Microsoft adds to AI portfolio with Dynamics 365 Virtual Agent for Customer Service preview
Microsoft adds to its AI-based business applications portfolio today with the official preview of Dynamics 365 Virtual Agent for Customer Service. The service builds on the Microsoft Bot Framework and the company's experience with virtual agents developed for providing customer service to its own customers, as well as enterprises like Macy's and HP.
Writing about the preview, Microsoft GM of AI for customer service Frank Weigel explained that a key differentiator of the Dynamics 365 offering is that it is "making creation of virtual agents simple, without making the resulting bots simplistic." As such, he stated that "Virtual Agent for Customer Service is not about the technology, but all about the solution," and that it is being sold as an easy-to-use system that doesn't require AI experts or teams of skilled developers and designers.
Microsoft has been demonstrating its virtual agent capabilities since at least October 2018. The launch of this week's official preview is in line with the April 2019 release notes already published by the Business Applications group.
Weigel stressed the importance of subject matter experts rather than developers in guiding Microsoft's design of the service. Virtual agents will perform best when they have lots of good content, he stated, and Microsoft expects that customer service SMEs will be able to both define the virtual agents and feed in the right content as part of the bot creation and update processes, rather than turning to a developer. Microsoft is then asking users to count on Azure's natural language capabilities and AI models to deliver the right conversational experience.
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