Microsoft Ignite – Day One: Driving AI, SharePoint and Project Cortex
First day at Ignite is now over. With a lot of exciting new announcements, it has become clear that the key technology that Microsoft will be driving forward is Artificial Intelligence (AI). The common theme throughout the day for the future of Office 365 is that the use of AI can increase productivity and uncover amazing experiences for collaboration and knowledge sharing.
With a key drive to provide clients with productive ways of working in the cloud, here is a review of the announcements around enhancements in SharePoint Online, Microsoft Teams and upcoming technologies which uses AI to change the way people experience content.
Project Cortex has been kept well under wraps by Microsoft. This marks the first new major application on Microsoft 365 since they dropped Microsoft Teams into the marketplace.
What is Project Cortex?
Building on SharePoint, Project Cortex connects content in Microsoft 365 and enables you to manage your information and streamline processes with advanced security, compliance and automated workflow. This move by Microsoft is firmly aimed at the knowledge management market and helps to reposition SharePoint away from the “online file share” labelling.
Cortex builds on top of existing Microsoft cognitive services for text and image recognition, forms processing and machine learning.
Project Cortex applies AI to automatically organise content, through topic cards, topic pages and, of course, knowledge centres across Microsoft Teams, Office and Outlook.
Here’s a link to a more in-depth view on Project Cortex.
Key features of Project Cortex:
- Topics are automatically identified from within the organisation’s content such as SharePoint pages and documents and appear as underline text
- When selected, topic cards are displayed to suggest expertise, documents and people relating to that specific topic
- Selecting a topic will navigate to an automatically generated SharePoint page with relevant information
- Topics are mapped together to help users find and navigate to other relating topics
- Topic pages roll up in the knowledge centre
Although first unveiled as a concept earlier in 2019, at Ignite Microsoft announced that the new Fluid Framework is now available in preview.
What is the Microsoft Fluid Framework?
As part of Microsoft’s on-going mission to innovate within the enterprise collaboration space, they have created the Fluid Framework. Fluid, which uses AI to provide real time content editing across multiple applications, will start to surface across the Microsoft technology stack – within Teams, SharePoint and documents within the Office Apps.
This is a bold and innovate move from Microsoft that means users will be able to update the content within Outlook, PowerPoint and Microsoft Teams seamlessly and at the same time.
Who could forget SharePoint? Throughout day 1 of Microsoft Ignite there were a number of announcements around improvements to SharePoint and relating technologies. Here’s a list of some of the key takeaways from the sessions across day 1:
- Introduction of SharePoint home sites to provide out of the box intranet functionality with the ability to provide personalisation and surface internet news relevant to you
- Record and upload Microsoft Stream videos with noise cancelling capability
- Users can now create footers that can be applied to all pages of a SharePoint site
- Customisation of Search – ability to modify the search results page and add web parts
- Multi-lingual support for modern communications sites in SharePoint
- Colour code formatting in list view with user interface and without Json
- Modern terms store experience
- Access version control within the page details panel
- Ability to schedule when a page will go live
Microsoft Teams continues to be Microsoft’s flagship communications and collaboration platform within the Microsoft 365 stack. Several announcements were made around enhancements to Microsoft Teams:
- Private channels will now be available. Team members can create channels with different permission settings and invite a subset of users within the Team
- Support for multiple windows so you don’t need to navigate back and forth within Teams
- Access to a central view of your personal tasks along with tasks assign to you from various channels and planner within Teams
- Teams and Yammer integration which allows you to jump into communities (previously known as groups) within Teams and engage in direct conversations
- Teams and outlook integration which allows you to share conversation from one app to the other such as posting an email within Teams and have access to content and attachments within the channel
- Have a customised background image during a video call
- Turn on live captions during Teams meetings
Safe to say there are exciting times ahead with the use of AI to drive existing and new Microsoft technology forward. It will be interesting to see the impact and benefits it will bring to the way organisations currently collaborate, communicate and share information. Not to mention, the next project code name…
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Solutions Architect, Content and Code
Sandy is a Solutions Architect at Content and Code. She has been working with SharePoint for over 10 years specialising in architecting and implementing Office 365 solutions such as intranets, document management and collaboration systems. Her experience spans across multiple sectors working with clients in the UK and Australia.
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