Let AI Builder figure out the user’s meaning!

Continuing on with my series about building a HR Copilot with Copilot Studio. Previously I’ve been advocating of making a multiple choice option with prefilled options to steer the answer in the right directions. But with the rise of Generative AI we can look different at how we program our apps. We can now do things significantly different. In my last post we changed our manually authored topic to an action. We lost the ability to steer the user in the right direction by presenting a multiple choice option set. And instead of trying to fix this, I want to show you a different way. Let Generative AI figure out the meaning of the provided answer by the user. No complex (Azure) Open AI connections needed, we can use AI Builder for this!

Now before I dive deep how to set this up, I want to talk a little bit about the future of programming. More and more I see examples of how Generative AI can solve tasks which in the future would require a lot of programming. Tasks such as find the nearest shop based on your location. Previously this would be a tedious programming exercise. Now we can ask ChatGPT to do this for us, if we provide it with enough information. The challenge for me is, to think about solutions like the previous and my upcoming example. As my default still is to program it out in (low) code. But being creative with specific instructions to a large language model can often be a better fit.

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Plugin Action speaks louder then words

We’ve been building our Copilot Studio topics manually in my example of the HR Copilot. But in this world of generative AI there is a another (better?) way. You can utilize plugin actions to create wrappers around connectors, Cloud Flows and skills. The AI will recognize the intent of the user and will pick the right action to fulfill that intent. If there are input parameters that needs to be filled in, the AI will query the user about this. In this blog we go through the steps in making our first action where a user can submit a leave request.

This post is part of a series of blogpost about Copilot Studio in which I create a HR Copilot and show various options available within Copilot Studio. Here are my other posts about this topic:

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Rich Media Response says more then a 1000 words

When building out topics manually for Power Virtual Agents we have all the control in the world. This means we can also present information in a way that makes sense and is appealing. In this blogpost I will continue on with my example topic of requesting days off. We will start by talking about how to make the request to our external system. After I’ll will utilize the ability to add rich media to our response to wish someone a happy holiday.

This post is part of a series of blogpost about Copilot Studio in which I create a HR Copilot and show various options available within Copilot Studio. Here are my other posts about this topic:

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Enhance your Copilot Studio’s topic with Dynamic Options

Continuing on with my series about Copilot Studio I want to show you something cool. In questions the Copilot asks the user we can presents a option set for the user to choose from. However this list is usually static, such as in my request a day off example. What if we HR adds a leave type option in our HR system? They will probably forget that they have to update the Copilot as well! Let me show you how we can add Dynamic Options to our Copilot.

This post is part of a series of blogpost about Copilot Studio in which I create a HR Copilot and show various options available within Copilot Studio. Here are my other posts about this topic:

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Wave Hello to the 2024 Power Platform Release Wave

Another year, another release wave! This year I once again dive into what I think are the most interesting features. Reading these features will give us some insights on where the product team is investing in. Obviously the bigger and most game changing features will be reserved for a larger stage, nonetheless we can find some cool stuff coming our way!

Now I have to be honest, I am getting less excited about the release waves. Thinking of why I am less excited, I have 2 thoughts that might cause this. One is good and for the other the jury is still out. The good thing is that the Power Platform is moving towards a continuous improvement model. I also highlighted this last release wave. Lot’s of features are rolling out that are silently added to the release plan website. In fact my first highlight is that the monthly channel is coming to general availability in April 2024. Nice thing about this, is that you can set overwrite this on an App by App basis as well!

Shows the App settings where the release channel can be set per individual Power App
Monthly Channel Selectable per App

The second reason is that development of all the various Copilots. They kinda suck the oxygen out of the room. The investment made into building, refactoring and improving these features leaves less money for other product features. Frankly, some of these first iterations of these Copilots are lackluster. I do think they will eventually be really helpful, but sometimes I imagine a world where investments are made into further convergence of Canvas and Model Apps. I do hope it’s not my age turning away my passion from the product 😉

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Make your HR Copilot intelligent by connecting it to SharePoint

Continuing on with the creation of my HR Copilot series. In this blogpost I will show you how to set up generative AI capabilities on your own data in Copilot Studio. I want our chatbot to answer questions found in our HR documentation. This will be the starting point of our Copilot and instantly make it useful!

