Employee Experiences to Replace the Legacy Intranet

In these unusually volatile times, the corporate intranet plays an essential role in communicating timely information to a workforce faced with collaborating and working remotely more than ever before. As employees around the world log in to work from their homes (cue the kid noises), the enterprise intranet enables rapid dissemination of corporate communications. Employees need the reassurance of being able to reach out to their IT and HR organizations to request services and get timely information. This is where we see a great opportunity for organizations to go beyond an information dumping ground and to invest in leveraging ServiceNow, the industry leading enterprise platform as a service, to build an intranet that truly empowers the digital workplace experience.  I’d like to offer a few thoughts about why ServiceNow offers significant advantages over traditional approaches to the corporate intranet. And, let’s face it, virtual workforces need all of the advantages they can get. Effective Communication Let’s start with the basics: getting information out there. The traditional intranet is often the default home page each and every time an employee opens a browser tab. That’s great, but what if the information they see every time isn’t relevant or even current? A ServiceNow based intranet overcomes this problem with methods to target content more effectively. Using campaigns, content delivery, and user criteria features, you can get the right information to the right audience at the right time.  The adaptive, personalized pages you can build with Service Portal have far more impact and benefit than the static, generic pages you get with a traditional intranet. We’ve met with several companies who have spun up Covid-19 information sites. These are useful, but many of them present the same information to everyone. With ServiceNow, you have the opportunity to quickly tailor that information based on the employees’ location and role.  Coordinated Engagement But why stop at just broadcasting information? What if you could make the content more engaging? Keep in mind that engagement isn’t just about making the information more interesting to consume. It’s about using the information as a springboard for coordinated action. With ServiceNow, you have an opportunity for your content to do that. At its core, ServiceNow coordinates processes. Rather than taking the traditional intranet approach and having employees simply click a link from the content to continue some process in another tool, use the power of ServiceNow to create content employees can act on within the context of the same page to get more information, take action, engage others, and complete a task. For example, those same Covid-19 information sites could combine basic information with catalog items relevant to conferencing systems as well as community forums for employees to share experiences and recommendations. That smooth transition from consumption to engagement to coordination sets ServiceNow apart. Extensible Platform Many traditional intranet platforms suffer from rigor mortis. They just aren’t built for extensibility and remain rigid, waiting for their creator to enliven them with a new feature. This is definitely not the case for ServiceNow. Built as an extensible platform, ServiceNow, and particularly Service Portal, can adapt to new requirements easily. The interface that you create and surface on the intranet can be energized by business rules, security, integrations and workflow like any other ServiceNow application. Need a trading application to help employees deal with toilet paper shortages? Build it in record time on ServiceNow. When the crisis is over, transform it into an engaging marketplace for employees to trade far less critical but far more fun things like vintage records (you know the ones that were great at drowning out the family noises while working from home but remind you too much of when you had to work from home). A change in perspective is perhaps the biggest change this global crisis will force upon us. Fortunately, it is with a different perspective that we discover the best solutions. I encourage you to take a moment and consider how combining ServiceNow’s unique offerings channeled through the powerful capabilities and flexibility of the Service Portal can create a more engaging and empowering intranet experience. An experience that will carry you through the worst of times and the best of times. For more information or to set up a consultation about intranet solutions using ServiceNow, visit our website. Learn More

Let’s Meet at Knowledge 2020!

The Knowledge 2020 Digital Experience is just around the corner and we want to talk with you! The team and I will be hosting sessions, scheduling live demos, and meeting with you about everything portals and user experience. If you would like to schedule some time to meet, fill out this quick form and we will arrange a time to meet with you. We'll see you in May!

spUtil API Reference Cheat Sheet

Overview spUtil enables you to perform common functions in a Service Portal widget client script. You can access the methods by passing in spUtil as a parameter in your client-script function. Many of these methods have not been documented by ServiceNow, so we have combed through the source code once again to bring you another Service Portal cheatsheet! Save time and maximize your productivity with this quick reference document for you to use day-to-day. Enjoy!

Top 5 Features in the Orlando Release

This year's Orlando release is full of great new functionality and updates to the ServiceNow platform. Needless to say, there were a ton of features to cover, so instead of compiling an enormous list, I've put together this video of my personal top 5 features. I bet at least a couple of these will surprise you! Check out the video. Let me know in the comments below if you agree or if you feel there is a big feature that should have made the list. The official release notes can be found here: https://docs.servicenow.com/bundle/orlando-release-notes/page/release-notes/family-release-notes.html

