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Unpacking the power of app development in ServiceNow

Your Host:

Sean Dawson

Our Guest:

Gregg Aldana

Special guest Gregg Aldana from ServiceNow joins Sean Dawson as they delve into the ever-evolving landscape of App Development on the ServiceNow platform. In this engaging episode, Gregg answers burning questions like "Why choose ServiceNow for app development?" and "How can you avoid app sprawl?" As a bonus, they'll also give you a glimpse into the future with upcoming changes in Generative AI and debunk the common myth surrounding “build vs buy.” Whether you're an experienced developer or just curious about ServiceNow's capabilities, this episode is packed with invaluable insights you won't want to miss.

Use our Cask Create App Assessor to find out how complex your use case is and how quickly you can get to business outcomes.

Sean Dawson: Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Cask Distillery Podcast, where we really unlock the potential of ServiceNow with expert insights and practical strategies, only here on the Cask Distillery Podcast. I’m your host, Sean Dawson, client architect here at Cask. And with me, I’ve got Gregg Aldana. And Gregg is the global area vice president for a creative workflow solutions consulting organization at ServiceNow, where he manages a global team of more than 60 solutions consultants who help customers to realize their digital transformation aspirations by solutions to impactful low-code solutions with ServiceNow SAP Engine.

He has been with ServiceNow for about six and a half years, although he has been in the application development space for over 25 years. Gregg describes himself—and this is my favorite part—as a baseball-loving, vinyl-collecting, rock-and-roll exec who gets to use his passion for storytelling at ServiceNow. And, wow, look at that background. Gregg, thanks for joining me.

I mean, we could do a whole episode, I think, on your on your shelves and going . . . 

Gregg Aldana: Maybe we’ll do that on the next episode, Sean. I could take you on a little bit of a tour through the museum.

Sean Dawson: Do a little office shelf roadshow, you know—like Antiques Roadshow, but your shelves. It looks awesome, man. Love it.

Gregg Aldana: Thanks, man. Well, you know, I think I mentioned to you in the past, right? What’s the edict? Whoever has the most toys when they die when? Well I’m way ahead of all of you. 

Sean Dawson: Yeah, you certainly are, man. There’s a lot to talk about on there, but let’s get into the App Engine. And what I wanted to do is talk a little bit first about ServiceNow with its roots in IT. Because a lot of people in—our listeners, viewers, however, are watching this or consuming this—you know, everybody knows ServiceNow for IT. But why should customers trust ServiceNow for their app development, thinking about App Engine? And what do you have to say about that? 

Gregg Aldana: Sure. Well, thanks for having me, Sean. I really do appreciate being here. This is my favorite topic to talk about. And I could probably talk about it for hours. Yeah. No, I mean, I think, you know, when most people hear ServiceNow, I think, even when I told my friends and family, “I’m going to work for ServiceNow,” they’re like, “Why are you going to work for ServiceNow? You’re a developer. And isn’t that the ticketing company? The IT help desk company?” And what I don’t think a lot of people realize is that ServiceNow was not originally created or designed as an IT help desk platform or an IT service management platform, even though that’s what we’re very famous for and what we’re known as. 

You know, the original vision for when Fred Luddy, the founder of ServiceNow, created ServiceNow back in 2004, I mean, this was a direct quote of his: “I want to create a platform that will enable regular people, you know, people in the mailroom, you know, not the developers, to be able to create meaningful apps to move work around a company.” That sounds a lot like low-code citizen development to me. And this was back, you know, what, like, almost 20 years ago, it’ll be next year.

And so ServiceNow was originally envisioned as a low-code, high-productivity app dev workflow platform. And literally, ITSM was just the first low-code app that was actually built on our platform. 

But you ask a great question, Shawn: “Why should I use ServiceNow to develop apps?” There’s hundreds of platforms out there and tools. Oh my God. It seems like every day there’s more and more. And I think that our roots in IT service management, and IT asset management, IT operational management, we are the market leaders in managing your IT, right? That’s exactly why we are the best choice to develop applications on our platform. Because not only do we give you the great tools that everybody has to build applications and workflows in integrations and all that good stuff, but we actually give you the technology and the paradigm to manage that.

