The digital economy has moved beyond the frontend, integrating itself into every aspect of today’s business environment. ServiceNow and other cloud-first applications are rapidly accelerating digital transformation within the enterprise. It’s time to join the revolution.

Digital technologies are changing the world. How organizations interact, how people work within them, how consumers buy products and services – the transformative power of the digital realm is truly a force to be reckoned with.

Interactive, Mobile, Analytics, Cloud and Security technologies (IMACS), once a disruptor of enterprise IT, have now become the essential building blocks of a new breed of platforms. Their strength lies in their ability to combine tried-and-tested IMACS technologies with next-gen capabilities. Contextual awareness, data-driven personas, intelligent automation, IoT integration and advanced cybersecurity all contribute to the power of the platform, transforming digital business initiatives beyond our wildest dreams.

ServiceNow is an excellent example of these new platforms: a cloud-based software solution that intelligently automates work across IT, HR, Customer Service and Security. To illustrate how these platforms can benefit your company, we will take you on a deep dive into the world of ServiceNow, connecting and comparing it with other applications in the Cloud-First Ecosystem such as Salesforce and Workday.

A Comprehensive Solution for Performance Improvement

In 2004, ServiceNow was founded on a revolutionary idea: to transform how work gets done across the entire enterprise. Applying a service-oriented lens to the activities and processes that make up day-to-day work life, ServiceNow aims to make the modern enterprise faster and more scalable. It provides a service model that defines, structures and automates the flow of work, removing e-mails and spreadsheets from the process to streamline the delivery of services. Rooted deeply in IT Service Management (ITSM) and ITIL framework automation, ServiceNow covers all the service domains of modern enterprise, including customer service, human resources, facilities and finance.

Retooling Customer Service Through Cloud-first Innovation

When today’s customers run into problems with a product or service, they expect fast resolution and a simple engagement process. While they understand that complex issues require input from various departments in your organization, they aren’t all that concerned with how you get things done. Your customers simply expect an effortless experience, where their issues are resolved satisfactorily in as short a timeframe as possible.

With its roots in ITSM, ServiceNow has helped hundreds of IT organizations to optimize their service levels. Much in the way Salesforce spectacularly replaced Siebel and other legacy applications when it first entered the CRM and customer service domain, ServiceNow is aiming for a paradigm shift.

Its Customer Service Management offering is quite similar to the Salesforce Service Cloud offering, which integrates customer service with social networks and provides a self-service customer portal and knowledge base system. In addition, ServiceNow offers a seamless workflow, connecting people, processes and resources while streamlining customer service processes across all your departments and touch points. Through advanced automation, it gives service agents clear insights into the health of product and services, and it provides useful tools for root cause analysis to facilitate preemptive service. These capabilities all contribute to the final goal of every digital transformation: creating a flawless, unique experience for every customer.

Augmenting the Cloud with Intelligent Automation

As many companies transform themselves into digital businesses, automation is rapidly become a top priority. In a recent ServiceNow survey, 86% of companies indicated that their use of intelligent automation would increase by 2020. The main reason? Sheer volume. As the number of connected IoT devices skyrockets, case volumes will rise sharply as well. Without the help of smart machines, it will be all but impossible to manage this rising tide effectively.

In response to this trend, ServiceNow is rolling out a machine learning engine to support its platform. Designed to automate routing and workflow, benchmark performance and predict outages and outcomes, the Intelligent Automation Engine will bring significant business benefits to the customer service domain.

In the traditional environment, contact service desks or call centers report product issues or service outages. ServiceNow’s engine, however, will predict these issues and proactively trigger cases and workflows to resolve them. The system is able to identify the patterns and outliers that lead to outages, correlating anomalies with past events and workflows. Cases are routed and categorized automatically as learning algorithms build on past patterns, while risks and owners are intelligently assigned to each task.

Better Experiences Through Machine Learning

The Intelligent Automation Engine, which ServiceNow built using technology gained in its acquisition of DxContinuum, also incorporates IBM Watson within its service automation platform. Thanks to its partnership with IBM, ServiceNow will be able to add powerful cognitive computing technologies to the Intelligent Automation Engine.

Salesforce and Pegasystems are also investing heavily in cloud innovation and intelligent automation. Interestingly, Salesforce also works with IBM Watson, using its capabilities to sift through mountains of valuable data. With Einstein, its own AI platform, Salesforce combines unstructured data derived from Watson with its own customer-centric data, allowing organizations to target customers more specifically.

