What Talla's $8.3M Means For Our Customers

June, 19 2017

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Written By
Rob May

Today we are very excited to announce our $8.3M Series A round, led by Glasswing Ventures, with participation from new investors PJC, Pillar, and Launch Capital.

The bot space has received mixed press over the past few months, but as a company working actively in the space, we have seen a huge uptick during that same time period in businesses looking at bots to help solve and scale operational problems.  I wrote a separate post on Medium about why we chose the investors we chose, and how the round came together.  In this post on our own blog I want to focus on what this means for Talla's customer base.

We believe in a few things as a company.  We remain very focused on internal service teams, particularly I.T. and H.R., because we think those are areas where bots can best augment humans.  The unique thing about machine learning in the enterprise is that, in most cases it costs extra money to provide a higher quality of service to your users, but with bots, you get the best of both worlds - you get a better user experience and increased productivity which translates to lower costs.  Let me give you an example.

Most of the companies we talk to are large enterprises that gets hundreds, thousands, or in a few cases, tens of thousands of questions and requests from their employee base every month.  On average, it costs them somewhere between $15 and $40 per ticket just for triage.  A large portion of these are repeatable ("how do I add a dependent to my benefits?" or "how do I reset my Confluence password?").  And many of the tasks are repeatable too ("here are the steps to setup VPN", or "here are the things you should do during your first week at work").  These large companies typically offer a SLA somewhere between 2 hours and 48 hours.  With Talla, users get instant answers in about 50% of their requests, and those answers are vetted by humans, and consistent across the company.  And if they use Slack or Hipchat or Microsoft Teams, they can make their request and get their answers right without leaving their chat program.  This is a much better end user experience and we see the increased engagement in the data of our early customer base.

In addition to that, service desk employees don't get stuck answering repetitive questions, and don't spend time explaining the same steps to achieve an outcome over and over again.  The repetitive work gets offloaded to Talla, and they get to focus on higher order work tasks that involve more creativity, strategy, and planning.

Our primary thesis with Talla is that by building a human-in-the-loop A.I. training system for organizations, what happens is that employees can automate away the boring monotonous parts of their job while they train Talla to perform those tasks.  Despite what the press may say about chatbots, we've seen a very high level of interest.  Businesses understand that these trends are meaningful and that they have to get started understanding and investing in bots and A.I. and similar technologies now to avoid being left behind.

With this new round of funding, we intend to do 3 key things that we think will set Talla apart in the market place.  

  1. We are heavily focused on integrations.  Today we can read in data from Confluence and Google Docs to help train Talla and provide automated answers.  We also support Jira as a service desk that sits behind Talla.  This round of funding will enable us to support many other knowledge bases, and service desk tools as integrations.
  2. We are going to continue to invest heavily in natural language processing.  We've tried many off the shelf solutions that ended up not being appropriate for our use cases, so we have written much of this ourselves.  We know this is the way people increasingly want to work, and we believe we have figured out some things that many other companies haven't just yet.  We plan to keep investing heavily here to help push applied NLP forward for business use cases, and I.T. and H.R. use cases in particular.
  3. Finally, we are going to keep pushing the enterprise feature set of the software we are building.  We are already in process of getting our SOC2 certification and we have a robust administration portal for Talla users.  Expect to see many more investments in the core things that matter to large companies.

The enterprise software world is changing.  Machine learning, bots, conversational interfaces, and many other technologies are changing the landscape and rewriting the rules of what is possible.  We believe companies built to be A.I. first, and conversational first, will have better perspectives on where work is going, and will be better long term partners than companies built on older technology.  If you want to be more productive, if you want to provide a better experience for your employees, and if you want to dip your toe in the A.I. water with a partner who understands this space better than most other companies, we hope you will give Talla a try.  And for those of you who have been customers for a while already, we thank you for your continued support and feedback.  This round wouldn't have been possible without your support.

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