Microsoft today unveiled a generative AI chatbot for business users that will draft email responses to customers, create textual summaries of Teams meetings, and generate marketing and sales email campaigns.
Based on OpenAI’s GPT-3, Microsoft’s new Dynamics 365 Copilot is an extension to its existing CRM and ERP software, working alongside those applications to assist in answering questions, creating content, and summarizing conversations and notes. The announcement furthers Microsoft’s ongoing AI push in its business-centric apps.
“Today’s announcement builds on recent AI momentum across Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, and the Power Platform,” Charles Lamanna, Microsoft’s vice president of business applications and platform, said in a blog post.
The bot extensions include AI capabilities in Microsoft Teams, Viva Sales, and Power Apps, enabling citizen developers to write code using natural language.
Microsoft first announced the GPT-3 powered code builder at its Build developers conference in May 2021; that was based on a GitHub pilot service. The new Power Apps feature is now included in Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 suite.
“Power Platform has worked in partnership with OpenAI’s GPT technologies since 2021, allowing everyday workers to develop their own apps and tools. In May of 2021, Microsoft launched the first ever use of GPT in a commercially available product in Power Apps, ushering in a new AI-driven era for low code development,” a Microsoft spokesperson said.
Power Platform features are available in preview in the U.S. today. Dynamics 365 Copilot features are also available in preview, and their regional availability and language vary.
Jack Gold, principal analyst with J. Gold Associates, said chatbot tech will help enhance Dynamic 365’s ability to analyze the growing amount of information many sales reps and customer support workers have to deal with “and often can’t deal with due to too much dispersed information, or time constraints — for example, quickly attaining information about customer before speaking with them.
“So in that regard, being able to make inquiries in a natural language and get suggestions and analysis is of great value,” Gold said. “On the other hand, if you ask the wrong questions, you’ll get information that may be skewed or biased to your question and may not be all that useful. So, this doesn’t mean you can assume the AI assistance will create a situation where you don’t need expertise in the human using the tool.”
The Copilot bot, which runs on Azure OpenAI Service, can be used with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales and Viva Sales applications to help write email responses to customers and create an email summary of a Teams meeting in Outlook. The meeting summary pulls in details from the seller’s CRM such as product and pricing information, as well as insights from the recorded Teams call.
“Sellers often spend hours each day on calls with prospects and customers, and nearly as much time recapping action items for follow-through. To help with that, conversation intelligence provides automated summaries of key topics, issues, and concerns discussed during the meeting,” Emily He, Microsoft’s vice president of business applications marketing, said in a separate blog.
Last month, Microsoft announced limited availability the AI-based chat feature for Viva Sales, which can generate content suggestions based on customer emails, such as a reply to an inquiry or a request for proposal.
The automated email reply feature is now generally available; on March 15, Microsoft will add enhancements to create customizable emails. For example, a seller can generate an email that proposes a meeting time with a customer, complete with a proposed meeting date and time based on availability on the seller’s Outlook calendar.
Viva Sales with Copilot can also remind sellers when it’s time to follow up with a prospect or customer and then auto-generate a preformatted email response with personalized text and next best actions, along with details such as product descriptions, proposals, and deadlines.
Copilot in Dynamics 365 Customer Service can help agents draft contextual answers to queries in both chat and email, in addition to providing an interactive chat experience and case history. Marketers can also ask Copilot for suggestions about customer segments that they might not have been previously considered.
Dynamics 365 Customer Insights and Dynamics 365 Marketing can curate targeted customer segments by having a dialogue with their customer data platform using natural language.
“The new capability can handle complex calculations and match customers that fit a select profile,” Microsoft said in a blog post. “Marketers can describe their customer segment in their own words to create a target segment with the query assist feature. Marketers can also use Dynamics 365 Copilot to get inspiration for fresh email campaign content based on a question.”
Copilot can also be used in Dynamics 365 Business Central to create product listings for online commerce, and bring up product attributes such as color, material, and size to create product descriptions for online storefronts in seconds. The descriptions can be further tailored by choosing tone of voice, format, and length. Business Central customers using Shopify, for instance, can seamlessly publish the products with descriptions to their Shopify store in just a few clicks.
“Like any AI-enhanced capability, this should be seen as a tool and not an answer to relieving people of required expertise,” Gold cautioned. “The biggest challenge with all of these tools is that people may over-rely on their capability. Anything we can do to give people better insights into data, and about customers in this case, is highly useful and potentially makes us more efficient and effective in our jobs.
“But that doesn’t mean that a salesperson or some other individual shouldn’t make sure to use their own judgment on any recommendations made,” he said.
Copyright © 2023 IDG Communications, Inc.