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Observations from ServiceNow’s NowForum 2017 in Chicago

Last week was a busy one for ServiceNow. Not only did the ITSM platform scoop up no-code mobile platform SkyGiraffe, the company also continued its global series of events aimed at helping innovative leaders deliver smarter, faster business services across the enterprise. NowForum 2017 drew thousands of professionals from across the world and has made pit stops in Paris, Amsterdam, Washington, D.C. London, New York, and Sydneyand rolled up to The Windy City on October 26, 2017.

AHEAD’s own John Cole spent the day engaging with the best and brightest in tech, offering ServiceNow demos at the AHEAD booth, and giving advice to both new and seasoned users of the platform.

We sat down with John to get the 411 on everything from ITSM adoption trends on the horizon to customer pain points. Check out his takeaways from the free, one-day event below:

Q: “The NowForum tour has pulled up to six cities so far and had a variety of talk tracks on the agenda—what set Chicago apart from the other locales?”

A – John Cole, AHEAD Solutions Principal: “While other events focused on the ‘buzzier’ trends like AI and machine learning, Chicago’s event got down to the nitty-gritty—not so much how the platform works, but how to utilize it to transform the way shared services organizations run their business. The attendees were primarily ServiceNow admins and users, as well as ITSM and help desk folks looking to learn more about the platform. The turnout was great, and it’s rare for a single-day conference to attract so many regional players. I spoke with people from Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, and even North Carolina, where AHEAD also has a presence.”

Q: “You manned the AHEAD booth, along with our own Caleb Mitchell, a Senior Technical Architect. Tell me more about who stopped by and the conversations you had.”

A – Cole: “We saw a range of visitors, from seasoned ServiceNow adopters to those who are considering the platform for the first time, and are trying to see what the hype is all about.  The most prevalent visitor was the existing ServiceNow customer who is looking to do more with the platform in and around IT. We had great conversations with these folks, primarily focused on using ServiceNow as a cloud management platform, as well as how to use it to automate aspects as of SecOps and GRC and extend its usage outside of traditional infrastructure.”

We also met with several individuals who are looking at the Customer Service Management module, in order to leverage the ServiceNow platform to support their external customers, which was in line with one of the tracks at NowForum.”


John Cole, Solutions Principal (L), and Caleb Mitchell, Senior Technical Architect (R), holding down the fort at the AHEAD booth during NowForum 2017 in Chicago.


Q: “What topics or user pain points did you hear about most frequently at the event?”

A – Cole: “The presentation sessions seemed to emphasize extending the platform out of IT and into other shared service functions like HR and customer service management. But the conversations we had were more about nuts-and-bolts challenges of how to derive the most value from the platform within IT.

For instance, one challenge—and it consistently came up in conversation—was how to best implement CMDB. Let’s face it, as a foundational part of ITIL, CMDB has been in the industry for over 15 years now, so I found it surprising that so many users still struggle with it.

Another pain point besides CMDB—and it speaks to why many ServiceNow users attended the event—was a feeling of lack of focus and direction around internal SNOW roadmaps and deployment plans. Users are trying to figure out what’s next for their IT department or what else they should be doing with the platform, whether their focus is on their portal or customer service. They’ve got a core help desk and a basic CMDB, but they’re not exactly sure where to go from there. I think a lot of customers were looking for answers to, ‘What should be on my roadmap?’ and ‘What should I be using it for?’ rather than ‘What can I be using it for?’

ServiceNow aims to make this software a core platform for running all IT, and it’s such an expansive tool that people seem to be struggling with where to take it next, especially those trying to just grasp the basics around ITIL/CMDB. By no means is this a negative, and that’s what AHEAD is here for: To help these users determine what capabilities to prioritize and what business outcomes they can expect; all folded into a 24-to-36-month roadmap.”

Q: “In your eyes, what’s next on the horizon for ITSM and ServiceNow adoption?”

A – Cole: “ServiceNow is red hot in the traditional ITSM space, but we’re seeing an uptick with our own customers looking to leverage ServiceNow as a cloud management platform. In fact, some of the most common CMP integrations that AHEAD does are with facets of ServiceNow. For an existing ServiceNow ITSM customer, one of the coolest prospects of choosing it for their CMP is that all the most common ITSM integrations—like CMDB, ticketing, and service catalog—are already done, right out of the box.

Also, the Jakarta release that just came out has added the option of using ServiceNow’s new CMP engine from their acquisition of ITapp last year. This engine adds interesting new blueprinting capabilities, and a completely re-designed cloud management portal.

We’re finding the old rules of service management no longer apply when you’re entering the public cloud, and ESM now needs to be more self-service driven, transparent, and easy to consume. As a result many existing ServiceNow clients that I spoke with, consider it a no-brainer to house everything under the same ServiceNow roof.”


Curious to learn more about ServiceNow?

Watch our webinar on-demand where we discuss how the platform can be used for real-time monitoring of compliance activities and posture, while automating security incident response.



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