Automation drove the productivity revolution. AI promises to accelerate it

By Ming En Liew

AI meets automation in ServiceNow’s Now Platform, which promises to turbocharge productivity for governments in an intuitive and seamless way. Dr Raj Iyer, Global Head of Public Sector at software provider ServiceNow, shares more.

With the Now Platform, users will be able to develop workflows independently even without extensive IT knowledge. Image: Canva

Generative AI needs no introduction. Since ChatGPT was first released late last year, headline after headline have both lauded and criticised the technology, but most are united in the belief that generative AI has immense potential to change the workplace as we know it.

Leading workflow software provider ServiceNow is looking to take this to the next level, integrating generative AI into its existing solutions for even more rapid workflow automation.

Its recently launched generative AI capabilities builds upon its established automation platform with the aim of enabling every employee to optimise workflows and innovate, regardless of their technical ability.

Generative AI to turbocharge productivity

“One of the objectives of the ServiceNow platform is to democratise the whole digitalisation [process], down to the individual employee,” explains Dr Raj Iyer, Global Head of Public Sector at ServiceNow.

Dr Raj Iyer, Global Head of Public Sector, ServiceNow. Image: ServiceNow

This is now more achievable than before, with the integration of generative AI capabilities into the Now Platform, which allows for no/low code app development to simplify complex tasks and streamline workflows. The new generative AI integration will allow users to more easily navigate the platform and find the information they need.

The ServiceNow Generative AI Controller, for instance, connects with Microsoft Azure OpenAI Service and API large language models, to enhance its virtual chatbot service, Virtual Agent. The technology now gives users access to the wide range of functionality generative AI is known for, including answering questions, summarising content and even content generation.

Meanwhile, the Now Assist for Search function can respond to queries with a natural language response drawn from the organisation’s own knowledge base. Since the information is pulled from an organisation’s IT environment, users can also be more assured of the information’s accuracy.

Additionally, ServiceNow’s solutions are integrated with predictive AI algorithms that help government agencies improve efficiency and create more proactive services.

For instance, the predictive AI is able to identify lag times in workflow processes created and flag it to the relevant teams. Subsequently, the Generative AI Controller can then help to provide a chat summary of the issue, allowing relevant staff to resolve issues more quickly. Another way ServiceNow’s AI can benefit public servants is by helping IT teams identify potential points of failure, such as network issues.

This creates a process where, with the assistance of AI, government agencies are able to iterate their workflows and modernise their IT environment to provide better services, creating a positive cycle of innovation, Dr Iyer explains.

The right tools for the job

For governments to recruit and retain the best workforce to serve their citizens, they first need to provide public servants with the right tools and technology to succeed, Dr Iyer says. The latest integration of generative AI is just one way ServiceNow is doing so. This builds upon its well-established automation platform which allows employees to easily develop workflows that can automate otherwise manual and repeatable tasks.

Dr Iyer explains the process through the perspective of an employee going on a work trip. Oftentimes, the approval process for these trips can be cumbersome and lengthy. Employees may need to get approval from their supervisor, who will then need to run it up the flagpole. Additionally, they will also need to coordinate with finance departments to get travel expenses approved.

With ServiceNow, employees can create an automated workflow that streamlines the process such that when a request is submitted, it is automatically sent across to the numerous stakeholders involved. This eliminates the need for numerous emails, improving both efficiency and the employee experience, Dr Iyer says.

For example, ServiceNow has supported the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) in Canberra, Australia, improve its ICT procurement processes. The state’s BuyICT platform built on ServiceNow Customer Service Management allows public servants to do away with the manual process of submitting quotes via email, the need for handwritten signatures and storage of physical records.

Rather, the entire procurement process can now be done via BuyICT.

“Sellers can now submit quotes in minutes without guidance or instruction. We are seeing the same phenomenon with buyers, who are now receiving responses to complex quote requests within a day or two. That could have taken weeks in the past,” explains Anthony Conway, Product Manager and Director, Sourcing Platforms at DTA.

Creating a unified experience for citizens

Citizens too expect a unified experience when it comes to government services. An expectant mother may need access to healthcare services, hospital grants, and learn about the childcare options available to her.  But when government systems are built in silos, citizens like her will need to approach the individual agencies responsible for grants, healthcare and education to obtain these services.

“That is not a very intuitive, unified user experience,” Dr Iyer says.

This is where Dr Iyer believes ServiceNow plays a valuable role. “We sit as this engagement layer on top of systems, providing that consistent, modern look and feel experience for citizens on a mobile application – everything that we all as consumers are used to having on our cell phones,” he says.

ServiceNow has, for instance, digitalised citizen services in the city of Santa Monica, USA. In the past, when citizens submitted a request to fix a pothole, the public works department would first have to close the request before manually creating a new request on a different system. This meant that citizens would not receive any feedback on whether the issue was resolved.

The city partnered with ServiceNow for an IT Service Management solution that eventually culminated in a new app being built that streamlines citizen interaction with city agencies. Today, the app is able to not just handle requests from citizens, but it also serves as a one-stop shop for updates on events in the city and a knowledge base of information.

Find out how ServiceNow can help your agency do more with less at our upcoming event. Do note that this is a closed-door event and all registrations are subject to the approval of ServiceNow and GovInsider.