ServiceNow Buys Passage AI To Boost Bot Language Skills

‘Their deep learning technology, which they use to bring on board a language and understand the intent, was very scalable ... It was a slam dunk for us to bring them on board,’ Debu Chatterjee, senior director, AI Engineering at ServiceNow, tells CRN.


Demand from ServiceNow customers to reach an ever-growing global audience is what drove the IT automation provider to enter an agreement to buy Passage AI, a company that specializes in its software’s ability to learn languages.

“They use deep learning to support lots of languages. They have proven it out in the field. We found the team to be very strong technically,” Debu Chatterjee, senior director, AI Engineering with ServiceNow told CRN. “Their deep learning technology, which they use to bring on board a language and understand the intent, was very scalable. We can use it for supporting lots of languages. It was a slam dunk for us to bring them on board.”

The Mountain View, Calif.–based conversational AI platform company was founded in 2016 by CEO Ravi N. Raj, and chief technology officers Madhu Mathihalli and Mitul Tiwari. The deal is expected to close by the end of the quarter, ServiceNow said. Financial terms of the transaction were not released. ServiceNow stock traded 2 percent higher yesterday afternoon, up 6.23 points to $313.86.

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Passage AI’s conversational platform is built on “deep learning models” which can be trained to understand text in all major languages, Chatterjee said. ServiceNow said one area it could immediately help is on the Now Platform, where it will expand the company’s non-English language support for chatbots. Using Passage AI’s capabilities on ServiceNow, a work request initiated in German or a customer request initiated in Japanese can be understood by the virtual agent.

“We can apply it to all language that our customers want,” Chatterjee told CRN. “We already support our product in some of these languages so supporting the AI conversations in those languages is equally important, because that’s where the customers operate.”

Chatterjee said ServiceNow sees this being used primarily outside of North America, and places where multiple languages and dialects are spoken.

ServiceNow said in a statement that this deal builds on the company’s previous AI acquisitions, including transactions with Attivio, Parlo, FriendlyData, Qlue and DxContinuum.

This latest announcement comes less than a week after ServiceNow said it planned to buy another AI company, Loom Systems, to extend its artificial intelligence for IT operations, or AIOps, capabilities.

Loom Systems brings advanced capabilities around log data that will enhance ServiceNow's platform, said Jeff Hausman, vice president and general manager of IT operations and security for Santa Clara, Calif.-based ServiceNow.

The ServiceNow platform uses AIOps in conjunction with the company's IT operations management business and IT services management to address customer problems, identify deficiencies, correct issues, and make suggestions before a problem becomes apparent, Hausman told CRN.

Passage AI had raised a total of $10.3 million in venture funding since its founding from a variety of investors such as Blumberg Capital, Storm Ventures, Engineering Capital and 11.2 Capital, according to Crunchbase.