ServiceNow and Microsoft are aiming to integrate workflows for functions like IT, HR, facilities and procurement into Microsoft Teams as the companies expand their strategic partnership.
As part of ServiceNow’s Now Platform Rome release, ServiceNow is launching Employee Center, a hub for employees to find information and get help across various departments such as IT, human resources, facilities and legal. The general idea is that employees can save time on mundane tasks, become more productive and possibly avoid burnout.
Under the Microsoft partnership, ServiceNow’s Employee Center will be available as a collaborative app that can be embedded into Teams. Collaborative apps are a set of Teams apps that can be used across chat, channels and meetings. The upshot is that ServiceNow’s workflow engines will be available within Teams.
Microsoft uses “collaborative apps” in Teams to refer to existing business apps that are supplemented by Microsoft’s own communication and collaboration capabilities and that take advantage of the Teams interface. Jared Spataro, corporate vice president of Modern Work at Microsoft, said there are two types of collaborative apps. The first is an existing app that can run within Teams. The second is a net new app that uses Teams.
Spataro said Teams took over as Microsoft Outlook as the company’s most used app during the COVID-19 pandemic. The collaboration with ServiceNow is a starting point to “meet employees where they are in the flow of work.”
If this workflow-meets-messaging and collaboration apps vibe sounds familiar that’s because it is the next enterprise software battleground. As work goes hybrid and automates, workflow engines that operate within collaborative apps (essentially the digital office these days) will be critical. That vision is why Salesforce bought Slack and is now integrating ahead of its Dreamforce conference. It’s also why ServiceNow’s latest releases have heavy dose of automated workflows and integrations with Teams. And it’s why Zoom at Zoomtopia spent a lot of time talking about workflows and how it can integrate with video meetings and collaboration.
Blake McConnell, senior vice president of employee workflow products at ServiceNow, said embedding Employee Center within Teams is designed to improve employee experiences and streamlining tasks. ServiceNow and Microsoft announced a strategic partnership in July 2019 and said they will now increase investments in product, customer success and go-to-market planning. The two companies have been partners for more than a decade.
To date, ServiceNow and Microsoft have more than 30 native integrations across products. ServiceNow has adopted Microsoft Teams and Microsoft is using ServiceNow IT Service Management and Virtual Agent with Teams integration.
McConnell said ServiceNow built Employee Center to be a Microsoft collaborative app in about 6 weeks. The Microsoft partnership is about bringing workflow tools from ServiceNow to employees wherever they are. “Customers are spending pending time in Teams and they should be able to stay in there,” said McConnell.
Spataro said the Employee Center collaborative app for Teams is a first step in an “even deeper relationship between the two companies” as more integrations are planned.