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ServiceNow Vancouver: The top new features you need to know about

Q4 has arrived and with it the second ServiceNow platform release for 2023, Vancouver. We explore what’s new and how you’ll benefit from the changes.

With two large platform upgrades coming to the Now Platform each year, it can be tricky to keep track of all the new features and functionality included in them.

Not to worry, we’ve dug through the release notes for the Vancouver release to bring you the headline changes you need to know about.

What’s new in ServiceNow Vancouver?

As of 20 September 2023, Vancouver has gone into General Availability.

We’ve grouped the key announcements into three sections; automation and artificial intelligence, the inner developer and security first.

Let’s dive in.

Automation and artificial intelligence

Generative AI Controller (Now Assist)

By now, most of us have had a go at opening ChatGPT to find a recipe for our favourite dinner.

But the potential uses of Generative AI go far beyond simply spicing up your spag bol.

ServiceNow has been hard at work to bring the benefits of Generative AI into the Now Platform via an interface into both the Microsoft Azure OpenAI Service and OpenAI API large language models.

This interface is the Generative AI Controller and acts as the foundation for all GenAI functionality on the Now Platform.

This Controller powers Now Assist for Virtual Agent and can be added to any existing business process or workflow to help automate conversations and content for your teams. This means that you’ll be able to:

  • Easily create intelligent conversational experiences in a low-code, drag-and-drop environment with Virtual Agent Designer
  • Allow end users to provide more general answers without having to dig through multiple knowledge base articles
  • Provide direct chat responses in real-time that automatically format to best suit the answer (i.e., as text, video, links, images, or KB articles)
  • Achieve a more personalised, intuitive and relevant self-service experience in Virtual Agent

Note: As of writing, please note that the Generative AI feature is currently in the early access stage.

Watch the video below for an introduction to Now Assist

Task Intelligence

It can be tedious to triage every incident that comes into your Service Desk queue. If that rings true for you, this new application might be exactly what you’re looking for.

Task Intelligence allows you to create, configure, and deploy machine learning solution models to predict incident field information.

By creating a prediction model and training it on your existing data, you can deploy an incident categorisation capability tailored to the way your organisation works.

This means case fields are automatically populated and routed to the right people at the right time – saving your team precious bandwidth and helping you reach a resolution much faster.

Data Discovery

If you use ServiceNow Customer Service Management (CSM) or are a data controller under the GDPR, this new feature might be of interest.

The Data Discovery application enables you to discover Personally Identifiable Information (PII) within your ServiceNow instance and classify, report, or act on the PII.

This makes it much easier for you to identify and protect critical information and then navigate that data via a user-friendly dashboard – offering a centralised place to visualise and explore discovered datasets.

The inner developer

Access Analyser

Have you ever found yourself trying to figure out why a user might not have access to a specific table or record? Well, this new feature is for you.

With the Access Analyser plugin, you can now run reports in real-time to show how specific user Access Control Lists (ACLs) will be calculated on any data point within the ServiceNow platform.

Heaven sent if you ask me.

Geo Point Field Type

Over my career in ServiceNow, I’ve seen many reasons to capture geolocation information on locations or other entities within the platform.

In Vancouver, ServiceNow has now added a geo point field type that allows you to store your latitude and longitude information (or if you’re from the last century, eastings and northings).

With this, ServiceNow has also provided a new API for calculating the distance on a sphere – so no more napkin math using PI for calculating the distance in miles between two points on Earth!

Application Resource Limits

If you’ve been excitedly using all of the new features from recent releases to create scoped apps, you may have created some very resource-hungry applications that are taking a toll on the performance of your instance.

With this new feature, you can limit system resources per scoped application to restrict them from impacting the entire instance.

When an application exceeds its limit, all transactions running in the scoped app are cancelled. This helps keep your instance healthy and available, so things perform as expected and avoid any slowdown.

Security first

Zero Trust Access

Security is top of mind for every organisation nowadays. The almost clockwork nature of data breach news articles and subsequent fines has seen to that.

ServiceNow itself has always said to enforce minimum access to records as best practice – restricting users to the access they need to do a specific task.

If you follow the zero trust access model (as you should), Vancouver now gives you many new ways to limit access to data within the platform – including new geographic-based security and identity provider attributes.

This provides an adaptive layer of security control that helps prevent unauthorised access and data breaches, even when highly privileged users access applications from untrusted devices or locations.

Watch the video below for an overview of how zero trust works in ServiceNow

Federated ID

As a leading ServiceNow partner, we have 10s – if not 100s – of ServiceNow accounts spread across our clients, however, it’s always been a bit tricky to identify a single common user across these instances.

ServiceNow has now added a Federated ID field that allows customers to configure a hash based on username and email address which will be the same across all instances, unlocking further capabilities for automation across clients.

Security Depreciations

As part of Vancouver, ServiceNow has decided to depreciate four older security plugins to harden the platform.

These include:

  • MultiSSO v1
  • SAML 1.1
  • SAML 1.1 Single Sign-On
  • OpenID SSO

So, if you’re currently using any of these plugins and need help migrating, please get in touch.

When’s the next release?

That’s it for the big ServiceNow platform releases of 2023 and we can expect the first release of 2024 to land towards the end of Q1 in March/April time.

Heading into the tail end of the alphabet, the next release will be called Washington.

Ready to upgrade?

ServiceNow upgrades require weeks to plan and implement properly.

With ServiceNow recommending you stay within at least two release cycles, it’s not something that can be put off or avoided either – else you’ll risk falling out of support.

To make life easier, we can help you seamlessly transition to the new release without the faff.

Why not drop us a note today and we’ll ensure a smooth move to Vancouver and ensure you’re getting the very best out of all the new features and functionality.

Key takeaways

  • Vancouver is the second major Now Platform release of 2023.
  • It brings a lot of new features and functionality with it, but there are some key changes around managing access, security, and the integration of generative AI.
  • Now Assist for Virtual Agent will help you deliver intelligent, yet automated, conversations to your users – deflecting cases away from your service desk and offering effective self-service solutions.
  • Vancouver also includes several smaller additions and improvements that will automatically populate key case information and assignment, dramatically accelerating your time to resolution.
  • Vancouver brings several new security improvements that support a zero-trust approach and provide adaptable security based on identity and device data.
By Ashley Giannotti
16th Oct 2023