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Microsoft is putting artificial intelligence to work in its Office 365 suite

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Artificial intelligence has long been heralded as a new technology with the power to change the world, but typically it is its demonstrative applications, like composing music or beating human players at board games, that make the headlines. Now, Microsoft has announced plans to unleash the power of AI in a manner that’s more likely to benefit the average user, via new Office 365 functionality.

“We have reached a point in our industry where the collective power of technology exceeds that of the individual,” reads a blog post by Microsoft’s executive vice president of worldwide business, Judson Althoff. “Where, in a matter of hours, a person can generate insights that previously would have taken days.”

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Microsoft is looking to help individuals put this power to good use. One example is a new piece of functionality dubbed Tap for Word and Outlook, which mines the Microsoft Graph for relevant content previously created by the user’s organization, and presents it for inclusion in an email of a Word document.

Meanwhile, the company’s Dynamics 365 business suite will soon gain an AI-enhanced relationships assistant. This tool use the Cortana Intelligence Suite to bring together pertinent pieces of information about particular clients.

The Cortana Intelligence Suite is already being used to great effect by major businesses. Lowe’s uses the service to track customer preferences in relation to its mixed-reality kitchen design experience, while Uber uses Microsoft Cognitive Services to check driver credentials in real-time.

More new features are set to be added to Office 365 in the near future. PowerPoint and Sway will soon offer QuickStarter functionality that prepares a curated outline in response to a topic chosen by the user, according to a report from Engadget. Excel is also set to receive the ability to turn raw geographic data into maps powered by Microsoft’s Bing service.

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