StubHub bets on Pivotal and Google Cloud as it looks to go beyond tickets

StubHub is best known as a destination for buying and selling event tickets. The company operates in 48 countries and sells a ticket every 1.3 seconds. But the company wants to go beyond that and provide its users with a far more comprehensive set of services around entertainment. To do that, it’s working on changing its development culture and infrastructure to become more nimble. As the company announced today, it’s betting on Google Cloud and Pivotal Cloud Foundry as the infrastructure for this move.

StubHub CTO Matt Swann told me that the idea behind going with Pivotal — and the twelve-factor app model that entails — is to help the company accelerate its journey and give it an option to run new apps in both an on-premise and cloud environment.

“We’re coming from a place where we are largely on premise,” said Swann. “Our aim is to become increasingly agile — where we are going to focus on building balanced and focused teams with a global mindset.” To do that, Swann said, the team decided to go with the best platforms to enable that and that “remove the muck that comes with how developers work today.”

As for Google, Swann noted that this was an easy decision because the team wanted to leverage that company’s infrastructure and machine learning tools like Cloud ML. “We are aiming to build some of the most powerful AI systems focused on this space so we can be ahead of our customers,” he said. Given the number of users, StubHub sits on top of a lot of data — and that’s exactly what you need when you want to build AI-powered services. What exactly these will look like, though, remains to be seen, but Swann has only been on the job for six months. We can probably expect to see more for the company in this space in the coming months.

“Digital transformation is on the mind of every technology leader, especially in industries requiring the capability to rapidly respond to changing consumer expectations,” said Bill Cook, President of Pivotal . “To adapt, enterprises need to bring together the best of modern developer environments with software-driven customer experiences designed to drive richer engagement.”

Stubhub has already spun up its new development environment and plans to launch all new ups on this new infrastructure. Swann acknowledged that they company won’t be switching all of its workloads over to the new setup soon. But he does expect that the company will hit a tipping point in the next year or so.

He also noted that this over transformation means that the company will look beyond its own walls and toward working with more third-party APIs, especially with regard to transportation services and merchants that offer services around events.

Throughout our conversation, Swann also stressed that this isn’t a technology change for the sake of it.

ServiceNow chatbot builder helps automate common service requests

When it comes to making requests inside a company for new equipment or to learn about HR policies, it can be a frustrating experience for both sides of the equation. HR and IT are probably tired of answering the same questions. Employees are tired of calling a help desk for routine inquiries and waiting for answers. ServiceNow’s new bot-building technology is designed to alleviate that problem by providing a way to create an automated bot-driven process for routine requests.

The company claims that you can build these bots to provide end-to-end service. Meaning if you tell the bot you need a new phone, it can pull your records, understand what you currently have and order a new one all in the same interaction — and all within a common messaging interface such as Slack or Microsoft Teams.

It also works for customer service transactions to process routine customer inquiries without having to route them to a CSR to answer typical questions.

The new chatbot building tool called Virtual Agent, has been built into the ServiceNow Now platform and provides a way for developers to build conversational interfaces easily, says CJ Desai, chief product officer at ServiceNow. “[The Virtual Agent] enables our customers to develop a wide range of intelligent service conversations from a quick question to an entire business action through the messaging platform of their choice,” Desai said in a statement.

The announcement is part of a broader AI initiative on the part of ServiceNow, which purchased Parlo, a chatbot startup, just last week for an undisclosed amount of cash. The acquisition should help give ServiceNow more AI engineering talent and help them beef up their natural language processing (NLP) to further refine and improve their chatbot products moving forward, as the Parlo team and technology get incorporated into the ServiceNow platform.

The company claims that using these chatbots, customers can reduce call volume to help desks and customer service by 15-20 percent, using the standard argument that it should free humans to handle more difficult inquiries.

The company joins a slew of other platform players including Salesforce, IBM, Oracle, AWS, and others who are incorporating chatbot building technology into their platforms.

10 Wednesday AM Reads

My overwhelming newsflow midweek morning train reads: • Iran nuclear deal: Trump’s decision to ditch nuclear deal puts “US diplomacy on a collision course with some of Washington’s closest allies.” (BBC) • 13 Best Warren Buffett Quotes from Berkshire Hathaway Meeting (Fortune) see also Charlie Munger’s 21 Best Quotes at annual meeting (Fortune) • California heads toward requiring solar…

Read More

The post 10 Wednesday AM Reads appeared first on The Big Picture.