Generative AI will be a “force multiplier” for ServiceNow

PAC recently had the opportunity to attend the EMEA Industry Analyst Summit co-located at the ServiceNow World Forum in Rotterdam. 2023 has been an interesting year for the technology industry due to the impact in awareness of what generative AI (GenAI) is and its far-reaching potential impact on how people function in both their personal and professional lives. So, it should be of no surprise that the topic of AI and, more specifically, GenAI was of considerable focus throughout the event. Person speaking at the EMEA Industry Analyst Summit co-located at the ServiceNow World Forum in Rotterdam However, PAC feels it is important to highlight that ServiceNow, like the majority of its software company peers, has been incorporating forms of machine learning (ML) AI into the platform for several years. The step change in 2023 has been how the introduction and release of ChatGPT by OpenAI captured the imagination of the public all around the world. For many, it was the first time they had been exposed to the sophistication of deep learning (DL) AI in the form of a generative AI (GenAI) based on a large language model (LLM) delivered through a chatbot-style text input interface. Virtually any question asked would return an adaptive, detailed, and human-like response. In the technology industry, when society gravitates so strongly towards a particular use case, it is often referred to as a “killer app”. In this instance, generative AI driving a chatbot interface quickly became one and launched a highly competitive software industry “arms race” throughout 2023, where the dialogue around this technology became distilled down to “The answer is GenAI, now what is the question?”. Throughout 2023, PAC has had far more C-suite conversations about AI, and specifically GenAI, than in prior years, and this can be attributed to the level of attention generated by ChatGPT. This ubiquitous level of awareness has accelerated the topic of AI to be among the top talking points across the C-suite. Organisations PAC engages with are looking to understand what the potential opportunity and impact is of GenAI on their organisations in both public and private sector contexts. Now, of course, as with the onset of prior technology innovations, the ability to understand all the opportunities, consequences, and impact of leveraging GenAI across an organisation, let alone the cyber-security implications, is yet to be fully explored or commonly understood. So, for the organisations PAC speaks with, the most immediate point of adoption for GenAI is through an existing software platform as the provider incorporates it into the features of their product.

A platform born for GenAI

This is where ServiceNow has a keen opportunity to innovate at pace and scale regarding the incorporation of GenAI into their Now Platform and the various capabilities that reside atop it. For the clients, there is a significant degree of comfort in having a company like ServiceNow incorporate GenAI. This mitigates a range of early adopter concerns an organisation may have when considering a more bespoke adoption of GenAI capabilities. From PAC’s perspective, we are already seeing numerous well-known software companies incorporating GenAI capabilities into their product stack to augment their software's existing capabilities and behaviours. However, whilst this may seem like a bold statement, PAC considers the Now Platform to have been born ready since 2003 for the advent of GenAI. This statement could be accused of being hyperbole. Still, in 2003, Fred Luddy founded ServiceNow to provide a software platform that enabled non-technical users, who have come to be labelled as citizen developers, to create meaningful business workflow applications and services to act as a single system of record. The Now platform focuses on simplifying the creation and automation of request, response, and fulfilment service workflows that support business processes. The platform Fred Luddy created could do this for any service workflow within a business. In this respect, the concept of a service management platform was ahead of its time, and, as Fred Luddy has explained in prior interviews, in the early days, made selling it challenging because, at that time, the value of what a service management platform provides was not as broadly understood as it is today. Since the company’s inception, it has iterated and innovated upon its service management capabilities with every release. From PAC’s perspective, at its core, the key value of the platform is how well it automates and orchestrates both business and IT workflows. Both machine ML and DL forms of AI have now reached a level of maturity for mass inclusion at scale in platforms like ServiceNow. Because of this, PAC considers service management to be at its next innovation tipping point. In PAC’s opinion, service management is the most optimal use case for the application of GenAI-style interactions within an organisation, given how many types of request, response, and fulfilment workflows an organisation operates.

Leveraging GenAI to assist the Now Platform

Seeing the GenAI-focused messaging and vision ServiceNow presented at the Rotterdam World Forum event was reassuring. The company is leveraging the moniker Now Assist to describe how it intends to accelerate productivity across all parts of the Now Platform through GenAI experiences. The inclusion of GenAI into the platform is still relatively nascent. Still, the company has a clear strategy and has always moved at pace to incorporate new features and capabilities aligned to customer needs. As it identifies and incorporates GenAI experiences into the Now Platform, the company will focus on the three areas of intent understanding, knowledge synthesis, and language generation. This focus will be applied to the platform spanning technology, employee, customer, industry, and creator workflows with ServiceNow indicating that enhancing search, automating code generation, and Now Assist chat style capabilities via domain-specific LLMs are initial use cases. It is, without a doubt, early days for the use of GenAI within organisations, but given how widespread the use of ServiceNow is globally by organisations, their ability to integrate GenAI into all parts of the Now Platform seamlessly will further, in PAC’s opinion, optimise the levels of automation and orchestration across all types of service workflow.

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