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At the digital Knowledge 2021 conference, ServiceNow today announced it is extending its reach beyond traditional IT services into the realm of operations technology (OT) with the launch of a suite of service management offerings aimed at the manufacturing sector.

This will be part of a larger effort as the company extends its Now platform into industry sectors where IT services are managed by individuals outside a traditional IT department, ServiceNow GM Achyut Jajoo said. “This is just the beginning of our journey,” he promised.

New toolkit

ServiceNow also announced it is expanding an existing Return to Work initiative by adding to its Workplace Service Delivery platform. This offering provides a Neighborhoods capability that allows members of a team to reserve a physical space in an office. The reservation capability has also been integrated with Microsoft Outlook. And the company added a planning tool to its Safe Workplace Suite for tracking workplace occupancy levels.

Finally, ServiceNow announced it has updated the set of tools it provides to organizations that need to manage the administration of COVID-19 vaccines.

ServiceNow is continuing to expand the reach of a platform that initially focused almost exclusively on IT services management to include everything from employee management to internet of things (IoT) environments. The Now platform will be employed to automate workflow processes in OT environments in much the same way it is employed to increase the efficiency of IT teams today, Jajoo noted.

Shifting landscape

As organizations continue to increase their investments in IoT, in part to drive digital business transformation initiatives, OT and IT management processes are starting to converge. As that line blurs, it’s becoming more common for IT and security professionals to work collaboratively with OT professionals to, for example, secure an IoT environment from ransomware attacks, Jajoo noted. That’s critical because when a manufacturing line goes down, an organization loses revenue, he added.

Data collected by the Now platform will also help organizations optimize the allocation of personnel in manufacturing environments, Jajoo noted. Automation is more critical than ever because pandemic-related restrictions in many areas of the world mean it’s not possible to send a team to physically visit a manufacturing site, he added.

Organizations have over the years employed a wide range of tools to manage OT processes. In some cases, those tools are provided via a packaged application. In others, a custom application has been created that an internal OT or IT team is required to build, deploy, secure, and maintain. ServiceNow is making a case for a software-as-a-service (SaaS) application platform that it will maintain and secure and that can also be extended using low-code tools it provides. Siemens Energy is among the first customers for its OT platform.

It’s not clear to what degree the worlds of IT and OT will converge. But as the level of investment in IoT platforms continues to steadily increase, the OT environment is becoming more complex. The number of platforms connected to applications running outside of a factory floor increases as management teams, for example, apply analytics to streaming data. In fact, there’s almost no part of a modern manufacturing process that isn’t already heavily instrumented. But now individuals across the rest of a business are more likely to appreciate the value of that data.


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