COVID\u2019s erosion of informal mechanisms in the workplace has been a boon for enterprise service management (ESM) vendors. For example, if you worked on a large corporate campus pre-pandemic and had an HR question, you could literally wander the halls to find your answer.\n\u201cThat world is gone,\u201d said Charles Betz, principal analyst covering infrastructure and operations at Forrester. \u201cThat\u2019s why enterprise service management vendors have done very well.\u201d\n[ Learn more about the top ITSM tools today and how ITSM is evolving in the digital transformation era. | Get the latest CIO insights direct, with our CIO Daily newsletter. ]\nESM vendors all saw revenue increase last year, according to Betz, as enterprises recognized the need to publish services in service catalogs where employees working from home could find them.\nServiceNow is among the key ESM vendors profiting from this shift: In January it posted its sixth consecutive quarter of year-on-year revenue growth over 30%. The company has also just posted an update to the Now Platform software on which its ESM offering is built.\nThe workflow paradigm\nServiceNow\u2019s Now Platform \u201cQuebec\u201d release builds on last September\u2019s \u201cParis\u201d release, with new tools for process and workforce optimization, and a significant expansion of the development tools for ServiceNow\u2019s low-code platform.\nStephen Elliot, IDC\u2019s program vice president for management software and devops, sees improvements in three areas with this release: allowing enterprises to take advantage of ServiceNow faster; further differentiating ServiceNow\u2019s offering through artificial intelligence and more automation; and a focus on continuous optimization of the way teams work and collaborate.\nThose are all issues of concern for ServiceNow users, he said: \u201cIncreasingly, customers are looking at, \u2018How fast can I learn this? How many people can hop on? How easy is it for me to work with my peer groups?\u2019\u201d\nServiceNow, he said, is looking to increase its role in enterprise automation: \u201cThey really want to be that platform of platforms, the thread to pull all the workflows together.\u201d\nLow code isn\u2019t low risk\nAlthough ServiceNow is making it easier for anyone to begin coding with the Quebec release, enterprises must think carefully before giving just any end-user access to the new tools, warned Forester\u2019s Betz.\n\u201cYou can have the easiest-to-use development tool in the world, but if the person using it is not a logical thinker, bad things are going to ensue,\u201d he said. That means ensuring (low) coders have a clear understanding of the enterprise data model and how the steps in the process they are automating depend on one another.\nBut he also made a case that software development \u2014 whether no-code, low-code, or pro-code \u2014 should no longer be reserved for the IT team, rolled up under a dedicated leader.\nServiceNow\u2019s answer is to add a new category of workflows to the IT, employee (HR), and customer workflows it already supports. The new Creator workflows are intended to support the process of automating other workflows using two new low-code development tools. The first, App Engine Studio, is a visual development environment that guides the creation process, while App Engine Templates are workflow building blocks that already embody some of the necessary logical thinking.\nCoding is increasingly taught with highly visual paradigms, so App Engine Studio will reduce friction for new citizen developers in the enterprise, said Betz.\nHe suggested that CIOs wait for new coders to come forward themselves and let them develop something low-risk that they\u2019re interested in: \u201cThere\u2019s a lot of harmless workflows that are done in spreadsheets or emails. If somebody shows they\u2019ve got an aptitude for it, have them move onto bigger and better things.\u201d\nIf that sounds too freewheeling, then App Engine Templates can provide a way for ServiceNow to respond to a different need: governance.\nCIOs are looking to put guard rails around development tools such as this, to take care of access rights and security, according to IDC\u2019s Elliot. \u201cServiceNow is in an interesting spot,\u201d he said. \u201cThey can put these guard rails in out-of-the-box templates right off the jump for developers or business analysts to write these things.\u201d\nOptimizing processes and productivity\nAutomating processes is all very well, but it doesn\u2019t necessarily speed them up: There can still be bottlenecks. An enterprise might have a process in place for onboarding new employees that takes eight weeks from end to end, and it\u2019s only through investigation and analysis that it can pinpoint security approvals, say, as the main cause of delay.\n\u201cIn the context of a process management framework it\u2019s not necessarily easy to run those kinds of analytics,\u201d said Betz.\nTo respond to that need, ServiceNow has added new visual tools for process optimization and workforce optimization, identifying bottlenecks in workflows and monitoring staff workload and productivity.\nThese are the most revolutionary elements in the Quebec update, according to Betz.\nThe modern knowledge worker has been undermanaged or inappropriately managed, and the lack of visibility into knowledge work remains a problem for many enterprises, he said. The consolidation of workflows on platforms such as Now opens up the possibility of running analytics to identify processes in need of improvement, and where best to make those changes.\n\u201cCompanies say that staff are their greatest asset,\u201d he said, but \u201cto start managing processes as enterprise resources is absolutely spot on here.\u201d\nWith this release, ServiceNow is becoming an ERP-class solution, he said: \u201cIt\u2019s no longer ERP for IT, it\u2019s ERP for knowledge work.\u201d\nCIOs can also make use of these process management tools to ensure software development does not go off the rails, Betz said. Agile teams are often hostile to\u00a0internal shared services such as infrastructure and are reluctant to rely on them, fearing they will take too long. If CIOs can optimize internal shared processes to the point that developers can rely on them, they will be less likely to try to do everything themselves.\n\u201cYou\u2019ve got to be customer-focused because they will just go to Amazon and spin up a dev instance if you don\u2019t produce it for them, and then you\u2019ve got all kinds of security and compliance headaches,\u201d he said.\nThe Quebec software release also includes new UI builder capabilities, Employee workflow tools for HR services, more AI enhancements for predictive AIOps, personalized search, and chatbot creation. It became generally available on March 11.