Guest blog: Make your own Azure bot

Eliott Chandler, partner technology strategist at Microsoft, talks Azure bots. But what exactly can they do?...

I will not be held liable for any uprising or world domination attempts made by bots created after the reading of this blog!
— Eliott Chandler, Partner Technology Strategist, Microsoft

So, its 2018. What can we expect from tech?

If the film industry is thought to set out predications that may well be true, 2018 is the year we’ll need to rise up and overthrow Skynet, our evil robotic overlords (Terminator Salvation).

On the other hand, films also showed us we’d have hover boards by 2015 (Back to the Future) and remote controlled android bodies by 2017 (Surrogates), which I’ve not yet had the luxury of test driving either.

Assuming the Skynet prediction goes the same way as most movie predictions, what can we expect to get out of 2018?

Still bots...

…Bots that can do more than you might think

Having a bot that’s capable of holding a seamless conversation, behave naturally or even pass the Turing test has been the dream of anyone in the tech industry since we saw C-3PO over 40 years ago! Although we may not be quite there yet, Azure is making it easier and easier to push this limit and create bots that can instantly add value to your business.

To put it simply, bots are an app that users interact with in a conversational way and can communicate with text, cards, or speech. Bots can perform basic pattern matching to generate a pre-determined response, or it may be a more in-depth application of artificial intelligence used to trigger the response.

Azure Bot Services are making it easier for you to create and deploy your own bot and whilst you can’t make it pick up your dry-cleaning or attend that boring meeting you hate, it can act as a valuable point of contact for your stakeholders and save you time in the process.

This week, intY has been experimenting with bots and I started an inception-like project where I created a bot that can answer questions around Azure Bot Services, which is as close to a self-aware AI as I’m willing to get.

This mini-project only took around an hour to build, train and test, and gave our team access to on-demand information without the need for pre-booked training session or technical resources to deliver the content.

Azure Bot Services can also be connected to APIs & Dynamic CRM. This will allow you to embed ‘connected’ bots into your websites, giving you the ability to answer customer queries regarding billing, book appointments, provide quotes based on intelligent opportunity tracking and much more.

Want to get started?

Good stuff!

You can start building your own Q&A bot using Microsoft’s Q&A Maker. As of writing this article, this is a free service that will allow you to create and train your own Q&A bot within a matter of minutes.

Simply give your bot a name, give it access to an FAQ knowledge base and watch as your bot becomes the master of any topic you choose…

Pretty awesome, yeah!

Need to know more?

An overview of Azure Bot Services can be found here…

A quick start guide to creating a Bot in Azure can be found here…

Microsoft’s Q&A Maker can be found here…

Why Azure? here…

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