ServiceNow: Product Overview and Insight

ServiceNow, which appears to be pivoting to simply Now, provides cloud-based solutions that define, structure, manage and automate assets and services for enterprise operations.

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Editor's note: eWEEK has started a new IT products and services section that encompasses most of the categories that we cover on our site. In it, we will spotlight the leaders in each sector, which include enterprise software, hardware, security, on-premises-based systems and cloud services. We also will add promising new companies as they come into the market.

Today: ServiceNow (IT, HR service delivery, security operations and customer service management)

Company description: ServiceNow provides cloud-based workflow solutions that make work, work better for people, by defining, structuring, managing and automating assets and services while breaking down silos for enterprise operations. It is a publicly traded company headquartered in Santa Clara, Calif.

ServiceNow founder Fred Luddy created a first-of-a-kind cloud platform in 2004. He wanted to make it easy for regular people to get work done. Fred took the building blocks of work and converted them into a simple way for individuals and teams to collaborate on solving a shared task. ServiceNow is uniquely positioned to be the connective tissue that streamlines and simplifies workflows across the enterprise, eliminating silos and creating more seamless interactions. This is the core of a digital enterprise.

ServiceNow’s product categories are IT (service operations, business and software-asset management, as well as performance analytics), Security (operations, governance, risk and compliance), HR service delivery, Customer Service and Intelligent Applications all of which are delivered as cloud services, effective for a broad range of organizations with high and low I&O (infrastructure and operations) maturity.

Layered on top of the vertical functions, the following features enhance the ServiceNow platform:

Intelligent Automation: Machine‑learning capabilities are infused directly into the Now Platform and are accessible to all ServiceNow cloud services and other applications built on ServiceNow. Agent Intelligence helps customers more quickly route work and easily provide self‑service and multi‑step problem resolution. With the acquisition of Parlo, ServiceNow intends to inject more natural language understanding (NLU) into its Virtual Agents over the next year.

Employee Experience: ServiceNow provides users with a single portal featuring a consistent, consumer‑like experience that can be used for all service requests. Native mobile capabilities have been enhanced with the acquisition of SkyGiraffe, soon becoming a seamless part of the Now Platform. ServiceNow customers can deliver consumer‑like mobile experiences for any application built on the Now Platform for employees who want to work mobile‑first, anytime, anywhere.

Low Code Development: Non‑traditional application developers, business analysts and IT generalists can create codeless workflows, or flows, using a new, natural-language environment and intuitive user interface, enabling the builders to focus on the business outcome, rather than coding.

ServiceNow’s solutions include:

IT Service Management (ITSM): Consolidates fragmented tools and legacy systems while automating service management processes. It’s simple to configure and fast to deploy, while scaling with changing business needs. Available applications include: Incident Management, Problem Management, Change and Release Management, Benchmarks, Asset and Cost Management, Request Management (includes portal and catalog), Configuration Management, Knowledge Management, Survey and Assessment, Service Level Management, Performance Analytics, Agent Intelligence, Reports and Dashboards.

