Talla, a Cambridge, Mass.-based startup offering tools to give businesses the ability to use AI to automate service desk processes, has raised $8.3 million in a Series A initial round of venture capital financing led by Glasswing Ventures of Boston.
The investment will be used to expand sales and marketing efforts and to continue to invest in the development of Talla’s natural language processing products.
Talla recently announced the ServiceAssistant bot, which works inside of Slack or Microsoft Teams cloud-based set of team collaboration tools and services. Customers have the option of training Service Assistant by putting it in the path of service requests answered by a human. Once ServiceAssistant learns enough, it can begin to provide automated answers, checked by a human before being sent. At the highest level of automation, when the confidence is high enough, the system sends the answer directly to the customer.
“Within 60 days, Talla will handle hall the queries to your internal service desk,” said Rob May, CEO and co-founder of Talla. “That translates to greater efficiency for your service desk, even for the company’s own employees, who get answers much more quickly.”
The AI in the product is based on machine learning approaches to natural language processing.
Talla is targeting knowledge worker companies with a few hundred to a few thousand employees. The company differentiates in the bot market from general virtual assistants and tools offering conversational interfaces for external customer support, by concentrating on learning from internal users of the customer company. “We are training the bots on the knowledge of the employees of the company, the vocabulary they use, to build an internal knowledge map of the company,” May said.
Talla focuses on using text, and not audio. One pilot for a company with 90,000 employees, is generating 45,000 questions per month, such as how do they access certain employee benefits, or set up for certain IT services. “Talla can walk them through that, if someone has trained Talla how to do it,” May said.
Rudina Seseri, founder and managing partner of Glasswing Ventures, said, “The way we think about it is on your way to automating some of the lower-level questions, you first go to augmentation, and then later to automation. So you have the humans in the early days helping to automate the more basic questions, and this leads to greater efficiency.”
Development tools Talla is using include: Python for natural language processing; Ruby on Rails for the application and bot functionality; and spaCy library for advanced natural language parsing.
Talla prices ServiceAssistant at $5/seat/month and most engages involve several hundred seats.
Talla was founded 18 months ago; previously, May was a co-founder of Backupify, a cloud startup sold to Datto in 2014.
For more information, got to talla.com.