Complete Guide to ServiceNow ITSM


ServiceNow is the ITSM platform of choice for over 3,900 customers worldwide. Although it began as an IT Service Management (ITSM) tool, it has expanded to become a true end-to-end enterprise IT consulting platform for many organizations.

Although thousands of companies use ServiceNow, far fewer are reaping the full benefits of their investment. IT leaders need a strategic plan to ensure their ServiceNow implementation provides optimal value.

This will allow them to leverage the data and insights it offers to expand their influence across the enterprise, and establish a name for themselves in IT innovation, not simply IT integration or administration.

To do this, it’s important to understand how ServiceNow evolved from ITSM to ITOM and ITBM. It’s also vital to understand where ServiceNow is creating business value with their expansion into functions outside of IT to get buy-in from executives. Finally, IT leaders need to look forward and see how embracing an AIOps strategy with their ServiceNow implementation will create a strong strategic position – not just for their organization, but for themselves.

ServiceNow History

ServiceNow launched (under the name Glidesoft) as the obvious successor to BMC Remedy, offering a cloud-based SaaS ITSM tool that followed Information Technology Infrastructure (ITIL) principles, which focused on aligning IT services with business needs.

ITIL processes are designed to be flexible and broadly applicable across a wide range of businesses and organizations. This made ServiceNow adoption simpler and easier in some cases than continuing to support, update and upgrade legacy competitors.

As the enterprise moved increasingly from on-premise to cloud-based solutions, ServiceNow grew quickly as a part of that migration to the cloud.

ServiceNow garnered praise for its easy-to-use interface and flexibility, making the process of IT service requests simpler for both end users and IT professionals. In a few short years, the company was outpacing legacy ITSM providers to take over half the market.

Now, it is the clear market leader in ITSM, and signs are strong that it may advance into new territory, taking market share from major players such as SAP and Oracle.

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Understanding ServiceNow ITSM (vs ITOM vs ITBM)

ServiceNow categorizes their IT-centric applications under three main solutions: ServiceNow IT Service Management (ITSM), ServiceNow IT Operations Management (ITOM), and ServiceNow IT Business Management (ITBM). It can be a little confusing, so as you think through your ServiceNow implementation plans, it’s good to get clarity on where everything fits.

  • ServiceNow ITSM covers most of the processes and workflows for delivering IT services to end users, which might include both employees and customers, depending on the organization.
    • ITSM includes help desk and ticketing functions like incident management, service desk, and release management. ITSM is focused on addressing the business needs with IT services quickly and efficiently.
  • ServiceNow ITOM takes a step back from the daily administration of IT services to view it from a more operational perspective. ITOM includes the functions, processes and applications needed to monitor and control the whole IT infrastructure.
    • This could include provisioning, capacity management, monitoring performance and uptime, security controls, and availability management. ITOM also covers the routine maintenance required to keep applications, services and hardware up and running.
  • ServiceNow ITBM takes another step further back from the daily execution of IT management to provide a bigger-picture view of how an organization’s technology infrastructure and investments connect to and support broader business goals and objectives.
    • This includes project and portfolio management, resource and demand management, risk management, and IT change management functions.

ServiceNow includes applications and modules that support all three of these IT functions, as well as deploying automation, machine learning and AI for IT operations into standard processes. The platform’s robust configuration management database (CMDB) function, when fully integrated and automated, provides clear real-time visibility to the organization’s entire IT environment, tying all three areas together.

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The Entire ServiceNow Platform: Moving Beyond IT

While it began as a cloud-based IT Service Management (ITSM) platform, the software has expanded into many other business functions. These include customer service management (CSM), HR Service Delivery (HRSD), Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) and legal services delivery.

In many ways, this makes perfect sense. The ServiceNow platform already had many touchpoints with customers and employees in its initial role as a vehicle for providing IT service delivery.

Because it was designed to create flexible workflows and integrate well with industry- or company-specific applications, expanding ServiceNow implementation into other business areas can create efficiencies and cost savings, without requiring a costly, complex, multi-year transitional project.

Despite the platform’s expansion beyond IT into ServiceNow Customer Service Management (CSM) and ServiceNow HR Service Delivery (HRSD), many organizations could still benefit from taking greater advantage of the full capabilities of the ServiceNow platform just within the IT domain.

By becoming experts at creating streamlined workflows for all IT process automation, IT leaders are positioned to champion extending these workflows – and their efficiencies – across the enterprise.

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The Future of ServiceNow Strategy & AIOps

With its flexibility and extensive capabilities, it’s possible to make the argument that ServiceNow has evolved into an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.

The main argument against considering ServiceNow an ERP is that there are some business function applications, such as finance, which ServiceNow does not offer out-of-the-box. However, there are some indications that the platform could be moving in that direction, for example their Industry Solutions strategy.

Aside from considering what new software features and capabilities ServiceNow may add to their already robust platform, smart IT leaders will take a step back and look at the overall strategic business direction of the company.

ServiceNow’s strategy appears to be strongly supporting the move towards AI for IT operations, or AIOps. This is in some ways a return to center, a renewed focus on the IT function. In other ways, it is a bold gambit towards making the product indispensable at the highest levels of the enterprise.

If customers can leverage the machine learning and predictive analytics offered by ServiceNow to transform their ITOPs – streamlining processes, dramatically improving response times and reducing costs through automation, there is no reason they cannot extend those gains across the entire enterprise.

How ServiceNow Empowers IT Innovation

As intense competition pushes organizations to continually get faster, better and stronger, someone will certainly be leading the charge toward greater use of AI and automation across the enterprise. IT leaders, especially those well-versed in implementing these IT tools, may be the best possible candidates.

IT innovators and leaders can leverage ServiceNow to start delivering impressive results for their organization. These results include reducing dependence on outdated legacy systems, reducing downtime and mean-time-to-resolution (MTTR), and shifting from a reactive to a proactive service model. In doing so, they can shift the perception of IT from “cost center” to “IT innovation center.”

This move can position not just the organization, but the IT leader, for exponential growth.

How ServiceNow partners can help

ServiceNow has experienced tremendous growth in recent years. This has created intense demand for skilled developers, administrators and analysts who are qualified to implement the ServiceNow platform. Outsourcing to managed IT service providers can help fill this capacity gap, but there is also a significant skills gap when it comes to bigger projects that require specialized expertise in implementing ServiceNow outside of IT.

The platform’s broad capabilities make it incredibly difficult to find internal resources who can not only keep up with the latest best practices in IT and ServiceNow implementation, but also have the cross-functional expertise to help carry the platform across the enterprise to achieve optimal value. Certified ServiceNow partners bring their own experience and expertise to the table, and help IT leaders overcome the skills gap on bigger, more complex projects.

What’s Next?

ServiceNow has grown rapidly – and is poised for even greater growth in the coming years. IT leaders who take full advantage of the NOW platform’s (ServiceNow ITSM and beyond) capabilities will need to build flexible teams, and bring in outside managed IT service providers to provide specialized expertise and overcome capacity shortfalls to avoid falling behind the competition. However, the streamlined infrastructure, improved user experiences and efficiencies that can be gained from a robust, enterprise-wide implementation can help position IT leaders as high-value, innovative change-agents within their organization.

Learn more about our strategic approach to ServiceNow, so we can help take your organization to the next level.