ServiceNow Madrid release enhances no-code capability in new mobile-first approach

The integration of native mobile capabilities acquired with SkyGiraffe fundamentally reshapes the user experience and adds significant new capabilities, with more to come as other types of applications are addressed in the same way.

ServiceNow Mobile Studio

ServiceNow’s new semi-annual major release has reconceptualized how their ServiceNow Now platform handles mobile, moving from an HTML-based approach which had some native mobile capabilities, to a fully mobile-native experience. The more than 600 enhancements include the new ServiceNow Mobile Studio, which allows building apps without code. They also include a new text similarity engine that uses natural language understanding algorithms to understand commonalities between different tickets, and help technicians understand when multiple complaints are talking about the same problem, making it easier to identify and fix.

ServiceNow’s Now platform has two releases a year, in Q1 and Q3, and each of those two releases a year gets new functionality, and a city name. London was the last one and New York will be the next one. The mobile-first approach in Madrid comes from technology that ServiceNow acquired in late 2017 with SkyGiraffe.

“ServiceNow historically approached mobile in a similar way to the rest of the market, which was basically ‘what is our desktop capability, and let’s extend that,” said Boaz Hecht, Senior Director, Platform Product Management for ServiceNow, who was formerly the co-founder and CEO of SkyGiraffe. “That was the generally accepted way of doing it. So while there was a mobile product, there wasn’t a mobile platform. The product was HTML-based, although it had some native mobile capabilities. In the last couple years, however, the market has moved to a mobile-first approach.”

SkyGiraffe’s technology was designed to replicate consumer ease of use in enterprise applications, with its architecture converting business processes and manual workflows into a more consumer-like mobile experience. Its mobile platform uses the consumer concept of micro-moments, the short span where a consumer interacts with a business on a device. So with Lyft for example, all you do is press ‘Order’ and the platform does all the back end work.

SkyGiraffe’s mobile platform has now been fully integrated into the ServiceNow platform. It means that all packaged applications will now be available in native mobile format, and that offline applications will now be supported.

“What is brand new is that Madrid is the first version with native mobile capability in the underlying core platform,” Hecht stressed. “It has fast mobile-first capability, and the ability to build custom-apps code free. That never existed before in the platform. The capability to build any application on the core platform, and ServiceNow ITSM [IT Service Management] is there.”

This new capability, through the new ServiceNow Mobile Studio, overcomes a huge customer pain point.

“A big pain for the customer has been scaling the ability to build apps with full functionality, not icons on phones,” he said.  “Making the digital workflow mobile provides the same experience as the consumer side, where they use mobile-first to make tasks routine. They can now build custom apps fast, using no code for a native mobile experience. That’s very compelling for a customer. The IT department doesn’t have the ability to do that in a scalable manner. This provides that ability to scale, so people can do things immediately. They don’t need to do it any more in an IT project that takes eight months, and is obsolete by the time that it is done.”

Native mobility capability also allows support through a broad range of apps and devices. In addition to Web and mobile, it includes third party interfaces like Workplace by Facebook, Slack and Microsoft Teams.

Another brand new capability here likely to excite users is the text similarity engine, which is part of the new dashboard. The technology here comes from the acquisition last year of Parlo, an AI and natural language understanding [NLU] workforce solution. Parlo’s unique algorithms address the nuances of human language to allow machines to overcome mispronunciations, swapped words, contractions and jargon in the same way people do in conversations with each other.

“It will automatically understand the language of other tickets, and make it easier for techs to see a common problem, no matter how it is phrased in the ticket,” Hecht said.

Other new enhancements include Agent Workpace, which provides a command centre to let service agents more easily prioritize work and find information they need to resolve issues from anywhere in the system, and from a single dashboard. Alert Intelligence is a new IT Operations Management capability, which helps IT operators find and fix service performance issues faster, with prioritized alerts, including deep insights about past incidents, similar and repeat alerts, Knowledge Base articles and metrics. Change automation enhancements to ITSM now allow IT to integrate change with DevOps using out of the box REST APIs, automate manual approval processes and provide clear audit trails for better governance.

Hecht said to expect much more going forward in terms of mobile capabilities.

“I think of Madrid as Version One of our mobile platform,” he said. “Today it is stronger than other players in the market, but the road map includes the ability to have mobile applications across entire enterprise. Right now, we are focused more on the agent persona and custom applications. We will expand those capabilities going forward.”