ServiceNow Enhances the Now Platform for Hybrid Work

ServiceNow is increasing its focus on human resources and employee workflows as the business world continues to settle into a hybrid work environment that will likely continue beyond the COVID-19 pandemic that spawned it.

The company last week launched the latest release of its Now Platform, which has primarily been about IT service management and security. However, in the new Rome release, ServiceNow is creating services aimed at helping employees navigate the often complex waters of being an employee, from onboarding and offboarding to procurement and personal events – like marriage and children – that have ripple effects back into the working world.

People are already under stress trying to get work done while adapting to this new hybrid work environment that went into overdrive last year at the onset of the pandemic and isn’t going away. In a study released earlier this year, Microsoft found that “employees want the best of both worlds: over 70 percent of workers want flexible remote work options to continue, while over 65 percent are craving more in-person time with their teams.”

Simplifying the Employee Experience

ServiceNow is trying to make the human resource and employee workflow side of things simpler and more automated in hopes of reducing what officials see as worker fatigue, according to Dave Wright, chief innovation officer at ServiceNow.

“What we did was look at different areas where we could start to improve the experience,” Wright told InternetNews.

He cited a Gartner survey that found about 85 percent of employees were experiencing more fatigue during the pandemic. “What we wanted to do was say, ‘If we have all these employees under stress, what could we do to make life easier?'” Wright said. The result? “We have the whole concept of employee workflows in the ServiceNow platform.”

In the Rome release, the company looked to build on what the Now Platform already was offering.

As a SaaS platform, ServiceNow is also well positioned to take advantage of another important trend spurred by the pandemic: The growing dependence of companies on cloud computing (see Growth of Enterprise Cloud Adoption Not Slowing Down).

ServiceNow Now platform
ServiceNow Employment Center

ServiceNow Employment Center

Key to the new offerings on the platform is Employment Center, essentially a digital command center that gives in-office and remote workers a single interface to more quickly and easily find their personalized information, from tasks that have been completed to requesting services across disparate departments.

It also allows organizations to pull information and services into personalized topic pages to make it easier for employees to find answers to their questions. In addition, ServiceNow is integrating the Now Platform with Microsoft’s Teams collaboration suite, giving employees a familiar place for submitting requests, acting on notifications and chatting with virtual agents.

“It’s a single interface where you could go into it and you could get all the information that was relevant to everything that you needed to interact with all these services, whether it was IT or HR facilities or legal documents or whatever,” Wright said, adding that by putting everything in one place, it helps “application fatigue.”

The company has been using Employment Center internally prior to its release on Rome, he said.

“We’ve centralized things for a while,” Wright said. “We use our software as much as possible within the company. We’ve used it for a while now. We’ve started to bring extra elements into that product and put that out as part of the Employee Center.”

Managing the Employee Journey

Another important part of the new Now Platform release is Employee Journey Management, a service designed to guide employees through their time as an employee.

“As an employee, there are going to be very specific things that you do during your work career,” Wright said. “It could be the company onboarding, it could be transferring to new departments, it could be offboarding, it could be a personal transition like getting married or having kids. Systems like that typically have to interface to a lot of other systems underneath. How can we start to build a management system that allows people to rapidly put those journeys into a system that allows people to go through that whole automated process of knowing exactly where they are in the cycle [and] what’s going to happen next? It’s very sensitive around the employee experience.”

The service includes tools for providing templates that let managers personalize transition plans for employees, creating surveys to get fast feedback about employee experiences, offering tailored learning opportunities and automating lifecycle events during an employee’s tenure at a company.

“Typically, you’re interfacing to multiple systems directly or underneath, so that whole concept of being the control tower … is something that we see a big demand for in customers,” he said.

More Than Just HR

The view of the employee’s experiences with the company being more than just an HR situation is something that differentiates what ServiceNow is doing with the Rome release, Wright said.

“Most people see onboarding as a human resources practice,” he said. “That is true … but you’re also going to have work that needs to be coordinated with finance, and you’ve got one line of work that needs to be done at facilities, so although it seems like it’s a human resource-centric track, it’s actually involving all these other departments. … Now when you join a company, rather than just getting the paperwork to sign, you get to complete a lot electronically. You get a road map, you get to see what’s going to happen before you’re fully ready to be an employee, and you can see where you are in that process and you can see what needs to happen next and when it’s due to happen. It gives you that whole visibility into the process.”

Automation is Key

In an increasingly distributed world where workers, infrastructure, applications and data can be anywhere, automation is key to lifting mundane tasks from employees who want to focus on projects that offer business value. New to the Now Platform is Automation Discovery, a tool that identifies the top 10 opportunities from a list of more than 180 topics for automating work with related ServiceNow applications, including Virtual Agent, Auto Routing and Agent Assist.

In addition, the company enhanced its Health Log Analytics to help organizations detect issues before they become problems. It also leverages ServiceNow’s ITOM (IT operations management) Predictive AIOps capabilities to automate issue resolution. ITOM Predictive AIOps, which is based on the technology ServiceNow acquired when it bought Loom Systems earlier this year, was introduced in March with the Quebec release of the Now Platform.

“As a company we’ve always had this concept that whenever we acquire a product, we rewrite it and put it on the platform,” Wright said. “We incorporated that into Health Log Analytics and now it means we can do anomaly detection at the log level. This isn’t focused on the employee side. This is more focused on the systems side of being able to predict what’s going to happen from an operations perspective. But … when you improve your AI predictive capabilities, eventually as more and more services and platforms start to get more and more predictive, things that we startin  one area can start affecting another area.”

Further reading: 11 Tips to Build Scalable Enterprise-Grade Applications

Jeff Burt
Jeff Burt
Jeffrey Burt has been a journalist for more than three decades, the last 20-plus years covering technology. During more than 16 years with eWEEK, he covered everything from data center infrastructure and collaboration technology to AI, cloud, quantum computing and cybersecurity. A freelance journalist since 2017, his articles have appeared on such sites as eWEEK, eSecurity Planet, Enterprise Networking Planet, Enterprise Storage Forum, InternetNews, The Next Platform, ITPro Today, Channel Futures, Channelnomics, SecurityNow, and Data Breach Today.

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