So you’re not just building applications and servers. Now you’re managing the building. You’re managing the paradigm so that you can manage the governance behind it. The ideation. What I should be building. And then, once I build an application, I can manage it as an asset the way I manage all of my other IT on ServiceNow. So, I think that’s really what separates us out and makes us one of the most powerful platforms in the industry to actually build a manager application development on.

Sean Dawson: That totally makes sense. I don’t know why it kind of came up a pyramid. You know, we’re building the foundation, and ServiceNow has got all the layers all the way up to the management and visibility to the C-suite on what’s going on. I love that analogy. That’s cool. 

Yeah. So when, you know, when you say app development, I feel like someone might think, you know, small, single application for a specific niche or purpose. But, you know, we know that this could be enterprise, where ServiceNow comes in with App Engine to transform large processes and large procedures. Can you elaborate on that in the simplicity but also yet the complexity, I guess?

Gregg Aldana: I mean, absolutely. And that’s kind of a good way to kind of couch it, Sean, because I see very simple things that maybe citizen developers build on our platform, a simple request form app. Hey, you know, whatever. I’m trying to have people sign up for an event, and it’s a very simple app. And I send out a form, and people sign up, and that’s it, you know. Maybe only list for a couple of weeks when the event’s over. 

And so we see things at that end of the spectrum where people are building very simple applications, but yet we see things all the way on the other end where we see governments creating financial crime investigation systems on our platform.

I saw this in the US government, when they were building applications to go and manage and investigate all the fraud that took place when the TARP funds were giving out. And there were bankers that—there was about that $11 billion that was recovered, and hundreds of bankers went to jail. And they used ServiceNow to actually build the custom application to manage the investigations as a case. And then, all the integrations in the workflows and the collection of evidence. So it was a very, very sophisticated system. 

I’ve seen technology companies who are actually taking in data feeds from record companies every week using our integration hub and our automation engine technology to consolidate all of that information and then route it around their company for people to approve the lyrics and the the icons and all the attributes of this music and then publish it into their mobile store for people to purchase it. So a mission-critical revenue-generating business process that they’re using ServiceNow App Engine to manage. 

But all kinds of things—not just, like, back-office or, you know, very technical things—but I’m seeing a lot of front-facing forward, you know, almost humanitarian-type missions. Probably one of the largest creative workflows and App Engine customers that I’ve seen globally at ServiceNow is the US State Department. I mean, you know, they’ve spoken at our Knowledge conference a bunch of times. And, I mean, just literally using ServiceNow’s App Engine to automate every service you can imagine that a diplomat uses with it within an embassy. 

I’ll give you a really great example of the importance, maybe not necessarily the complexity, but a large application when the US had to evacuate Afghanistan a couple of years ago. Also, those pictures on the airport of people, and we got at the airport trying to get out. Well, they got notification about 10 days prior to that: “Okay, we’re pulling out. You’re going to get inundated with repatriation requests. You better come up with a system to automate this, and the acceptance of this.” And what do they use? They use ServiceNow’s App Engine, and in under a week, they built a public-facing application to accept these requests for repatriations, and they built an internal workflow to evaluate them. And they’ve been using this for a couple of years now to repatriate about 70,000 refugees back from Afghanistan back to the United States. 

So we’re seeing this across the spectrum: very simple kind of back-end clerical event management type things, very, you know, very mission-critical investigations that are, you know, the workflow has to be upheld in court. And yet we’re seeing it all the way to, you know, very humanitarian, public things of getting, you know, refugees from one country to another. So we’re just really seeing the spectrum and a lot of variety in the types of applications people are using App Engine to build.

Sean Dawson: Awesome. I mean, there’s such a big breadth of, really, stuff that you’re sharing with there. And it makes me also think about, you know, we see clients that have challenges with maintaining apps from a governance perspective. When you think small and large, I started thinking, “How are we managing that?” So, what advice would you give to those customers struggling with governance or even approaching it?

Gregg Aldana: Well, I’m glad you asked that question, because I kind of run into that on a weekly basis.

