NoHold, formerly known as STEFRA, is no stranger to the world of virtual assistants, more casually known as chatbots. In fact, way back in 1995 STEFRA filed one of the first patents for the idea of an "Internet expert system and method using free-form messaging in a dialogue format," which would eventually be referred to as the chatbots we know today.
The company became NoHold in 1999 and outsourced their technology to customers, customers like Lenovo, Dell, Cisco, and Toshiba. Their enterprise level solution, known as Sicura, uses machine learning and natural language processing to provide chatbots for large companies by scanning hundreds or thousands of documents to equip the chatbots with large amounts of knowledge to provide answers for inquiring minds.
Fast forward to 2016 and NoHold is getting ready to release QuickStart, also known as Albert. Albert isn't here for enterprise solutions, Albert is here to help small businesses, teams, and individuals provide chatbots to their customers and interested parties. The best part? You don't need to be a programming wizard to use Albert.
CEO Diego Ventura tells Forbes, ""QuickStart [Albert] is designed to allow non-programmers to create a Virtual Assistant or bot. Right now it is doing it by ingesting Word documents, later on it will be PDF, HTML pages and so on. The most immediate uses cases are targeted towards three audiences: individuals, small businesses and teams within large corporations."
The applications are almost endless and works perfectly for a small team that might not have the time or resources to answer basic questions at all hours of the day and night. Having a chatbot can give you a leg up, by still providing customer service without having to dedicate someone to the job. Maybe you're a web designer who works for themselves, setting up a chatbot can answer simple questions potential clients might have before escalating it to you personally. Maybe you own a mom and pop sandwich and coffee shop. You could have a chatbot tell interested parties about specials, hours of operation, etc.
Albert currently only works by scanning and understanding Word documents, but the plan is to expand that to other forms of media including PDF, HTML, and many others. There are also plans to bring Facebook Messenger integration to Albert, which will really help take it to the next level. Find out more about Albert here.