Microsoft goes AI crazy: Now Office 365 can track what you really get up to in meetings

Microsoft has not only beefed up Office 365 with AI features, but has also deployed a new AI-enabled virtual agent at all its US support centers.

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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella: "We're infusing intelligence into everything we deliver."

Image: Microsoft

Microsoft has announced several new artificial intelligence-powered features for Office 365 and Dynamics 365 for Sales.

At its annual Ignite conference this week in Atlanta, GA, Microsoft is showing off new AI features across its core products for the enterprise. According to CEO Satya Nadella, this AI-everywhere strategy amounts to Microsoft "democratizing AI" for everyone to solve the world's most pressing challenges.

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"To do this, we're infusing intelligence into everything we deliver, from the agent to applications, services and infrastructure," said Nadella.

Microsoft has not only beefed up Office 365 with a host of AI-powered features, but also deployed a new AI-enabled virtual agent at all its US support centers. And, as Uber announced last week, Microsoft Cognitive Services is driving its real-time ID service that verifies the identity of drivers with a selfie.

New smart features coming to Office 365 include Tap in Word and Outlook, which aims to help workers reuse content already to be found in corporate documents for new documents and emails.

Another is Quickstarter for PowerPoint and Sway, offering a faster way to integrate text and images into presentations. Excel meanwhile will gain a Bing Maps feature to visualize geographic data.

Office 365 is also gaining the MyAnalytics personal analytics service, formerly known as Delve Analytics, which Microsoft gained when it acquired VoloMetrix last year.

MyAnalytics provides a visualized breakdown of personal performance at work, offering a snapshot of 'meeting hours', 'email hours', 'focus hours', and 'after hours'. Users can also query the percentage of email read by recipients and what time email was read to help workers optimize the timing of email.

The main goal of MyAnalytics is to help workers manage how they personally spend their time at work. However, it also has a social component that, for example, shows response times to colleagues as well as customers. Users can drill down into each category to discover how much time was spent multi-tasking and assess whether it was time well spent.

Microsoft is also using AI to enhance businesses processes and customer relationships for salespeople who use Dynamics 365 for Sales.

This application will soon have a feature called Relationships Assistant that will use Cortana Intelligence Suite to corral bits of customer data scattered across a network to provide a snapshot of useful information to help manage relationships.

Microsoft announced a number of security improvements to Windows 10 and Office 365. One of these improvements is that Outlook for iOS and Android for Office 365 commercial customers no longer cache mailbox data outside Office 365, since the app now natively supports Exchange Online mailboxes.

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