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ServiceNow will acquire AI startup Element AI

ServiceNow's acquisition of an AI startup based in Montreal marks the latest move by the cloud computing giant to add more automation and intelligence to its platform.

ServiceNow will acquire AI startup Element AI. The deal, expected to be completed in early 2021, aims to bring more automation and intelligence to the big cloud computing vendor's workflow platform.

Founded in 2016, Element AI sells products for intelligent document processing that enable users to employ machine learning to gather information from data sets and documents and automate the filling out of paperwork.

"The Element AI acquisition gives ServiceNow a significant and experienced [AI and machine learning] development workforce, as well as advanced software for various capabilities such as language processing to add its development portfolio," said Dave Schubmehl, research director for cognitive/artificial intelligent systems and content analytics at IDC.

The Montreal-based vendor also offers a suite of APIs for AI-based tasks, including visual anomaly detection, optical character recognition, forecasting, text extracting and AI explainability.

ServiceNow is expected to incorporate Element AI's automation technology into its own products, which have steadily gained more intelligent capabilities.

ServiceNow could integrate Element AI's AI and machine learning technology into ServiceNow's flagship Now Platform, Schubmehl said.

ServiceNow virtual agent
ServiceNow's acquisition of Element AI could help it advance its AI technology, including its conversational agents.

Element AI's development team, meanwhile, could assist with that while also doing research and development on future AI components ServiceNow will build out over the next several years, he continued.

In a Nov. 30 statement on the acquisition, ServiceNow, based in Santa Clara, Calif., also noted it will create an AI Innovation Hub in Canada to focus on AI innovation in its Now Platform.

The acquisition terms were not disclosed, but business information aggregator Crunchbase lists Element AI's total funding at $257.5 million.

This marks the fourth acquisition by ServiceNow in 2020, following ServiceNow's purchases of AIOps vendor Loom Systems, conversational AI startup Passage AI, and IT operations management and DevOps vendor Sweagle.

"ServiceNow has identified [AI and machine learning] as a key differentiator for its software offering and is using targeted acquisitions as a way to add expertise and preexisting [AI and machine learning] software components for use by their development team," Schubmehl said.

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