ServiceNow’s Intelligent Automation Engine will apply the same technologies to the customer service domain, allowing organizations to automatically identify problems and underlying causes quickly and limit the number of cases and workflows. This, in turn, will vastly improve their customer experience.

New Enterprise Cloud Services for Human Resource Management

To remain competitive in the digital revolution, you need to attract and retain world-class talent. This places greater emphasis on employee experience. Many millennials now hold workplace experiences to the same high standards as consumer experiences. For this new generation, getting things done in the workplace should be as easy as ordering a product on Amazon or eBay.

Although modern human capital management (HCM) solutions like Workday already offer promising results, this only covers part of the employee experience. Other essential processes, like onboarding, remain painfully cumbersome. Providing new employees with the tools and assets they need to start their jobs often involves a wide range of departments, and the process can take days or even weeks.  Because of this inefficiency, onboarding is rarely the best experience an employee can have.

ServiceNow addresses these issues by streamlining them via its HR Service Management solution. Its self-service portal provides employees with a consumer-like experience, complete with out-of-the-box automation for requests and fulfillment. By automating the onboarding process in one seamless workflow, it greatly improves HR service delivery and enables companies to onboard employees in a matter of hours.

Digital Transformation Within the Enterprise

Of course, the HR Service Management platform and the Intelligent Automation Engine also benefit existing employees. Take vacations, for example. Normally, if an employee wants to take a long-term vacation, HR would need to check their PTO balance first. This might involve a manual system check and numerous phone calls and e-mails with the employee. Alternatively, the employee would have to access the employee portal and do the math on their own.

ServiceNow dramatically simplifies this process. Thanks to its recent acquisition of Qlue, the platform will be expanded to include a versatile HR chatbot. Using natural language to ask employees between which dates they would like to go on vacation, the chatbot will automatically calculate their balance, purchase PTO days and trigger an approval request, all in a single workflow. This applies the benefits of machine learning to time-consuming HR processes while vastly improving employee experience.

To be clear, ServiceNow does not intend to replace the capabilities of current core HR platforms like Workday. Instead, both companies are working together to deliver a complementary vision where Workday delivers core capabilities such as workforce planning, recruiting and talent management, while ServiceNow delivers HR Service Management. By providing a Service Management overlay for Workday, ServiceNow aims to drive digital transformation within HR.

An Open, Custom Approach to Cloud-first Applications

ServiceNow believes it should be easy for customers and employees to engage with a company and transform how work gets done across the enterprise. Achieving this requires flexibility; users should be able to develop custom applications that allow them to meet their own specific business needs. To facilitate this, ServiceNow has opened its Now Platform. Using out-of-the-box platform features, components and services, customers can create their own apps as they see fit.

Of course, similar developments are happening across the industry, as cloud providers open their platforms to create sprawling new ecosystems. Salesforce is leveraging its Force.com platform to develop custom applications. And both ServiceNow and Salesforce use industry standards such as JavaScript and HTML5 to enable their customers to build (mobile) apps on their respective platforms.

As a result, customers have the opportunity to develop their own customer service and HR-related apps, freely integrating these new solutions with existing applications both within and outside the enterprise. In addition to greater operational flexibility, it also allows them to connect dissimilar devices to create end-to-end automation via the Internet of Things.

Ultimately, ServiceNow, Salesforce and Pegasystems are on a similar trajectory: they want to create more value for their customers by moving into other functional domains within the enterprise. And by giving teams the ability to work on a single cloud platform, be it for incident management, issue resolution, alerts and requests, or even routine tasks, they add to the potential of the era of digital transformation and give their business models ample room to grow.

Building Blueprints for the New Cloud Economy

Digital strategy cannot become a reality without the use of enterprise cloud services and cloud-first applications. To reimagine your business in the digital sense, however, is a considerable challenge. Your success will not only be determined by the strength of your digital vision, but also by your ability to adopt and implement these new digital technologies.

Of course, digital maturity plays an important role as well. When it comes to transforming how they work, maturing digital businesses are primarily focused on integrating digital capabilities such as social, mobile, analytics and cloud technology. Less mature digital businesses, however, are focused more on using individual digital technologies to solve discrete business problems.

That said, one truth is universal: digital platforms like ServiceNow, Salesforce and Workday will become the new blueprint for the cloud economy. As they grow, these platforms will radically transform the ways in which companies build, connect and deliver applications to address specific industry problems and opportunities.

SMAC technologies have the potential to create unique, flawless experiences for both customers and employees. If you follow the best practices and take an out-of-the-box approach, implementing new solutions with a focus on ‘speed to value’, you will be able to rapidly and fundamentally change what it means to do business in the digital age.