Chief Content Officer,
Techstrong Group

ServiceNow, at its Knowledge 2023 conference today, revealed it is adding generative artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities to its platform for driving digital business transformation initiatives.

CJ Desi, president and chief operating officer for ServiceNow, said the generative AI capabilities the company is adding is in the form of a ServiceNow Generative AI Controller based on connectors to the general-purpose platforms developed by OpenAI and Microsoft. A Now Assist for Search tool takes advantage of ServiceNow Generative AI Controller to make it possible to surface search results of ServiceNow data using a natural language interface (NLI).

Longer term, ServiceNow is also committing to developing a set of domain-specific large language models (LLMs) the company is building to automate specific human resources, customer service and IT service management (ITSM) tasks.

The LLMs that ServiceNow will provide should create more accurate responses for those domains than a general-purpose AI platform that is based on data scraped from sources across the Web that might not be as precise as the data collected via the ServiceNow software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform, he noted.

ServiceNow envisions organizations will soon be using generative AI to better prioritize IT and customer service incidents complete with an explanation in natural language and a chat summary. Generative AI will also generate chat responses for customer service agents and automate, for example, benefits enrollment processes using a Virtual Agent capability.

ServiceNow, along with every other provider of a platform for automating business processes, is engaged in a generative AI arms race. The company over the last three years has acquired Attivio, Element AI and Hitch Works to gain AI capabilities and most recently added a suite of AI capabilities with the Utah release of its platform.

In addition, the ServiceNow Research Large Language Models Lab has partnered with Hugging Face and more than 600 other members of the open-source community on the BigCode project, an open and transparent scientific AI research collaboration that champions the responsible development of LLMs for code. ServiceNow and Hugging Face recently made available a 15 billion parameter StarCoder LLM on behalf of the BigCode project.

Generative AI platforms via a natural language interface will make it possible for the typical end users of any business application to automate processes using code that in the case of ServiceNow is going to be automatically generated by the low-code engine the company provides to create code.

The overall goal is to accelerate digital business transformation initiatives by reducing the time and effort required to build and update the applications that drive those processes. In addition, ServiceNow is making use of machine learning algorithms and robotic process automation (RPA) technologies to automate processes such as procurement, accounts payable, and supplier management via workflows that are integrated with third-party enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems.

ServiceNow has been making a case for an integrated platform for driving digital business transformation initiatives that reduces the need for organizations to integrate multiple disparate applications. Instead, the company provides a broad range of applications that share a common underlying code that make it less costly to digital construct workflows. That integrated suite of applications can then be integrated with other third-party applications and services via a set of open application programming interfaces (APIs) the company provides.

It’s not clear to what degree an uncertain economy will drive digital business transformation leaders to revisit the applications and platforms they employ, but there’s clearly a lot more financial pressure to deliver more results faster. Many of the applications that organizations have invested in over the years have, in the final analysis, little more than islands of automation that still need to be integrated with a wide range of applications.

One way or another, generative AI is about to transform digital business transformation as it becomes simpler to integrate applications. Business users will be able to dynamically create and adjust workflows as business conditions warrant using natural language interfaces (NLIs) that eliminate the need to have programming skills.

ServiceNow is betting that all these investments in AI will, rather than eliminating the need for all the personnel that are required to construct workflows today, foster the creation of an entire new class of jobs leveraging AI to manage tasks that hopefully will add more value than ever to a business.