5 min

When Fred Luddy founded ServiceNow, the goal was to build a platform on which many services and products could be built. The company went on to build just such a range of services, such as ITSM, customer service management, IT operations management, field service management, banking operations, and public cloud operations.

It was a plan that proved to be successful for the company but is one that can have its limitations. For example, it is possible to suggest here that this approach often ends up with only a partial solution from the user’s point of view, for they get the applications and services that the vendor can provide and often end up having to bend the business to fit the way the one offering available works. This is one of the sound reasons why the reorientation to work with any platform offering is a much more flexible offering.

Acccording to the company’s CIO, Chris Bedi the move to become `the’ platform underpinning the functional management of business operations is aimed at meeting a pent up, and growing, market need. Talking at the company’s Knowledge conference in The Hague in May of this year, he referred back to CEO Bill McDermott’s reference to the pent up demand for such a platform.

“Bill mentioned that 750 million apps need to be built. That’s not going to happen without a robust, low code, no code platform. All of our workflows are built on this single platform.”

But this time it not just the applications ServiceNow produces but also those that come from customers, such as their specific customer workflows, managing the operations unique to each business, sector-specific workflows that come from specialist third-party providers and technology workflows focused on service operations, and observability.

San Diego release

To that end the company has added comprehensive integration with all the leading hyperscale cloud service providers with the new San Diego release of the platform.  

Bedi said that one of the key targets with the introduction of San Diego has been to improve users’ productivity, and in particular the productivity of getting tasks completed. He tackled the, sometimes difficult, accusation that `productivity’ in IT can provide a richer level of `product’ but little or no improvement in the performance of overall tasks. This can be the result where the advances in technology end up increasing the richness and granularity of the processes associated with a particular task, without improving the time taken to complete the task.

It is the latter form of productivity that ServiceNow is offering with San Diego, he stated, with the company itself being one of the first users. “I upgraded to San Diego a couple months ago. Already in my team, I’m seeing a 30% productivity improvement out of my organisation.”

Much of that comes from the four key areas of platform development that appear in San Diego, which cover the service operations workspace, Lightstep Observability, hyper-automation, and improved navigation around the ServiceNow platform.

With the service operations workspace the company has not only unified service management and operations management to provide end to end full-service delivery, but also innovation around Engagement Messenger. Together, Bedi suggested, this brings both improvements in service reliability, which in turn creates richer experiences for users and customers, and the customer’s efforts in engaging with the environment. This has involved new developments with both virtual agents and self-service capabilities to provide end users with more self-service access to guided actions that help resolve common problems.

Also read: ServiceNow’s McDermott tells a story but the chances are it’s true

“So they don’t have to guess what the next step is, it’s intuitively available to them. But the thing I’m most excited about is how you deploy it with no code and low code, which means you don’t have to refactor all of your websites, re-code your mobile apps, you simply introduce Engagement Messenger. With low code, no code, you can literally do it in an afternoon. I know that because my team did.”

Lightstep Observability provides users with a tool to go process mining, tracking the steps a process takes so that users can ensure they are working correctly and, more importantly, identify when and where they are failing to deliver. For those staff on call, that means rapidly identifying what happened, what changed, and where the root cause can be found. In this way, appropriate remedial actions can be applied far more quickly than ever before, helping staff to determine what that appropriate action should be.

The developments in hyper-automation are aimed at removing an age-old problem faced by most users: the need to use multiple point-solutions to resolve issues. The goal here, according to Bedi, is to have all necessary tools and services appear together in one place, with the aim of allowing them to operate at a higher speed. Users will be able to build low code and no code applications, that have both the right governance and the ability to scale, so that cross-enterprise processes can be automated, regardless of their source or derivation, and integrated into ServiceNow.

That final area of improved navigation around ServiceNow is seen by Bedi as one of the keys to one of ServiceNow’s prime messages from the recent Knowledge conference – that of improving the user experience across the board, from inhouse ServiceNow developers right through to front line users at its customers’ customers – a subject that was addressed at the conference by Senior Vice President and Global Head of Design, Amy Lokey.

Extract the best possible from knowledge and experience

The goal, she said, has been to invest heavily in providing an environment where knowledge workers across the enterprise, such as those that manage projects, teams, processes and workflows, can extract the best possible from their knowledge and experience. This combines consumer-like factors such as simplicity, design, powerful and robust intelligence, and personalisation with enterprise-grade design, scalability, security, and stability. It also applies universality across the platform, meaning that all workflow solutions will benefit.

“One of the biggest upgrades in this next experience is a modern, streamlined navigation. We’ve brought everything together in one place with time savers like favourites in history and the ability to pin these menus:  no more jumping across different browser tabs and inconsistent UIs. And when you want to focus on your work, you can unpin that navigation and get it out of the way and maximise the (on-screen) real estate to do your work. The Employee Centre Portal and Mobile Experiences services have also been adapted to use this new user interface.