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ServiceNow to use IBM cognitive technology to improve IT workflow

Seeking to improve the workflow efficiencies of corporate IT shops, ServiceNow incorporates IBM's cognitive technology with its services automation platform.

ServiceNow continued its aggressive push to bring more automation and intelligence to IT workflows, with a multiyear partnership that integrates its IT services automation platform with IBM cognitive technology.

The combination of ServiceNow automation software and analytics with IBM analytics software is expected to deliver better insight into service demand, service-level compliance and other performance indicators. The cognitive computing integration deal follows last month's acquisition of DxContinuum, which specializes in machine learning and predictive analysis software. ServiceNow plans to use this technology to enhance its core set of enterprise service offerings.

"They are stepping up their efforts to eliminate many of the manual processes involved with lower-level IT tasks," said Sanjay Medvitz, an analyst at Technology Business Research Inc. (TBR) in Hampton, N.H.

More broadly, the company seems determined to automate every manual IT workflow task in its path, as well as those associated with other departments, such as human resources, customer service, security and sales. A McKinsey study released late in 2016 showed some 45% of all office-related tasks can be automated.

"There are so many manual processes throughout departments, ranging from enterprise employee onboarding to issuing help desk tickets, that can be eliminated," said Tony Beller, vice president of worldwide alliances and channel at ServiceNow.

In this new agreement, which some see as a deepening of the technical relationship between the two companies, IBM will integrate a number of cognitive computing technologies, as well as its Bluemix infrastructure technologies and the IBM Cloud Orchestrator cloud management tool, with ServiceNow's flagship product. Neither company said precisely what pieces of IBM cognitive technology -- much of it to be borrowed from its Watson offering -- would be used in concert with ServiceNow's services platform. Officials from each company said those details would be disclosed later this year.

"Typically, the way IBM's cognitive technology works is it takes archived workflow information and runs it through the Watson system to discover particular trends," said Charles King, president and principal analyst at Pund-IT. "With the kind of cloud-based provisioning ServiceNow offers, there should be tons of historical data users can use to improve workflow."

This deal will also expose ServiceNow's platform to many more corporate users through IBM's worldwide direct sales force, with a focus on Global 2000 accounts. IBM has been a managed service provider for ServiceNow since 2011 and currently handles a number of its largest deployments. Now IBM's own corporate customers can use the ServiceNow platform to build business applications to automate a range of businesses processes. IBM's focus will be to help automate IT workflows and tasks, and not so much on the other departments inside large corporate accounts.

"If they can leverage IBM's scale and level of technical services through this deal, it will help them a ton," TBR's Medvitz said.

The agreement targets higher user satisfaction and productivity through a combination of analytics, cognitive technology, support services from both IBM and ServiceNow and the ServiceNow tool kit for help desk ticketing, said Piero Chiodo, vice president at IBM Global Technology Services. .

An increasing number of IBM's corporate customers over the past few months have requested "a single point of contact" to change the way their IT service help desks operate, Chiodo said.

"We are also trying to give users a different experience, more similar to the Apple Genius Bar which would be simpler and more straightforward," he said.

Ed Scannell is a senior executive editor with TechTarget. Contact him at escannell@techtarget.com.

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