So, I mean, there’s, you know, I do a lot of traveling for ServiceNow, and I probably meet with about, I don’t know, like 200, 250 CIOs and business leaders and tech leaders, you know, every year. And every week, I’m hearing about this, you know, “Greg, this sounds great. I’ve heard this promise before. You know, every few years in technology, there’s a new platform and a new tool that’s going to change all of our lives, get stuff really fast. And, look, we’ll get through it. We’ll get to it in a little bit.” 

But with the introduction of gen AI into this, you know, the opportunity to build lots more stuff than sprawl is going to even get accelerated on a scale that we’ve never even seen before. So you’ve got to have some governance, and you’ve got to have some guardrails and get your head around this so that you don’t make the mistakes of the past.

You know, nobody wants another Lotus Notes, where we have thousands of Lotus Notes sprawled throughout the company—we don’t know what they do. Or SharePoint Hell where every—you know—every department’s got, you know, dozens of SharePoint sites, and we don’t know what they do. 

So, my best advice to a customer in this is that you’ve got to have some gates, and at the front end of it, before you let somebody build something, you’ve got to have a front-end gate that takes care of that ideation, you know.Before, you know, you let somebody just go off and build something with a tool, you want to make sure you know what they’re building, you know, from both a business and a technology standpoint. So, ServiceNow, you know, we have our own low-code citizen developer program. You know, we drink our own champagne, we practice what we preach. I’m a part of this program. But before we let anybody build something with App Engine or low-code tools, we just make sure—little checking, it can be done in a few minutes, maybe a few hours—one, does the business want this being built? Two, technically, is it possible? And then, three, does it exist elsewhere? Let’s check our CMDB (our configuration management database). Let’s see if this exists somewhere else in the organization, because we don’t want to take on technical debt. 

I’ll be very honest with you: I’ve tried to submit ideas into this program. “Hey, I got a really cool creative workflows mobile app I want to build.” And I’ve been told, “No, no, Gregg, we already—thanks, but no thanks. We have applications at the company that already do that.” And at the end of it, it’s really good governance. They don’t want me creating more technical debt. 

But then we do another check at the end—it’s very important for our customers that are worried about sprawl and quality and having too many apps—is that, before the app goes into production, we do a check. You know, we do a little bit of a health scan, some automated tests. We do a configuration review. We do a tech review. So that we make sure that the application is of a certain quality before it goes into production. And this way, if the developer leaves tomorrow, does it matter? It’s been documented what the app does. We’ve run it through some tests, so we know it’s not going to fail. We’re not just taking on debt for central IT to manage. And now it can go into production where you can monitor the business usage. “Hey, you said a thousand people were going to use this on the front end.” “Hey, only 10 people are using it,” or the opposite, maybe, “10,000 people are using, and we’re getting more value out of it.” But you can start to get a sense of that. And since it’s on ServiceNow, we can register it as an asset, and we can register it as a configuration item in our CMDB where you start to manage the app as an asset: Who’s using it? What’s the configuration? And if no one’s using it, let’s free up the licenses. Let’s retire it.

And so these are the ways that, you know, I recommend and ServiceNow is recommending you take a look at the sprawl and the governance. So, you do some checks on the beginning for the ideation to make sure you’re not accruing more debt. And then you make sure you monitor production. You manage it as an asset so that you can retire it, so you don’t wind up 10 years from now with a bunch of App Engine apps sprawled throughout your company.

These are the two major ways that ServiceNow is really helping customers avoid that sprawl and avoid the lack of governance so that you can run a report and know instantly what people are building. And I don’t want to mention any other competitive platforms. That’s not the case with some other platforms. I have access to some of these other platforms where I can build apps that my CIO never knows about. That’s not a good thing. So, yeah.

Sean Dawson: Yeah, true. So many good nuggets in there, Gregg. Thank you. Yeah. So you had mentioned this earlier, but from a perspective at ServiceNow, how do you see gen AI evolving the SDLC and the application development lifecycle? Where do you see that going?

Gregg Aldana: You know, I see taking things beyond anybody’s imagination. And I’m really, really optimistic. As somebody who has been building applications since I was in third grade, and I went to computer camp, and I built a, you know, a simple application to manage my baseball card collection—you know, you see, every few years, we get more and more productive with what we can automate at the pace for which we can automate and the ideations of what we can do by making it much easier to write very sophisticated systems.

