How Microsoft is leveraging AI’s transformative potential

How Microsoft is leveraging AI’s transformative potential
The new era of AI is driven by how computers can use almost limitless computing power in the cloud

Richard Humphreys |

AI is proving to be a hot topic at the moment. Just a couple of weeks ago, Harry Shum, executive vice president of Microsoft’s Artificial Intelligence and Research Group, spoke at Future Forum in Beijing, China. And last week, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella shared how Microsoft is democratising AI for everyone at DLD in Munich, Germany, and at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.


According to Microsoft, this new era of AI is driven by the combination of almost limitless computing power in the cloud, the digitisation of our world, and breakthroughs in how computers can use this information to learn and reason much like people do. What some are calling the fourth industrial revolution is being accelerated by these advancements in AI, and this means that all companies are becoming digital companies – or will soon be.


Microsoft has made it clear that its focus is on democratising AI – finding new ways to put AI tools in the hands of businesses, public sector organisations and developers to build their own intelligence capability. Ultimately, Microsoft says that everyone can and should benefit from the promise of artificial intelligence.


Land O’ Lakes, for example, is using MyAnalytics – a capability in Office 365 that provides insights on how employees spend time at work and who they spend it with. Details about time spent in meetings, email, focus hours and after hours let employees know exactly where their minutes are going. Think of it as a fitness tracker for your workday.


Customers such as Volvo, Nissan, BMW and Harman Kardon are already doing amazing things with this technology, building on our Cortana platform to create solutions in the car, in home automation, productivity and device control.


AI is also enabling magical things with massive global impact like the ability to translate between spoken and written languages instantaneously. Microsoft Translator is a free, cross-platform tool for simultaneously translating between groups speaking multiple languages in-person, in real-time, connecting people and overcoming barriers. It connects up to 100 people, speaking across up to nine languages and working in over 50 typed languages. In London, The Children’s Society uses Microsoft Translator to help refugees and those seeking asylum overcome language barriers.


The increased interest in chatbots is also thanks to AI capabilities. Built upon the technology stack that powers XiaoIce and Rinna — successful Microsoft AI chatbots in China and Japan — Zo learns from human interactions to respond emotionally and intelligently. You can engage with her on Kik today. In the future, Zo will be available on other social and conversational channels such as Skype and Facebook Messenger.


Some, like elevator company ThyssenKrupp, are using predictive intelligence to fundamentally change the way they do business. Rolls-Royce is using Cortana Intelligence Suite to uncover data insights that allow the manufacturer to increase aircraft availability while reducing engine maintenance costs.


Meanwhile, more than 77,000 developers have registered bots using Microsoft’s Bot Framework, and a broad range of customers and organizations such as Bank of Kochi, Rockwell Automation and the Australian Department of Human Services are leveraging this technology to transform their businesses across channels such as Slack, Facebook Messenger, Office 365, text/sms, Skype and Kik.


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