Application Development Partner community: Introduction to the Microsoft Bot Framework


Wayne Smith author block

The art of conversation in the age of the cloud

We typically think of conversations as taking place between people. About personal matters and business matters; conducted by voice, written word, and even emoji; as simple exchanges and complex discussions. And technology has continually shaped the way people communicate and interact, making it easier for us to find, connect, and converse with each other.

Now, using Cortana Intelligence Suite and the Microsoft Bot Framework, developers can add a new dimension to our conversations, and enable companies to better serve their internal users and external customers with the help of intelligent bots and digital personal assistants.

In this post, we’ll take a look at how these new conversations work, explore a few of the possibilities, and explain how partners can take the next step with this opportunity.

Join the October 4 Application Developer Partner community call about Microsoft Bot Framework

Conversations as a Platform

The shift to conversational computing

Talk to the bot

The new intelligent conversations are exchanges between a user and a bot to perform a specific task. The task can be simple – adding two numbers and returning the result – or the task can be a complicated workflow. Information to perform the task is either predefined (“always turn off the light upstairs in the second bedroom”) or is requested from the user during the conversation (“an extra-large deep dish pizza with extra cheese”), using a multi-step question and answer process.

The actions taken by the bot can involve a single system, like turning off an internet-connected light, or span multiple systems, like combining ingredients and then cooking, packaging, and delivering a pizza to a defined address. Cognitive systems can be leveraged to process the input from the user using a set of rules based on natural language input, extended via synonyms, or with a combination of machine learning based input. When the bot doesn’t understand the user’s input, control can be turned over to a human who can assist the bot in the conversation and continue the workflow to complete the task.

Intelligent bots can be used wherever conversations are already taking place, from text/SMS and Office 365 mail to Skype, Facebook Messenger, GroupMe, Kik, Line, WeChat, Slack, and other channels. Users of these tools are accustomed to the way communication takes place, have expectations about how a conversation proceeds, and want to have a consistent experience. The opportunity to consider is whether we can take the interface they know and love and add functionality that enhances their experience.

The Microsoft Bot Framework

imageDevelopers can use the Microsoft Bot Framework to create these bots and agents that interact with people in personalized, intelligent ways and enhance their experiences. The Bot Framework comprises three components: Bot Builder SDK, Bot Framework Developer Portal, and Bot Directory.

  • The Bot Builder SDK is an open source SDK hosted on Github, and facilitates creation and connection using Node.js, REST API, or .NET based hosts
  • With the Bot Framework Developer Portal, developers can connect their bot to existing channels and test interactions with the chat control
  • The Bot Directory is a public directory where users can discover the right bot for a task and try out

Microsoft Bot Framework website

Bot Framework overview

Get started with Bot Framework

The partner opportunity

Work with your customers to determine both the internal and external conversations that are important to their businesses.

Examples:

  • Providing support to users and customers
  • Assisting coworkers with locating information
  • Fulfilling requests for goods

You can help customers think differently about how to meet their business needs by using conversational intelligence and applying technology in new ways to communication tools they already use. The possibilities are limited only by imagination. What will you create?

Application Development Partner Community

App Dev Yammer group     Oct 4 App Dev community call     Bot Framework FAQ

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