ServiceNow adds Now Assist Generative AI solutions as part of Vancouver release

A new family of Generative AI solutions, Now Assist, is the headliner here, but Vancouver also includes many other announcements, especially around security.

Now Assist for HRSD, the new AI solution for HR in the Vancouver platform release

Digital workflow provider ServiceNow has launched the newest release of their new platform. ServiceNow platform updates are alphabetical, using the first letter of a geographic area as the release name, so this is the Vancouver release. The big news in Vancouver is a significant expansion of Generative AI capabilities within workflows through the new Now Assist family of solutions. Four were announced at launch –  Now Assist for IT Service Management [ITSM], Customer Service Management [CSM], HR Service Delivery [HRSD], and Creator. In addition, ServiceNow is releasing a domain specific ServiceNow large language model, Now LLM, to power new features within the Now Assist family.

The Now Assist family were not the only major innovations in Vancouver, however.

“We’ve heard loud and clear that our customers are excited about the potential of AI and automation to help them increase productivity and efficiency,” said Amy Lokey, ServiceNow’s senior vice president of product experience. “But that potential isn’t enough. And as businesses face that increased pressure, they’re turning to trusted partners like ServiceNow to help them drive growth, reduce costs and mitigate risk. With the Now Platform Vancouver release, we are integrating generative AI intelligence across ServiceNow workflows and releasing comprehensive automation tools on the Now Platform.”

Lokey said that the result is that their customers can take the power of AI, together with automation, and use it to drive real tangible results across every aspect of their business.

The Now Platform Vancouver release is about giving our customers exactly what they need to meet this moment with new capabilities that scale automation and help protect businesses and lower their operating costs,” Lokey indicated.

Security remains a top priority, and Lokey outlined three new innovations in the Vancouver release to improve customers’ data and cyber security infrastructure so they can digitize their business and mitigate against increasing risk.

First is ServiceNow Zero Trust Access.

“This helps customers build a zero trust framework with the most intelligent, flexible, and secure platform for their needs,” Lokey said. “This adheres to the highest levels of compliance required by the US Federal government and it gives customers a proactive and resilient security approach to safeguard their critical assets, and this includes users, devices, and applications.

The second security innovation is the expansion of Third Party Risk Management to help customers prepare for modern threats.

“Nearly every organization worldwide has experienced a breach with a third party vendor in the last two years, Lokey said. “Stronger, more transparent third party security needs to be a priority for every organization, and we’re giving customers a single source of truth to easily visualize risk from third party applications at scale for a more coherent and streamlined approach to risk management.”

This includes automated inherent risk questionnaires, out of the box due diligence workflows, and executive reporting for that board level visibility and also organizational agility.

“Third, in the security area, we know that open source software solutions have increasingly become commonplace for app development across organizations, but they also introduce risk,” Lokey indicated. “So ServiceNow has expanded our Software Bill of Materials Management [SBOM] to extend this focus on rapid centralized visibility to all third party components used for an application.”

Vancouver also has new innovations to help organizations connect and automate their most important yet often time-consuming work.

“In healthcare, maintenance and biomed teams are often overwhelmed with compliance and security mandates,” Lokey said. “With our Clinical Device Management we revolutionized the costly and the complex process of managing all of the clinical devices that often divert clinicians’ energy away from patient care into doing paperwork.

This solution provides a centralized process with ready-made workflows all around the installation, as well as servicing, and maintaining  an organization’s clinical devices, such as MRI or X-ray machines.

“Ultimately these improved processes translate into better experiences for the patients and the care teams,” Lokey said.

“We’re also helping automate mission-critical processes in finance with a new capability in our Finance and Supply Chain workflows,” Lokey continued. “This was announced in May, at our Knowledge 2023 event. Now Accounts Payable Operations (APO) is now generally available to all customers. It automates all accounts and payable processes end to end.

“It allows teams to digitize the invoice receipt, the reconciliation and the payment process which can positively impact cash flow as well as their supplier relationships, Lokey continued. “Now, without APO, organizations typically spend about $16 per invoice to manually process them. We’re dramatically decreasing this to less than $3 per invoice with automation.”.

Lokey also announced EGD [AI Employee Growth and Development. It brings learning development and an AI powered skills intelligence into a single platform to help companies identify and address development needs and drive their business growth.

“It uses AI to collect, validate. and continually update employee skills data, and this gives leaders like myself, greater visibility and insight into workforce capabilities,” she stated. “Managers can create customized and trackable growth plans for employees, that aligns with skill development and career ambitions. Employees can define their career aspirations. They can explore their options, and they can drive career progression through guided actions. And these AI-powered recommendations and proactive prompts create a more robust career conversation between managers and employees.

“EGD is just the tip of the iceberg for how we’re threading AI deeply through the Now Platform as part of Vancouver,” Lokey emphasized.

John Sigler, ServiceNow’s senior vice president of platform, expanded on the evolution of the company’s AI strategies, leading up to the new Generative Ai announcements in Vancouver.

