ServiceNow Adds Azure To Its Cloud Management Front End - InformationWeek

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5/18/2016
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ServiceNow Adds Azure To Its Cloud Management Front End

ServiceNow previously automated services for internal customers using AWS and VMware; now it's added the Microsoft Azure cloud.

6 Secrets 100 Winning IT Organizations Share
6 Secrets 100 Winning IT Organizations Share
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ServiceNow has announced that its Cloud Management system is able to serve as the provisioning system for Microsoft Azure workloads as well as Amazon Web Services and VMware workloads. It's another step in ServiceNow's ongoing effort to get service management implemented more widely throughout the enterprise.

Cloud Management is ServiceNow's means to putting one front end on multiple cloud infrastructures. With it, an enterprise IT staff can set up one self-provisioning system for users, regardless of the target infrastructure they intend to use.

ServiceNow made the Azure announcement on the second day of its Knowledge 16 user event in Las Vegas. By providing a standard cloud service on the front end, IT staffs can not only manage a service catalogue and user self-provisioning but also standardize procedures and workflow for enforcing both security and compliance.

(Image: teekid/iStockphoto)

(Image: teekid/iStockphoto)

In addition to IT and cloud services, service automation is "breaking out into other areas of the enterprise. Automated services are being applied straight to the drive train of the business," said Dave Stephens, VP of products at ServiceNow, which hit its first $1 billion as a software-as-a-service (SaaS) firm. ServiceNow reported $1 billion in revenues on Jan. 27. In hopes of broadening the product line's usefulness, it is introducing a service automation engine, Customer Service Management.

[Want to see how ServiceNow first launched its multi-department service platform? Read ServiceNow Offers Service Platform, Opens Store.]

At many companies, customer service for both internal and external customers "is just a ticketing system," Stephens said in an interview prior to Knowledge 16. When services are automated, there's a knowledge base of previous occurrences of the same problem, diagnostic help as to what caused its latest iteration, and potential guidance in correcting it.

Customer Service Management allows service organizations of all stripes, including IT, to move from "working tickets to reducing the reasons why customers need service in the first place." An automated service delivery and service diagnosis system can help an organization do that, he said.

That's customer service adopting the "continuous improvement" concept previously applied in the manufacturing setting. Customer service must evolve into customer service management, Stephens said.

As companies and their customers move to the Internet of Things, where products' lifecycle will be connected back to the company that produces them, having an automated service system will be critical to being able to respond to customer needs and complaints. "The customer service representative has the full weight of customer distance on his shoulders… The agent will have no shot at helping unless the data is in the system," he said.

ServiceNow also released a survey of 2,400 IT and service managers in six countries. The survey's report, "Today's Work Experience: The Service Experience Gap," shows that when workers leave their personal time and devices to start their workday, "they leave the 21st century behind and head for work."

ServiceNow has built a Service Experience Index to measure external services of major Web companies, such as Google and Amazon, other services that people use in their daily lives, and the services people experience at work. The top consumer services rate 103 on the index and average consumer services rate 63. But services provided at work, whether to internal or external customers, averaged 31, said Dave Wright, chief strategy officer, in an interview.

When companies start to automate services, it doesn't solve all problems. But their rating jumps from 31 to 46 or 47, said Wright.

Financial service companies tend to have better services than other industries, which makes sense given the crucial nature of their digital relationship with customers. Government and the public service sector tended to have the poorest and the most manual-oriented services.

As an example, Wright said most companies still guide a new employee from department to department to get them equipped for work in a new job. A service platform would automate the process across departments and enable both the people who help with the onboarding and the new employee to complete the process faster.

By 2018, 25% of companies will have a service catalogue, service workflows, and other automated assistance for delivering their services in a manner that better resembles the best Web companies, he said.

A big part of the digitization of services is simply achieving visibility into the service process, which includes understanding what step the customer is executing when something goes wrong. "Instead of having to email or phone people, you'll know the whereabouts of a service request" through a service management system, Wright said.

Charles Babcock is an editor-at-large for InformationWeek and author of Management Strategies for the Cloud Revolution, a McGraw-Hill book. He is the former editor-in-chief of Digital News, former software editor of Computerworld and former technology editor of Interactive ... View Full Bio

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