Inspiration

As the creator of the Accessibility Bot by Future Worx (available on the Teams app store) - I have seen first-hand that bots are not only hugely powerful, but have great positive impact on the people using them.
Office 365 is a world-class productivity and collaboration suite, available to millions across the globe. However, there is still on-going need to solve the challenges of driving adoption and realising value from these tools. Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic, working smarter and making technology seamless and inclusive has become increasingly important.

What it does

Work Smart is a powerful chat bot available to people using Microsoft Teams via the app store, to quickly become proficient with their Microsoft productivity and collaboration tools.

For organisations Work Smart supports adoption and learning activities. It also drives “work in your style” inclusivity with knowledge of accessibility features. Work Smart reduces burden on IT support and Champions by providing a low-cost alternative to human resource. Available on-demand, 24/7 - the interactive self-service platform triages “How do I…?”, “Teach me…” and “Tell me about…” style questions.

For people of all levels and skill Work Smart is a single point of truth where people can learn about Office 365 tools and begin to work smarter. People no longer have to wait for Champions availability, search internet articles, or wonder where to find publicly available training. If you’re a novice, Work Smart provides a simple navigation menu that allows you to learn about popular features. If you’re on the way to becoming an expert, you can type your free-text questions for a personalised response.

Information you can trust Work Smart only provides credible information, sourced from Microsoft help and learning centres. People are presented with step-by-step written guidance on using their productivity and collaboration tools. Whilst links to Microsoft pages are provided for those who want to delve deeper into topics.

How I built it

Work Smart was built using the Azure Bot Framework. As for my lack of development or coding expertise, the bot was created using the Bot Framework Composer and Emulator to leverage Microsoft’s low/no-code platforms. As the bot targets supporting Office 365 business users, it makes sense to surface the Work Smart bot through Microsoft Teams and its app store.

Challenges I ran into

I'm not a coder. I have an appreciation for technology given previous technical training, however my personal skill is modern collaboration in practice and digital adoption. Having used other low/no-code bot platforms, I have seen a number of limitations with these third-party platforms. I therefore chose to use the Bot Framework Composer and Emulator to fully utilise the capability of the Azure Bot Framework. The first challenge was therefore upskilling rapidly in using new tools and technology to deliver an outstanding and relevant user experience.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

As my main challenge states, I’m not a coder. I’m therefore extremely proud to have taught myself how to create a bot from scratch using more advanced tools. Using the Bot Framework Composer and Emulator has allowed me to step outside of my comfort zone that usually talks to use cases, tools mapping and adoption activities.

What I learned

I’ve learned that bots are extremely powerful. I feel that there is a perception of bots that make them appear complex to develop, and therefore out of reach to most organisations. However with low/no-code tools this experience is opened up to regular people such as myself. There is a genuine need for bots to support people in their day-to-day activities, and Microsoft Teams makes a perfect platform to access bots in a seamless manner. There is a huge pool of resources people could be using to support organisational or personal learning and smarter working. However the effort put in to find these solutions is often time consuming. The Work Smart bot therefore provides a shop-window into discovering the potential of Microsoft’s productivity and collaboration tools.

What's next for Work Smart

In the future, we will make Work Smart increasingly accessible by adding “Tell me” and “Show me” features. This will allow people to hear step-by-step instructions aloud, and visualise the steps they should take via video or GIF. We will also be adding a "What's new in Office 365" menu item to keep people up-to-date on the latest new features.

Built With

  • azure
  • azure-bot-framework
  • bot-framework-composer
  • bot-framework-emulator
  • luis.ai
  • microsoft-teams
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