ServiceNow’s Erica Volini: The Ecosystem Power Change Agent

Volini and her ServiceNow global partner team have transformed the workflow automation vendor into a ‘partner-first’ organization that’s committed to promoting the value and success of its resellers, implementors, managed service providers, and application developers.

By Larry Walsh & Maddie Frank

In the sprawling Las Vegas exhibit hall, white lights bathed a stage opposite the sprawling partnership pavilion. More than 400 people filled the seats, and dozens more stood on the periphery. Erica Volini, ServiceNow’s senior vice president of global partnerships and channels, gave her keynote address at the company’s annual event, Knowledge 2024.

In a setting like this, a channel chief such as Volini typically talks to partners about the latest updates to the partner program, evolving market conditions and opportunities, and new products that they can market.

This presentation was different. Volini was talking to existing and prospective customers. For nearly 40 minutes, she gave a passionate address on the value of the ServiceNow ecosystem, the value that partners bring to customer engagements, and the imperative for customers to leverage the expertise and resources of the partner organizations in ServiceNow’s orbit.

“In the world of technology, partnerships are the invisible threads that weave together a strong, resilient outcome,” Volini said. “They’re the catalysts that transform good experiences into extraordinary ones. And they’re key to unlocking the full potential of the platform that you use every day.”

For the past two years, Volini has worked tirelessly to transform the meaning and value of partnerships at ServiceNow, a leader in workflow automation systems. While ServiceNow does discuss product innovations — especially those in artificial intelligence — Volini is talking now about how the different partner types are making practical working systems possible and accelerating time to value for customers.

In 2023, ServiceNow relaunched its partner program, going from the Alliance & Channel Ecosystem (ACE) to the Global Partnerships and Channels (GPC). Volini and her team rebuilt the program with one objective in mind: giving partners flexibility and simplicity that leads to more valuable outcomes for their mutual customers. Volini’s measure of success for partners is being dynamic enough as an organization to embrace the major changes in what customers are looking for in their workforce automation platforms.

“We always had a business; we formalized our programs. The first thing I said is we’re going to work with our partners. To me, that’s what it’s about. It has to be about them,” said Volini, in an interview with Channelnomics at the event. “We optimize what they have, and we make that work regardless of emotions, and then our job is to tell them what’s going on in a way that works. That’s my mentality every day.”

ServiceNow organizes its partners into four categories: resellers, consultants and implementers, managed service providers (MSPs), and builders or independent software vendors (ISVs) that add value through their applications. Volini made clear to the customers attending Knowledge 2024 that many of ServiceNow’s 2,200 partners have multiple capabilities and areas of expertise that transcend the four categories. The goal, though, is the same for all: to provide for customers’ different needs and drive excellence in execution.

Erica Volini addressing ServiceNow customers about partners' value
Erica Volini, senior vice president of global partners at ServiceNow, told more than 200 customers that using partners to source, implement, and extend the value of the company’s platform and innovations is essential to their success.

The efforts of Volini and her team are paying off. In the first quarter of ServiceNow’s 2024 fiscal year, partners across the ecosystem generated more than 20% of the company’s net-new annual contract value — or new engagements. While that may not sound impressive for an $11 billion company that’s aiming to reach $15 billion in 2026 and $20 billion in 2028, some perspective can shed light on what a milestone that really is. In the same quarter of fiscal-year 2022, partners generated around 8% of new contracts. And achievement of the 20% target came two years ahead of schedule.

“Erica has taken it to a new level; talk about a rocket ship,” said Scott Zailer, vice president of product at Bravium Consulting, a ServiceNow implementation and build partner.

Everywhere you turned at the Knowledge 2024 conference, someone from ServiceNow — from CEO Bill McDermott during his main-stage keynote to sales representatives working the exhibit hall — was evangelizing the power of its ecosystem in building on the ServiceNow platform, providing access to value-add applications and services, and giving partners the outcomes and experiences they need.

“They’re maniacally focused on making sure that we help customers achieve value,” said Jason Wojahn, CEO of Thirdera, a Cognizant company. “I’ve been in a lot of ecosystems. I’ve never seen an ecosystem as focused on value as this one. And I have to say that’s something that resonates with us. At the end of the day, consultancies exist because we’re here to help customers to achieve things they otherwise couldn’t do on their own, and that’s what we’re off doing, and we have ServiceNow’s support on that from alliances, from license resell, from territory to industry, really helping us out with the most value.”

Volini explained to the customers attending her presentation that ServiceNow is committed to assuring quality and value through partners. She explained the rigorous requirements for partners to participate in the partner program, how ServiceNow requires extensive training and certifications to ensure competency, and the ongoing quality checks and customer satisfaction queries.

Core to ServiceNow’s quality commitment is measuring partners’ performance through its 3C’s methodology: competency to drive real change in customer environments; capabilities to grow their practices and acquire new skills and experiences; and customer-success expertise to meet end-user expectations.

“This ensures our partners not only understand our platform but also deliver practical and valuable solutions that accelerate time to value for our customers,” Volini said.

A tangible representation of aligning qualified partners with customers’ needs is found in the ServiceNow Partner Finder. While such tools are commonplace on many vendor websites, they’re often clunky and ineffective. Also, they tend to lack details about partner qualifications or expertise and about quality validation.

During her presentation, Volini walked customers through the Partner Finder app, explaining how they can find the right partners for their needs, use information like customer satisfaction ratings and certification badges to qualify prospective partners, and use references like program-tier status and awards received to discern one partner from another. ServiceNow has put extraordinary effort into transforming its Partner Finder from a standard directory into a high-value tool for research and partner selection.

People at ServiceNow and around its ecosystem credit Volini for elevating partnerships to the point of making the company a “partner-first” organization. But Volini credits the partners for helping drive change and says the program isn’t done evolving.

Volini told Channelnomics that the market and channel are changing rapidly. The program would evolve with the changing conditions, she promised, adding, “Bottom line: We couldn’t do anything without our ecosystem.”


Larry Walsh is the CEO, chief analyst, and founder of Channelnomics. He’s an expert on the development and execution of channel programs, disruptive sales models, and growth strategies for companies worldwide.

Maddie Frank is director of the Channelnomics IQ (CiQ) program. In that role, she provides go-to-market intelligence and support services to Channelnomics clients. Frank is adept at channel relationship management and marketing programs.

Disclaimer: ServiceNow is a client of Channelnomics. The opinions expressed by the authors are theirs alone.

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