ServiceNow Acquires Element AI to Boost Technical Expertise

ServiceNow will tap into the two companies' combined capabilities to lead the future of the AI industry.

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Need to Know 

  • IT platform ServiceNow has acquired Montreal-based AI company Element AI.
  • The terms of the deal were not disclosed, however, The Globe and Mail reported Element AI sold for less than $500 million.
  • The IT company plans to tap into Element AI’s capabilities to build “the world’s most intelligent workflow platform.”
  • Both brands have leaned on partnerships to grow in recent years but will now hope to use their combined capabilities to lead the charge within the AI industry.

Analysis

Digital IT workflow platform ServiceNow has announced its acquisition of Canadian artificial intelligence company Element AI. ServiceNow will tap into Element AI’s capabilities to “build the world’s most intelligent workflow platform, enabling employees to work smarter and faster, streamline business decisions, and unlock new levels of productivity.”

“AI technology is evolving rapidly as companies race to digitally transform 20th-century processes and business models,” said ServiceNow chief AI officer Vijay Narayanan. “ServiceNow is leading this once-in-a-generation opportunity to make work, work better for people. With Element AI’s powerful capabilities and world-class talent, ServiceNow will empower employees and customers to focus on areas where only humans excel—creative thinking, customer interactions, and unpredictable work. That’s a smarter way to workflow.”

“Our focus with this acquisition is to gain technical talent and AI capabilities,” said another ServiceNow spokesperson.

Element AI’s original goal was to build AI-based IT services for businesses, which ServiceNow will utilize. ServiceNow also plans to create an AI Innovation Hub to help accelerate customer-focused innovation. It is reported the acquisition came with a price tag of around $500 million

On Element AI’s overall business goals, Element AI’s CEO Jean-Francois Gagné told Digital in 2018, “We’re a startup that goes after a scaled opportunity. So our journey is uncommon and unusual. But our vision has been extremely constant. The goal has always been to provide access to tools that are built and designed around AI.”

Element AI’s Toronto office.

Both brands have been leaning into external partnerships to improve their platforms and expand service offerings. 

In May of this year, ServiceNow partnered with creative software suite Adobe to improve the platform by allowing “brands to focus on personalization and customer service at an entirely new level.” In January of 2020, Element AI’s services were tapped by LG to develop a line of “smart” home appliances.

Since first launching in 2016, Element AI’s business has changed from building AI tech for companies that could not do it themselves to now leading the development of the AI industry. The Montreal-based firm contributed to the rise of AI in Canada and even boasted Yoshua Bengio and Nicolas Chapados as co-founders. Bengio is widely considered one of the founding fathers of modern AI, while Chapados also helped form early understandings of machine learning.

Gagné told Digital that the company wanted “to be a contributor for a smooth transition to a more positive future.” Gagné not only wanted to build AI models for companies but also ensure they came with frameworks that guided sensible and ethical development. ServiceNow’s business goals will likely follow suit following this acquisition. 

ServiceNow CEO Bill McDermott said earlier this year, “Technology is no longer supporting the business, technology is the business.” This move certifies that assumption.

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