The latest version of ServiceNow - San Diego

The latest version of ServiceNow – San Diego

(Image obtained via ServiceNow)

ServiceNow San Diego, available today generally, brings together a whole range of process, automation and reduced code capabilities from the workflow provider to create a new automation engine that aims to help users and organizations tap into systems and data in silos.

The goal is to improve agility among ServiceNow’s customer base, enabling them to adapt to increasing complexity and pressures globally, while improving both the employee and customer experience.

Speaking to media and analysts this morning, Nerys Mutlow, an evangelist with ServiceNow’s Chief Innovation Office, said:

Too often the experiences that are provided focus on some specific areas, specific silos and this creates fragmented and disjoint experiences. This places the burden on employees and customers to get around and outside of those same processes and systems that have been put in and designed to help them.

Many, many organizations think of experiences and processes as different things, but we think they are absolutely, directly connected. We also connect and automate digital processes in silos to ensure that work flows within the organization.

Some businesses [are] they still deal with analog or paper processes, or they use spreadsheets to handle things that spreadsheets were never intended for.

Many have digitized some of these elements, perhaps using an ERP system or a CRM system. But these systems are typically still quite isolated, sometimes even managed by different organizations.

And these are some examples of siled processes that ServiceNow connects. And when we take these processes and make them better, we inherently create better experiences.

diginomica recently wrote that ServiceNow is entering a “new era”, following a conversation with CEO Bill McDermott, who explained that the vendor wants to delve into backend processes and systems, rather than serve as a level of workflow integration. This San Diego version gives us a glimpse of what it might start to look like.

While workflow is still ServiceNow’s bread and butter, it is clear that there are further opportunities to automate and integrate backend processes through its automation engine.

ServiceNow describes Automation Engine as a “complete automation and integration solution” that combines Integration Hub and new RPA capabilities. It says the engine can on average help deliver 3x faster time to value.

Automation Engine also includes a new RPA hub, which provides a centralized command and control center to monitor, manage and deploy digital robots, so organizations can automate repetitive manual tasks.

RPA Hub includes over 1300 pre-built components and an RPA Desktop Design Studio, which allows users to design, test, and publish manned and unattended bots as they scale automation. No code access to the RPA hub is integrated into Flow Designer via the RPA Spoke hub, allowing any ServiceNow developer to leverage the RPA hub along with the integration hub, all in one familiar interface.

After seeing an Automation Engine demo this morning, using the RPA hub, the features look pretty impressive. A user is able to drag and drop processes, highlighting which actions or systems he wants to connect. We then saw how this user interface was able to quickly add integration to Microsoft Active Directory, a SAP ERP system, and extract information from an email related to an order.

A “robot” then ran the validated process created by the user, opening the relevant systems and extracting the required information in seconds.

Obviously this was just a pre-planned example chosen for demonstration, so we need to talk to customers using it on a larger scale for more in-depth examination, but in theory it seemed to work well.

Better images and industry solutions

As part of the San Diego release, ServiceNow also announces “Next Experience” on the Now Platform, which aims to improve graphics and user interface for the vendor’s 70 million active platform users.

Navigation improvements have been made, creating more space for users to see what tasks are at their fingertips, as well as bringing each application together into one coherent experience.

A user’s component library is now completely redesigned and features new iconography, typography, and illustrations. ServiceNow says the new experience offers “improved personalization”, such as accessibility preferences, information density and layout preferences, and the choice between light or dark mode.

In addition to the above, ServiceNow also introduces new “ready to use” industry solutions. diginomica previously outlined ServiceNow’s verticalization strategy, guided by a co-design approach with customers.

The Now Platform San Diego version includes vertical solutions that aim to meet the diverse digital needs of banks, insurance companies, and telecom and technology providers.

The following were made available as part of San Diego:

  • Banking Services – ServiceNow wants to help banks create more transparent and repeatable processes to improve the end customer experience. New Deposit Operations for Banking automates common check, savings, and certificate of deposit requests to help bank employees get work done faster, and Client Lifecycle Operations for Banking manages onboarding, account updates, KYC updates and processes of death notice.

  • Insurance – ServiceNow also announced new tools for insurance operations with its first solution specifically tailored to the needs of carriers and their customers. This includes personal and commercial line assistance features to enable policy assistance across personal and commercial lines of business between carriers and their customers, policyholders and distribution partners, informed by ACORD standards to improve consistency and collaboration .

  • Technology Providers – ServiceNow launches its first set of technology provider solutions to optimize customer and ecosystem experiences. The new products include technology provider service management to combine service and operations along with AI-powered self-service and support for more proactive customer and ecosystem experiences. Order management for technology providers aims to increase revenue by launching and delivering products and services quickly and with greater control.

My opinion

As noted above, the “hyper-automation” capabilities ServiceNow demonstrated this morning were quite impressive. The ability for users to quickly and easily create automated processes, which use RPA and tap into a series of siled systems, with just a few clicks … it seemed simple enough.

That said, I will reserve judgment until I speak to some customers who have been using it on a large scale for some time. What will be interesting is to see how this goes even further with the Celonis partnership, which was announced recently. How will backend process optimization tie into this automation / RPA engine proposal? We need to find out more about how these two pieces work together, but it could make a pretty compelling proposition.

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