The new, the emerging focal point of ServiceNow World Forum

It has been a busy year for ServiceNow when it comes to generative AI (GenAI) development, something not lost on company chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) Bill McDermott, who earlier this month said, “we are all agents of change and change has never happened this fast, it will never happen this slowly again.” It is, he said, time to “put AI to work.”

With that in mind, the focal point of a recent keynote address that kicked of the Toronto edition of the ServiceNow World Forum was how GenAI is and will be used in two Canadian organizations.

The formal launch of the company’s strategy in the GenAI space occurred late last month, when it announced new features as part of the Vancouver release of its Now Platform.

With it, the company is embedding generative AI, via its Now Assist family of solutions, in four existing products (Stock Keeping Units (SKUs)), launching Now Assist for IT Service Management (ITSM), Customer Service Management (CSM), HR Service Delivery (HRSD), and Creator.

Amy Lokey, vice president and head of global design at ServiceNow, said in a release the upgraded Now Platform is “designed to give our customers exactly what they need, as they face intensifying internal and external pressures that are forcing leaders to make difficult decisions, from tech disruption to heightened security, risk of a changing regulatory environment and more.”

Lokey, who participated in the Toronto keynote along with Nick Tzitzon, the company’s chief strategy officer, Sean Ellery, a vice president and head of digital and innovation, commercial banking at BMO, and Chris Henry, director of business IT programs at the federal House of Commons, outlined three strong points of GenAI implemented in the Vancouver release: “First, (it) does a great job of intense understanding.”

What that means, she said, is the ability to answer any search query in a manner that is “a hundred times better than it was before GenAI.

“Secondly, GenAI does a great job of summarizing information from broad swaths. and I’m sure within your business, you might have hundreds to thousands of knowledge-based articles, processes and information that is available to employees. GenAI can summarize that incredibly well.

“And last, but certainly not least, language generation – which is why is it called generative AI – because it creates things. Frequently employees have situations where they have to draft new content, write a message, write resolution notes, things of that nature. GenAI helps get them there so much faster by creating that first draft and really eliminating the blank canvas.”

Asked by Tzitzon how the technology can help BMO commercial, Ellery replied it allows staff to, for example, understand what a customer’s needs are through the use of various GenAI analysis tools and subsequently avoid any conflict. “It’s terrible for one of our relationship managers to have to  meet with a client who has been frustrated the day before. There is nothing worse than sending your team into a sharp object, so AI can really help us.”

“Customers need us to get out of the way so they can make money and run their business. The more tools that we can have to make sure we have real tangible insights that we can act upon, the better we are. But GenAI is huge for us, too. We have customers that want us to invite them in to learn about what we are doing and how we are doing it.”

Henry, who described himself as the “digital transformation enabler for 338 CEOs,” otherwise known as Members of Parliament or MPs, said, “we’re not bullish in terms of putting AI directly in front of them yet. Where we are bullish is equipping our service providers with AI to improve service delivery. We’ve invested a lot on the platform, we see immense potential.”

As for the overall importance of the Now platform to the institution as a whole, he said that federal MPs “need to stay focused on important matters for all of us – our country, whether it’s legislation or representing us as constituents with governmental matters. The last thing we need to do for these folks is let them get bogged down in that administrative burden.”

Automation has helped streamline many tasks within the organization, one of them being filling out security clearance forms. “You want to work on The Hill, you need to get clearance – at one point there was an 85 per cent error rate on them, so just imagine the back and forth,” said Henry.

“Let’s talk outcomes. Two hours saved per hiring case through automation and process optimizations. Let’s do some more math: 1,700 cases, two hours saved on each which is 3,400 hours per year. Let’s talk other elements than just onboarding or hiring new staff. There are tons of transactions, changing roles, changing direct reporting managers, 1.5 hours saved there, because we’re doing 900 of those a year as well, that’s 1,300 hours per year.”

Add it all up, he said, and “that’s 2.5 person-years put back into the hands of productivity for members. And what does that mean for us? We all pay taxes. This is taxpayers’ money going to better use at Parliament.”

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Paul Barker
Paul Barker
Paul Barker is the founder of PBC Communications, an independent writing firm that specializes in freelance journalism. He has extensive experience as a reporter, feature writer and editor and has been covering technology-related issues for more than 30 years.

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