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Easily build and use bots within Microsoft Teams with Power Virtual Agents

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With the accelerating shift towards remote work around the world, there has been a huge surge in virtual communication and conversations between businesses and their employees. Increasingly, organizations are using bots in Teams to help employees with common issues—whether it’s an HR bot to help employees update their benefits, a payroll bot that can help answer questions about pay stubs, or a back-to-work FAQ bot that helps answer common employee questions on staying safe as they return to the workplace.

Since Teams is inherently conversational, it’s natural and intuitive for Teams users to chat with these virtual representatives. The bots can quickly resolve common issues, and when they can’t help, they can easily pull in a live representative into the Teams chat or open a ticket.

A recent Forrester study looked at the benefits of using Microsoft Teams as a platform with line of business apps and bots built using the Power Platform, and found that bots (and apps) embedded within Teams significantly improved employee engagement, efficiency, and productivity. For example, the use of bots to handle employee questions reduces the number of IT and HR support tickets by 10 to 15 percent.

Building such bots has already been possible using Power Virtual Agents that allows users to easily and quickly build bots using a guided, no-code graphical interface. Now, there is an even deeper integration between Power Virtual Agents and Teams. Users can easily create their own digital assistants within Teams and make them available to their colleagues to chat with.

An employee from payroll wants to build a bot to allow employees to ask about their W2s? With a few clicks, they can create a bot and share it for colleagues to chat with in Teams to answer their payroll questions. The finance department wants to roll out a chatbot to help employees fill out expense reports? Using Power Virtual Agents, they can be up and running in no time. An employee in the patent office wants to create a bot to collate ideas and store them in an Excel? No problem.

To see how truly transformative this is, let’s consider another example. A manager in facilities wants to build a back-to-work bot to answer the huge influx of employee questions about workspace safety that the company has been getting. The manager can do this in a few, simple steps:

Open the embedded bot authoring experience in Teams
The bot authoring experience is embedded in Teams.
Quickly create a few simple topics to answer common questions using the intuitive graphical interface in Power Virtual Agents
Quickly create a few simple topics to answer common questions using the easy graphical interface in Power Virtual Agents.
Publish the bot to the Teams Apps Store 
UI of bots available that have been built by your org.

And voila! The bot is up and running, helping employees answer questions about getting back to work. Even better, the facilities manager can easily configure the bot to trigger a chat request with the facilities team should it get a question that it can’t handle. And with that, the number of questions a team has to answer directly quickly drops.

UI of chat with the Back to Work bot.

And, you could do all this without ever leaving the Teams interface. With this functionality, subject matter experts, individuals, departments, and companies can easily create bots for their colleagues and employees to chat with – all within the platform for teamwork, Microsoft Teams.

Keep your eye out for the preview for Power Virtual Agents in Teams in September. In the meantime, learn more about the integration between Power Platform and Teams and read more updates on the Microsoft Teams blog.

Happy bot building!