“Any organization in any industry, especially those with very large amounts of data, can use AI for business value.”
Want to discover how one of the most popular and leading tech giants is making a thorough use of AI?
From the point of its inception, till now, Microsoft has set new milestones with the application of technologies in each of its services and operations. The platform has recently made history by paving its way as the second US public company to reach a $2 trillion market value.
In particular, the platform has kept artificial intelligence (AI) at the forefront of all its functions and has developed a wide range of tools and services that are being integrated into the areas of business and society. To successfully focus on its mission of developing AI-powered applications the platform established its AI and Research group in 2016.
It was in 2017 when Microsoft featured the term “artificial intelligence” in the vision of the company for the very first time, highlighting the fact intelligent tools and applications are at the heart of its operations.
From Microsoft’s popular virtual assistant Cortana, web search engine Bing, software Office 365, conversational chatbots, or its communication platforms, the platform has been heavily integrating intelligent functionality into its applications and services.
Established in 1975 and founded by childhood friends Bill Gates and Paul Allen, the platform was originally termed Micro-Soft, for microprocessors and software and was meant for producing software for the Altair 8800, an early personal computer.
In the present times Microsoft is a leading global vendor of computer softwares, hardware for computer, mobile, and gaming systems; and cloud services. It develops and markets software, hardware, and services that offer fresh opportunities and more convenience for its customers. The platform operates worldwide and manages offices in over 170 countries. Following Steve Ballmer, from 2014 onwards the reins for leading the tech giant were handed to Satya Nadella, who has been essaying the role of the CEO from that point onwards.
As per a 2013 annual report Microsoft’s revenue is generated by developing, licensing, and supporting a wide range of software products and services, by designing and selling hardware, and through delivering relevant online advertising to a global customer audience. Alongside individual products and services, the platform also offers suites of products and services.
Microsoft’s products include operating systems for PC, servers, phones, and other intelligent devices, server applications for distributed computing environments, productivity applications, business solution applications, desktop and server management tools, software development tools, video games, and online advertising.
The platform also designs and sells hardware including the Xbox 360 gaming and entertainment console, Kinect for Xbox 360, Xbox 360 accessories, and Microsoft PC hardware products.
Microsoft offers consulting and product and solution support services, and the platform trains and certifies computer system integrators and developers. It also facilitates cloud-based solutions that provide customers with software, services, and content over the Internet through shared computing resources located in centralized data centers.
Some of the recent updates of the platform in 2021 include it recently coming under the limelight for launching Surface Pro 7+ for businesses in early January. In early February Microsoft launched the Microsoft Viva employee experience platform and also announced its plans for expanding its presence in Atlanta. In the month of March, the platform introduced the Microsoft Mesh mixed-reality platform.
Microsoft’s AI for Good Initiative
“AI can be our friend,”- Bill Gates
The AI for Good initiative which was launched by the company in 2017 is aimed at offering technology and resources for empowering organizations that are working towards solving global challenges exposed to the environment, humanitarian issues, accessibility, health, and cultural heritage.
AI for Earth
This is an initiative that places AI technology and cloud software in the hands of the ones working towards resolving global environmental challenges.
AI for Health
This initiative focuses on empowering researchers and organizations with AI with the purpose of improving the health of people and communities worldwide.
AI for Accessibility
The initiative is committed to enhancing global independence and inclusion in society by primarily focusing on 4 areas namely, Home, community, education, and employment.
Microsoft’s AI for Good initiative
AI for Humanitarian Action
Through this initiative, Microsoft partners with organizations working towards supporting disaster response, refugees, displaced persons, human rights, and the needs of women and children.
AI for Cultural Heritage
This initiative resolves to empower people and organizations committed to preserving and enriching the cultural heritage.
Role of Artificial intelligence (AI) in Microsoft
"So incredible, it will change society in some very deep ways,” - Bill Gates
Microsoft offers a comprehensive range of offerings to enterprise developers, such as flexible tools for the ones who wish to build from the ground up or plug and play APIs which ingrain AI capabilities into applications and require minimal coding.
Microsoft AI applications
Through this application, AI powers innovative apps which can aid its users in writing and designing better, visualizing maps and charts in Excel, and streamlining inboxes. The application ensures that office apps are simple to make use of, safer, and more collaborative.
Cortana makes use of AI to integrate natural language interactions across Microsoft 365 – use spoken requests to send messages, check schedules, join meetings, add tasks, and much more. From helping its users in preparing for meetings to managing their inbox automatically, it helps users to focus on the important aspects and save more time.
Microsoft Dynamics 365
This application drives the user’s digital transformation through cloud business applications that adopt consumer insights and data, LinkedIn integration, and intelligent technology, like machine learning and predictive analytics, with the purpose of improving the user’s business processes.
