Recently, Microsoft’s Word was rated as the top downloaded Microsoft app on Android phones alone, sitting at over one billion downloads. The popularity of the tool is undeniable, and 'Word’ has become a daily in our vocabulary. "Can you send that through on a Word doc?" is a frequently uttered question in the office.
However, the MS Inspire 2019 conference held in Las Vegas last week has encouraged us to look beyond just celebrating the success of Word, and explore what else is on the horizon for the tech trendsetter.
One of Microsoft’s newer ventures is the cloud-based program that facilitates inter-organisational collaboration, unsurprisingly called Microsoft ‘Teams’. Comparatively to other Microsoft products, Teams is the new-born baby of the Microsoft family, having only been around for two years. Despite its youth, Teams has also recently reached a milestone, with over 13 million users daily, and has quickly overshadowed its rival, Slack.
Perhaps the reason why Teams has become the new platform of choice surrounds its ease of use. When you have Office 365, you get Teams. To seamlessly collate all your office documents and share these among employees, it makes the most sense for your business to use Teams.
Teams mixes AI-powered insights and innovative experiences that constantly facilitate faster downloads and performance, as well as supporting 320+ file types. This demonstrates the immense range of capabilities that justify Microsoft’s standing as one of the world’s biggest tech giants.
MS Inspire this year had a heavy Teams focus, discussing how the continued investment in this tool, particularly in the AI sphere, will continue to benefit customers and help to grow business'. As mentioned at Inspire, Teams is becoming one of their fastest growing platforms, so expect continual upgrades and features within the service.
“Teams, I think, is a canonical example of the flagship of the Microsoft 365 product, which is person-centered, customer-centered,” -Rajesh Jha, Microsoft Executive VP
It is undeniable AI is a hot topic in the tech world, with Forbes having mentioned AI in three of their Top Ten 2020 Digital Transformation trends. Topics among key speakers at MS Inspire mirrored this sentiment, with AI identified as a key market opportunity for Microsoft.
When I think of the words ‘Artificial Intelligence’, my mind conjures up memories of Siri speaking uninvited in a quiet place, or returning pages of strange search results when I asked 'her' what the weather was.
Currently, AI is already prevalent in the Teams platform. One of these functions is cognitive search. Cognitive search allows you to extract text from unstructured data sources, such as images, to make your content easier to find.
Microsoft has also given you the power to create your own ChatBots within the app.You can build custom bots, and decide whether they will interact with employees, or simply follow a ‘commands-based’ structure to further enhance the app experience.
In saying this, it would be misguided to think that the improvements in AI will be life-changing as sometimes touted. However, with plans to completely update the voice activated services within Microsoft tools, AI is fast becoming part of their core business model.
As MS Inspire discussed, Microsoft’s answer to Siri and Alexa, Cortana, is set to do so much more than the Teams bots. Microsoft are designing Cortana to be able to understand contextual clues and emotion behind what is being asked. Integrating this within Teams, it will be extremely beneficial when scheduling meetings and dealing with conflicts in Planner, particularly on the go.
The MS Inspire conference has made us excited for our future as Microsoft partners, and sometimes it's nice to be reminded that Microsoft extends far, far beyond Word. Instead, their customer centric and forward thinking approach continues to improve the way that we do business in every aspect.
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