To more efficiently manage requests for information from potential students, Codify Academy wanted to create a cognitive chatbot to engage with website visitors and answer frequently asked questions.
Working in an IBM Cloud Foundry environment, Codify Academy quickly created a solution prototype with the IBM Watson Natural Language Classifier service and rapidly launched its new chatbot online.
50% decrease in admissions tasksfreeing time and resources to double course offerings
10% increase in conversion ratefor Codify Academy website visitors
Speed to productionwith easy-to-use, integrated IBM Cloud and cognitive technologies
Business challenge story
Seeking a more efficient way to field queries
After a frustrating search for employment in a difficult job market, Codify Academy Cofounder Matt Brody and his two brothers dedicated their nights and weekends to learning coding skills. “We taught ourselves to code over two or three years, and when I moved back to San Francisco, I got a job immediately,” says Brody. “But because what we learned could actually be taught so quickly with the right mentoring, we decided to open a school offering a 16-week coding program focused on getting people hired in the industry.”
When the siblings launched Codify Academy, the response from potential students was immediate—and nearly overwhelming for the small startup organization. “My older brother who handled admissions found that people were asking the same questions about the program over and over,” says Brody. “When he mentioned this to me, I decided to start looking into artificial intelligence to see what we could do.”
Rapidly building and launching a cognitive chatbotEnvisioning an interactive chatbot to field questions on the Codify Academy website, Brody began evaluating cognitive technology platforms. “I was looking to build something quickly, and there wasn’t anything else that was close to IBM Watson in terms of speed,” says Brody.
While exploring the IBM Cloud platform, Brody was also impressed by the technology’s ease of use and overall integration of its services and capabilities. Working in an IBM Cloud Foundry environment, he created a solution prototype in a weekend with the IBM Watson Natural Language Classifier service. “Everything was so easy to set up through IBM Cloud—everything in Cloud Foundry is right there,” says Brody. “I was able to go in quickly, get files to get started with, and jump right in.”
After fully populating the prototype with question and answer data, Codify Academy launched its cognitive chatbot, Bobbot, online to interact with potential students and provide information on key topics related to enrollment, course content and tuition. “At first, users didn’t even realize Bob was a bot,” says Brody. “We actually went back to change it so that our users knew from the beginning that the interaction was with a robot.”
Expanding offerings and boosting the conversion rateSince releasing its cloud-based Bobbot chatbot, Codify Academy has far more time and resources to focus on core business needs. “It’s allowed us to expand greatly,” says Brody. “We had one or two classes every month, and now we’re doing four a month. And that’s because we’ve gotten our time back. When we launched Bob, it cut our admissions work in half.”
Plus, by providing an around-the-clock online resource for information—and using data from chatbot conversations to qualify leads—Codify Academy increased its rate for converting site visitors into new students by 10 percent. “Even if people visit our site at 3 in the morning, we’re providing an interactive point of contact through Bob,” says Brody.
Brody credits IBM Cloud technology for offering the flexibility required to build the optimal chatbot tool for its needs. “The IBM Cloud platform is simple to use, but everything’s still fully customizable,” he says. “With other platforms for building chatbots, you’re stuck with their solution—it’s not your code. Being able to customize our own code was really, really huge for us.”
About Codify Academy
Founded in 2014 and headquartered in San Francisco, California, Codify Academy provides coding instruction designed for people with full-time jobs and busy schedules. The organization offers flexible 16-week courses combining in-class and online learning to prepare students for new careers in web and software engineering. In addition to coding fundamentals, the Codify Academy curriculum includes a specially designed jobs program providing Power Hiring sessions, interview preparation guidance and job search assistance.
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