Microsoft Teams is a “hugely strategic channel” for ServiceNow MSPs and customers.

Jeffrey Schwartz

September 30, 2020

5 Min Read
Microsoft Teams Group Display and Mobile

The release of Microsoft Teams extensions will let the company’s voice, chat and virtual chatbot interface appear in third-party solutions. Launched at last week’s Microsoft Ignite virtual conference, initially 20 partners plan to surface Teams in their offerings. Among those Microsoft identified include HiVue, ServiceNow, Range, Buncee and PagerDuty.

Matt Schvimmer, a senior VP at ServiceNow, believes the Microsoft Teams extensions are important. As longtime partners, the extensions will appear in ServiceNow’s service management (ITSM) offering. Microsoft Teams features will roll out incrementally in the upcoming ServiceNow update called Paris, set to go live this fall. Schvimmer, who is general manager of ServiceNow’s ITSM business, said Teams integration was a high priority. In an interview with Channel Futures, Schivimmer explains what integrating Teams into ServiceNow ITSM will bring to partners and customers.

Channel Futures: What capability has ServiceNow integrated into Teams?


ServiceNow’s Matt Schvimmer

Matt Schvimmer: There’s the employee interface in Teams that will provide notifications, new approvals and the ability to check on incidents and all those other things on the front end.

CF: When will it be available?

MS: It’s in beta now and the employee interface becomes [generally available] in November. The agent side will go live in January. Every month, we’ve released additional updates. All of our ITSM customers who use Teams can use it. And that gives them an out-of-the-box virtual agent experience for most common use cases.

CF: So those are the chatbots?

MS: Absolutely. It’s the chatbot. It’s the first thing we worked on together with Microsoft with regard to this integration. The next part is the employee experience.

CF: Is this chatbot based on Microsoft’s Bot Framework?

MS: It’s our chatbot, through Teams. It looks like another agent, or another IT service person in Teams. It says “Now,” but a customer can take it and change it to their own brand.

CF: But the chatbot is surfaced through Microsoft Teams?

MS: On the back end, you can set it up in ServiceNow. There are multiple channels that we’re trying to surface from. Teams is one. You may have some customers that come in through a website. Employees may go through an intranet that offers access to an IT support portal. The bot can appear on the portal or it surfaces through Teams.

CF: And now Microsoft Teams is effectively just another channel to expose it?

MS: Teams has been high on our customer request list. Part of our goal has been to meet employees wherever they are — and they’re in Teams. They’re in Teams in droves. We do a product advisory council meeting every year at our user conference in May. At our latest meeting, there were 80 customers. I polled them, and all but one has either deployed or is in the process of deploying Teams. It’s a hugely strategic channel.

CF: Are there other channels that are that high in demand?

MS: No. When you start talking about employee engagement or productivity, it’s really Teams. We do get some Slack as well; we do a lot with Slack actually. And there are some people that roll their own with off-the-shelf components, though that’s far less common.

CF: What about Zoom and Cisco WebEx?

MS: We have a ton of integration with Zoom already. We’ve also been working with Cisco on …

WebEx integration around the agent collaboration scenario that we’ve done somewhat with Teams. While I’m a big believer in Teams, I am definitely playing the field in terms of, we’re an open platform and try to provide a number of open integrations. Also, our bot can work with Facebook Workplace. And we also have a Twilio integration if you want to use Twilio for conference calling or SMS.

CF: With the Microsoft Teams integration, are you using ServiceNow’s voice interfaces or Microsoft’s Cortana?

MS: We haven’t published voice-based, out-of-box integrations yet. We’ve been working on Cortana and we’ve been working on Lex from AWS too. We don’t have a supported out-of-the-box [voice interface] yet for customers. That’s still in R&D.

CF: Among your customers who use MSPs, do they also have their own service desk, or does the MSP basically provide outsourced ITSM?

MS: We have both here. There are two models. There’s the full outsourcing engagement, where the MSP manages the instance with all of their people. The other is more of where the customer wants to own the ServiceNow instance. And they may use selective sourcing, where they have different service providers, providing different services, all connected to their customer. I see both, honestly.

CF: How are your partners being trained to integrate this and/or Microsoft’s partners? Are you seeing Microsoft partners doing the integration, or is it your partners, or do most have partnerships with both companies?

MS: Our goal is to hit both channels. We’re working with Microsoft right now on how we do the go-to-market enablement. We are a heavy partner company — a large percentage of our business goes through partners. If you look at the global 60 MSPs, just about every one of them is a ServiceNow customer and partner. As part of our enablement, we train our inside sales and our partner sales teams with the same content, so they’re all getting the same information. The expectation is that they’re all able to deploy this. A customer that’s licensed for Teams is licensed for ITSM. They have full entitlement, so it’s really the partner pitching the value to the customer.

CF: What are you working on with Microsoft to further your go-to-market enablement?

MS: Joint content delivery and making sure both our joint sales teams and partner channels are fully enabled with the same material. For us, I want the Microsoft partner community, as they’re demonstrating the value of Teams, using ServiceNow as one of those examples. Teams as a platform is a must-integrate platform. For our partners, especially service providers, they’re measured on employee satisfaction, of the customers they support. They typically will have innovation incentives in their contracts. This gives them the ability to document how they’re adding value, how they’re driving EPS, and how they are driving better productivity of the employees of the customers they contract.

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About the Author(s)

Jeffrey Schwartz

Jeffrey Schwartz has covered the IT industry for nearly three decades, most recently as editor-in-chief of Redmond magazine and executive editor of Redmond Channel Partner. Prior to that, he held various editing and writing roles at CommunicationsWeek, InternetWeek and VARBusiness (now CRN) magazines, among other publications.

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