Microsoft announced they will launch WhoBot for Microsoft Teams, your new company assistant
In a blog post about Microsoft Teams yesterday, Microsoft announced that when Teams goes GA (General Availability) they will additionally deliver WhoBot.
What is WhoBot? It’s a bot (likely built using the Bot Framework, though I don’t know this for sure) which is powered by LUIS.ai – part of the Cognitive Services Azure offering and fed with data from Microsoft Graph. This mashup will allow you to ask questions such as “Who in our group knows about the Australia sales numbers?”.
The way it will most likely work (again, I haven’t seen this in action or spoken to the developers so this is guesswork – if anyone at Microsoft would like to reach out for a proper interview that would be amazing!) is that your typed question is sent to LUIS for analysis. LUIS can break down the phrase you entered into Intents and Entities. For instance, in the phrase above the intent might be “who knows” because that’s what you are trying to get from the question: your intent is to find 1 or more people. The Entities help narrow your search, for instance “our group”, “Australia”, “sales”. Once the phrase is broken up like that it’s possible to go to Microsoft Graph and query across the organization for people with those skills, either using generic tags or something more complicated. LUIS can be built up to be as powerful as you want it to be: for instance by seeding it with a list of potential countries it can identify “Australia” as being a specific country, which will aid the Graph API search.
It’s really good to see Microsoft providing these “What’s Possible” bots to the market to start conversations about how bots can help revolutionise the way we work.
My personal view is that the world of corporate communication is ripe for disruption and that we’re only just beginning to see the changes that bots can make to how we collaborate in the office. Examples like this are a really good way of showing organisations what it possible with today’s technology and can help them to think up other scenarios where bots and AI can help deliver real benefits.