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ServiceNow Tokyo Release Targets Employee, Security, Supply Chain Management

Joseph F. Kovar

The Now Platform Tokyo release from ServiceNow, designed in response to customer concerns about changes in the macroeconomic environment, is targeted at helping businesses better attract and retain talent, address supply chain disruptions, and manage security, compliance, and other regulations, said Dave Wright, ServiceNow’s chief innovation officer.

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Digital workflow technology developer ServiceNow rolled out the Now Platform Tokyo release Wednesday as a way to help its customers better address several issues currently impacting business.

The Now Platform Tokyo release is the second major release of the Now Platform this year, following the introduction in March of its San Diego release.

ServiceNow develops two major releases of its Now Platform each year, and names them after different geographical areas in alphabetical order. The next release, scheduled for early 2023, will be named Utah.

[Related: ServiceNow CEO Bill McDermott: We’re ‘Executing On All Cylinders,’ Setting Sights On $15B By 2026]

The Now Platform Tokyo release was developed in response to customer requests and changes in the macroeconomic environment, said Dave Wright, chief innovation officer for the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company.

“We‘re still getting a lot of feedback that talent’s an issue,” Wright (pictured) said. “So how people attract talent, how they retain it, and how they try and make work as easy as possible in the hybrid environments. We’re getting a lot of concern from people looking at the impact of inflation. So rising costs and the impact that has on supply chain disruptions as well. And the last thing I hear is people heavily interested in security, compliance, and all the kinds of regulations that have been in front of them.”

As both a partner and a customer of ServiceNow, the new Tokyo release is pretty exciting, said Chris Knepper, vice president of the ServiceNow global partnership at Bangalore, India-based global systems integrator Wipro, which has U.S. headquarters in New York.

“We can’t wait to get our hands on it,” Knepper told CRN. “We’ll be at the front of the queue to get it for our customer base.”

To help businesses mitigate these issues, the Tokyo release has three major categories of changes to the ServiceNow platform containing over 100 new features, Wright said.

The first category, he said, is aimed at making it easier for businesses to work with employees.

“How do we actually boost engagement with employees,” he said. “How do we increase productivity. And how do we change the experience and make sure that people are optimizing their investments.”

The first big update to the ServiceNow platform in the new Tokyo release is Manager Hub. Manager Hub, part of the company’s employee workflows, aims to provide self-service capabilities to business managers looking to better engage with their teams, Wright said.

“We wanted a way for someone to visualize the whole team,” he said. “Manager Hub allows you to be able to look at your team and understand exactly what‘s happening in everyone’s world, who‘s transferring jobs, who’s doing specific training courses, who‘s up for promotion, and to visualize that in one place.”

Wipro expects Manager Hub to be part of its way of empowering employees from the time they on-board within a company until they leave or retire, Knepper said.

“It also integrates with Microsoft Teams to help resolve issues,” he said. “Teams became a common tool during and after the pandemic. The more we can use Teams to help employees, the better.”

Also new is Admin Center, which is part of ServiceNow Impact. ServiceNow Impact was introduced in January to help customers accelerate their return on their digital transformation investments. Admin Center adds a self-service experience and includes a new Adoption Blueprint, which provides application recommendations to administrators based on instance maturity, increased visibility into application entitlements, and ease of application installation and configuration.

Admin Center lets administrators see how they are using an instance, Wright said.

“It means you can go in and can pull up a display that shows all your entitlements and what you‘re currently using,” he said. “You might have bought things as part of a package and not implemented everything within that package. So you get the capability to say, ‘Hey, you’ve got this, but you‘re not actually using it to the right level.’”

Admin Center also looks at how employees are using the system from a maturity perspective and recommends steps to improve the experience, Wright said.

“Perhaps you‘ve implemented your customer service management system, and you’re taking requests, and you‘ve seen a number of requests rising over a period of time,” he said. “The next thing it might do is suggest, ‘Okay, now you’ve got the right level of maturity and the right data to implement virtual agent technology,’” he said. “And then it might look at the next level after that. [It also allows admins to] install and activate modules that you have you might already have, but you haven‘t activated.”

The second major category of updates in the Tokyo release of the ServiceNow platform is focused on security. New to the platform is ServiceNow Vault, a new bundle of privacy and security controls aimed at strengthening business’ security postures and improving regulatory compliance.

Included in ServiceNow Vault is Platform Encryption, which brings advanced key management aimed at providing a flexible balance of data protection and data utility.

