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Bridging a New Knowledge Frontier, Microsoft Presents Project Cortex

Microsoft Presents Project Cortex. “Why can’t we find data within our organization like we do on the web?” This was the question posed by the CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella in his Vision Keynote at Microsoft Ignite 2019 last month in Orlando, Florida. The answer? Project Cortex – a knowledge-management system that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to deliver and organize content within organizations and within the apps you use every day. This is the first new commercial product in the M 365 since Microsoft Teams. Here’s why you should be excited: 

No Data Left Behind

The proliferation of information received on average by an organization is monumental. This is not even taking into account data that resides in archives and filing cabinets waiting to be organized. Project Cortex uses topic mining to help organize data into Topic Cards where according to Microsoft’s Director of Product Marketing, Dan Holme “You can create, approve and edit topics with Wiki-like simplicity.” Using AI, information is extracted – including scanned information from images, forms and a host of other platforms. Gone are the days of having to transcribe words from a scanned contract, AI can do that for you, or you can teach it to do so using machine learning. Once extracted, topics can contain data on basically everything, according to Holme, “from projects, products, processes and customers – any knowledge that’s important to your organization.” In addition to projects, you can view who is working on what, thanks to Project Cortex’s enhanced People Cards. This would be particularly useful, if you work in a large organization and have to find out what someone in a different department, or even a different country is working on. Global engineering and consulting firm Mott MacDonald, the sole company to test Project Cortex in a private preview, shared their excitement about getting the chance to “connect people to content and content to people” across their 180 principal offices in 50 countries.

Microsoft Presents Project Cortex - Evolvous
Topic card found by searching through email. Image: Microsoft 

Knowledge Centers that keep your data safe 

The productivity hub of Project Cortex is known as knowledge centers. This is where a series of organizational topic pages that you create showcase personalized knowledge from across your organization. Knowledge centers are customizable and integrate with intelligent Intranet to incorporate knowledge into Word, M Search, SharePoint and M Teams, so whatever you are searching for can be easily found. You can also rest easy, knowing that the knowledge is secure because topics are discoverable only by those with permissions to those resources, thus security and confidentiality is maintained. Designated administrators can control what gets added to the topic and who has access to see it, thereby providing curated information at every organizational level.

Microsoft Presents Project Cortex - Evolvous
Breakdown of how Project Cortex works. Image: Microsoft 

Human curation + AI = Complete Knowledge Transfer

While Microsoft clearly sees topic mining as the way forward for knowledge management, they also stress that Project Cortex only works if we can engage people to contribute and let them know how the AI is doing. Human-based curation is the key to making topic cards as incisive and relevant as they can be. Therein, the technology doesn’t replace communication, it enhances it. According to Corporate Vice President, M 365, Jared Spataro, “Combining the collective power of your organization to do things you have never been able to do, this is where AI shines.” By using the technology of Project Cortex with effective organizational communication, you can fight against some of the pitfalls that commonly plague information deficits such as knowledge drain from people leaving the company or not being able to tap into the brain of one of your office’s MVP’s who knows the organization inside-out but has yet to transfer that information in any systematic way. Knowledge is meaningless if it’s not shared, and Project Cortex aims to share knowledge in a safe and productive manner.

Conclusion: With the ultimate goal of helping developers write safer and more secure code, Project Cortex is a tool that should be added to every development team’s arsenal. Contact us today to learn how we can help you integrate this technology into your current development process.

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