To reiterate we are building a HR Copilot to use inside Microsoft Teams. We want to solve the following problem statements with our Copilot:

  1. As an employee I want an easy process to call in sick.
  2. As a (project) manager I want to be notified when a team member is sick.
  3. As an employee I want to know my holiday balance and request time off.
  4. As a manager I want to be able to approve time off requests of my team member.
  5. As a HR agent I want help in answering HR related questions.
  6. As a HR agent I want to be notified when questions can’t be answered by the Copilot.

Now in this blogpost we will tackle the fifth bullet of the list. We will add immediate intelligence to our Copilot by connecting it to our existing HR handbooks.

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So you want to build your own Copilot?

It’s been all the craze this last year. Copilots at Microsoft. Investments and implementations of these AI driven conversational applications into every corner of the Microsoft landscape have been done. And with the Ignite news that we will get a low-code Copilot builder with Copilot Studio. I think it’s good to take a step back. From both my series where I want to show how to build a HR Copilot with Power Virtual Agents (now Copilot Studio). And from a holistic point of view on where to start. To begin I want to answer “What makes a good Copilot?” and go from there on how t build one!

So see this as a new start of my series where I show you how to build a HR Copilot. In this series I want to build a Copilot / Conversational Application / Chatbot so employees can:

  • Get direct answers to all HR related questions.
  • Call in sick
  • Get their vacation balance
  • Take time off
  • Have an escalation opportunity

These all address pain points for both generic employees as HR employees. When you are sick, do you like to call your manager? Would you not rather send a message chat message and have him take care of everything? And if you have a question about HR processes, you prefer to get unblocked immediately. And for HR to answer those questions can be interrupting their flow for other tasks they want to accomplish that day.

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My overreaction to Microsoft Copilot Studio

Microsoft and their Generative AI and Copilot push. That is what 2023 is about. And this time at Ignite it is no different. In fact Copilot is mentioned in the Ignite book of news a staggering 281 times. I wanted to count the times Satya said it during the keynote. But I guess I better wait for Copilot to transcribe it, so I can ask it the question directly. In this blogpost I will write down my overreactions and ramblings about Copilot, the Power Platform but mostly about Microsoft Copilot Studio. While writing this, I recognize I am not good in overreactions, so my nuance will follow after my initial reaction 😅

Again with all the renaming of products?! Cognitive Search is now AI Search and Bing Chat is now Microsoft Copilot. This Copilot thing is already confusing! Every product has it’s Copilot and even Copilots to help you build Power Apps in which you can also utilize Copilots. I get that naming things is hard, especially with the fast development cycle Microsoft is in, but it is hard to keep up. I do think in the grand scheme of things, Bing Copilot fits better with the rest of the products. Now let’s jump into the biggest announcement. The loss of Power Virtual Agents and the birth of Microsoft Copilot Studio.

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Create a topic with Copilot Studio’s build in Copilot

With European release news just around the corner I want to share my new series with you. Create your own Human Resource Copilot for your employees. Unburden your HR staff but also important, let employees engage in a manner of their choosing! In this series I want to also share with you all the cool things you can do with both Generative AI technology included in Copilot Studio. Both for building your chatbot with a prompt as well as consuming it. And I also share all the neat new features that are now possible with the new authoring experience.

Shows the Power Virtual Agent authoring and test canvas. This is the result of the Copilot prompt to create the topic.
Take day off

To start of this series I want to lay some ground work. Let’s create a topic to request a day off. In this post I show you how to create your topic using a prompt to the Copilot Studio’s Copilot. I will also share some of my experience with making changes with Copilot in topics.

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Top 9 Waves to catch this Power Platform Release Wave

It’s that time of the year again, the second release wave of the year. We again get insights in the direction the product teams are taking in their continuous improvement efforts. In this post I will highlight a couple that caught my eye. I will tell you why and hopefully this is useful for your own digestion of all news coming your way!

Before we start I want to speculate if this is one of the last Release Waves as we know it. Recently Microsoft announced they will move to a monthly update cadence for Model-Driven Apps. This will move the product towards a modern cloud application with faster updates. Hopefully though, Microsoft keeps us informed of the direction they are taking with their various products.

In essence the Release wave already is on a monthly cadence as all Release Wave features are already released scattered throughout the year. However, for all you applications managers out there, it now is time to change your processes to a more iteratively approach. Especially if you can utilize the user level overrides to let your key users test and experiment before you roll out to entire teams!

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