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ServiceNow Now Platform 'Tokyo' delivers AI, automation

ServiceNow doubled down on its commitment to take the complexity out of digital transformation projects with a new version of its ServiceNow platform sporting new AI capabilities.

Continuing its hard focus on easing complex digital transformation projects, ServiceNow rolled out the latest version of the Now Platform.

The updated version of the cloud-based workflow automation offering, codenamed "Tokyo," contains several new AI and automation features, including tools for HR professionals.

This new release follows ServiceNow's rollout of the San Diego release in March, which was a complete redesign of the product's interface.

AI and automation for IT, HR

Manager Hub, which is available through the Employee Center, serves as a single location for managers to review employee journeys and respond to user requests while also delivering customized resources and training that helps managers grow as leaders, the company said.

The improved Admin Center, which will be part of ServiceNow Impact, makes it easier for IT personnel to discover, install and configure software through self-service. The new Adoption Blueprint capability provides application recommendations based on instance maturity and increased visibility into application entitlements.

Tokyo's Issue Auto Resolution feature has been upgraded to allow use by human resources personnel. The new capability applies natural language understanding to analyze requests and deliver self-service content through Microsoft Teams, SMS and email.

It also identifies more urgent HR-related cases and automatically routes them to an employee care representative when higher-level support is needed.

"It's quite evident with this release the company remains focused on leveraging AI and automation but at a greater scale than before," said Daniel Newman, principal analyst at Futurum Research and CEO of Broadsuite Media Group. "The goal is to make workflows stronger to where digital transformation projects are made significantly easier."

Tracking the retirement of physical devices is a big thing because of the security threat they represent. A lot of the organizations have lost contact with devices. Some are recaptured, but the number of devices still out there in the wild is genuinely alarming.
Will McKeon-WhiteAnalyst, Forrester Research's infrastructure and operations team

The company is doubling down on automation capabilities, particularly the Creator workflows, which allow developers to create low code applications that can be scaled across an enterprise, according to Will McKeon-White, an analyst on Forrester Research's infrastructure and operations team.

"There are a lot of sound advancements that are helping the platform to stay in line with user expectations," he said. "These generally should improve the overall user experience."

The new Now Platform also has an improved enterprise asset management feature that automates the lifecycle of physical business assets from planning to retirement. The capability is intended to reduce costs and improve strategic planning by offering admins better visibility across all enterprise assets, the company said.

McKeon-White sees the automation of the lifecycle for physical assets as being particularly important to many enterprises.

"Tracking the retirement of physical devices is a very big thing because of the security threat they represent," McKeon-White said. "A lot of the organizations we talk to have lost contact with devices. Some are recaptured, but the number of devices still out there in the wild is genuinely alarming."

New ESG, hybrid work features

ServiceNow also enhanced the ESG management features in Tokyo to let users better establish and document ESG goals and track performance. It also lets users collect and validate audit-ready data and create disclosures that align with ESG reporting frameworks.

Notable new capabilities include carbon accounting to track greenhouse gas emissions that help companies meet increased requests for ESG data.

ServiceNow interviewed customers to learn what they most wanted to see in the upcoming offering. During that process, common trends emerged, according to Dave Wright, ServiceNow's CIO

"They were panicking about how they would attract and retain talent, along with inflationary pressures and supply chain disruptions," he said. "The first thing we did was to look at how to boost engagement for people dealing with this new -- but what looks like permanent -- model of working."

One product that addresses hybrid employee management is Hub Manager. It lets managers look at a team that could be geographically separated, all from one location, to gain a better understanding of what's going on with them, he said.

"You can see where people are in certain training programs, if they are on promotion tracks, or have outstanding requests or what things they are asking you to do for them as a manager," Wright said. "This is how we focus on boosting engagement."

ServiceNow users made it clear they also wanted more information about how and when to deploy different models for the Now Platform and, more precisely, where they were in their journey. To address that concern, Wright said, the company has installed artificial intelligence software that resides within the ServiceNow instance and looks at how that instance is being used.

"Now administrators can bring up just one screen showing them all their rights, entitlements, and everything they have purchased and if they are allowed to use it," he said. "Then it shows them exactly how much of what they bought is being used."

The AI in the product also gives users more information about the level of maturity of each user. Based on that maturity level, the system makes recommendations about users' readiness to deploy or not deploy a particular module.

The Now Platform has a number of competitors from a few top-tier vendors that have garnered favor among some enterprises. One is BMC Helix, capable of handling multiple tickets simultaneously and assigning incidents in bulk. It also works with Microsoft Outlook.

Microsoft's System Center Service Manager can be used to handle incident service requests and several change management issues. A third option is Atlassian's Jira Service Management offering, which categorizes service requests, incidents and changes by organizing and prioritizing these requests in one place while keeping a team on track with goals.

The Now Platform Tokyo release is immediately available, the company said.

As Editor At Large at TechTarget Editorial, Ed Scannell is responsible for writing and reporting breaking news, news analysis and features focused on technology issues and trends affecting corporate IT professionals.

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