How will chatbot technology invade RMM (remote monitoring and management) software platforms for MSPs? Perhaps the latest ServiceNow platform release (called London) provides some clues from the enterprise IT service management (ITSM) market.
ServiceNow London includes the previously announced Virtual Agent, which brings chatbot capabilities to the platform, and promises to make customizing the chatbot simple with a 'drag and drop' interface. The Virtual Agent Designer allows users to build their own conversation to meet specific business needs, the company says.
London also provides pre‑built conversations for IT, HR and customer service representatives. For those employees, the new Virtual Agent has the potential to handle 15 percent to 20 percent of everyday interactions, ServiceNow estimates. In theory, that means IT service desks, HR and customer service agents will be freed up to focus on more difficult and forward-thinking tasks.
Most IT service providers have extended from break/fix models to a more proactive managed services role. However, it's still difficult for many MSPs to get ahead of helpdesk tickets. If ServiceNow-type chatbot technology flows into the SMB sector, it's a safe bet MSPs will save valuable time -- as chatbots resolve inquiries before tickets flood more traditional helpdesk admins.
ServiceNow London: More Features, Enhancements
In addition to the chatbot capabilities, the ServiceNow London release supports:
1. Major Issue Management
When cloud services problems surface, they can impact multiple customers at the same time. For instance, you helpdesk may suddenly be inundated with calls from multiple customers about the same issue Office 365 issue.
To simplify ITSM response, Major Issue Management allows you to create a ticket that spans multiple clients -- and provides one place for updates and resolution tracking. Instead of dealing with the flood of tickets about the same single issue, and then updating each ticket once the problem is resolved, you can enter the resolution and notify all affected customers with one update.
2. Walk-Up Experience
I have run a helpdesk at a conference on several occasions. It took me a few times before I finally figured out the best way to handle these in-person requests. Instead of requiring people to wait until it is their turn, or trying to plan how long each service request would take and schedule people in advance, I asked people put their name and cell number on a piece of paper. I would text them as soon as I was done with the previous request to let them know I was ready for them.
ServiceNow London's Walk-Up Experience includes an automate version of my apporach. The IT Service Management application enables employees to sign up remotely and walk-up to the IT help desk in time for their turn based on live queue updates. As I experienced, the result is less waiting, which translates into less downtime, higher productivity, and less frustration.
3. Insights Explorer
London also attempts to bring intelligence to everyday work via Insights Explorer for the IT Operations Management product, ServiceNow asserts. Insights Explorer enables IT to create ad-hoc queries to reveal patterns in performance that aren’t normally detected. Customers benefit from gaining insight into potential outages, so they can act to prevent them from happening, ServiceNow claims.
4. New Interface for Security Incident Response
The configurable interface provides quick access to actionable security data that’s been prioritized based on business criticality, the company says. It includes playbooks with all the steps needed to guide analysts through the response process.
5. Employee Document Management
In order to complete digital transformations, many companies are choosing to go paperless. This can be a difficult transition for HR teams who typically have a lot of paperwork to manage for employees. With the new Employee Document Management application, employee documents can be managed electronically. By going paperless, HR can set document retention rules based on corporate and legal regulations, set document permissions, and define metadata tags on documents for search and retrieval.
Clearly, service management tools in the enterprise are pushing deeper into automation. However, we still reiterate this warning: Automation should supplement and help employees work smarter not harder, but not replace employees all together.
As for ServiceNow, the company is working more closely with global systems integrators and midmarket MSPs. But the company has no plans to extend down into the SMB sector -- at least not directly or via a formalized MSP program. Still, keep an eye on CareWorx and its custom ServiceNow efforts for the midmarket...
Additional reporting by Joe Panettieri.