This web search engine adopts AI to make it easier for users to discover what they are searching for. Through its dynamic web comprehension, Bing offers fast and well-structured responses, even for complex queries. It also lets users search within an image to detect what they wish to see.
MyAnalytics adopts AI for analyzing the work patterns of the user and to help them in learning ways to work in a more effective manner. The application enhances the user’s focus, wellbeing, and collaboration through personal insights on the basis of how they apply Microsoft 365.
This application allows the user’s organization to make focused and resolute decisions through updated data analytics and insights. It allows users to monitor their business and obtain swift responses through detailed dashboards made available on each device.
The scheduler allows the users to let Cortana handle their meeting scheduling by making use of advanced AI for processing scheduling requests, sending emails for negotiating times, locating available rooms, and sending invites.
This is an intelligent camera application that makes use of AI for enhancing photography. The app can be used for choosing and enhancing the user’s best shots, sharpening focus, fine-tuning faces, cleansing document photos, and many similar features.
AI services offered by Microsoft
Microsoft offers a range of services powered by AI. Many of the popular AI services have been highlighted below :
Microsoft Azure AI is a portfolio of AI services designed to assist developers and data scientists. The platform features modern AI tools and services designed for helping developers and data scientists in generating AI solutions easily, while simultaneously boosting productivity.
It also offers access to high-quality vision, speech, language, and decision-making AI models via simple API calls, and the facility of creating one’s own machine learning models through tools like Jupyter Notebook, Visual Studio Code, and also open-source frameworks such as TensorFlow and PyTorch.
Pre-built services also termed Cognitive Services power apps with cognitive abilities, allowing developers to make their applications more engaging and intelligent. These services are high-quality intelligent APIs offering the ability to hear, speak, search, understand and accelerate.
Through just a handful of code lines, developers who are unaccustomed to AI can cognitive abilities into their applications for interacting with users through natural language, detecting relevant image content, and pinpointing users by their voice.
Azure Machine Learning Studio
Custom models developed on Azure Machine Learning Studio allow organizations to engage in better decision making, whenever required. Azure Machine Learning Studio is an entirely managed cloud service for data scientists and developers that aids them in flawlessly preparing data, building, and training custom models. Ranging from the edge to the cloud, users have the liberty of accessing the service through any device.
Data Science Virtual Machines
Data Science Virtual Machines help save time for the developers by offering ready-to-use images that can be maintained on Azure. The image comes pre-installed, configured, and tested with leading tools that are generally adopted for data analytics, machine learning, and AI training. These virtual machines offer on-demand elastic capacity for large-scale projects and a pay-as-you-go structure.
Knowledge Mining helps to handle the chaotic data and manage the challenges distracting the developers from discovering the information they require. Knowledge Mining is a content understanding approach that gives AI priority and is powered by Azure Search through built-in cognitive services.
The service derives data through a number of Azure data sources and implements a range of composable cognitive skills that extract knowledge. This knowledge is then organized and kept in a search index, opening up fresh experiences while exploring data.
Microsoft facilitates a wide range of Conversational AI technologies for supporting the development of intelligent bots: be it an easy QnA bot, or a virtual agent that can consistently learn and maintain a smooth and personalized interaction across channels.
The platform is aiding enterprises in building conversational interfaces that communicate with users in more natural ways, allowing them to generate excelling customer experiences and aiding employees in maximizing their time.
In case the developers wish to develop their own conversational bots, the platform offers industry-leading NLP capabilities via the Azure Bot service as well as through Cognitive Services Language APIs. These language services aid in ensuring that apps comprehend the meaning of a speaker’s query and respond to it through natural language.
How AI is infused in Microsoft projects
A handful of the internal Microsoft projects that are making use of AI for creating better outcomes have been highlighted below :
Customer support virtual agent – Microsoft developed a conversational virtual agent for supporting customer queries regarding many Microsoft products that include Office, Xbox, and Windows. This helped create a 2x boost in self-help while reducing the time wasted on agent-to-agent transfers.
Revamped sales processes – Microsoft streamlined its intricate sales processes, enhanced the sales data accuracy, and allowed for an individualized customer experience by generating a fresh sales process developed through Dynamics 365 and Azure Cloud Services.
Smart buildings powered by data analytics – Data analytics, IoT, and Azure Machine Learning were leveraged by the platform to manage predictive maintenance, HVAC optimization as well as climate control, helping to ensure that the buildings remain comfortable and the platform’s environmental footprint is also reduced.
The power and influence of AI have made it the defining technology, paving its way into every business and industry. All tech enterprises are on the lookout for reliable strategic partners to lend them a hand in harnessing AI and to further their development. Microsoft is all set to become that strategic partner, walking hand in hand with AI in this journey of revolutionizing enterprises.