Atlassian acquires Percept.AI – TechCrunch

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Atlassian announced today that it has acquired Percept.AI, a summer 2017 AI company from Y Combinator, which provides an automated support solution for virtual agents – essentially a chatbot – based on its own AI engine for understanding of natural language. Atlassian plans to integrate this virtual agent technology into Jira Service Management, the tool that enables IT teams to better serve their employees and customers.

Prior to today’s acquisition, Percept had raised a seed round for an undisclosed amount from Hike Ventures, Builders VC, Cherubic Ventures, Amino Captial, Tribe Capital and Y Combinator, according to Crunchbase. The two companies have not disclosed the financial details of the acquisition today.

Image Credits: Atlassian

There is little doubt that Atlassian is investing heavily in Jira Service Management. In 2020, the company acquired Halp for its Slack-first help desk ticketing service, and last year also acquired Mindville, a wealth management company. Last year, it picked up ThinkTilt for its no-code/low-code form builder specifically to strengthen Jira Service Management (and that’s on top of a number of other acquisitions around the Jira ecosystem in recent years).

Edwin Wong, Atlassian’s head of product for IT solutions, told me that the company isn’t just betting on acquisitions to expand the service.

“It’s not just about inorganic investments. There’s a whole bunch of organic stuff we’ve done […]’ said Wong. “The goal isn’t just to buy something and plug it in, it’s a more conscious strategy – to think about what fits well and then build on what’s been created and that kind of unified experience in one product So it’s not really about ‘hey, here are six different things’ and then our customers have to think, ‘oh, what do I have to do to bring them together?’ It’s about creating those integrated experiences.”

Image Credits: Atlassian

It’s no secret, though, that IT teams are under more pressure than ever to deliver great customer service, something the pandemic isn’t making any easier, while their customers, even in the enterprise, expect a consumer-like experience. Ideally, a product like Percept.ai would be able to fend off the vast majority of top-notch support calls, provide users with a great experience, and free up IT teams to focus on more complex tasks.

That’s the goal of a product like Jira Service Management, and as Wong noted, the service now has more than 35,000 customers from virtually every industry.

Wong said what drew the team to Percept was the engine’s ability to understand much of the context behind a support query. It can analyze content, intent and sentiment and — in combination with the user profile — can provide a personalized response. When the virtual agent has reached its limit, it will automatically transfer the interaction to a human. Teams can set up and customize the service with a no-code tool, another feature that made Percept attractive to Atlassian.

The company plans to natively integrate the technology into Jira Service Management. But Atlassian also plans to expand the capabilities of the service.

“Our broader vision, if we look a little further, is to create what we think of a unified platform for every kind of support and service desk. That’s basically our goal at the end of the day,” Wong explained. “We believe that vastness really covers all kinds of different products, different possibilities. For example, why can’t we draw on the knowledge of, say, a Confluence space or article to help answer some of those questions? Why can’t we draw from, say, a Trello board? So absolutely, when we made this acquisition, it was part of our broader long-term vision for Atlassian to deliver great experiences for our customers.”

Since this acquisition came about quite quickly (Wong said the companies started talking late last year), it’s not entirely clear what the future holds for existing Percept.AI customers.

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