A key feature of Progress NativeChat is its use of what Progress calls CognitiveFlow technology, an approach that allows chatbots to be trained with goals, examples and data from existing backend systems, much as new human customer service agents are trained.
"Chatbots are most powerful when they are intelligent and context-aware, directly pulling data and insights from systems of record," said Progress chief technology officer Dmitri Tcherevik.
"NativeChat makes it easy to create chatbots on top of existing systems that interact with users in a natural way and improve contextual understanding, accuracy and forecasting in conversations."
Done right, it can increase customer satisfaction and reduce costs; done wrong, it causes customer resentment and makes the organisation look foolish. A very recent example was the failure of Telstra's Codi chatbot to handle requests.
According to Progress, NativeChat simplifies chatbot development because it can learn from interactions.
The software can be integrated into self-service Web portals and mobile apps, and the chatbots can also communicate via Facebook Messenger and other live chat systems.
Out-of-the-box integrations are provided for the Progress Kinvey serverless cloud application platform, the Progress Sitefinity Web content management platform, and the NativeScript native mobile application development technology.
Integration with enterprise systems is, as usual, through REST APIs.
Other capabilities include the ability to handle transactional and FAQ-style interactions, and support for 72 human languages.
NativeChat is already in use at Dr Shterev Hospital in Bulgaria, where it is claimed to have reduced the workload of contact centre staff by automating many enquiries about routine matters such as appointments and schedules.
Progress NativeChat — the first product to come out of Progress Labs, the company's internal innovation incubator — is available immediately.