Personalized Virtual Assistants For Small Business

  • Ron Callari
  • 12/14/2016 11:54:10 PM

The digital landscape is constantly in flux. As soon as we become accustomed to a series of new and innovative tech, along comes another iteration or variation on a theme that prompts us to experience something slicker, something more streamlined.

Such is the case with virtual assistants, a là Siri, Cortana, Amazon Echo’s Alexa, Google now, Hound — to name just a few.


Virtual Assistant Overview

Also known as chatbots, a virtual assistant is a form of Artificial Intelligence (AI)that can perform tasks and services on behalf of an human individual. Their emergence were a result of the need to multi-task in everyday life, particularly if you head up or work for a small-to-midsize (SMB) business. Based on user input, queries and geo-location awareness, these automated assistants have the ability to update us on weather conditions, traffic congestion, new, stock prices, calendar scheduling, as well as their ability to interface with other apps, devices, and smartphones.

For a deeper dive into a one of the leading virtual assistants in the market today, let me refer your to my previous post, “Alexa’s Unique Features Continue to Unfold For VoIP Users.”


Create Your Own Chatbot

Also known as chatbots, many of us have worked with one or more these AI services at one time or another. However, there are times when even the most sophisticated virtual assistant may not be able to help you out with a task that requires a little more knowledge on a particular topic.

As an SMB operator or employee, you might want more insight as to how to create an employee handbook or how to complete your business’ tax forms. Queries regarding these types of specific tasks can not be addressed by Siri or Amazon Echo’s Alexa for the simple reason they haven’t had that type of data uploaded into their memory banks.

According to a Business Insider post, the number of these bot applications has actually surpassed the number of social apps such as Instagram and Snapchat increasing the popularity of chatbots exponentially.

To address SMBS who see the advantages of such technology, NoHold, an AI company that pioneered chatbots back in the 1990s has recently developed software for individuals to be able to create their own ‘personalized chatbots.’

NoHold’s SICURA™ QuickStart (aka ‘Albert’) is a platform that allows anyone to create their own virtual assistant — even if you lack IT programming skills. All you need is a basic understanding of Microsoft® Word or Google® Docs.

This product is aimed at small businesses and startups and allows anyone to feed this platform any type of textured text, such as a Word document to produce a chatbot curtailed to one’s needs.


Simple Steps to Creating your Own

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of QuickStart is how NoHold has managed to distill the process down to the simplest possible level.

To set up your own Albert, you start at albertai.com to kickstart the registration process. Then, by following a few simple instructions to create your own free personal account — once you have access — you are ready to start querying Albert about the subject matter you uploaded, from the mobile-friendly URL provided.

This URL can be placed anywhere you choose, making integrating with websites, social media, and other collaboration platforms very easy.

CEO of NoHold, Diego Ventura says,

Small businesses have a completely different set of resources and they’re not going to adopt virtual assistants or chatbots unless it’s super easy for them to do.


Create your own Customer Service Bot

QuickStart can also provide your SMB with the ability to create your a customer service chatbot with a minimum amount of effort or expense.

There’s a free tier of service, as well as a paid tiers that allows businesses to apply their own branding, and to customize as they choose.

Metrics are also available in real-time to monitor weekly usage and identify exactly what users are asking your Albert. The platform also offers basic analytics, allowing users to view how many interactions were conducted on a specific date; what are the most popular questions asked and whether or not end-users found the answers to be sufficient — in addition to the top countries using the app.


Going Forward

NoHold’s founder is also looking to the future to expand upon this technology.

I don’t believe the next generation AI will be built by one single big company, instead, it will be the result of the collaboration of millions of people who have created their own Virtual Assistants and are able to connect them together. Who knows, maybe a lot of them will be called Albert.

Ventura believes that these distributed channels will expand in a Wikipedia type of fashion, that will allow anyone to create any kind of AI program their creativity can conjure up. He adds,

Right now it is doing it by ingesting Word documents, later on it will be PDF, HTML pages and so on.

Ron is a blogger at Telzio, covering business, technology, and mobile trends. Previously the Director of Advertising and Public Relations for Marriott International's Caribbean and Mexico division, Ron has published several books including the award-winning graphic novel Facebucks.