  • IT Operations Management: Changes the IT operations’ function from a reactive response team to a proactive business partner. Provides visibility into end‑to‑end business services by understanding the relationship with the underlying IT resources. Improves the availability by knowing service health while reducing event noise and quickly pinpointing disruptions. Increases agility by automating IT processes and remediation actions, keeping services healthy and engaged in a multi-cloud strategy by providing enterprise‑ready self‑service capabilities to cloud users. Available applications include: Discovery, Cloud Management, Event Management, Orchestration, Service Mapping and Operational Intelligence.
  • IT Business Management: Provides visibility into project and application portfolios; gains financial insight into the cost of service delivery; better manages demand, resources, and budgets; helps to decide where to invest to best support organizational goals. Available applications include: Demand Management, Resource Management, Project Portfolio Management, Agile Development, Test Management, Financial Charging, Financial Planning, Financial Modeling and Application Portfolio Management.
  • Software Asset Management: Uses a single system of action that helps seamlessly transform operations from reactive software asset management practices to a proactive culture that is audit‑ready and optimizes license costs. Available applications include: Discovery, Normalization, Reconciliation, Publisher Packs, Software license harvesting and Blacklisting.
  • Performance Analytics: Puts the power of data in the hands of stakeholders and subject matter experts—workers, owners, and executives—who are responsible for successful service delivery including: Trending, Forecasting, Dashboards, Timelines, Spotlights and Text Analytics for Unstructured Data.
  • Security Operations: An Enterprise Security Response engine offering security incident response, vulnerability response, configuration compliance and threat intelligence. It’s built on intelligent workflows, automation, orchestration and deep connection with IT of the Now Platform. Available applications include: Security Incident Response, Vulnerability Response, Threat Intelligence, Configuration Compliance, Trusted Security Circles, Performance Analytics for Security Operations, Security Event Management and Security Orchestrations.
  • Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC): Transforms inefficient processes across the extended enterprise into a unified GRC program built on the Now Platform. Through continuous monitoring, prioritization and automation you can respond to business risks in real-time. Available applications include: Policy and Compliance Management, Risk Management, Performance Analytics for GRC, Audit Management and Vendor Risk Management.
  • HR Service Delivery: An integrated suite of applications designed to create a consumer‑like service experience, while increasing HR productivity. Whether it’s a simple request for information, or a multi‑departmental process like onboarding, employees finally have a single place for all their service needs. Available applications include: Case and Knowledge Management, Employee Service Center, Enterprise Onboarding and Transitions.
  • Customer Service Management: Connects customer service with other departments to identify and resolve issues faster, reduce costs and increase satisfaction using Customer Service Management. Available applications include: Case Management, Intelligent Routing, Omni Channel, Field Service Management, Connection with Other Groups, Issue Resolution, Voice of the Customer, Visual Workflow and Automation, Agent Intelligence and Performance Analytics.
  • Intelligent Applications: With the Now Platform, developers of all levels can significantly reduce time-to-market and delivery. All ServiceNow applications are built on the Now Platform. Additionally, ServiceNow has a large customer and partner ecosystem of applications and other capabilities.

Analysis:

“ServiceNow has evolved well beyond its IT service management roots. The Now Platform is capable of supporting broader enterprise efforts around business process and workflow automation. Over recent years, the company has developed new cloud services to enable the operation of business functions other than just those that are IT-related, including HR, security and customer service teams. One of the key value propositions of the ServiceNow Now Platform is in how it can help organizations manage and automate not only IT processes and workflows, but also those that extend across multiple business functions within the enterprise.” --SWOT Assessment: ServiceNow Now Platform, Adam Holtby, Senior Analyst, Ovum.

“By investing in a range of new platform capabilities over recent years, ServiceNow has evolved into more of an enterprise service management offering, as opposed to just being a solution of value and appeal to the IT department. The key value of the ServiceNow Now Platform is in how it can help reduce work frictions and inefficiencies that often result when tasks and workflows extend across different business units.” --SWOT Assessment: ServiceNow Now Platform, Adam Holtby, Senior Analyst, Ovum.

[Editor's note: A SWOT analysis (or SWOT matrix) is a strategic planning technique used to help a person or organization identify the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats related to business competition or project planning.]

Strengths:

  • ServiceNow dominates customer short lists, and its tools' revenue market share is double that of the closest competitor, making it the prime target for technology and implementation partners, and subsequently resulting in a wide choice for its customers.
  • ServiceNow has been improving its wider ITOM (information technology and operations management) capabilities over the past few years, through the maturation of earlier acquisitions that complement its ITSM product (such as service dependency mapping for configuration management database [CMDB]).
  • ServiceNow's global reach is improving with more regions reporting better availability of local sales and implementation partners compared with other competitors.

Cautions:

  • Stricter approver licensing, named-user-only subscriptions and the bundling of non-core product features can make it confusing for ServiceNow's customers to achieve favorable deals.
  • Customers reported that implementation and management of ServiceNow's ITSM tool requires greater time and resources than they expected when selecting the product.
  • ServiceNow's strategy to promote its products for activities outside of ITSM is creating some uncertainty around ServiceNow's dedication to innovate within the ITSM tool market.

