When investors gave Moveworks a hefty $75 million Series B at the end of 2019, they were investing in a chatbot startup that to that point had been tuned to answer IT help questions in an automated way. Today, the company announced it had used that money to expand the platform to encompass employee questions across all lines of business.
At the time of that funding, nobody could have anticipated a pandemic either, but throughout last year as companies moved to work from home, having an automated systems in place like Moveworks became even more crucial, says CEO and company co-founder Bhavin Shah.
"It was a tragic year on a variety of fronts, but what it did was it coalesced a lot of energy around people's need for support, people's need for speed and help," Shah said. It helps that employees typically access the Moveworks chatbot inside collaboration tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams, and people have been spending more time in these tools while working at home.
"We definitely saw a lot more interest in the market, and part of that was fueled by the large-scale adoption of collaboration tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams by enterprises around the world," he said.
The company is working with 100 large enterprise customers today, and those customers were looking for a more automated way for employees to ask questions about a variety of tooling, from HR to finance and facilities management. While Shah says expanding the platform to move beyond IT into other parts of an organization had been on the roadmap, the pandemic definitely underscored the need to expand even more.
While the company spent its first several years tuning the underlying artificial intelligence technology for IT language, they had built it with expansion in mind. "We learned how to build a conversational system so that it can be dynamic and not be predicated on some person's forethought around [what the question and answer will be] -- that approach doesn't scale. So there were a lot of things around dealing with all these enterprise resources and so forth that really prepared us to be an enterprise-wide partner," Shah said.
The company also announced a new communications tool that enables companies to use the Moveworks bot to communicate directly with employees to get them to take some action. Shah says companies usually send out an email that, for example, employees have to update their password. The bot tells you it's time to do that and provides a link to walk you through the process. He says that beta testers have seen a 70% increase in responses using the bot to communicate about an action instead of email.
Shah recognizes that a technology that understands language is going to have a lot of cultural variances and nuances and that requires a diverse team to build a tool like this. He says that his HR team has a set of mandates to make sure they are interviewing people in under-represented roles to build a team that reflects the needs of the customer base and the world at large.
The company has been working with about a dozen customers over the last nine months on the platform expansion, iterating with these customers to improve the quality of the responses, regardless of the type of question or which department it involves. Today, these tools are generally available.