SharePoint Bots… is Clippy back from the dead?

Clippy image

Clippy was one of the assistants in Office 2003

Ever since Ignite with the power demonstrated with the Bot Framework, there’s been interest in Bots, but even more now with the rich integration for bots with Microsoft Teams.  Many have been wondering what a SharePoint bot would do…  what are the possibilities.  Let me tell you, already there has been a ramp up on SharePoint related bots.

Many bots we’re seeing pop up have been written elsewhere for automating common tasks that are much more complex and then the bot interface will streamline the process and makes it much, much simpler.  Even the simple T-bot which is a helper bot for Microsoft Teams feels a little like a resurrection of Clippy.

If you’re too young to remember Clippy, he was the office assistant for Office 2003 and likely even introduced in 97 or before.  Clippy, the dog, the professor, and a whole crew of Office assistants used to be at the ready if you had any questions about how to work on your letter.  These days, we’ve again personified bots that are personal assistants and are at the ready to schedule appointments like Zoom.ai, or answer help questions like T-bot, or help us create a poll like Polly.

You may not have heard there’s an open source community project called the SharePoint Admin Bot project designed to automate common site administration tasks and more.  It’s already doing site creation, reindexing, and more.  It’s only one week new, so there’s all sorts of things this could evolve into.

“The SharePoint Admin Bot is an attempt to make the everyday routine jobs that a SharePoint Online Administrator or Power User easier. Currently the features are limited but the goal is to make them grow. If the feature you want is not in there yet please submit a feature request or even better contribute and do a pull request.”

The creator, Rick Van Rousselt has reached out to the community to get help on what else it could and should do.  Let me give him a few ideas right here:

SharePoint Admin Bot Requests:

  • I’m most interested in health tasks, having the bot doing health checks and letting me know it’s all good and optimized, or suggest recommendations if it finds anything
  • Given a site collection: Scan for Identify large lists
  • Let me know as soon as it hits a threshold I specify
  • Optimize large lists based on queries that actually make sense to the list
  • Copy or Backup the documents or library to a place I specify
  • Output auditing and or permissions information recursively from a location I specify
  • Do a search from the SharePoint bot and return people (isn’t that whobot?) or documents (isn’t that a delve bot?)
  • Retrieve and/or Share a document I specify
  • Explore SharePoint using the bot

Collaboration Corner – SharePoint Bot: Franck Cornu shares his steps and code for SharePoint Search

“In my opinion, bots are the next evolution of the traditional search tools. They represent another alternative to discover content and information across portals (especially SharePoint portals, where all the business content belongs to) but not only. They can be used with multiple common channels in the enterprise (Skype, Teams, Slack, etc.) and, like mentioned by Stéphane Eyskens in his article (very interesting blog btw), coupled with service like LUIS (Language Understanding Intelligent Service), bots can become a powerful feature for your users to enhance the SharePoint search engine by performing the relevant queries using natural language and intents detection.”

Meshbot – Bot for SharePoint Intranets

“Bots are the perfect adoption drivers for your intranet. For a very long time, intranet owners have struggled to get more users to use the intranet and make the intranet the central hub of all information. With bots, you create a personalized, conversation-driven, and powerful interface to your intranet.”

Integrate Bots to your existing SharePoint online or on-prem intranet.

  • Bot comes with pre-built connections for SharePoint
    • Get latest Announcements and News
    • Get document library updates (Eg: Policies, forms etc.)
    • Integrate with self-service apps like leave, reimbursement, helpdesk etc.
    • Access and update critical tasks
    • Integrated with SharePoint user profiles
    • Integrated with SharePoint search
  • Ability to Personalize and Train the Bot for your organization specific scenarios

That’s right on prem or the cloud.  The SharePoint Framework and Bot Framework are providing powerful experiences beyond our wildest dreams.

Bots are dominating the new Office 365 experience.  Joel Oleson is excited about Bots too.  He just posted about the Polly Bot, the newest Bot to come to Microsoft Teams.  Polly will increase engagement with your teams through polling.

They say we’ll soon have more bots than apps.  Very interesting times ahead.  What this all really means is we’ll have a new way to interface with our data through chat based interfaces which so soon will simply be natural language.  I bought an Amazon Echo that listens to me sleep and I frequently get into arguments with Siri, so I’m definitely practicing for those days that bots take over our work.

What would you have bots do for us?  I’m very excited about the work happening around bots and very interested to see more and more hooks for bots with more natural language APIs and definitely lots of opportunities in SharePoint Power User and Administration.  This next generation of user experiences is going way beyond mouse clicks.

Exciting times!

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One Response to SharePoint Bots… is Clippy back from the dead?

  1. Pingback: SharePoint Bots; Microsoft Plots the Death of Email; Should Slack Be Worried?

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