This morning at Ignite 2019, Microsoft announced new Microsoft 365 innovations in six key investment areas: productivity, knowledge, workflow, security, compliance, and management. In this blog post I’m focusing on one of them: Project Cortex, the new knowledge network feature / vision in Microsoft 365.
What is Project Cortex?
“Project Cortex uses AI to create a knowledge network that reasons over your organization’s data and automatically organizes it into shared topics like projects and customers. It also delivers relevant knowledge to people across your organization through topic cards and topic pages in the apps they use every day.
In addition, Project Cortex enables business process efficiency by turning your content into an interactive knowledge repository—with innovations in smart content ingestion—to analyze documents and extract metadata to create sophisticated content models; machine teaching, to allow subject matter experts to teach the system how to understand semi-structured content; and knowledge retrieval, to make it easy for people to access the valuable knowledge that’s so often locked away in documents, conversations, meetings, and videos. Building on the content you already have in SharePoint, Project Cortex connects content across Microsoft 365 and external systems and enables you to manage information and streamline processes with built-in security, compliance, and workflow.”Source: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/blog/2019/11/04/from-new-microsoft-teams-experiences-to-the-all-new-project-cortex-heres-whats-coming-soon-to-microsoft-365/
(Highlights from me.)
Project Cortex can also connect to content in third-party repositories and systems using the new Microsoft Search connectors. (See my blog post about the Microsoft Search announcements soon!)
These connectors support:
- Windows File Share
- SQL Database
- Intranet Websites
- Azure Data Lake Gen2
- and 3rd party connectors through the ingestion API
Microsoft will be adding more connectors in the coming months.
Why is it so important?
As one of the key phrases of IKO Conference a few weeks ago says, “Knowledge does not organize itself.” Storing, organizing, curating and managing knowledge needs intense human involvement.
At the same time, AI tools these days become more and more powerful, and the question is open: how can they help with Knowledge Management challenges?
What I believe is, that AI tools can help us, human beings to do our jobs better. We have better and better machine learning and machine teaching systems (which will be part of Project Cortex, too!), there might be algorithms to extract data and information from semi-structured content, etc. – and this is where Project Cortex might be a breakthrough in Microsoft 365.
Combine it with all the information architecture options we have in Office 365, add Microsoft Search which is also promising – and you can see a really promising feature here. It’ll take a while, and probably we’ll see some bumps on the road, but hopefully, it’ll be beneficial for all Office 365 users. Hopefully, everyone will be able to access knowledge easier and learn faster, without leaving the context of their everyday job.
As James Robertson said at the IKO conference: “Organizing knowledge is geeky but sexy” – What I can see is, Microsoft is trying to make knowledge more and more sexy, and less geeky with Project Cortex.
I am looking forward to have hands-on experience with it, and share my experiences here on the blog, too.
Since I’ve been involved into more and more knowledge management project recently, I think this topic is really important to discuss here, on our Search blog – in the end, the goal is always to retrieve knowledge efficiently, isn’t it?
Project Cortex will be a reality for most of the Office 365 users in 2020. I’ll share the features as they roll out, as well as my experiences, but not only that. I think it will be a great journey to see what we can build on the top of it, to empower the users even further.
What do you think?
Project Cortex announcement: https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/Microsoft-365-Blog/Introducing-Project-Cortex/ba-p/966091
Project Cortex resource center: https://resources.techcommunity.microsoft.com/project-cortex-microsoft-365/