Meet Workbot, one of the first AI assistants for MIcrosoft Teams

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With a recent Spiceworks Inc. survey claiming that Microsoft Teams is poised to surpass Slack within two years, it’s no wonder third-party developers are eager to jump on the bandwagon early.

Workato Inc. became one of the first to do so with the service’s launch into general availability today by introducing a chatbot designed to help users collaborate on business information more easily. Workbot, as the Cupertino, California-based startup calls its assistant, achieves that by providing the ability to fetch records from external applications directly in the message window. There are two main types of items that users can expect to see in their team channels on a day-to-day basis.

The first are messages generated in response to specific requests. A salesperson, for instance, could use Workbot to pull data about leads from Salesforce.com Inc., while help desk personnel can use its natural language interface to keep track of outstanding tickets. Moreover, it’s also possible to have the assistant generate a notification when a new support request or some other important items comes down the pipe.  

The other types of messages that Workbot produces are created automatically based on user activity patterns. On its website, Workato exemplifies how the assistant could spot if a worker who is keen on keeping their files organized forgets to sync a lead entry in Marketo to Salesforce and notify them about the oversight. The bot can even take care of the data transfer to spare business professionals the hassle of manually moving records around.

Workbot only fully supports Salesforce on launch, but Workato promises that other applications will follow suit “soon.” In the meantime, organizations that don’t wish to wait on the startup to add compatibility with the services they’re using can implement integrations on their own.

Building a strong relationship with Workato and other developers working to build chatbots for its service will be essential if Microsoft wants to establish a foothold in the crowded messaging segment. The software giant is going up not only against Slack but also numerous other providers including Atlassian Inc. and Cisco Systems Inc., which started bringing third-party virtual assistants to its rival Spark service last year.

Image: Microsoft