And so I think a lot of developers are initially scared, like, “Oh my God, gen AI, text to code—it’s going to replace me. You won’t need a professional developer!” See? But I look at it as just the opposite. It’s going to give me, as a professional developer, the ability to build sophisticated systems in the amount of time that we couldn’t even imagine before because it’s going to speed up the pace of this.

And so I had to explain this to a customer a few weeks ago. And, you know, we’re in there, we’re pitching, we’re talking about different things. And she was like, you know, “Time out,” like, “I’m a business person. I don’t even know what you mean by this. This gen AI. Can you break it down for me?” I said, “Sure.” 

So let’s talk about a function called “text to code,” where we’re, you know, we’re going to come to market now, and we’re going to—when you go to write code on the ServiceNow platform in a code prompt here—we’re going to make suggestions. You can write natural language, and also we will generate the code for you. Now, normally, if you were new to programing or even if you were an expert and you wanted to write code, you’d probably go to a code library you had developed, or you have snippets, or you’d go to a forum where you’d look up, “Hey, has anybody ever written a routine that does this?” Or maybe you’d send it around an internal channel with other developers, “Hey, I’m trying to do this. Does anybody know how to do that?” Gen AI accelerates that, which could take a couple of hours or a couple of days or a couple of weeks, and it has it done in a couple of milliseconds. It will search all the code that’s ever been written, and it will do it like that. Give you the best code. 

So, another big difference between ServiceNow’s approach to gen AI I that I think is really important for all the people out there to really understand is that, you know, there’s open models or general purpose—a large language models like OpenAI and Microsoft Azure—that are trained on all the data that’s ever been out there and the ecosystem. Now we’re taking a different approach. We’re developing our own—a large language learning models—that are based on the data that we’ve curated, that has been done on our instance. So our text to code looks at the code that we’ve written and that we think in our coding standards. 

And so we’ve even done some head-to-head comparisons. Before we rolled out text to code, we actually let our developers internally take it for a drive, and they did them head-to-head comparisons with OpenAI in our text to code. Our recommendation is we’re about 45% more accurate. And if you think about it, that makes sense, right? OpenAI’s trained on all the code that’s ever been written. There’s a lot of bad code out there. You don’t want to follow those best practices. Ours has been, you know, at a much higher standard. 

But we polled our developers initially, and we asked them, “How productive do you think you’re going to be using text to code?” And they thought maybe 10 to 20% effective. They’re like, “I’m still gonna have to rewrite it. I’m not just going to take the recommendations that come from this code generator.” At the end of this, they were about 50 to 70% more productive because the code recommendations were really good. Even our developer’s like, “Damn, this is really good. This is a nice, useful tool.” 

So kind of where I see this all going is that it’s going to allow the most productive and sophisticated developers to be that much more productive. They can build very sophisticated solutions very, very fast—not just writing the best code, but then using functions that we have coming out like text to process and text to app and text to flow to net, which always have the best business processes for doing this. You want to do a credit card fraud investigation process? Well, let’s run it through ServiceNow’s gen AI and see how many times that’s ever been done on the ServiceNow platform. And we can give you the best way to manage that process, then give you the best way to create the subworkflows of how to route that information and then give you—if you have to write any code—we’ll give you the absolute best code to actually do that. 

And we’re going to take all of this and put this all together—text to code and text to flow and text to UI and text to process—and package it up to something called text to app. Where now the promise of true citizen development, and somebody like my mother, who doesn’t know anything about application development, can go into a prompt now and say, “Hey, I want to create an app that does X, Y, or Z” with some simple, very human language questions, be able to create a very sophisticated app very quickly. 

So things are changing, and I don’t think it’s going to take the place of people. I think it’s going to make people that much more productive. and they’re going to be, like, society is going to be moving in a very different motion so that maybe in four or five years you’re going to come to work, and you’re going to be expected to automate your job, not just do your job. That’s not the central IT developer job. Using AI is going to make it much easier and less training required to be able to do that automation that’s required. 