“We started this back in 2,017, acquiring companies and talent.,” he said. “In 2021 we purchased a company called Element AI, and that was an unbelievable purchase. That company had experts in LLMs and they had a World Class research department. So we already had a head start in what we were thinking about with LLMs.

Sigler said that while ServiceNow does leverage general purpose LLMs when it makes sense, whey tend to emphasize domain-specific LLMs.

“We have them because we have domain-specific data and things that we want to expose that are specific to ServiceNow,” he stated. So we have CMDB, and we have Service Catalogue. We have a specific way of writing JavaScript code. All of those things. When you are domain specific, LLM provides a better result. And when it comes to domain specific knowledge that we need for ServiceNow, we build out our own LLMs.”

Sigler said the whole market was upended by the absolute explosion of Generative AI with Chat GPT 3.5.

“We have never seen anything like this in technology, not with the iPhone, not with the Internet,” he stated. “Within one week there was a hundred million people using Chat GPT, and so we knew right away that this was going to be a game changer, and that we really had to think hard about how we could leverage this aspect of Generative AI as part of our AI platform, and then expose that in our products. And so from about January to May, Amy and myself and our teams went off and said, Well, what are we going to do? And the challenge was that when we got to ServiceNow Knowledge in May and our financial analyst day that we were going to have live working demos and that seemed like an impossible task. But the team and the company really rallied, and we really went all in, and we made that happen. And it was really successful. Then in July we introduced these new SKUs in a controlled Go-toMarket.

What ServiceNow is doing now is actually making these Now Assist solutions available, on September 29.

Now Assist for CSM streamlines the customer service process to produce higher agent productivity, potential cost savings, and improved customer experience. It rapidly generates summaries for cases and chats, reducing manual work and allowing agents to resolve customer issues faster. Customers also benefit from an improved self service experience, with access to resources that help them find answers fast, leading to higher case deflection and cost reduction.

“The first thing is agent productivity,” Sigler said. “There’s a bunch of case information that an agent would come in and have to look at and understand where the case was. Now, they can simply hit a summarize button, and They no longer have to weed through all the chat and all the information coming from that case. It is summarized in two or three paragraphs, so something that might have taken five or ten minutes can now be done in 30 seconds.”

Now Assist for ITSM improves agent productivity by more seamlessly handing off between bots and live agents. Summaries of incident history and live Virtual Agent interactions deliver complete answers instead of search results so agents can resolve issues and requests faster without needing to ask users to repeat themselves, and can also create contextual summaries of incidents and resolution notes.

“Interactions with bots have been around for a long time, and there’s nothing more frustrating than interacting with the bot, and then the bot saying, Oops! I can’t help you, let me turn you over to a human,” Sigler noted. “And then that human starts from the very beginning and asks me my name and asks me for all my information. Well, what this allows us to do is summarize that chat between the bot and the end user. So the agent doesn’t have to ask all of those questions and is immediately up to date on where we are with the end user.”

The third new solution is Now Assist for HRSD, which helps HR leaders drive productivity and operational efficiency, reduces redundant, manual tasks for HR teams, and gets employees the answers they need quickly with little disruption to their day. HR managers can handle issues from payroll discrepancies to paperwork changes without needing to sift through loads of information by reviewing instant summaries of case topics, previous history from live chat and Virtual Agent interactions.

“Generative AI is really, really good at summarizing information,” Sigler said. “With ServiceNow we allow that conversation to happen. And then we offer up automations that allow end users to self serve. So we’re going to see self service and deflections explode with this combination of large language models and our automation platform.”

Finally, while these first three solutions, HRSD, ITSM and CSM, all offer the same capabilities for different use cases, the fourth, Now Assist for Creator, is rather different. It helps development teams create and scale apps more quickly on the Now Platform. Trained on code from ServiceNow engineering, results are designed to be higher quality and more scalable, and the data processed on the platform is more secure than with any other code generation technology. It also includes the general availability of text to code, which converts natural language text into high quality code suggestions, and in some cases complete code.

“This is a very good example of a domain specific LLM, that we have created in conjunction with Hugging Face,” Sigler indicated. “And this LLM spits out JavaScript code based off of a text that you enter into the system, but it’s unique and specific to ServiceNow, syntax and the way that we do things on what we call divide architecture.”

Customers currently on a ServiceNow IT Service Management, Customer Service Management, or HR Service Delivery Pro or Enterprise solution can buy Professional Plus or Enterprise Plus add-ons to get access to generative AI capabilities in the Now Assist experiences. Developers can get started with Now Assist for Creator right away by purchasing the Creator Plus license. No base license is required.

All Pro Plus, Enterprise Plus, and Creator Plus package add-ons are purchased by seat. Each seat enables the user to execute a certain amount of generative AI “assists.” Incident or case summarizations, for example, are called assists. Higher-value, more complex interactions require more assists, whereas simpler, frequently used interactions require fewer.