Need to Know bot for your Microsoft Cloud Q and A

Recently I wrote an article about using Microsoft At to create,

a dedicated Microsoft Cloud Search engine

Another form of AI that is available is a chatbot service for questions and answers. Many people have seen these already on web sites, where a helpful customer service rep appears on your web page asking if you need assistance. I have now created a similar chat experience which I have christened the CIAOPS N2Kbot.

You’ll find the N2KBot here:

http://bit.ly/n2kbot

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When you first arrive you’ll see a page like that shown above. simply enter your question in the lower line (where it says type your message” and then press enter). I haven’t as yet automated it greet you as personally I find that annoying. So for now, you can interact manually.

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You’ll see above that if I ask “what is aip” I get a response back about Azure Information Protection.

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At the bottom of the page, you’ll also find a link to add the N2KBot to your Team if you want, as shown above.

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You can have it as a private bot or inside a channel if you wish. Once installed you activate the bot by starting a line with @n2kbot and then asking as question, like:

@n2kbot what is aip

as shown in the above example.

What is interesting about this chatbot versus the custom search engine I created previously, is how people so far have interacted with it. Most have treated this chatbot like a search engine, expecting to give them the exact answer to the question they asked. A chatbot really isn’t that. It is basically a list of question and answer pairs. That is, if you type in this (or close to it), then answer with this. It doesn’t search the web, it looks to it’s pre-programmed question and answers pair largely.

You can prime the chatbot with your own custom questions and answers or you can target web links. Sites that have lots of FAQs (frequently asked questions) on it ingest very well into the bot. However, it is important to remember that chatbots are not search engines.

So where could I see chatbot playing a role? I think they would work well for adoption, that is people asking basic questions about OneDrive for example (i.e. “How do I upload to OneDrive”) or things like “What is Sway”. So think of chatbots more as a way to answer common questions in an automated way. When you actually sit down and have a look at how many times the same or similar questions get asked you begin to appreciate the role that chatbots could play.

I am still testing this chatbot concept out in the area of providing information specifically on the Microsoft Cloud but, as I said, I can see an initial benefit in things like adoption, which I have started working on. In an upcoming article, I’ll show you how easy it is to create a chatbot like this in Azure. However, the idea for this preliminary article is to get you thinking about:

1. The differences between chatbots and search

2. Where a chatbot may make sense in your business. That is, what information is going to help with?

Once you have that, then creating an effective chatbot will be much easier in my experience.

In the meantime, feel free to have a play with the N2KBot and let me know your thoughts. It is far from perfect and only runs on the cheapest plan, so it might be a bit slow initially when you use it. However, once ‘awake’ it should perform normally. If you have some suggestions for the questions it should be able to answer, let me know, I’m very interested to hear other people’s thoughts on this.

My aim with all this, is to get the cogs in my head turning about where this new “AI” technology can effectively be applied. They are certainly beginning to turn in mine.

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