First impression with Microsoft Virtual Agent – integrated with Flow and Dynamics Sales

Just before the summer vacation, I tested for the first time Microsoft Virtual Agent, partly because I wanted to bring something exciting to present before a customer visit, but also to see how simple (or how difficult?) it really is to configure and “train” a Bot to handle issues via the website. In addition, I wanted to test Flow and Dynamics Sales integration with the Bot.

My goal was to converse with my Bot, give the Bot an “Account Name” and then get an answer from the Bot which “City” and “Street” the Account was on based on information in my Dynamics 365 Sales App.

I started by registering a trial at Dynamics 365 Sales at https://trials.dynamics.com. Here I chose United States as the home of the environment because Virtual Agent is not yet available in Swedish and because an American login was needed later when I created my Virtual Agent environment.

After a few minutes, my Dynamics 365 Sales was ready, and added to that also an Office 365 environment was now available, including Microsoft Flow. This was automatically accessible at https://www.office.com and with the same login as the Dynamics 365 Sales environment.

I then created a very simple test flow that would receive an “Account Name” from the Bot via an HTTP request and then be used as a parameter for a search call to Dynamics Sales. The return value to Flow (and ultimately to the Bot) would be “City” and “Street” for the current “Account Name”.

Then I created my Virtual Agent environment via the following page, https://va.ai.dynamics.com, and again I used the same US login as above. This environment took 10-15 minutes to create.

When this was done, it was time to first define a number of “Trigger Phrases” for the Bot to act on. In my case, it was about wanting Account Information from CRM by entering an “Account Name”. Thirteen different “Trigger Phrases” to the Bot on the subject should be enough.

Then I created the conversation flow with the Bot, which was basically just to capture an “Account Name”, send it to Microsoft Flow and receive the return value from Flow and present it in the Bot communication!

When everything worked, it was just to complete the test by deploying the Bot to a page on the web and start the conversation to get some Account Information from the Dynamics Sales App!

A nice little test where you get an insight into what Microsoft will be able to offer in the future with Bot technology and what opportunities you have to easily interact with different Apps on the Dynamics 365 platform through Microsoft Flow.

My overall impression is that it’s very easy to get started with Virtual Agent and understand how triggers work and how to design flows in the conversation between Bot and Human. However, initially, a little more is required to understand how to call and interact with other systems, e.g. Microsoft Flow. But on the whole, you can as an ordinary user come quite a long way without hiring a system developer.

Microsoft Virtual Agent is still in pre-release and will initially only support English and probably immediately, or soon thereafter, languages like French, German, Spanish, and Italian.

By Peter Gynnerstedt