New features geared towards helping you to work smarter and faster
As companies gather more and more data, Microsoft argues, it’s becoming imperative that the tools these companies use also become smarter. This means bringing better analytics to the workplace to help individual employees become more productive. Microsoft is planning to use machine learning and artificial intelligence to deliver such tools to Office 365 and Dynamics 365 very soon.
This announcement, made at Microsoft’s Ignite Conference in Atlanta this week, is a big deal as lately many leading software vendors have made announcements detailing the machine – learning tools they have built and how they will affect customers and end users world wide. In such a context, it is refreshing to note that Microsoft doesn’t believe AI technologies will replace humans but instead empower them. This is very important as we are increasingly seeing big software companies using machine learning to get rid of jobs. Therefore we will watch carefully how Microsoft delivers on this ideology going forward.
Microsoft is bringing more cloud-powered intelligence services to Office 365 in the near future, for example. The upcoming QuickStarter for PowerPoint and Sway will be able to give you curated outlines for any topic — including text and Creative Commons-licensed images — to provide you with the foundation of you presentation. In addition, Excel will also soon allow you to easily transform geographic data into Bing-powered maps and Tap for Word and Outlook will help you find existing content inside your company that could be relevant to a document you are working on.
Office 365 is also about to get a built-in tool that lets you track your productivity with the help of Microsoft MyAnalytics (previously known as Delve Analytics). The service allows you to compare your personal analytics (how much time to you spent answering emails, making Skype calls, editing documents, etc.) with those of your other team members (all without your manager ever seeing the data, though, Microsoft promises)
The company says Dynamics 365, too, will soon get smarter thanks to built-in AI assistants that will help surface actionable data and even help sales teams find the best next action as they are trying to close a deal. This new Relationships Assistant for Dynamics 365 for Sales is based on the Cortana Intelligence Suite, which Microsoft introduced in 2015.
Most of these new features are now available for Office 365 customers, though some — like the PowerPoint QuickStarter and maps for Excel — are only coming later this year. Internally, Microsoft is also currently using a new AI-powered virtual agent across its U.S. call centers to help its employees better answer its customers questions. One wonders, if this virtual agent is a welcome development by Microsoft employees.
It is pretty clear that arfiticial intelligence and machine – learning are now main stream technologies in many ways, and will continue to see many machine learning – powered features emerging in the months to come. It’s going to be a long and interesting ride!