Rob May, CEO of Talla, wants to bring bots to corporate America

Rob May has big plans for intelligent bots. (Image: Talla)

Rob May, CEO of Talla, is out to make the nascent technology of intelligent bots mainstream in corporate America.

“Our goal is building digital workers to automate low level tasks as a way of improving productivity,” May told FierceCEO.

Bots, which are software programs, “manage and deliver knowledge across an organization,” May said.

Examples of the way Talla’s AI-driven bots are used include letting employees automate away repetitive tasks and improving communication and workflow at a company, he said.

At the moment, Talla's bots are primarily used for HR, with the bot instantly providing contextually relevant answers on policies, procedures and benefits, and assisting with onboarding, and as an extension of the IT team, with the intelligent bots providing employee support for such things as tools, policies and procedures, May said. “Anytime you want to make information accessible and up to date, the bot would be used for that.”

But enterprise adoption has been slow.

Talla, which was founded in 2015, has just a dozen customers, but May said the company has hundreds of inquiries. “That compares to 2016, when we had dozens of inquiries,” May said.

“Interest is definitely ahead of adoption,” May said. “But I believe they will be widely adopted in two or three years.”

New technology “takes time,” May said. “Companies have the intention of putting bots in their organizations but it just takes time. They are trying to figure out what it means for them.”

He definitely sees a robust future for bots.

“They will make humans more productive by automating the things we have to do day to day,” May said.

May has an electrical engineering background and started work on a master’s in computer science with a focus on AI, although he didn’t finish.

“But that was my initial exposure and I kept up with the AI field,” he said.

He started a company that did backup for cloud computing applications, then sold it in 2014.

With some of his proceeds from the sale and assistance from some investors in his first company he started Talla, as he gravitated toward bots.

He felt “this is a trend in the way people are going to work now.”

Fast Five with Rob May

What is one important trait for a good leader?

Good communication skills.

What keeps you up at night?

Thinking about hiring the right people.

What are ways to seek new revenue sources?

Always look for changing technology trends and the problems they cause.

On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 lowest and 10 highest) how much of a priority do you place on the following things at your company: people, process and technology?

  • People—10
  • Process—1
  • Technology—8

How do you motivate employees?

Give the good ones more autonomy.