And I always remember this quote from Steve Jobs that he talked about. Like, they did a study of all the fastest animals on earth, and I think human beings were, like, 14. I think that, you know, the condor was up there, you know, using their natural abilities. But they did something very interesting in the study. They’re like, “What’s—let’s measure how fast a human being could be on a bicycle.” And then it became the fastest human being on earth—became the fastest animal. So with these tools, they actually enhance and make people that much more productive. And gen AI now is taking all the existing tools out there and going to make human beings developers way more productive than they’ve ever been in the history of, you know, anything.

Sean Dawson: Yeah, that’s amazing. We’re starting to see in—what I’ve used it—an analogy that it’s an assistant. It gets us to something quicker. Just know how to manage it, know how to model it, figure out what it is, and use it to your advantage. It’s not something to be afraid of—it’s something to help you be—you use the term “more productive,” and I love that, is—being more productive. And I’m getting rid of some of the learning gaps and stuff, and I can learn from what this is doing and build it from there. I love it.

Gregg Aldana: Yeah, yeah. No, it’s a very exciting time, and I couldn’t be more—I’m like a kid in a candy star. This is great. So . . .

Sean Dawson: Yeah, and your excitement shows. It’s awesome. 

So, a lot of—the next thing I want to get into is, it seems like a lot of people know ServiceNow for verticals and domain-specific products. It really seems like there’s less awareness about App Engine capability. It’s still really untapped. And I wanted to see if you could talk about, you know, the road map for creative workflows in App Engine and where it’s going. I know that we’ve got—you know, there’s different webinars, and sometimes people get exposed to this and don’t, and our listeners and viewers might not know. So, I don’t give you the platform to talk about the stuff that’s exciting you and ServiceNow and what’s coming down the line. 

Gregg Aldana: Yeah, I mean, I think some of this has to do with some of the myths that are out there. And I—and part of what I do is I do a lot of myth busting when I go out there, and, you know, like, you know, a lot of times it’s, well, I have to make a decision whether or not I want to buy versus build. That’s usually a very big decision. CIOs and business leaders, they all either buy it or build it.

And I always like to quote one of our customers, Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) or the New York Stock Exchange. You know, they always said very distinctly, like with ServiceNow, “It’s not buy versus build—it’s buy to build.” Or when you buy into ServiceNow, as a technology, you get the best-in-class prebuilt workflow products for IT service management, for customer service management, for human resources, you know, case management. We give you the best tools, prebuilt workflows in all of those areas. But then, we also give you access to our core platform with our App Engine that we’ve used to build those tools. But now, you can use our same App Engine tools to build your own applications. So you get the best of both worlds. 

You know, I think for a long time, there were some really bad best practices on the ServiceNow platform, so people wanted to stay away from building apps because, for instance, you saw it seven years ago. Like now, when you build applications, or you extend any of our core applications, you don’t have to buy an SDK to do it. You can actually use the App Engine, and we do it in something called the scope. 

And so, for all the ServiceNow techies out there watching this list, they all know what scoped apps are right? But maybe for the business person, what the heck is a scoped app? Well, you want to know what a scoped app is. I’ll tell you what a scoped app is. You just literally pick up your iPhone, and you look at all these things right up here. Okay? Those are all scopes, right? Every app on your phone, it doesn’t bring down the whole—don’t crash your phone when you upgrade to the next version of of the Mac OS or the Android OS. Your phone doesn’t get hosed, because each app on your phone is isolated in its own scope where it’s protected, and it can’t bring down the entire phone or the entire instance.

Now, with ServiceNow and App Engine, it’s the same concept. When you do a custom app or you do a customization where you add on to an existing app. I call it personalization. That customization, it’s in its scope, so it’s protected so it doesn’t bring it down. And so now, people are starting to learn this, that, “Wow, with ServiceNow, I actually get both! I get the ability to buy prepackaged workflows, but yet I get the ability to build my own custom workflows!” 

Because the one thing that I will challenge when I hear business leaders say this, “I don’t want to do any customization. No building. Everything out of the box,” my first reaction is really, “Your business is so generic that you can run it with all out-of-the-box workflow products. Wow! That sounds like a business model I could probably replicate pretty easily. Then there’s nothing specific or, you know, or unique about your business.” 