ServiceNow Vault combines existing ServiceNow security technologies with new capabilities into a single centralized management interface, Wright said.

Capabilities include data anonymization that allows sensitive data to be hidden within a ServiceNow instance, which is a set of databases, applications, virtual machines, and libraries integrated to provide a required service to a specific customer, he said.

“You can classify anonymized specific data fields and objects that actually sit within an instance,” he said. “We wanted to be able to simplify and manage the credentials that you manage across the organization. So it‘s a centralized place where you can manage who gets access to what.”

The third major category of updates is aimed at accelerating the value customers receive from their ServiceNow platforms, Wright said.

One way it does that is with Enterprise Asset Management, a new technology for automating the full lifecycle of physical business assets, from planning to retirement of those assets. The aim is to reduce costs, mitigate risks, and improve strategic planning with visibility into all the assets across the enterprise.

“This is where we‘re looking to manage assets that are non-IT-related,” he said. “It could be medical assets, telephony assets, manufacturing assets. It allows you to track the lifecycle of those assets, understand where they are, track everything from depreciation all the way through to ownership, and manage retirement processes and decommissioning, all with a real-time view into valuable asset estates.”

Also new is Supplier Lifecycle Management, a way to make working with suppliers much less chaotic by digitizing workflows to help suppliers and buyers work faster. Supplier Lifecycle Management targets issues around supply chains, Wright said.

“This is where you‘re working with multiple suppliers that you may have issues with, or you may have requests that go out to them, or they may have requests that come to you,” he said. “It gives them a way to access a system to raise issues, to be able to request things from you, and vice versa. And it allows you to do some automation workflows around that. So if you get a new supplier, you can run them through an onboarding workflow to get them on board quicker.”

To help businesses trying to show how they are implementing ESG (environmental, social, and governance) programs, ServiceNow also introduced ESG Management to allow the accounting for carbon output to help calculate greenhouse gas emissions.

The introduction comes as businesses are increasingly looking at ways to report their ESG initiatives, particularly as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is watching how ESG is reported, Wright said.

“[ESG is] key for people now, especially with SEC regulations starting to look for reporting around it,” he said. “So we wanted to be able to provide visibility into what‘s happening from an ESG perspective, all the way down to carbon offset information. We have been working with a lot of partners around how we get that information.”

Those partners, Wright said, include such companies as KPMG, Deloitte, DXC, Fujitsu and others, all of whom helped ServiceNow understand what data is useful and how to bring it all together.

ESG Management is an important capability for customers concerned about the non-financial risks of doing business, Wipro’s Knepper said.

“There are significant compliance requirements forthcoming in major markets,” he said. “This will have a huge impact in how it increases the efficiency of the collection of ESG data.”

ESG Management, in conjunction with Wipro’s own capabilities, will help meet customers’ compliance requirements, Knepper said.

“Customers are talking about it a lot,” he said. We acquired [cybersecurity and compliance consulting firm] Edgile in December, and are partnering with ServiceNow to package ESG content for data reporting. We also have our ARC [Automated Regulatory Compliance] service that allows our customers to keep abreast of compliance changes.”

ESG Management is a way to help with operating excellence for customers, said Jason Wojahn, CEO of Thirdera, a Broomfield, Colo.-based ServiceNow channel partner.

“Integrated risk management and compliance are all coming together with predictive capabilities,” Wojahn told CRN. “This is important for our teams to see where they are regarding risk and what to look for next.”

The Now Platform Tokyo release brings together a host of improvements for customers, developers, administrators, and channel partners, Wojahn said.

For instance, he said, ServiceNow is adding more artificial intelligence to its Customer Service Management technology as a way to boost automation. “Anything that helps with automation really adds value to teams,” he said. “This will make for a really powerful customer experience.”

ServiceNow Field Service Management was upgraded with schedule optimization to better prioritize business objectives and key performance indicators, optimized service territory planning to better minimize coverage overlap, capacity and reservation optimization to better align internal and external teams, and inventory enhancements to get better clarity, Wojahn said.

Joseph F. Kovar

Joseph F. Kovar is a senior editor and reporter for the storage and the non-tech-focused channel beats for CRN. He keeps readers abreast of the latest issues related to such areas as data life-cycle, business continuity and disaster recovery, and data centers, along with related services and software, while highlighting some of the key trends that impact the IT channel overall. He can be reached at jkovar@thechannelcompany.com.

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