Advanced Computing in the Age of AI|Monday, January 18, 2021
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Workflow Specialist ServiceNow Acquires Element AI 

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Cloud services vendors are striving to add intelligence to their enterprise platforms, including those designed to streamline workflows.

That’s the rationale behind ServiceNow’s acquisition of Montreal-based Element AI, its fourth AI acquisition this year. The buyer said Monday (Nov. 30) it expects to complete the deal for Element AI by early 2021. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The workflow platform specialist (NYSE: NOW) based in Santa Clara, Calif., also said it will establish an AI innovation hub in Canada. It currently operates technology development centers in Chicago, Hyderabad, India, Kirkland, Wash., San Diego and in Silicon Valley.

“Element AI will help ServiceNow deliver workflows that learn more efficiently from smaller datasets, improve the quality of existing AI capabilities like content and language understanding, and expand new capabilities like image recognition and cognitive search,” Jean-Francois Gagné, Element AI’s CEO and co-founder, explained in a blog post.

Integration with ServiceNow’s workflow platform would allow users to “summarize information, make predictions and recommendations, and automate repetitive tasks,” Gagné added.

ServiceNow said Yoshua Bengio, an Element AI co-founder and lead fellow, will join the company as a technical advisor. Bengio was awarded the Association for Computing Machinery’s A.M. Turing Award in 2018 for his work on deep neural networks.

ServiceNow’s acquisition of Element AI is its fourth AI deal this year, following Loom Systems, Passage AI and Sweagle. Israeli-based Loom Systems specialized in AIOps capabilities used to resolve IT issues. Passage AI focused on conversational AI while Sweagle is a configuration data management vendor.

ServiceNow named Vijay Narayanan its chief AI officer in March, then launched a set of AI tools under the brand name, Now Intelligence.

Narayanan said this week’s acquisition of Element AI would further allow ServiceNow’s customers to automate the business workflows to instead concentrate on “unpredictable work.”

ServiceNow and other enterprise workflow specialists continue to add AIOps and other automation capabilities to their cloud-based platforms. Those tools are promoted as embedded AI and analytics capabilities that help users summarize content and conversations. The AI tools underpin predictive analytics and recommendation systems while automating repetitive tasks.

Founded in 2106, Element AI previously helped customers assess their data, technology and software infrastructure to determine how AI workflows and systems could be used to streamline their operations.

ServiceNow’s deal for Element AI is the latest by an established cloud vendor seeking to expand its workflow automation offerings in areas such as AIOps. For example, operations management specialist PagerDuty Inc. (NYSE: PD) recently moved to strengthen its management workflow platform via its acquisition of Rundeck. The deal gave PagerDuty a set automation tools designed to boost developer productivity by quickly resolving workflow incidents.

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

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