Microsoft Power Virtual Agents: What? Why? How?

Microsoft Power Virtual Agents: What? Why? How?

This article discusses what Microsoft Power Virtual Agents (Power Virtual Agents) is (“Power Virtual Agents” word combination may require a predicate in the singular form (“is” – when it is used in the sense of the program for creating virtual agents) or in the plural form (“are” – when it is used to refer to Virtual Agents created with the help of Power Power Virtual Agents)). In particular, this article discusses what Power Virtual Agents is, why it may advantageous to use it and how to get started and get help with it.

 
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What is Power Virtual Agents?
Power Virtual Agents is an app for creating chat bots within a visual user-friendly interface. Power Virtual Agents is a part of Microsoft Power Platform and can be used with the other programs in the platform or independently.

Power Virtual Agents can be compared to PowerPoint or WordPress blog article creation in the sense that users across all these platforms deal with blocks of information that they can structure the way they want relying on visual interface and without having to deal with the underlying code.

Why to Use Power Virtual Agents?
The purpose of Power Virtual Agents is to help companies build chat bots within their existing software to optimize day-to-day business processes.

Power Virtual Agents connect and work seamlessly with with different software, including the other Power Platform tools (Power BI, Power Apps, Power Automate), Microsoft Dynamics 365 (e.g. Business Central, D365F, D365SCM, etc.), and other programs by Microsoft and beyond.

For example, the search box in Dynamics 365 Business Central allows searching only for Lists and functions (e.g. Posted Sales Invoices, Adjust Cost Batch Job, etc.), but not records. Power Virtual Agents, in turn, can be set up to search for records and other data. For instance, if a User needs to find a particular Sales Invoice, the User can enter the Invoice No. right in the chat box instead of going to the related Page (Posted Sales Invoices) and then searching for the data there. Therefore, using chat bots can be an advantage especially for saving time and training new Users.

How to Use Power Virtual Agents?
Power Virtual Agents can be used in a variety of creative ways. The underlying principle is an algorithm which, based on the users’ input, provides the next steps or the available options.

Perhaps, one of the most useful applications of Power Virtual Agents is building wizards. This is a particularly useful feature where companies offer custom products. For example, if a customer purchases a new car, a Power Virtual Agent (a chat bot), can take a user from the basic questions such as what trim it is, the colour to what security systems should the vehicle be equipped with, etc. This can help increase customer satisfaction as customers can get the necessary information (e.g. an estimate) regardless of the time of the day they request it.

At the same time, as the proverb says, “too much of one thing is good for nothing” – that is, using bots may be an advantage, but overusing them may drive away customers as nothing can substitute human communication and trying to overload bots with human functions may result in customers seeking products and services elsewhere.

For the companies wishing to explore and to set up their own Power Virtual Agents, the related website (link A in the “Further Reading” section of this article), documentation (link B) and online community (link C) are available to help with the first steps and with the maintenance of their chat bots. Link A, among other things, contains the information about pricing for Power Virtual Agents which is calculated monthly per the number of sessions per tenant.

Bottom Line
Power Virtual Agents is a tool to create chat bots and wizards. This tool can save employees’ time and help increase customer satisfaction – but as the Latin proverb says, “est modus in rebus” – that is, there is a measure in things and overusing chat bots can have an adverse effect. In order to help users and partners get started and maintain Power Virtual Agents, the related website, documentation and online community have been created. Companies wishing to deploy Power Virtual Agents should be prepared to spend time and money to set up and maintain their chat bots.

If you have questions about Power Virtual Agents and your ERP system, contact us.