And then the first thing I say, “Well, since you’re doing no customization, I’m going to turn off all the scripting controls on your instance.” “Oh, wait a second! You know, my guys think that. Well, wait, I thought they used it out of the box. What are all these custom scripts they have all over the place?” And then you kind of dig into it. 

But another area that I’ve discovered with CIOs around, you know, that customization versus, you know, buy versus build is that they are doing custom development, and they have customization all over their entire company. Guess where it’s being done? In email inboxes and spreadsheets, right? They’re like, “Why can’t you improve us now?” or “You can’t do it in this product?”

So people are doing all these custom things on a daily basis. They’re just doing them with tools that you have no insight into and that you can’t manage and you can’t scale. And so I think, when we start to see this, and that’s even where a lot of CIOs will start, I know that our CIO, Chris Bedi, when he first came to ServiceNow, those were the first applications in the first customizations that he put into our company service portal. He’s like, “Let me pull the exchange server for all the email alias inboxes where people are sending requests to. Those are going to now be services and custom App Engine services we build into our portal.” 

But kind of moving forward, where we’re really taking things in our roadmap, we see a lot more building on the platform. We see a lot more people starting to standardize this and really take this on and really empower two different groups, you know? Empowering, you know, partners, like, such as Cask and the central IT developers, you know, within IT, the really comprehensive people. And they need very, very professional-grade tools to accelerate their very sophisticated development, you know, source control, routing a lot of text and code in those different areas. But at the same time, we see these citizen developers emerging, you know, the shadow IT developers, they need to be very abstract and need very, very, very simple tools.

So we’re going to be launching two sets of products next year: both a creator studio that is really targeted at that citizen developer who doesn’t know anything about applications and just needs to, you know, really just kind of quickly build an automation or workflow without writing a lot of code, but do that safely within the guardrails. And at the same time, we’re going to be reimagining our classic studio. And our Apogee studio is something called Developer Studio, which brings together all of the most comprehensive tools on the ServiceNow platform to build sophisticated custom apps and put them into one consolidated system called Developer Studio. It’s going to make developers leap. Their hearts are going to go out of their chests and be more productive than they’ve ever been.

And so we’re really making sure that we’re meeting our development community where they are because we really see this peripherating over the next few years with gen AI. You’re going to start to see developers—professional developers—have a much greater demand on them to build sophisticated systems. So they’re going to need more sophisticated tools aided by gen AI, and we are focusing that. That is a super priority of us.

But at the same time, you know, if you believe what Gardner’s saying, 750 million new apps are going to be built over the next three years, which is more apps than have been built in the last 40 years. You can’t hire your way out of this problem. There’s not enough developers. So companies have to open their pool of developers, and they’re going to need these citizen developer-friendly tools.

And you see a lot of these niche players—like the Airtables and the Bubbles and the Unqorks—you know, coming out with all these tools. But they’re not really enterprise grade, and they’re not really scalable. So we see this big opportunity to launch this creative studio where we’re going to start to empower a lot of these line-of-business developers. So they need very low-entry tools or very, you know, very easy to use tools where the barrier of entry is very low, but they still want to do it on a scalable platform like ServiceNow, where it can be governed and managed so the CIO can still see what’s going on. 

So you’re going to start to see ServiceNow really double down on both of these areas. And then, finally, really doubling down on App Engine Management Center, which is our governance tools, to really start to use gen AI to really even help more and more with the governance around what should you be building, how should you be building it, how should you manage the sprawl and start to bring things together? Somebody has an idea to build an app and now start to use generative AI to make suggestions. “Hey, I’ve seen parts of that I’ve built elsewhere. Let me help you do that.” So I think you’re going to see ServiceNow—the innovation coming out over the next 18 months in this company—just blow people’s mind and put to bed once and for all whether or not ServiceNow is an application development platform.

Sean Dawson: Yeah, that—there’s so much there to break down. But I—as you were talking, something that kind of came up in my head was—you know, we talk, you know, really big, but I’m thinking about—what about those smaller customers of ServiceNow and those that we’re working with that are/might find this overwhelming? What would you say to them? 

