Microsoft Corp. today introduced new artificial intelligence features for Sales Viva, a cloud application that it released last year to ease the work of enterprise sales teams.
The new AI features are powered by OpenAI LLC’s GPT-3.5 model. The model also forms the basis of ChatGPT, the advanced AI chatbot that the startup debuted in December.
Microsoft 365, the productivity suite known until recently as Office, is available in multiple editions that each include a different set of software products. The enterprise editions of Microsoft 365 include an employee engagement tool called Viva. Workers can use it to access company announcements, product documentation and other internal information.
The AI features that Microsoft debuted today are rolling out for Viva Sales, a component of the platform geared towards sales teams. Salespeople often save email correspondence with customers in their company’s customer relationship management platform for future reference. Viva Sales automates the task of saving emails to a company’s CRM deployment, thereby saving time for users.
The GPT-3.5 integration Microsoft debuted today promises to further reduce the need for manual work. Currently in preview, the integration will enable salespeople to automatically generate replies to customer emails instead of writing them from scratch.
Users can access the new AI features through a sidebar in the interface of Microsoft’s Outlook email client. After opening the sidebar, salespeople can enter a brief text prompt detailing what type of email reply they wish to send. Viva Sales then generates the specified reply using OpenAI’s GPT-3.5 model.
“When responding to an email, Viva Sales provides sellers in-the-moment suggested responses based upon categories such as ‘make a proposal’, ‘reply to an inquiry,’ or ‘suggest your own’,” Lori Lamkin, the corporate vice president for the Dynamics 365 customer experience platform, detailed in a blog post. “The seller simply selects the option to suit their needs and a reply is generated for the seller to review, edit to their liking, and send.”
Viva Sales can customize each response it generates with data from a company’s Microsoft 365 environment. If a customer inquires about the price of a certain product, the tool can automatically find the price and include it in its response. Viva Sales is also capable of retrieving data stored in Salesforce Inc.’s popular CRM platform.
“The reply is enriched with the combined data from Microsoft Graph—which provides access to people-centric data and insights in the Microsoft Cloud, including Microsoft 365, Windows, and Microsoft Enterprise Mobility + Security, and the customer relationship management (CRM) system (Microsoft Dynamics 365 or Salesforce,” Lamkin detailed.
The new ChatGPT-3.5 features are rolling to Sales Viva a few weeks after Microsoft announced an expansion of its partnership with OpenAI. The expanded collaboration will see Microsoft make a multibillion-dollar investment in the startup. Additionally, the company intends to integrate OpenAI-developed neural networks into its enterprise and consumer products.
Microsoft has already incorporated OpenAI technology into several of its products. The startup’s Codex neural network powers GitHub Copilot, a programming assistant that Microsoft’s GitHub subsidiary launched last year. Codex and other OpenAI models are also available through Azure.
Going forward, Microsoft reportedly plans to integrate an upcoming OpenAI neural network called GPT-4 into Bing. It’s believed Bing could use GPT-4 to answer some search queries and surface related information.