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Microsoft named a Leader in IDC MarketScape for WW General-Purpose Conversational AI Platforms


Microsoft is named a leader in the IDC MarketScape: Worldwide General-Purpose Conversational AI Platforms 2021 Vendor Assessment (doc #US47354421, October 2021).

The IDC MarketScape says Microsoft is “a strong vendor if you use a combination of code and low or no-code tools to develop conversational AI scenarios, especially if you are a large enterprise looking for a broad set of cloud-based services for building and deploying conversational AI”. You can download a complimentary excerpt.

Microsoft offers both software-as-a-service (SaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) options for building, training, deploying, and managing conversational AI across a wide range of channels.

  • Power Virtual Agents: Microsoft’s SaaS offering, provides a web-based intuitive graphical interface and enables all makers to build conversational AI solutions without having to manage the underlying infrastructure.
  • Azure Bot Service: Microsoft’s PaaS offering, allows pro developers to build virtual assistants through both visual and code-based interfaces.

A visual representation of the Conversational AI vendors placed across “Participants, “Contenders”, “Major Players” and “Leaders” categories. This includes Microsoft positioned as a leader.
Figure 1: “IDC MarketScape: Worldwide General-Purpose Conversational AI Platforms 2021 Vendor Assessment.”

The IDC MarketScape recognized Microsoft as a leader in general-purpose conversational AI platforms who provides a broad set of SaaS and PaaS services, the ability to give voice-based assistants custom voices and in a variety of languages, as well as overall engineering expertise in conversational AI.

Let’s take a closer look at the capabilities that Power Virtual Agents and Azure Bot Service offer.

Power Virtual Agents

  • Build bots faster, easier—make, test, and publish bots with an intuitive low code UI, automated workflows with 450 plus prebuilt data connectors, and rich AI. Deploy to multiple channels and extend with code to accelerate developer velocity.
  • Secure and scale with trust—monitor, manage, and improve bots with prebuilt analytics and a unified admin center to maintain enterprise-grade compliance and governance.
  • One platform, unlimited innovation—leverage the broader Microsoft Power Platform and Microsoft Cloud including native integration with Microsoft Teams and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Service.

Azure Bot Service

  • Accelerate bot building with Azure Bot Service Composer—start from a template and use a visual, open-source authoring canvas. Extend and customize the conversation with code when needed.
  • Add natural language, speech, and vision—infuse your bot with the high-quality AI capabilities of Azure Cognitive Services.
  • Deploy to popular channels with minimal code changes—build once and deploy your bot to more than 13 channels to reach customers.

As organizations increasingly empower fusion teams of subject matter experts and pro developers to partner together to build and manage bots, Microsoft is working hard to ensure that SMEs using Power Virtual Agents and pro developers using Azure Bot Service Composer can collaboratively build intelligent bots. For example, the integration between Power Virtual Agents and Composer enables SMEs to start building bots with Power Virtual Agents’ graphical interface and deploy them quickly to the channel of their choice. When needed, pro developers can extend those bots with Composer to create custom dialogs that handle interruptions, cancelations, and context switching—all within Power Virtual Agents’ SaaS environment. Furthermore, we have also announced capabilities to allow both Power Virtual Agents and Azure Bot Service to be used as skills bidirectionally. For example, Azure Bot Service bots as a skill can be used with Power Virtual Agents hosted bots, and Power Virtual Agents bots as a skill with Azure Bot Service bots (preview). This allows customers to ensure that they can use the tools that best work for their unique needs.