Like, what if they think, “Gosh, I’m too small to do that?” What? And you kind of started talking about it the way the creator tools and the low-code tools that are geared towards the smaller organizations. But what would you want to share with a—maybe an organization that goes, “Gosh, I’m a two-person, you know? I’ve got me and someone else.” What would you say to them about App Engine and what to be looking at?

Gregg Aldana: I would say that most customers start out very small. I would say a lot of customers usually either start with one of our prepackaged workflows, ITSM usually, or CSM or HRC, and they just start out by maybe extending it, you know, very small, kind of getting in their feet wet, or, you know, just, “Hey, I have got a business need or a business user over here and/or a smaller commercial customer.” They even—in law firms I’ve seen, or some of the biggest proponents of this here, because they have the most limited budgets, they have the limited staff. So they really have to maximize the productivity. They don’t have a lot of room for fluff, and they can’t take a lot of these tools that come off as free, and where they spend exorbitant amount of time trying to automate things.

And so with those smaller companies, I would say, you know, look at the type of things that you’re trying to automate and what it may be a best fit for it. When you start to break down, you know, what ServiceNow is actually good at—and I heard this, you know—and I’ll be a little cheeky with this—a couple of years ago from an ex-CEO, is like, “Well, I get it. Service Salesforce is for sales, but ServiceNow is for work.” And I just thought that was such an apropos way to look at it. It’s true. 

And what is work, really? The majority of the things that happen in an organization that are considered work is, “Hey, can you take a look at this? Can you take a look at this? I need a couple of people to review this.” Those are workflows and approvals and tasks. That’s the core architecture of the ServiceNow platform workflows, request approvals, and tasks. The majority of the work that gets done in business is having people just look at stuff and approve stuff and then actually go ahead and commit stuff. 

And that’s, like, nine out of 10 times what people are using email and spreadsheets. I’ll create a spreadsheet with a list of stuff. People have to look at it and review it, and I’ll email it around like a ping pong ball. Those are all the type of applications that ServiceNow can help automate with. And you do it very, very quickly, and it’s not going to take you days and days and weeks, and you got to go and contract out a big developer to do it. Those are the type of things that can be done very, very rapidly.

So those smaller companies, you don’t have to go and boil the ocean. Set up a giant program. I would say get small—you know, get started with maybe some of the painful things and start to kind of, little by little, build up a groundswell. Well, you know, there’s an evolution to this. 

And, you know, where do you start? You know, I get asked this question from CIOs on a weekly basis. “Great. Where should I get started?” And I’m like, well, listen, you know, people spend about 10 times more on painkillers than they do on vitamins. So, if you want to help people take away the pain, right, more than they want to build muscle, they want to take care of their pain.

So every employee at your company has got stuff that’s painful about their job—every single one, from the CEO all the way down to somebody in the mailroom. If you want to help them and you want to bring them along for the ride and they want to make it so that you’re not just giving them more work to do, take away their pain.

And that’s how you get people to start to buy into this. A lot of the stuff.

Sean Dawson: That’s awesome. You actually addressed the next question and one of the last that I was going to ask you about was how do you actually get started? So, instead of talking about the little tech, you know, what you just described as kind of the stepping stones, find out what people’s pain is and get to the core of it. 

But let’s talk a little bit about, you know, we’ve got Now Learning and things like that. Is there anything you recommend for people to start watching and looking at as far as a ServiceNow resource? How do we actually get started, something that they could take away and go, “Let me go look at this part of ServiceNow’s website or whatever. Any recommendations there?

Gregg Aldana: Yeah, I mean, I would go to right now. You can go on there if you don’t have an account, get a free instance, and you can start building out. There’s tons of free learning paths. You want to learn how to use App Engine Studio. You want to learn how to create a simple request form. You want to learn how to build an integration. We have a spoke designer now. You can start building stuff immediately. You don’t have to wait. 

But if you’d rather have a more guided experience, head on over to We have a list of workshops we have in every major city almost every other week where you come out—where you have partners like Cask working with ServiceNow’s created workflows teams. We take you through a guided classroom experience. You know, we kind of make it fun. We try to build some apps, we build some hackathons, and we give out prizes. And you kind of do it in a group setting. But you don’t have to wait: You can get started immediately and get out there and see all kinds of code samples.

