Employee Spotlight: Tanner Kibler
Updated: Oct 22, 2020
We recently sat down with—and approximately 6 feet away from—Tanner Kibler, our #ServiceNow integrations expert (and 2019 winner of Best Demo) to discuss his upcoming Knowledge 2020 presentation, “ServiceNow Integrations: From Console to Cloud”.
What is "Console to Cloud"?
Tanner: "Console to Cloud" is our snazzy way of saying 'anything other than cloud to cloud'. Any client that can talk to ServiceNow and is executing on a local machine would fall under this banner. Clients include:
Computer to cloud: A mid server application receives a file and pushes the file to ServiceNow with custom modifications.
Scanner to cloud: An inventory manager can scan a barcode that auto-imports an asset into ServiceNow.
Enhanced call button: A hospital patient can press a button with direct API integration in ServiceNow.
Why does this topic deserve airtime? What makes it a critical conversation?
The serious answer to this question is: "There are real world business scenarios that require a custom client to be written. For the mid server application, modifications of the file ensured that ServiceNow could process and store the data. There’s a right way to prepare for this kind of integration, and there’s a less-right way. One path will get you to your mark almost every time; the other path will lead you down a scary, dark alley."
The more personal answer to this question is: "Because I think it's fun! There is something to be said for getting down to the nitty-gritty and making something low-level, where you have ultimate control in defining what happens ‘next’. I go on a code bender a few times a year to brush up on a language I don't get to use frequently."
ServiceNow was founded as Glidesoft, Inc. in 2003 as an IT service management platform, and had it’s first “cash flow positive” year in 2007. Since then, it has risen to become one of the most successful enterprise work platforms with a renewal rate of 98%. What is your experience like on the ServiceNow platform?
I've worked on nearly every facet of the platform. I started working with an insurance company and we implemented the core platform with ITSM (incident, problem, change, request), ITOM (discovery, event management & integrations), Legal case management, Service Portal, and HR Case management.
Once I transitioned to Cerna, I expanded my experience with the applications above and then rounded out my experience to cover the full platform, including custom applications, GRC, with a bit of security dabbled in.
My favorite application is … actually no, I don’t have a favorite. They’re all my family.
In your presentation, you identify language considerations that should be discussed before developing an application on ServiceNow. How many coding languages do you know?
That’s a lot of languages! What language would you say is your favorite to work with?
My favorite is very much C. Not C++, not C#, but C. The C programming language:
Is incredibly fun for me to work at the low level that it offers;
Can be compiled to run on any platform;
Can be made as efficient or inefficient as your skill allows;
Makes you think about the code you write in every other language differently;
What language do you think is the most useful?
Tell us about a recent experience taking a ServiceNow client from Console to Cloud. What was the experience like?
I was thinking about how cool it would be if the Facility team could simply scan a barcode on something and auto-log an incident against that thing. AC unit down? Boom! Scan it! Automatically open an incident. Done working on it? Boom! Scan it! Automatically close the incident. So, in my free time, I created exactly this: a 'scanning' application. It does a few things:
It watches a certain folder location for the existence of specific files.
Once a file of interest is detected, it is prepared for data import (e.g., data is added, modified, or removed).
Once processed, it is uploaded to a record in ServiceNow and other configurable actions are performed.
It can be run in 'Scanner' mode, which allows you to sync up to a record in ServiceNow and use a barcode scanner to easily import and transform data.
It can be used to create incidents from the client.
What do you call this client?
That’s easy! The Tanner Scanner.
That is awesome. ServiceNow has shown time and time again the value of automation, especially as they expand the platform’s capabilities across both desktop and mobile devices. What did you learn from that integration?
I learned to tackle one piece of functionality at a time because I approached it in such a way that I wanted it to do everything. However, I’ve learned that it’s better if it does one thing very well. It’s easier to maintain a singularly-focused application.
In your presentation at Knowledge 2020, you will share some of the considerations that ServiceNow developers should discuss before undertaking a project or integration. How do you know a custom integration is needed?
First, I research the possibilities within ServiceNow to see if an out-of-the-box solution exists. If a pre-built solution does not exist, I look in the store for an application that contains the desired functionality. If a solution is unavailable, or the cost of the store application is too steep, it’s time to create a custom application.
There are boundless ways of integrating within ServiceNow, and each of them has their own time frame and difficulty. What would you say is the hardest part?
Integrations require careful planning and execution, and these are no different. This can be made easier or harder depending on your choice of language and skill set.
If there was one 'hardest' part relevant to all client to cloud projects, it would have to be the planning and startup of the project. I'm not an advocate for the waterfall methodology, but more planning upfront for these types of projects will only serve you well.
Planning for a project on ServiceNow is truly the most important phase of development. Which is one of the many reasons why organizations choose Cerna to assist them across all facets of the platform.
Thanks, Tanner for taking the time to answer our questions! We look forward to your upcoming presentation that will dive even deeper into “ServiceNow Integrations: From Console to Cloud.” If you haven’t already, be sure to register for the Digital Knowledge experience, launching next week on May 5th.