ServiceNow Offers Service Platform, Opens Store

ServiceNow, the IT help desk automation company, is making its platform available to customers and third parties in order to launch their own SaaS apps.

Charles Babcock, Editor at Large, Cloud

April 22, 2015

5 Min Read
<p align="left">Screenshot of ServiceNow's new app store.</p>

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ServiceNow launched an applications store on Tuesday, April 21, where apps created by customers and third parties sit on top of its service platform and be available to customers either for a fee or for free.

The store was announced at ServiceNow's Knowledge15 conference in Las Vegas, which started April 21 and continues through April 24. The applications store will open Thursday with 80 service applications available, said Pat Casey, vice president and general manager of the ServiceNow Platform business unit, in an interview. They will be running as software-as-a-service in a ServiceNow data center, like other ServiceNow IT automation apps.

Extending use of the platform to outsiders is a logical next step for ServiceNow, which began to move beyond its IT help desk automation roots toward a more general purpose service platform.

In early March, it launched framework applications for the finance, legal, and marketing departments. Each roughed-out application could be customized to fit the needs of the business adopting it.

It's seeking to establish its service platform as something available to additional departments. The more software writers it can encourage to use its platform, the more software-as-a-service it will have running on its infrastructure. ServiceNow will collect 20% of the proceeds that a third-party charges for use of its software, with 75% going to the software owner. In the process, what started out as an IT automated help desk company will evolve into a general purpose, automated services company.

"We want to run more and more apps," Casey said in an interview with InformationWeek.

[Read about Google and big data.]

"We're not all that interested in making revenue off the store," said Casey, nor will it try to set uniform pricing. "We don't have a dog in the hunt for what a vendor charges for an app," he said. Pricing will be determined by the creators of the applications and their experience in trying to find buyers for them, he said.

Some interesting ServiceNow customers who have already used the platform (though their apps aren’t for sale in the store) include the US Postal Service, a state fish and wildlife department, and the NBA. The unidentified fish and wildlife department created an application to capture data picked up in tracking endangered animals and to record the assets used.

The Postal Service has a nationwide Stamp Fulfillment app for moving stamp inventory around from locations where it's in excess to post offices where it's in demand and so avoid unnecessarily reprinting stamps. It uses Google Maps to visually track stamp sales and integrate a feed from #Stamps to see what's in demand. The application was built in three week and has saved the Postal Service $1.6 million so far.

The NBA’s custom app is used for arena management and to keep a schedule of games, visiting teams, vendors involved in games, and facilities needed for each event. It provides a live portal of everything happening at a game as well.

Among the first third parties to establish applications in the store will be Cloud Sherpas, Fruition Partners, and Mobichord.

Cloud Sherpas produced a Legal Services App that moves legal workflows off of email and onto the ServiceNow platform for better workflow and tracking. The application makes steps in a legal task more visible to the parties involved in it and captures workflows associated tangential tasks, such as research requests.

Cloud Sherpas is also offering a Security Incident Response App to monitor security events and route the execution of a correct response. The app creates a work-stream with which monitoring teams may review alerts, whether coming from Twitter, email, or other sources. The app also provides a secure, private hub where respondents may post and discuss threat responses.

Fruition Partners is offering LIFT Intake, a single place for all of the requests to an organization for assistance. The requests may come by phone, email, or via self-service submissions. LIFT uses the ServiceNow platform to create a centralized record of them, eliminate duplicates, and allow a response before the situation becomes a customer service incident or help desk case. It can categorize the requests, such as appropriate for a response from IT, HR, legal, or facilities.

Fruition is also offering Telebridge IT Alert Management, a voice call alert generating system for an organization's IT team. It enables individual phones, VoIP service, or messaging to be embedded into a desktop or mobile software, or into a Web application. The Telebridge app allows automated acceptance of incident assignments by IT troubleshooters via phone to improve incident handling response times. One result is to cut the on-hold times for end-users seeking IT assistance. Service Desk voice mail is replaced by end-user speech-to-trouble-ticket creation.

MobiChord, a mobile device management system company, will offer an application for providing services to employees' mobile devices and for managing expenses of wireless services. Its purpose is to drive down the expense of supporting and managing many types of mobile devices and allow more interactions among the mobility management team. Many support needs can be provided through an end-user self-service portal.

"We hope our customers will feel like kids in a candy store," Casey said.

ServiceNow is also offering a CreateNow developer program at Knowledge15 to better acquaint developers with its platform. It will offer a developer mini-conference on the heels of Knowledge15 in what it hopes will be the first of regular annual conferences that train developers in the use of the ServiceNow platform. It will feature advanced training in the use of scripting, user experience design and integration, and mobile apps. It is also offering to train and certify developers as ServiceNow Certified Application Developers. About 1,200 are scheduled to attend the first event, dubbed CreateCon.

[Editor's note: This article has been updated to reflect ServiceNow's responses.]

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About the Author(s)

Charles Babcock

Editor at Large, Cloud

Charles Babcock is an editor-at-large for InformationWeek and author of Management Strategies for the Cloud Revolution, a McGraw-Hill book. He is the former editor-in-chief of Digital News, former software editor of Computerworld and former technology editor of Interactive Week. He is a graduate of Syracuse University where he obtained a bachelor's degree in journalism. He joined the publication in 2003.

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