What Southern Cross Austereo is doing to improve design bottlenecks

New workflow automations brought in to help improve the way design work is done for advertising

The personalised workflow platform designed for Southern Cross Austereo
The personalised workflow platform designed for Southern Cross Austereo

Anyone who has worked in a design agency will be familiar with the bottlenecks that can block up a workflow.

Projects can spend long hours in limbo waiting for the next green light, especially when it can only be produced by specific people, creating significant frustration.

These same bottlenecks were once a fact of life in the marketing function at Southern Cross Austereo. The media and entertainment company operates a digital design house that creates digital activations on behalf of advertising clients, producing microsites, banner ads and other marketing assets as part of its service.

While there was never any intention to automate the creative process itself, streamlining the workflow was seen as the next best outcome.

Head of technology, Stephen Haddad, told CMO that on joining the company in September 2016, one of his first actions was to implement the ServiceNow IT service management platform to improve how IT services were delivered. This included building an easy-to-use, personalised front end based around a carting approach. He says it was natural to see where else this could be applied.

“We took on the ServiceNow marketing module, and with some customisation from our implementation partner ValueFlow, made that really work for us,” Haddad said. “It allows the people who are giving us the briefs to go into the system, lodge the brief, and then we workflow that through a defined set of steps depending on what the activation is.”

According to Haddad, the response has been positive and the new systems have shortened the timeframe for projects.

“The sense from the team is that idle time has been consolidated or at least minimised, if not removed entirely,” he said.

Importantly, the new workflow is accessible by clients, who can communicate with designers using chat. This is leading to greater transparency regarding the production process.

“Each of the designers has built a set of imagery about their own personal design workspace,” Haddad said. “When you are interacting with a designer, you get that as your backscreen when you come on to the portal.”

Chief marketing officer for ServiceNow, Dan Rogers, said this form of implementation is not uncommon among his company’s clients.

“If you abstract what marketing does, there are many different services that we provide, and some of them lend themselves very well to service management,” he said.

His own department makes extensive use of ServiceNow’s technology for request management, adding visibility and status to projects that enables staff to see who is working and collaborating at any given time.

ServiceNow has also mapped all lead generation activities from the hundreds of events it runs each year, creating a single view of anything that affects leads and pipelines.

The functionality ServiceNow enables goes a long way to matching the expectations of younger workers, too, Rogers said.

“They arrive in the workplace and get a huge shock, because they expect everything to be connected by APIs with an orchestration of the services underneath,” Rogers said. “They are confronted by this quagmire of back-and-forth of email, chat, spreadsheets, and so on, just to get simple tasks done.

“There is a massive dichotomy between experiences you have in your consumer life, and the experiences you have when you get to work. And we think the antidote to that is service management.”

A new development in the technology is the creation of an intelligent automation engine, capable of predictive actions such as creating incident tickets before an incident actually occurs.

“Today we are largely doing that for IT, and will extend that to customer service, HR and security operations,” Rogers said.

A second enhancement adds automated categorisation and routing, to ensure that items are actioned by the people best able to resolve them, while performance forecasting can ensure organisations have enough people to handle predicted volumes of service inquiries.

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