More Insight and Analysis:

ServiceNow IT Asset Management Suite provides IT managers with a real-time overview of how IT assets such as hardware and software are deployed. It offers a customizable dashboard that provides a graphic view of categories such as software and hardware assets and an IT self-service catalog in order to emphasize key business benefits in an easy-to-see, all-up dashboard setting. Updates are automatically incorporated into graphics displaying the amount of money that has been saved or could be saved. Thus, financial managers can use this functionality in addition to IT managers.

ServiceNow, the pricing of which begins at $10,200 per year for the Express version, is a cloud-hosted web application with a variety of departmental tools to use across the enterprise. ServiceNow’s asset management is part of its IT operations management module, delivering a system that allows users to build a single record of an entire IT infrastructure with one source of incidents as well as service management. This way, users can see which incidents will have an impact on your organization's ability to deliver. While the solution works fine overall, it's burdened by a level of complexity both from a user interface as well as plug-in and feature perspective.

Pricing for ServiceNow is higher than most of its competitors, though that may not always be the case after you do the full math on features and number of nodes. The Express version is recommended for those just starting out, and this version costs $10,200 per license per year. It has a minimal setup process and the platform scales easily. The ServiceNow Enterprise version allows more tracking across the business and has more features than the Express version. The pricing for ServiceNow Enterprise begins at $42,000 per year, and has more features and configuration complexity than Express.

According to the company, in order to get machine tracking (endpoints), the add-on for ServiceNow that does asset discovery needs to be purchased. This needs to be purchased for both the Express and Enterprise versions. The cost for asset discovery in both products is currently 20 cents per node per month and needs to be purchased in 100-node blocks. --PC Magazine product review

Bottom Line: ServiceNow provides a comprehensive portfolio of solutions to manage services consistently across IT, Security, HR and customer service to make work, work better. The Now Platform provides a common user experience, workflow and integration framework as well as a powerful platform-as-a-service (PaaS) environment for building and delivering custom solutions.

List of current customers:

ServiceNow customers include Accenture, Adidas, AstraZeneca, Broadcom, CERN, Cox Automotive, Discover Financial Services, Experian, GE Digital, H&R Block, KPMG, NetApp, Magellan Health, McDonalds, Qantas, Red Hat, Royal Bank of Scotland, Safeway, Siemens, SwissRe, U.S. Dept of Energy, Virgin Trains and many others.

Key Features:

The Now Platform is shared by all ServiceNow applications and includes:

  • Security: Secure by default and supporting application security and data protection, as well as your Identity and Access Management (IAM) needs.
  • Core Services: Delivers all the core services and functionality to support your ServiceNow application and custom application business requirements.
  • No/Low Code Development: Provides development tools that make it easy for your non-IT developers to quickly build apps with little-to-no code.
  • Pro Code Development: Supports your professional developers with standards-based web tools and web-application frameworks for rapid application development.
  • Development Tools: Offers a full suite of application development solutions for all types of developers to increase productivity and speed of delivery.
  • Integration Services: Makes it easy to import/export data and quickly connect to your existing systems both on-premises and in the cloud.
  • Intelligent Automation: Helps drive automation with intelligent orchestration of processes, precisely predict performance and detect anomalies to prevent future problems.
  • User Experience & Notification Services: Delivers a mobile-first user experience, a self-service portal and simplifies how your users are notified when something important happens.

Implementation:

  • Deployment: Primarily cloud-based subscription system on-premises available for certain use cases.
  • Delivery: Software as a service, cloud
  • Agents: None
  • Pricing and availability: ServiceNow does not publish pricing. It sells its solutions through direct sales and a network of resellers and VARs.

Other key players in this market:

HP Enterprise

Flexera

Ivanti

Manage Engine

Samanage

Scalable Software

Snow Software

Vector Networks

Resources:

Gartner Research

eWEEK

ITAM Review

PC Magazine

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK, responsible in large part for the publication's coverage areas. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he...