nHis role included the familiar responsibilities for IT infrastructure, network connectivity, cybersecurity, delivering collaboration and communication tools for existing staff, and provisioning them for new employees so they have what they need to be productive from day one.\n\nAnother big component of the job back then, he says, was keeping the information needed to run the business \u201cat our fingertips.\u201d These analytics tools were basic apps, but not trivial, he says.\n\nAI and machine learning were only just beginning to creep into discussion of analytics in 2015, and the ServiceNow team devoted to the technology was tiny.\n\n\u201cAt the time, we had a team of three people focused on AI and ML who were largely \u2014 this is 2015, you have to remember \u2014 just running experiments on AI and ML,\u201d Bedi says. \u201cNobody knew what the heck to do with it; nobody had really bought into it. But these were data scientists tinkering with data, producing some insights.\u201d\n\nThat\u2019s changed in the intervening years, of course.\n\nDigital brain\n\nOne milestone for the analytics organization came in late 2018, with a shift in focus away from dashboards and KPIs and toward becoming a digital brain. \u201cWe toyed around with the name: digital brain, central nervous system \u2014 for the organization,\u201d he says. \u201cWe said our mission should become making sure anything that has a rating, recommendation or forecast in our organization is enabled by an AI and ML recommendation.\u201d\n\nThat mission soon evolved again, into helping every persona make more effective decisions, and now results in over 3 million recommendations per day, he says. \u201cSurfacing AI and ML recommendations is great, but unless we\u2019re also prescriptive in terms of the actions we want people to take, and give them a closed loop, a human in the loop, to tell us whether those suggestions were useful, we're missing the mark.\u201d\n\nThe way the analytics team analyses its own performance has also evolved, from a count of monthly active users of the analytics products to a focus on their satisfaction with the recommendations they are receiving. \u201cIt has to be, \u2018What's the percentage of actions recommended versus actions taken?\u2019 That was a big shift,\u201d he says.\n\nBedi\u2019s responsibilities have grown in other ways too. While his team isn\u2019t responsible for the Now Platform infrastructure on which the company\u2019s SaaS offering runs, it does maintain the Now Learning training platform and ServiceNow Impact, a customer success app for helping clients track their digital transformations.\n\nCybersecurity is no longer just about protecting corporate IT infrastructure, but also the company\u2019s revenue-generating cloud, and even ensuring that customers are using the company\u2019s services securely to mitigate reputational risk.\n\nAnd scaling the company has moved from simply supporting more employees to getting the most from existing staff. \u201cThe purpose of this is to drive an incredible employee experience that helps our employees be more engaged and productive,\u201d he says. \u201cIf I zoom out, the role has evolved from largely internal, scale and risk mitigation, to very externally focused, critical to driving our strategy, critical to driving growth, and looked at as a lot more strategic than in 2015.\u201d\n\nEmbracing citizen developers\n\nBedi says he\u2019s a voracious reader, but also has a strong bias for action when it comes to picking up new skills. \u201cLet\u2019s go do it and figure it out as we go,\u201d he says. \u201cPeople use the term \u2018fail fast\u2019 but I like the term \u2018learn fast\u2019 better.\u201d\n\nThat was his approach when it came to the adoption of low-code development tools internally at ServiceNow.\n\n\u201cWe were having one of those debates with no finish line around citizen development,\u201d he says. Those in favor wanted to see the benefits right away; those against feared an accumulation of technology debt in the organization.\n\nIn situations like these, he says, there are three choices as CIOs. \u201cYou can try to block it \u2014 but you\u2019re never going to win that battle,\u201d he says. \u201cYou can ignore it. That\u2019s what you\u2019re doing today, whether you know it or not, because people are out there already with point solutions. The only logical choice left, and this is a conversation I had with my team, is to embrace it. So, we embraced it.\u201d\n\nServiceNow\u2019s employees have embraced it too, with over 400 of them active as citizen developers, 100 applications in service, and another 100 applications due to go live in the next couple of months, Bedi says.\n\nAs progress gains momentum, he has some advice for other CIOs getting ready to embrace citizen development in their enterprise. First, he says, keep governance lightweight yet sufficient. One way to do this is to provide trusted data sets for things citizen developers are sure to want, which must be done properly to avoid things breaking \u2014 something like an organization hierarchy and an employee directory for apps involving approvals, for example, or a cost-center hierarchy for anything involving spending.\n\nSecond, he says, avoid discouraging new developers by limiting the reasons for refusal of a project: no duplicate apps (although replacing an app with a better one is allowed); no getting in over your head (so if an interesting idea looks likely to be too complex for the citizen developer, his team members may step in to help); and no handling of overly sensitive data (but if the idea is good, his team may take on the project).\n\nHis third recommendation is to make it easy for people to get started. His team did this by providing an introductory class \u2014 \u201cIt was short enough where people wouldn't be discouraged,\u201d he says \u2014 and holding office hours where citizen developers can call in for help.\n\nFinally, he advises, amplify success by celebrating the citizen developers\u2019 applications. \u201cI have a selfish interest in this program taking off,\u201d he says, \u201cbecause they're helping with one of my core missions: digitize the enterprise.\u201d\n\nIf citizen development is handled correctly, and if CIOs, CDIOs, and CTOs can embrace all these people, Bedi says, then we can do away with the term shadow IT and its negative connotations.\n\nAnd perhaps this will help with another problem he and CIOs like him face: the shortage of skilled software developers. \u201cI can never get enough of them,\u201d Bedi says.