To help meet the needs of enterprises that are looking to navigate uncertain economic conditions while complying with new data regulations, ServiceNow has released the next iteration of its Now workflow automation platform, dubbed Tokyo, with new features that focus on easing supply chain complexities and optimizing asset and human resource (HR) management.

Tokyo’s release comes just months after the company released the previous version of the Now platform, named San Diego, that focused on personalization and automation of work experiences.

The new release, according to the company, is geared more toward chief financial officers and chief operating officers who are looking for a return on their IT investment.

Simplifying the supply base

The release comes with a new feature, dubbed Supplier Lifecycle Management (SLM), that can read names and other data of suppliers from emails and spreadsheets and move them into a new window inside the Now platform.

Automatically moving these supplier contacts and information, according to ServiceNow, helps enterprises reduce operating cost and allows the supply chain team to focus on creating a more resilient supplier base.

The SLM also offers a supplier-facing interface that can be used to launch queries for the enterprise.

For users in the enterprise itself, Tokyo includes a new tool, dubbed Enterprise Asset Management (EAM), designed to automatically track and help manage the full lifecycle of physical business assets, from planning to retirement, for industries such as healthcare, financial services, retail, manufacturing, and the public sector.

The EAM tool can enhance companies’ strategic planning capabilies as it allows easy visibility into the enterprise asset estate, the company said, adding that EAM can alo help to optimize inventory levels in order to generate maximum efficiency from existing assets.

Automating HR issue resolution

ServiceNow’s Tokyo release also offers features that focus on simplifying human resource management.

One new feature, Issue Auto Resolution for Human Resources (ITSM), is designed to help HR teams manage issues brought up by company staff by applying natural language understanding to analyze employee requests and deliver content through the same channels used by employee. These channels can be Microsoft Teams, SMS or email, the company said, adding that ITSM understands and routes any request to a specific HR representatives in case of pressing matters.

Another feature, dubbed Manager Hub, is focused on employee retention. The feature, which can be accessed via the Employee Center (desktop or mobile), provides a single window for managers within an enterprise to map employee milestones and review them.

The Manager Hub can be used by an enterprise to deliver personalized training to all managers within an enterprise, Service Now said.

Security and Sustainability

The Tokyo iteration of Now also comes with added sustainability-planning and security features.

The new release offers a feature named Vault, designed to secure business-critical ServiceNow applications by using controls such as flexible key management and data anonymization. It also allows enterprises to export their ServiceNow system and application logs at scale and in near real-time, the company said.

Another tool in Tokyo’s arsenal is the Admin Center, which allows system administrators to discover, install and configure ServiceNow tools or features through a self-service interface. Admin Center, according to the company, can take advantage of new Adoption Blueprint features, which in turn can recommend applications to administrators based on criteria such as instance maturity and application entitlements.

In order to help enterprises plan and manage their sustainability goals, the Now platform’s Tokyo release comes with an environmental, social, and governance (ESG) management tool.

The tool, according to the company, can track performance towards goals, collect and validate data for audits and create reports that aligns with major ESG reporting frameworks.

Human Resources, Supply Chain Management Software

Salesforce is putting a new customer data platform, Genie, at the heart of its software to deliver real-time access to customer information across the enterprise.

“Genie is the world’s first real time CRM,” said chief product officer David Schmaier on the eve of the company’s Dreamforce 2022 customer conference. “It’s a high-speed, hyper-scalar data lake infrastructure that powers all of Salesforce’s applications.”

Running on Hyperforce, Salesforce’s public cloud, the new customer data platform (CDP) uses the same metadata as the rest of the Salesforce platform, and connects with the company’s Flow automation tools and Einstein AI-powered recommendation engine, enabling them to operate with real-time data too.

For Sheryl Kingstone, VP for customer experience and commerce at 451 Research, Genie could be a solution to the business problem of creating unified customer profiles based on a single source of truth, finally getting rid of customer data siloes across every department, business unit, and all the different regions, she says.

It’s been a challenge for Salesforce to get to the point where it can combine its rich legacy of transactional data with more modern sources of real-time data, according to Kingstone.

“They were doing it in stages,” she said. “Salesforce acquired MuleSoft to solve app integration, but it didn’t solve the data integration problem. Einstein solved some of the architectural shifts to bring the data together, but it still was a baby step.”

A bigger step toward solving the data integration problem, she said, came with Salesforce’s 2020 acquisition of personalization software vendor Evergage, which enabled it to rethink the data architecture of its applications from the ground up.

It’s not just about Salesforce applications, though: Genie also opens a gateway to Snowflake’s data cloud; enables Amazon’s SageMaker AI models to interact with Salesforce data in much the same way as its own Einstein models; and through Salesforce AppExchange will allow third-party developers to create apps that exploit its capabilities. Already, 18 partners have created apps for the Genie platform, Salesforce said.

All this gives Genie the power to release customer data trapped in the marketing department, according to Liz Miller, VP and principal analyst at Constellation Research.

“For the most part, CDPs are sold as marketing toys that address marketing things, but what we have here is a unified data model that is now a shared service across the stack,” said Miller.

Better yet, Genie’s open approach means it’s unlikely to interfere with CIOs’ own data lake strategies, she said.

“It might not be as sexy as big new unveils, but it can deliver and is real, which I think the market craves after decades of chasing lofty terms like ‘personalization,’” said Miller. “It makes Customer360 usable instead of it being an aspirational model of what we want to achieve.”