Get on, there’s all kinds of examples of how people have built apps very, very quickly. There’s a huge community out there. And so, I wouldn’t wait a minute. Start with, you know? Go to our public website, you know? Create a workflow. There’s tons of examples out there and short little videos that show you how to build applications.

But I wouldn’t wait. You don’t have to wait to go to your IT helpdesk or get somebody to give you access to this. You can go right now to developer.servicenow to come get an instance, get plugged in, and start showing some people you work with, “Hey, look what I built in my developer instance!” And you will get ServiceNow owners going, “We could use that internally. Why did you bring this on over?” And, you know, you become a big star really, really quickly inside your company.

Sean Dawson: That’s such good advice. It’s basically, “Go, build. Go try it out. Go, go. Wreck it in a PDI, of course.

Gregg Aldana: Yes. Well, exactly. You do it in a stop right environment. 

Sean Dawson: Yeah. Yeah. So I wanted to open up—one last question for you would be—I always like to ask this: Is there anything else you’d like to share with Cask Distillery’s audience on anything that we missed or anything you’d like to close out with?

Gregg Aldana: I would just say that, you know, really, what sets ServiceNow apart in this area, you know, we go back to the original question—“Oh my God, you know, it’s the help desk platform”—is that there’s a lot of low-code players, and there’s a lot of tools out there to build low-code outcomes and to do automation. It can almost get overwhelming at times. Like, “Oh my God, there’s so many choices. I don’t know, I’m just going to go with this one.”

But the biggest mistake that I see people make and CIOs make and leaders make and business leaders make is that they make a big investment in the technology monetarily wise. And so they wind up putting everything into that bucket, whether or not that makes sense or not, you know. ServiceNow’s not always going to be the best answer.

But you know what? We take a very kind of hyperautomation, holistic approach to this, that we want you to use the right solution to solve the right problem. So on the ServiceNow platform, yes, we have low-code apps. We have prepackaged apps. We’ve got RPA to-do bots. We have integrations. We’ve document intelligence. There’s so many different ways that you can automate a problem.

But with ServiceNow, we always make the recommendation to solve the right problem with the right solution so you can get the most out of it. And I think, finally, the biggest thing that sets us apart is that we look at low code as a team sport where most companies kind of look at low-code as just an individual stuff. You know, just, here’s tools to build lots of stuff fast. So, what I mean by team sport, it’s the person building the automation, the low-code developer working with the operational teams to manage it and a paradigm so it doesn’t create spawns. It’s secure, and it’s reliable. 

And let’s not forget about the end user, right? The final person in the team sport, you know? How many apps, Sean, do you get pushed out to your cell phone a week, and you don’t take a three-week training class to learn how to use them, right? Just open them up, and you start using them. So these low-code apps have to be just as user-friendly, just as intuitive. 

And ServiceNow is really a very unique platform—is that we take care of the creators with tools. We take care of the operational teams that have to manage and have to safely scale and deploy it. We take care of the end users because anybody uses ServiceNow—whenever you talk to somebody who has been an end user of ServiceNow, what’s the first reaction? “Love ServiceNow because it just works.” 

So that would be kind of my take away on this here, that my last piece of advice, when you start to think about ServiceNow, look at it very differently. It’s a team sport where I can use the right technologies from this platform to solve the right problems and not waste any time or money.

Sean Dawson: That’s awesome. So, Gregg, thank you so much for taking time out and talking to us today. It’s truly appreciated. We know how busy you are. And one last thing for our audience is just, please, as you’re watching these, like, share, however you’re watching this or consuming this, rate it. It helps the algorithm push this out to more people and to benefit more people.

And the last thing I want to talk about in regards to creator workflows is Cask actually just created something called a Cask Create App Assessor. So it allows us to kind of get an idea, you know, what is the effort going to be for you to do something like this. So we’ll put a link in the show notes for this for you to take a look at this.

And for now, take care. Have a great one. Bye bye.

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We’re with you for what comes next

You're working in a rapidly shifting environment.

Global dynamics, AI advancements, heavy competition–the only certainty is change.

We get it. And we’re here to help you harness the full potential of ServiceNow to simplify transformation.

Let's navigate the future together.

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