Microsoft, Salesforce Add AI To Cloud Ecosystems

On the heels of Salesforce’s Einstein announcement last week, Microsoft offered a sneak peek at its own AI-powered features at its annual Ignite conference on Monday.

Microsoft revealed a plethora of new product updates at the conference, cloistered around security, artificial intelligence and its cloud platform.

“Core to our mission to empower every person and organization on the planet is democratizing AI for every person and organization to help solve society’s most pressing challenges,” states Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. “To do this, we’re infusing intelligence into everything we deliver — from the agent to applications, services and infrastructure.”

Microsoft’s productivity suite, Office 365, will gain new cloud-powered artificial intelligence capabilities. Features include Maps, which transforms geographic information to data visualizations thanks to Bing Maps; a Quickstarter for Powerpoint that curates outlines on any topic; and Tap in Word and Outlook, which allows executives to incorporate existing content into documents and/or emails.

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Microsoft’s AI-powered virtual assistant, Cortana, has been updated with health insights and reminders, and Microsoft’s analytics service in Office 365 -- Delve Analytics -- is gaining the new name of Microsoft MyAnalytics, with added features. 

Security enhancements across Microsoft’s products, including Windows, Office and Azure, help companies protect their brands from financial and data theft. Office 365 Threat Intelligence provides alerts on the origin of threats and attacks such as phishing, and Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection analyzes URLS for any malicious links. 

Microsoft’s announcement comes a week after Salesforce unveiled Einstein, an artificial intelligence application that can be applied across the company’s cloud ecosystem. Einstein’s AI-driven features include machine learning, deep learning and predictive analytics.

In addition, Marketing and Analytics Cloud Einstein features automated send-time optimization for more powerful email marketing, predictive audiences and predictive scores.

“AI has gained widespread awareness thanks to the popularity of personal assistants and the investments of Silicon Valley heavyweights in technologies like Alexa and Siri,” says Scott Horn, CMO at [24]7, an AI-powered customer engagement solutions provider. “From better purchase recommendations, to smarter customer service that predicts what a consumer is actually trying to do, AI promises to fundamentally transform entire businesses and industries.”

Horn predicts that artificial intelligence will become a commonplace technology within the next five years -- a prediction that mirrors a recent Forrester report that asserts AI will be one of the emerging technologies that will change consumer expectations and the technology world by 2021. 

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