Microsoft Power Virtual Agents

2 Nov · 6 min read

Microsoft Power Virtual Agents

The emergence of artificial intelligence and the scalability of technological developments in today’s marketplace has opened enormous opportunities for organizations to take their business to the next level with the use of AI Chatbots. With the rise in chatbot trends, many companies are still struggling to keep up with the modern trend in order to meet up the end requirements of the customers. In general, Chatbots are tools that respond to messages submitted through a website or application automatically, either by extracting data from a database or by evolving over time using AI algorithms. 

Recently, Microsoft introduced its technology meant for chatbot development termed as ‘Power Virtual Agents’. The essential part of Power Virtual Agents is Topic. A topic is a collection of specific information that the user wants to know, for example, information about restaurant opening hours, information about the possibility of booking a table, and so on. One can add triggers, messages, and actions to a topic. The chatbot will perform the steps or nodes indicated in that topic if the user enters an inquiry that is similar or identical to a trigger. By choosing the "+" symbol at the end of the topic or hovering the mouse cursor over it, nodes can be added. 

A node can consist of one of the following: 

Submit a query

The ‘Submit a query’ option looks for a certain type of user input and stores it in the variable. In the scenario of multiple user options, Power Virtual Agents will automatically generate condition nodes for the provided options resulting in a reduction of chatbots development time. 

Addition of condition

As the name implies, ‘Addition of condition’ refers to adding a condition. Power Virtual Agents performs two nodes automatically including one for the desired condition and one for all other scenarios. The major disadvantage of this option is that it can be used only after a generic display of messages from chatbot such as “Wait for a moment”, “Checking the longer” etc. followed by the checking of conditions. 

Call to action

The "Call to action" option can trigger an out-of-the-box action for user authentication or a Power Automate flow connection. This enables the chatbot to handle complex tasks by connecting it to power automate. The chatbot provides the necessary inputs and a flow completing the specified business process followed by sending the desired outcome to the chatbot. 

The user authentication step is extremely important if the chatbot is in one of the languages supported by Power Virtual Agents. This action will display default messages in a different language for other languages

Display message

The simple message is generated using the "Display message" option. The text in the message can be normal, bold, or italic followed by the addition of Bulleted lists, numbered lists, links, and variables in messages. 

Go to another topic

You can change the topic of the conversation using the "Go to another topic" option. Choosing this option will take you to a list of topics where the conversation can be redirected. 

End of survey

The "End with survey" action is an in-built survey action. Power Virtual Agents records survey results and provides statistics on the Customer Satisfaction page on the analytics section of the system. 

Transfer to agent

"Transfer to agent" is another out-of-the-box function that lets you easily transfer a chatbot conversation to a live agent.

Sometimes, it’s difficult to recall the entire reasoning and justifications for why a specific thing was done in a certain manner. Furthermore, Power Virtual Agents has one outstanding feature that consists of all nodes inside the topic being connected by lines and structured in a logical order, making it easy to develop and maintain a chatbot.

Another benefit of Power Virtual Agents is that it makes it easy to distribute your chatbot across multiple channels.

On the other hand, Power Virtual agents have drawbacks as well. These disadvantages are functionalities that are present within IBM Watson Assistant but it would have been great to consider it keeping its benefits in mind while creation of Power Virtual Agents. However, Microsoft might consider including its feature at a later stage. 

Moreover, Power Virtual agents are incapable of doing the following tasks:

1. Recognition of regex

2. Editing messages with HTML code 

3. Manual Creation of variables

Although, variables in Power Virtual Agents can be created and can be set to a value only within "Ask a question" and "Call to action" options.

4. Changing variables during a conversation

5. Lack of Implementation

Lack of Implementation of multiple responses and showcasing them to the user in a random manner result in presenting Chatbot as less robotic.

6. Manual entry of new user in a topic


To conclude, Watson's advanced functionalities are combined with the user interface of Power Virtual Agents and its ability to link to numerous Power Automate flows. This makes it a perfect tool for developing chatbots. The usage of features of various chatbots depends on the requirement of the business. In order to build a chatbot, it's important to design a use case, develop a dialogue, and experiment with various technologies resulting in the discovery of exciting processes. 

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