Is Microsoft’s Project Cortex a Game-Changer?

Last Updated: March 24, 2020By

[glossary_exclude]It is coming and it is big news!

If you haven’t heard about Project Cortex by Microsoft, then hold on to your seat because your world of business knowledge is about to change drastically. Microsoft has announced the public release by mid-year 2020 of what it describes as the fourth pillar of (previously Office 365) Microsoft 365: Project Cortex.

At the AIIM2020 Conference in Dallas, I spent an hour with two senior product managers from Microsoft, Chris McNulty and Rebecka Isaksson. What I found special about Cortex is its ability to manage and protect content with AI using built-in security and workflow. Cortex has the capability to learn and train models to recognize your business data using a content center as a ‘hero destination’ with reusable web parts for retrieval, organization, and management.

“Project Cortex is Microsoft’s commitment to reinvigorating a category of knowledge,” states Chris McNulty, Microsoft Senior Product Manager. “Essentially, Project Cortex lets you build your knowledge network on Microsoft 365.”

Project Cortex takes advantage of our search technology to reach out and index remote content like file shares, on premises, environments, wikis and things like that.

First, we build out the infrastructure of 365,” Chris explains, “along with taking advantage of our search technology to be able to reach out and index remote content like file shares, on premises, environments, wikis, and things like that. Second, we use AI and skill technology to be able to classify information coming in, including video and audio files, pulling text and objects for documents with structured and unstructured data. The content is then broken down and pulls key facts, figures, numbers, and details to add as tags to the content. This precision tagging of the content opens up situations for workflow, for search and compliance.”

Cortex allows for the functionality to “Extract & Classify Unstructured Content” including forms, documents, images, audio and videos.

I asked Microsoft Senior Product Manager, Rebecka Isaksson, to help me understand the term “no-click search.” Rebecka responded, “One really different, important differentiator from traditional knowledge-management systems is that it (Cortex) brings the content and knowledge into contacts on the app that you are working in right now. I wouldn’t say it’s completely eliminating the need for an end-user to search but it is definitely changing it more to make it a push rather than a pull. This has been one of the major obstacles of any ECM (enterprise content management) solution which is how to find the right stuff and how much time do I have to spend to find it.”

Understanding the importance of this critical functionality by delivering essential knowledge to the corporate workforce, one can easily see how Project Cortex will not only reduce searching in general, but allow us to more easily navigate across documents, people, and conversations in a more exhaustive and relevant manner when we do search.

“The Cortex Knowledge Center is a game changer,” declares Joel Oleson, an MVP and Microsoft Regional Director, and Director at Perficient. “It is an automatic organizational Wikipedia of knowledge retrieval in the productivity apps I use every day with “no-click search” of topics. I love the center of knowledge derived from the content. I feel like it is unlocking hidden knowledge and keeping me closer to what is actually happening not only on my projects and clients, but what the rest of the company is doing.”

Project Cortex will allow each business to discover themselves in ways they’ve never thought possible. Partners and vendors will be able to ask, “Where is your organizational knowledge?” and then help each business more easily integrate those systems into the productivity tools they use daily. Cortex will allow integration like never been seen or thought possible before. Every company has structured data and business processes; Project Cortex gets to the heart of these processes and enables companies to move mountains, break down silos, and connect people to projects, processes, and data.

Having knowledge is one thing; delivering and utilizing it is another. For the first time in the digital age, we can empower people with useful knowledge and expertise while working with the apps they use every day. Project Cortex can automatically connect and organize knowledge across teams and systems. You will be able to mine within M365 and other connected data to curate organizational topics, allowing you to automate the extraction of metadata and map your taxonomies.

“If HP knew what HP knows, we would be three times as profitable” by Lewis E. Platt Chairman and CEO of Hewlett Packard

I agree with Lewis Platt, former CEO at Hewlett Packard, on the importance of not only having corporate knowledge, but also delivering and using this knowledge to help increase profitability. “If HP knew what HP knows,” he states, “we would be three times as profitable.”

Currently, Project Cortex is in a private preview phase. Organizations wanting to participate in a private preview of Cortex, Microsoft’s emerging “knowledge network” for Microsoft 365 users, can now check their qualifications against Microsoft’s rather strict participation criteria.

Project Cortex will affect how everyone in an organization understands and uses corporate intelligence or business knowledge. It is called the Power of Enterprise Knowledge, or PEK. From compliance and security, to business automation, to insights and search, Project Cortex provides a fresh approach to integrating AI and connecting records systems with productivity and automation directly in the tools people use every day.

Imagine what this means for you, a lawyer, a doctor, or a stock trader. M365 and Project Cortex will provide the tools to help you do business better.[/glossary_exclude]


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About the Author: Scott Allbert

Scott Allbert is Vice President at General Data Protection Services. He has over 20 years’ experience in the ECM market. Scott’s years of industry experience give him a broad understanding of the products and services which comprise the Information Governance market. Scott is a past chair of the AIIM PAC and an AIIM Fellow. He may be reached at [email protected]