As 451’s Kingstone surmised, the new customer data platform has its roots in Salesforce’s 2020 acquisition of Evergage, which had built a personalization engine (later rebranded as Salesforce Interaction Studio) on top of its own CDP.

Genie has parts of that Evergage CDP at its heart, according to Patrick Stokes, general manager for Salesforce Platform.

“It was originally constructed with quite a bit of the lake house type of capability that Evergage brought to bear,” he said. “We’ve since updated that pretty significantly to implement Apache Iceberg.”

Iceberg, an open-source table format originally developed at Netflix, is key to Genie’s openness. It enables the efficient use of SQL for big data analytics, and is supported by data lake engines including Snowflake, Dremio and Spark.

Although Snowflake is Salesforce’s marquee partner for data sharing with Genie, the door is open to anyone who wants to implement Iceberg, whether they’re a software vendor or an end user, Stokes said.

The case for real-time data

Genie officially goes live on September 20, the opening day of Dreamforce, but behind the scenes, hundreds of enterprises are already using it to personalize customer interactions, Stokes said.

Among them are L’Oréal, which is interconnecting online and offline shopping experiences with Salesforce; Formula 1, which is using it to connect with motor racing fans; and Ford, using it to provide a single source of truth all the way from purchase through onboarding of connected services to ongoing maintenance of its vehicles. Ford can use Genie for everything from scheduling periodic service to delivering urgent roadside assistance, he said.

However, not everyone will benefit from the new real-time capabilities, Stokes said, but there are situations where the difference between live and day-old data can be critical.

A key feature of Genie is that data — whether clinical, environmental or transactional — isn’t just ingested in real time: “We have the ability to stream all of that in in real time and make what we call calculated insights in real time,” he said. “In the healthcare industry, they’re trying to keep their customers alive. Operating off batch data can literally be life or death for some.” Fraud prevention applications will also benefit from Genie’s real-time capabilities, he said.

Data Management

The true long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on consumer shopping habits won’t truly be understood for years, but its effect on digital transformation is immediately evident. What we know for certain is that consumers and business buyers expect lightning-fast digital experiences, available on any content device, and the experience has to mirror the ease of doing business that leading brands, like Netflix and Target, delivered during the lockdown. Crucially, this remains true whether you serve consumers or businesses.

For marketers and brands, this level of digital adoption and savviness is a double-edged sword. Digital engagement with consumers and businesses allows marketers to understand their base in a much more fundamental way than traditional marketing methods. However, the speed of this level of adoption has created a whole new issue for digital experience professionals from experience scalability and long-term management point of view.

For IT leaders, I know that long-term management has long been a source of frustration. From infrastructure costs to finding the right talent, it seems that digital experiences are always requiring more attention and more budget. So, the question becomes how can you get out of the digital experience delivery process and pivot to providing more value-added guidance to your marketing and experience colleagues?

To ensure that brands and marketers are empowered with modern, scalable, and agile solutions to meet consumer and business demand for engagement, Sitecore, a global leader in end-to-end digital experience software, has released Sitecore Experience Manager (XM) Cloud. With the unveiling of XM Cloud, Sitecore is the first company to completely transition its core CMS solution, including personalization and the content authoring experience, to a modern cloud architecture.

According to a consumer survey conducted by the company in May, online interactions play an outsized role in driving engagement between brands and customers. Sitecore XM Cloud helps solve the globally recognized problem of powering instantaneous, global digital experiences in the cloud without sacrificing the customer experience.

Through XM Cloud, brands are provided with unrivaled speed to market in the implementation of customer experiences, simplifying design and deployment, and eliminating upgrades, which dramatically decreases the cost of ownership. With XM Cloud, marketers can instantly create, manage, and deliver engaging omnichannel experiences with an industry-leading enterprise-ready CMS.

In short, marketers can create smarter, faster customer experiences that lead to a much more informed and agile brand overall.

“Consumer behavior has changed rapidly over the past two years. Audiences have become very digitally savvy and have an expectation that brands deliver highly personalized customer experiences. This puts marketers in the unenviable position of trying to meet this expectation, but with tools and solutions that don’t deliver, and in some cases hamstring, the needed agility to meet demand,” said Dave O’Flanagan, chief product officer, Sitecore. “Sitecore XM Cloud provides marketers with a truly end-to-end, SaaS-based solution that not only helps brands meet consumer expectations but also delivers a best-of-class omnichannel customer experience.”

XM Cloud can serve multiple internal audiences within an organization. Business users can build pixel-perfect digital experiences via a WYSIWIG authoring experience that can access content anywhere as well as embedded testing & personalization, and integrated visitor analytics. Developers can use XM Cloud with headless development techniques and it will work with modern frontend frameworks and support all deployment scenarios.

“There is growing opportunity in the digital experience market for vendors providing scalable, data-driven personalization within the core of their service,” said Marci Maddox, research vice president for Digital Experience Strategies, IDC.  “Sitecore continues to strategically invest in this critical area. Their current direction and move toward a composable SaaS offering for creating and delivering digital experiences is in line with what marketing teams are looking for today.”  

To find out more about Sitecore’s Digital Experience Platform and latest product updates visit: Sitecore.com.

Enterprise Applications, SaaS