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ServiceNow ‘Quebec’ Release Brings Workflow Development, AI Capabilities To Wider Audience

Key partner sees opportunities in ability to develop more custom business processes for clients and create workflows for vertical industries.

ServiceNow Thursday launched a new release of its flagship Now Platform with a range of new capabilities and functionality that is focused on helping businesses and organizations develop the workflow processes needed for today’s shifting economic conditions and rapidly changing business environment.

Organizations today need to quickly change their business processes and work practices in light of the pandemic and its disruptive changes to business conditions. Because of the events of the last year, speed and agility are major themes of the new “Quebec” release of the ServiceNow Now Platform, said Piero DePaoli, ServiceNow marketing vice president.

“These are the differentiators that companies and organizations, in general, need to be able to keep up, because things are changing so quickly an organization just [has to] react more quickly than they ever have before,” DePaoli said in an interview with CRN. “The idea of being able to do things quickly and make changes quickly has never been more important.”

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The new release also provides ServiceNow’s consulting and implementation partners with more ways to work with the Now Platform and provide value to their customers.

“This release is very impactful for us as a partner,” said Ellen Daley, senior vice president of Boston-based Acorio, an NTT Data Company, a leading ServiceNow consulting and implementation services partner. (Acorio was acquired by NTT Data last year.)

ServiceNow, based in Santa Clara, Calif., generally delivers two major Now Platform releases each year, in March and September, each named after a major city. The new Quebec release, available now, offers new “no-code” capabilities that make it easier for non-programmers to build workflows on the Now Platform, new AI functionality, and new workflow and business process optimization capabilities.

“We’re getting a ton more requests to do custom platform apps, different kinds of custom workflows,” Daley said in an interview with CRN of Acorio’s work with the Now Platform. “In this release, ServiceNow has definitely upgraded the core set of platform tools that allow us to do that.”

Daley also praised ServiceNow’s expansion beyond its core platform to begin providing business process functionality for specific vertical industries – a move that she said fits with the vertical industry go-to-market strategy of Acorio’s parent, NTT Data. She said the vertical industry depth also helps the consulting company go beyond engaging with C-suite executives to work with line-of-business managers.

Daley also applauded the increased integration ServiceNow is providing between the Now Platform’s multiple modules. Daley said customers today are more frequently buying multiple modules “as they move to enterprise service management.”

“There’s a lot more cross-functional play now,” she said of the Quebec release. “And that’s pretty cool.” The tighter integration helps Acorio more clearly sell the benefits of the platform “and it also helps the client get faster ROI.”

Topping the list of new capabilities and functionality in the Quebec release is the new App Engine Studio, which makes it easier for people without software coding expertise to develop workflows on top of the core Now Platform. The new tools “basically puts the power of building on ServiceNow into the hands of what I call citizen developers,” DePaoli said.

Also debuting in the Now Platform Quebec release are App Engine Templates, pre-built workflow building blocks that also help non-coders assemble workflow applications.

App Engine Studio and App Engine Templates are part of Creator Workflows, the ServiceNow software for building digital workflows.

“This is all about an organization needing to very, very quickly spin something up for their employees, maybe their customers, maybe their partners, and do so without having to go find the software development team or go out and contract with somebody else to do it,” DePaoli said.

The Quebec release also makes extensive use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to expand the platform’s functionality and boost workforce productivity. The new capabilities are based on AI technology that ServiceNow acquired when it bought cognitive search engine developer Attivio in 2019 and AIOps company Loom Systems in 2020.

Those capabilities include the new ITOM Predictive AIOps that predicts workflow application issues and helps organizations develop automated resolutions. New Virtual Agent enhancements provide guided setup and topic recommendations and speed up incident resolution using AI-powered conversations.

A new AI Search tool in the Quebec release delivers what ServiceNow calls a self-service “consumer-grade” search experience within the Now Platform’s service portals. “People who are searching are able to get that personalized, relevant and actionable content,” DePaoli said.

For solution providers, the executive said, the new AI technology offered by the Quebec release makes it possible for partners to work with the platform’s built-in AI capabilities rather than try to “bolt on” AI tools from other vendors.

The Quebec release also offers new capabilities for optimizing business and workforce processes. The new Process Optimization tool enables IT and customer service organizations to visually create and improve the underlying processes that drive workflows and help identify and avoid process bottlenecks.

The new Workforce Optimization workspace software (pictured in the graphic above) for IT and customer service managers helps optimize productivity by monitoring real-time agent productivity, workload and KPIs across multiple channels. “This is really about trying to make sure that you’re optimizing the productivity of the people that are actually doing this work,” DePaoli said.

Partners will benefit from the new optimization capabilities, according to DePaoli, because some might be trying to sell and “stitch together” disparate process mining and workforce management software. With the new Now Platform release “they can actually get those workforce and process optimization capabilities together, directly from ServiceNow,” he said.

And a new Engagement Messenger tool makes it possible to extend third-party portals to enable AI search, knowledge management, case and virtual agent interactions, allowing ServiceNow customers to extend those capabilities to their customers.

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