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ServiceNow acquisition of Passage AI to boost chatbots

ServiceNow will acquire Passage AI, a startup conversational AI vendor, in an effort to further develop existing conversation capabilities in its chatbots.

ServiceNow is acquiring Passage AI, a startup that sells a conversational AI platform, in an apparent bid to bolster the cloud computing vendor's existing conversational AI technology.

Revealed Tuesday, the ServiceNow acquisition of Passage AI, which is expected to be finalized by the end of the first quarter of 2020, will likely build out ServiceNow's conversational capabilities for communication with end users and customers, said David Schubmehl, an IDC analyst.

Schubmehl said he hadn't heard of Passage AI before the acquisition was revealed but understands that "their key IP and capabilities revolve around their deep learning models for supporting conversational interactions in many languages, beyond English."

Conversational AI integration

Founded in 2016 and based in Mountain View, Calif., Passage AI sells a platform for building, training and deploying chatbots and virtual assistants. With a simple interface, API integration, and deep learning models, users can build bots to tackle a variety of use cases, including IT and HR automation, customer experience and real-time support.

The acquisition will enable ServiceNow to expand chatbot support for non-English languages.

Customer service application vendors, including ServiceNow, can develop their own conversational AI technologies if they wanted to, said Ian Jacobs, an analyst at Forrester.

A chatbot

"But conversational AI is, as the name implies, as much about the ability to design meaningful and emotionally engaging conversations as it is about the actual AI," Jacobs said.

"That is where acquisitions like this one really help. ServiceNow not only gets technology; it gets people who have dug deep into what it takes to make conversations seem human-like and know how to design those conversations," Jacobs continued.

The price of the ServiceNow acquisition of Passage AI was not revealed, but according to Crunchbase, Passage AI had slightly more than $10 million in funding.

AIOps acquisition

ServiceNow not only gets technology; it gets people who have dug deep into what it takes to make conversations seem human-like.
Ian JacobsAnalyst, Forrester

The ServiceNow acquisition news comes days after the vendor said it is acquiring Loom Systems, an Israel-based AIOps vendor. Loom Systems' technology automatically and continuously reads IT logs to identify and alert users about potential problems, as well as suggest ways to fix them.

With that acquisition, revealed Jan. 22, ServiceNow is aiming to integrate Loom Systems' AI-powered log analytics system into ServiceNow's IT Service Management and IT Operations Management products and services to better predict, prevent and fix IT problems.

The price of the ServiceNow acquisition of Loom Systems also was not disclosed.

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