What does it mean to “automate productivity” in this modern era of bots, machine learning, and team-based collaboration solutions? Information workers are spending an increasing amount of time in real-time and persistent conversations through a variety of technologies, with organizations recognizing that communication and collaboration are not just important, but a business imperative. Innovation happens when people are actively engaged — and when they have the information they need, when they need it. And if you can provide them with the data they need *before* they know they need it, even better. Automation tools are changing the way we think about the digital workplace, helping our tools and systems to recognize patterns in our searches, team member collaborations, and content creation and to provide relevant, contextual help and data at the very moment we realize we need that help. That is the future — that is the Intelligent Workplace.
The Microsoft Bot Framework
In just a few years, Microsoft has gone from the “old guard” to the industry innovator, leading the way with Office 365, the Microsoft Graph and Delve, and their new Microsoft Bot Framework. If you’ve not had a chance to take a look at the Bot Framework, it offers a way for teams to create automated, intelligent agents that have the ability to interact with you through your normal work activities — as if you were communicating with another person — to answer questions, provide help, or streamline interaction with popular solutions, such as Skype, Twitter, or your email.
The Microsoft Bot Framework provides the following components to enable developers to build their own Bots:
- Bot Connector – A communication service that helps you connect your Bot with many different communication channels (Skype, SMS, email, and others). If you write a conversational Bot or agent and expose a Microsoft Bot Framework-compatible API on the Internet, the Bot Framework Connector service will forward messages from your Bot to a user, and will send user messages back to your Bot. The Bot Connector lets you connect your bots seamlessly to text/sms, Office 365 mail, Skype, Slack, and other services. Simply register your bot, configure desired channels and publish in the Bot Directory.
- Bot Builder SDK – This is an open source SDK hosted out on GitHub, providing everything you need to build great dialogs within your Node.js- or C#-based bot.
- Bot Framework Developer Portal – The portal is a place to register your bots, configure them to the desired channels, and publish them in the Bot Directory. All bots registered with the Bot Framework are auto-configured to work with Skype and the Web.
- Bot Directory – This is a public directory of all reviewed bots registered through the Developer Portal. Users will be able to discover, try, and add bots to their favorite conversation experiences from the Bot Directory, beginning with the bots that were demonstrated at Microsoft Build 2016.
You can check out the Microsoft Bot Framework Preview here.
Bots are increasingly used to interact with a service or application through mobile experience, as well as the browser. The Microsoft Bot Framework provides tools that help developers leverage the work and expertise of other developers to solve common problems, providing automatic translation to more than 30 languages, user and conversation state management, debugging tools, web chat control, and a way for users to discover, try, and add bots to the conversation experiences they love.
The Future of Productivity Automation
Organizations that use SharePoint, whether online or on-premises, generally create a high volume of content. However, that content is only useful if people are able to locate and interact with the right data, at the right time, and within the right content. That’s where much of the future of productivity automation will add value. We are already seeing tremendous value out of features that leverage the Microsoft Graph as a way to insert machine-learning into organizations and help teams surface their content. As companies begin talking more and more about building the “digital workplace” or “intelligent enterprise,” the need for features that can better extract intelligence from these information assets becomes more business-critical.
Earlier this year, the Beezy team announced several cutting-edge innovations that were built using the Microsoft Graph and Office 365, turning collective intelligence into actionable insights, which were documented in a Microsoft case study. As Microsoft moves their Bot Framework into general availability, and continues to expand their platform APIs for partners, Beezy will continue to innovate and expand our own solutions — allowing our customers to further automate and optimize their collaboration and communication environments, and giving business users the self-service tools that allow them to automate routine tasks on their own, without having to ask IT for help every time.
If you have not yet had a chance to see Beezy in action, schedule a demo today. The Beezy solution is completely extensible, allowing customers to develop their own custom connectors, using our API to leverage the Microsoft productivity ecosystem, including the Office suite, Outlook, Skype, and Dynamics, as well as to external platforms, such as SAP and Salesforce.
Check out Beezy today, and learn more about how you can bring the Intelligent Workplace to your organization.