Today, companies worldwide are investing heavily towards artificial intelligence (AI) and bots. How can significant conglomerates stay back? Microsoft has been all in on AI and bots this year, and in the build versus buy equation, it has been leaning heavily toward buying. We can already see that Azure Bot Service has gained momentum and is speeding up development by offering a unified environment that’s purpose-built for bot development with the Microsoft Bot Framework connectors and BotBuilder SDKs. Developers who are interested in building their bots can start the same within seconds with out-of-the-box templates for situation including basic, form, question and answer, language understanding and proactive bots.
Recently, Microsoft has announced that it has acquired a conversational AI and bot development firm XOXCO and the reason is simple; Microsoft wants to become the super-powers in giving the best building facility. Texas-based XOXCO has been building the way in conversational AI for approximately six years and has been accountable for the creation of Howdy-the first bcommercially accessible bot for Slack that assists in scheduling meetings. Microsoft over the years has partnered with the firm and has been inspired by its work, for example, the development of a Botkit that provides the development tools used by hundreds of thousands of developers on GitHub.
One can see that AI’s with conversational capabilities are fast becoming a way in which businesses engage with employees and customers these bots can also assist from creating virtual assistants and redesigning customer interactions to using conversational assistants to help employees communicate and collaborate to work better. According to a recent report that by 2020, conversational AI will be a supported user experience for more than 50 percent of large, consumer-centric enterprises. Microsoft’ existing Bot Framework, available as a service in Azure and on GitHub supports over 360,000 developers, and with the acquisition of XOXCO, Microsoft will continue to realize their approach of democratizing AI development, conversation, and dialog, and integrating conversational experiences where people communicate.
Over the last few months, it made several strategic moves to fasten the pace of AI development. Their acquisition of Semantic Machines in May brought a revolutionary new approach to conversational AI. In July, Microsoft acquired Bonsai to assist in reducing the barriers to AI development by combining machine teaching, reinforcement simulation, and learning. In September, Microsoft acquired Lobe, a company that has created a simple visual interface empowering anyone to develop and apply deep learning and AI models quickly, without writing code. The acquisition of GitHub in October demonstrates their belief in the power of communities to help fuel the next wave of bot development.
Microsoft is cashing in on the technology that today when we want assistance with regards to any new product, we are interacting with conversational bots. These bots are communicating with humans and solving their queries. Hence, Microsoft is trying to make it easier for developers without AI experience to tap into Microsoft’s expertise on the Azure platform.