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Wednesday, Sep 27, 2023

AI for the Trades

ServiceTitan, which makes operating software for electricians, plumbers and the like, is stepping up its game by developing artificial intelligence of the type normally used by more sophisticated companies to streamline repetitive tasks and bring data to decision-making.

ServiceTitan, the software developer for tradespeople such as electricians and plumbers, has moved into artificial intelligence.
The Glendale company unveiled Titan Intelligence, or TI, at its Pantheon 2022 conference for its customers, including business owners, managers, IT and finance team members.


The event was held at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on April 20-22.
Anmol Bhasin, chief technology officer for ServiceTitan, said he previously worked with AI at Salesforce.com Inc. and Groupon Inc., and his goal is to bring the same types of services that those companies offer to the trades.

“It is effectively bringing all that knowledge to an industry that has been left behind a little bit,” Bhasin said in an interview with the Business Journal.
While he could not put an exact dollar figure on how much ServiceTitan has invested in developing Titan Intelligence, Bhasin added: “I can say it is a significant portion of our R&D capacity because we think this is the future.”

Founded in Glendale in 2007, ServiceTitan helps residential contractors manage a range of tasks including booking jobs, dispatching technicians, processing payments and overseeing marketing campaigns.

With Titan Intelligence it is adding to those functions.
“This is a muscle we are building into our product fabric and bringing AI and optimization across the board,” Bhasin said.

‘Simple stuff’

With Titan Intelligence, small and one-person businesses on the ServiceTitan platform will be able to unlock the power of their own data to help automate repetitive and simple tasks, improve customer experience, predict outcomes, lower costs and stay competitive in a world run by data, the company said in a release.

Vahe Kuzoyan, co-founder and president of the company, said that the AI functions bring the power of data to the trades on a scale never seen before.
“This industry will no longer have to wait years, or even decades, to take advantage of modern technology innovations,” Kuzoyan said in a statement. “The launch of Titan Intelligence represents a giant leap forward for the trades, and another example of ServiceTitan’s commitment to provide contractors with access to the best technology to fuel their business.”

Every function of a home service business generates data and Titan Intelligence mixes that data with externally sourced data such as gross domestic product information and industry economic trends, Bhasin said.
“If you mash that data in an aggregate form what comes up is some very actionable intelligence insights,” he explained.

Any customer can use the benchmark report function to see how they compare with their cohort, or group of similar businesses arranged either geographically or by trade.
The company gets that intelligence back to the customer telling them how they are performing with respect to the cohort or how much they are spending in marketing compared to other companies, for example.

Session at ServiceTitan’s Pantheon conference.

“That is the simple stuff that Titan Intelligence delivers in value,” Bhasin said.
Next up is a function that is currently in beta test that helps tradespeople price their services.
“This is based on the cohort analysis and how the cohort prices its services, be it a replacement (part) or a new install,” Bhasin said. “That is a very specific example of bringing simple math to aggregated data.”

Another way that Titan Intelligence helps the trades is more sophisticated. A new tool will dynamically optimize which technician should be dispatched to which job. It is an algorithm that uses hundreds of features that go into job allocation.
Among those features analyzed is the ability to do the job, which technicians will likely perform better on a specific job, how much drive time they will use to get to the job and the capacity to do the job.

“All of that gets thrown into a massive mathematical algorithm and it spits out an allocation of technicians,” Bhasin said. “All of this is essentially leveraging data to bring these things together so we can deliver solutions that optimize different parts of the business.”

Monetizing data

The way ServiceTitan sees it, it is not trying to monetize AI but instead is trying to deliver value to its customers.
“Some of these features show up in our core product, which is optimizing what people are already paying for,” Bhasin said. “The benchmark report is a completely free feature.”
But will Titan Intelligence bring in new customers or just be used by those already on the platform?

It is Bhasin’s opinion that it will do both.
Existing customers will get more value while to potential customers the company is saying that it is forward-looking and embracing new technology.
“We want our current customers to run their business more efficiently and effectively and prospective customers to see that ServiceTitan is pushing the envelope and addressing the juggernaut of AI and bringing it to the trades,” Bhasin said.

Ara Mahdessian, a co-founder and chief executive of the company, noted that the trades industry is undergoing rapid digital transformation and he wants to equip its customers with the specific tools and data-driven insights they need to meet that critical moment head on.
“We believe that all tradespeople deserve not only the best, but also the most innovative technology available to power their businesses that power our lives,” Mahdessian said in a statement.
Prior to joining ServiceTitan, Bhasin worked for Salesforce, the San Francisco internet company where he ran Einstein, the firm’s artificial intelligence platform. Prior to that he was at Groupon, where he oversaw engineering for the local commerce division but also focused on dynamic pricing and supply optimization. He joined ServiceTitan last year.
As for future additions to Titan Intelligence, Bhasin said he has a few projections.

One would be an intelligent chatbot to handle calls or inquiries to customers when the provider’s office is not open. Another would involve using real-time transcription of phone calls.
And one other projection that Bhasin has is to extrapolate the optimization of top-line revenue or gross margins to marketing budgets and then optimizing those budgets based on technician schedules and other factors.

Pricing is a massive pain point for everybody but if Titan Intelligence can dynamically help customers price their marketing spend based on demand, weather forecast and inventory, it is better for everyone, he said.
“It is like rocket science to do pricing right, but technology has perfected the art of pricing in a dynamic sense,” Bhasin added. “We can bring that technology to the trades.”

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