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Mapping the Cloud: ServiceNow aims to make IT more social

Software-as-a-service provider ServiceNow has released a new version of its IT management software that incorporates what the company calls “social IT.” We talked to Craig McDonogh, ServiceNow’s director of product management, about the features of the new platform and the company’s vision of IT transformation.

What does ServiceNow do?

We help simplify the management of technology used by large companies. ServiceNow was created to break all the old rules of enterprise IT management software (ITSM). ServiceNow makes IT immediate, social and intuitive. From the beginning, we set out to give IT people powerfully simple cloud services that just work.

What size businesses are the company’s targets?

Traditionally, ServiceNow has been most successful in the Global 2000, but we have had a lot of success in medium enterprise companies as well. There really is no size limit (large or small) imposed by the software itself—it’s more been a matter of where customers have expressed the greatest need for modern service management solutions. For example, companies considering cloud infrastructures have come to ServiceNow because they appreciate that managing the cloud is best done with a business partner that has an innate understanding of the cloud.

What is the appeal for those enterprises?

Usability, cost, agility and clarity. Usability because people are looking for business applications that are intuitive to use, and with similar functionality to the applications that they use at home. Cost is always a big driver because those legacy software solutions are really expensive, especially once you take into account the maintenance, administration, infrastructure, consulting and upgrade expenses. Agility is important because IT needs to be able to support changes in the business, at the increasing rate that they are demanded by the business. And clarity because the rest of the organization demands visibility into IT through unified costing, tasking, resourcing and planning, and you just can't get that kind of visibility from a jumble of acquired, integrated separate products.

What’s social IT?

Social IT is the concept of social media used by and for IT. It’s all about the idea that some of the most valuable information that exists in any organization only exists inside people’s heads. By providing familiar, easy-to-use social interfaces, we make it easy for people to share knowledge—and then we capture that knowledge, analyze it for trends and make it searchable to create a living, breathing knowledge source for the whole business.

What do the new updates allow enterprises to do?

They allow enterprises to offer more complete social IT to their users with the addition of tags, follows and groups to our live feed functionality. They allow more accurate risk assessment for change requests, with the addition of a change risk assessment questionnaire to change management. They allow easier user interaction with ServiceNow through the introduction of a new user interface. They allow enterprises to automate the process of data certification—to validate any information contained within the system, from CMDB data right though to group memberships and approval levels. They allow document control and management though a new application—particularly important when it comes to IT governance, risk and compliance. All of this new functionality works in the same environment as everything else from ServiceNow, and provides additional clarity and control across IT management.

What’s next for this platform?

Next for ServiceNow will always be driven by our customers. Almost all the functionality in our product today came from customer requests, and much was co-developed with our customers. That’s going to continue to be a primary driver as we grow. So, where are our customers asking us to go next? They're asking us to look at event management‚ to make it as easy as we have made service management. They’re asking us to continue to extend our social IT capabilities and continue to wage a battle against those Soviet-era, battleship-grey business applications that are so difficult to use. We believe that business applications should demand the same level of training that people need to use Facebook, Google, Amazon and Travelocity: none at all.

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