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ServiceNow Kingston troubleshoots IT tasks with AI, machine learning

ServiceNow has seasoned its core platform with AI and machine learning technologies in the hope that it will automatically route technical problems to IT professionals best equipped to handle them.

The Agent Intelligence contained in the latest release, code named ServiceNow Kingston, is a supervised machine learning application designed to reduce the manual processing of help desk requests, and thus reduce IT help desk backlogs that face many shops today. The debut of the DxContinuum technology ServiceNow acquired in 2017, identifies and examines benchmarks within the IT infrastructure and predicts trends and events based on data collected through operational intelligence tools.

The development of ServiceNow Kingston’s AI and machine learning technologies was guided by research the company conducted among users. Above all else, the majority of them want assistance with everyday IT tasks, according to Allan Leinwand, ServiceNow’s CTO.

“We learned many users don’t have the in-house talent, such as data scientists or others fully indoctrinated in AI, to apply it,” he said. “They don’t want to have to learn machine learning in Amazon or Microsoft’s public clouds. They want to use it in a way that’s practical for them.”

However, to ensure the new technologies deliver accurate results, users must have at least 50,000 incidents or pieces of data, which means the product is best suited for midrange and larger IT shops.

Allan Leinwand, ServiceNow CTOAllan Leinwand

“We found that figure to be the tipping point where they can get a high degree of accuracy, and get the most out of the system,” Leinwand said.

To illustrate how incident categorization, prioritization and routing capabilities work, Leinwand described a manufacturer of aircraft engines that develops a customized application that contains thousands of pieces of data to track and measure various performance metrics of engines.

To ensure the new AI and machine learning technologies deliver accurate results, users must have at least 50,000 incidents or pieces of data, which means the product is better suited for midrange and larger IT shops.

“Through the ServiceNow platform, users can look at the table of information called aircraft engine performance, look at the column listing the number of hours in flight and generate back a prediction about the number of hours of flight time left before it needs to go into service,” Leinwand said.

Another addition to ServiceNow Kingston is Flow Designer, drag-and-drop software that lets non-programmers assemble process flows for projects. The software works in concert with the company’s existing Workflow editor and across ServiceNow’s product portfolio, as well as users’ third-party applications. Another addition to ServiceNow Kingston is the Integration Hub, which orchestrates the interaction between Flow Designer and a range of third-party products.

Leinwand said users “can put together a workflow on our platform that will send a notification out to Slack or a group within Microsoft Teams, and the Integration Hub will integrate a workflow with those of third parties.”

Through the testing process, ServiceNow discovered that the new technologies are applicable to more markets than originally estimated. For instance, consumer electronics companies with defective products in the field must route problems to appropriate technicians, and then notify potentially hundreds of thousands of users about how they should handle a recall or delivery of in-the-field fixes.

Technology is changing the world ‘and schools must change too’

Governments and schools need to change the way children are taught as technology creates more learning opportunities outside the classroom, the Vice-President of Education at Microsoft has said.

Anthony Salcito (above), who oversees the worldwide execution of the company’s vision for education, added that the world will need “amazing teachers” who can guide students’ learning inside and outside schools, as more content and information becomes easier to access and share online.

Salcito was speaking on the first day of Bett, the London education conference that also featured speeches from Anne Milton MP, the Minister of State for Skills and Apprenticeships, and Ian Fordham, Director of Education at Microsoft, as well as chief executives of edtech companies and teachers.

“The way we think of students and the way they see themselves and their place in the world is fundamentally different,” Salcito said. “We often describe these students as ‘phygital’ – they don’t see the difference between the physical world and the digital world. They want to create, make and use digital tools in new ways

The Microsoft stand at Bett
Microsoft had a large stand at Bett

“The way students learn, share ideas, get access to content, create and collaborate is fundamentally different. Their mindsets are different, and the workplaces we are preparing them for are different, so we have to recognise there has been a lot of change. What we’ve now got to do at a system level, the institution level, is not only embrace that change but use it in a purposeful way to drive a different dynamic in classrooms.”

Speaking about new ways of working, Salcito pointed to Microsoft’s recent announcement of a cutting-edge mixed-reality partnership with British education company Pearson, which will see pupils and nurses learn by interacting with holograms.

In her speech opening Bett at the ExCeL, Milton pointed out that while the UK is at the “forefront” of edtech, many of the “best and brightest” companies were struggling to recruit the digital talent they needed. Technology can be used to make education more accessible and inclusive, she said, including using cloud services to allow teachers and students to share work.

“We need to make sure the enthusiasm that students have for digital skills and learning continues into the workplace,” Milton added.

Anthony Salcito on stage at Bett
Anthony Salcito on stage at Bett

Last year Microsoft launched a UK-wide digital skills programme that aims to ensure the country remains one of the global leaders in cloud computing, artificial intelligence and other next-generation technologies.

Milton’s view was later echoed by Salcito, who believed technology can “extend learning beyond the classroom” and will shake up the traditional educational model of a teacher standing in front of a class. Pupils will be able to work more closely together, on more projects and occasionally be in control of their own learning while at school.

“Technology is an amazing tool, and one of things it can do, which we have to harness, is the extension of learning beyond the classroom,” Salcito said. “Teachers can spend less time going through content chapter by chapter – chapter one, chapter two, test, chapter three, chapter four, test – and leverage this world of digital content and learning from others, learning by connecting students to work on projects outside the classroom. What does that mean for how people work inside the classroom? It means they can connect students, who can work on problem solving and new projects. They can have flip classrooms where students are in the driving seat.

“The size of the learning world for teachers has got bigger. They can influence a school student in the classroom but really guide their learning journey outside it, so we need amazing teachers now more than ever before.”

Learn more about Microsoft’s Digital Skills Programme

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