Microsoft Cortana & The Enterprise Assistant
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella put the company’s enterprise smart assistant, Cortana, front and center during yesterday’s Microsoft Build developer conference. It appears that Microsoft is making great progress with Cortana, aided by the Semantic Machines acquisition from last year that has helped Cortana get a whole lot more conversational. Watch the Cortana demo in the clip from Nadella’s keynote to understand what I’m talking about.
This is equal parts brilliant and exciting from Microsoft as it continues to double-down on its enterprise properties and works to integrate its new, conversational-capable Cortana into its software, starting with a big emphasis on Microsoft Outlook. In my Daily Update from two weeks ago, I pondered what our smart assistants will look like in the Enterprise space, and extrapolated that one of the most obvious areas would be for companies like Microsoft to enhance all of its Office and Microsoft 365 properties by baking Cortana into the software. It’s amazing to see that two weeks later, we’re beginning to see exactly this, as the demo displays a 30-turn conversation between the user and Cortana, as the user manages her calendar through Cortana on-the-fly.
To me, the biggest takeaway from what Microsoft displayed with Cortana is the fact that we’re moving toward a multi-assistant future. Microsoft is really good at enterprise software, so rather than trying to purpose Cortana toward being a general-use assistant, like Alexa and Google Assistant, Microsoft instead made Cortana a specialized assistant, capable of handling queries that are pertinent to Microsoft’s software, very, very well. I think this is likely what we’ll see moving forward. Companies taking all the assets it has under its umbrella, and then conversationally-enabling those properties with a specialized smart assistant interface.
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