ServiceNow aims for major growth as leadership shifts

Automation a friend, not foe, of workers: ServiceNow

Enterprise cloud firm ServiceNow says it is accelerating its growth in Asia, and insists a change at the top won't impact its ambitions in the region.

The company, which boasts a market cap of about $14.5 billion, announced a change in CEO last week, hiring former eBay executive John Donahoe to be chief executive, replacing longtime CEO Frank Slootman.

"No change in strategy," Jimmy Fitzgerald, ServiceNow's vice president and general manager of Asia-Pacific and Japan, told CNBC's "The Rundown" on Friday.

"This search has been going on for the last 18 months, so we were really excited last week to hear that John Donahoe, who has a great history at eBay, and a very successful career as CEO of Bain and Company, is coming in as our CEO," said Fitzgerald.

"This is not about me, this is about us really being very proactive, very strategic, very forward-looking about CEO succession," Slootman told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" in February.

"As many people know, it's very, very tricky to have a successful CEO transition, and you're going to have to strike when the iron is hot. A year from now, John's not going to be around."

Slootman transitioned the firm from a smaller service provider to a NYSE-listed player in the competitive cloud computing space with $1.4 billion in reported 2016 revenue. After six years with the company, he will step aside from his CEO role so Donahoe can take charge.

"Our plans are to be a $4 billion company (in annual revenue) by 2020 and we're really excited. If you look at the proliferation of IoT devices across the enterprise, today there are one trillion devices, each of those need to be managed and intelligent and automated and we see that as a great opportunity as we go forward as a company," Fitzgerald added.

ServiceNow has so far kept a low public profile in the global marketplace, but analysts welcomed the changing of the guard.

"We believe Mr. Donahoe's decision to join ServiceNow, while it may remove near-term M&A speculation, should be viewed quite constructively as the company expands into a mega-software vendor," Macquarie analyst Sarah Hindlian said in a research note.

Chasing growth

ServiceNow acquired Silicon Valley-based machine learning startup DxContinuum in January, in a move aimed at expanding its enterprise automation offering.

"ServiceNow can further increase productivity for its customers by applying machine learning capabilities and data models developed by DxContinuum," the company said in a statement.

The company says intelligent automation will drive part of its growth ambitions in Asia and Singapore in particular, where it says the majority of enterprises are set to become "cloud-first" within the next two years.

"Our research suggests that 40 percent of our working week, that's two days out of five, is spent on manual administrative tasks. With the push to increase productivity, we really have to drive intelligent automation into those two days, so employees can spend their time on more value-add activities," said Fitzgerald

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