Custom Native Mobile Apps on ServiceNow

I get asked a lot about mobile and how to deliver branded mobile experiences on ServiceNow. For years the answer has been to use Service Portal since it's responsive and can be themed to function really well on mobile devices. This has worked quite well for many use-cases, but it still requires accessing through a browser or ServiceNow Classic, and it's still not the same experience that we've all come to expect from a native mobile app. 54% of employees expect their employers to provide mobile-optimized tools Source: https://research.servicenow.com/ Some of this has changed with the release of the Now Mobile app, but it is ServiceNow branded, lives in the app stores under ServiceNow's name, and requires entering of the instance name and credentials. It may be great for roled users, fulfillers, or users at least familiar with ServiceNow, but there are still many use-cases when using the Now Mobile app does not seem ideal. Consider, for example: Local governments or municipalities enabling anonymous citizens to report issues Universities using ServiceNow for managing student requests Product companies offering support via ServiceNow to its customers Enterprise organizations wanting to provide their employees with a tailored and branded experience In many of these cases, it seems the ideal scenario would be a dedicated app, in the app stores, with the organization's branding, and with the specific features for that target audience. This compelled us to explore what it would take to develop cross-platform mobile apps. Apps fully integrated with ServiceNow, with custom branding, feature specific UI's, and taking full advantage of the mobile capabilities such as geolocation, maps, push notifications, and camera features. We've chosen to build our current platform on React Native, as this allows for both iOS and Android apps with a single code base, but we're also exploring a version in Swift and Java. In the video above, you can see some of the example apps that we've been prototyping. The goal of the project has been to follow the same conventions as Now Mobile, leveraging the same APIs, ensuring a sustainable architecture. As of this writing, we have not yet released any publicly available apps into the store... but we are working with some of our early adopter customers on some innovative new mobile solutions. To learn more about these projects and our native mobile capabilities, please contact us or visit newrocket.com for more information. I would love to hear your comments or feedback below. What are some use-cases where a mobile app could really improve the user experience?

Titans of Now: Nathan Firth

Last week I had the awesome opportunity of being interviewed by Robert Fedoruk on his YouTube Channel. We discussed Service Portal, the mobile frontier, and the new ServiceNow UI framework. Have a listen and let me know what you think!

GlideSPScriptable Cheat Sheet

Overview Did you know there are over 60 server-side methods available in GlideSPScriptable ($sp)? Many of these methods are hidden or not documented, so we've combed through all the widgets and source code to provide you with this cheat sheet that includes all of the $sp methods available in Service Portal. Now updated for the New York release. Save time and maximize your productivity with this quick reference document for you to use day-to-day. Enjoy!

Service Portal Features in New York

The New York release of ServiceNow is finally here and includes a number of useful features, enhancements, and bug fixes to the Service Portal. In this article, we will review some of the new features and larger changes. New Features Agent Chat Your users can initiate and maintain an Agent Chat conversation in any portal page. You can now also create a script to pass portal-specific data to Agent Chat. For example, pass the name of your knowledge base to a Virtual Agent conversation. To enable, simply install the "Agent Chat" plugin, and create a configuration through the "Service Portal > Agent Chat" module. Official documentation Search Analytics & Suggestions Generate relevant search suggestions for your users and monitor search analytics to understand what your users are searching for. When you enable Search Suggestions, suggestions appear automatically when users enter text into search fields in the Service Portal. Official documentation Text index groups Configure a text index group to make Service Portal search results more relevant to your end-users. The base system text index group includes the Catalog items, Knowledge, and Social Q&A Questions tables. Official documentation Antivirus Scanning support for attachments View the health status of file attachments in Service Portal. Antivirus Scanning scans files in the Attachments [sys_attachments] table by default. When viewed from a Service Portal page, attachments may not be available for download depending on their health status. Official documentation Reset Password Although not much of a feature, you can now enable your users to reset their password from the Login widget using the Password Reset application. When the user clicks "Forgot Password?", the system redirects the user to the page value specified in the "glide.security.password_reset.uri" system property. Official documentation Service Catalog Related Catalog Items & Knowledge Articles Configure related items and articles for a catalog item to provide additional information or alternatives. These articles and items are displayed in the catalog item page in Service Portal. Official documentation Knowledge Management Route Map The "kb_article" page now routes to the "kb_article_view" page which is part of the Knowledge Management Service Portal which includes a number of features such as feedback and versioning. Multi Knowledge Bases Configure which knowledge bases to display on the Knowledge Management Service Portal Article Comments User can now reply and like comments as well as add links, attachments, or images to comments. Official documentation Automated Test Framework Open Service Portal Page Open a portal page in the Automated Test Framework. When building automated tests, test designers must first open a page in a portal before testing UI components on the page. Official documentation The New York release seems to be very promising with a nice mixture of features, enhancements, and much-needed bug fixes (over 150+ that I've counted). I am definitely looking forward to this release and all it entails. Check out all the New York release notes here. If you know of some additional features in Service Portal not mentioned here, please let me know in the comments below.

Service Catalog Item Wizard in Service Portal

We've had a number of clients ask about structuring catalog item forms as more of a "wizard" that only renders one section at a time. After thinking about it for a while, I realized that I could use the GlideForm API to programmatically hide and show the different sections (containers). So over the past couple of weeks, I've been working on a new widget that simply interacts with the out-of-box catalog item widget, and uses the API's to add all of the wizard-like capabilities. I think it turned out pretty cool, it's fully themeable, and best of all, it does not require cloning of any widgets. I still have a few more features to add, and I'm also considering adding an accompanying library of Variable Sets that provide a more graphical UI than the out-of-box catalog variables. If all goes well, I may end up including the widget in our RocketFuel library of widgets, so if you're interested in adding some wizard-like capabilities to your portal, feel free to contact me and we can schedule a demo. I'd love to hear what you guys think in the comments below. Is this a useful widget? Does this improve the user experience of the service catalog item form?