AI, Microsoft Search

A primer in machine reading comprehension

If you’ve been following the various news and announcements from Microsoft on Microsoft Search at events like Build and Microsoft Ignite, you’ve probably come across a demo or two on Machine Reading Comprehension (MRC). For example, a search for “Can I bring my dog to work?” in Microsoft Search in Bing.

Let’s explore what MRC is…

In brief, MRC is the ability to read and understand unstructured text and then answer questions about it or effectively algorithms that can learn to answer questions about new documents with limited amounts of training data, incorporate common sense, and leverage external knowledge about the world. Our primary goal is questioning-answering in the real world: we envision an experience where getting the answers you need to complex questions about your documents is simple, effective, and intuitive.

In 2018 we shared an article describing how Microsoft researchers have created technology that uses artificial intelligence to read a document and answer questions about it about as well as a human.

It’s a major milestone in the push to have search engines such as Bing and intelligent assistants such as Cortana interact with people and provide information in more natural ways, much like people communicate with each other.

For example, today, you can ask Bing a question such as “how long does coca-cola last?”, and get an answer most appropriate to the question asked… but it’s more than that…

A key, additive component of most MRC models is semantic understanding. For example, using the question above, using semantic understanding, search retrieves documents on “soda”. Traditional search experiences would conversely do keyword matching and simply attempt to find one or more documents or articles that have “coca-cola” in them. However, using deep learning, search engines such as Bing, understand that Coca-Cola is a soda, and retrieves related documents and articles (even though it doesn’t have word “Coca-Cola” in it) that satisfies the user’s intent.

Semantic Search Quick Shot.2019-12-04 11_46_27

Above, Machine reading comprehension and semantic understanding in Microsoft Search

To summarize, in search applications, machine comprehension will give a precise answer rather than a URL that contains the answer somewhere within a lengthy web page. Moreover, machine comprehension models can understand specific knowledge embedded in articles that usually cover narrow and specific domains, where the search data that algorithms depend upon is sparse.

To learn more about deep learning and MRC refer to the articles below:

Machine Reading Comprehension

Microsoft creates AI that can read a document and answer questions about it as well as a person

Deep learning and machine reading comprehension

AI, Microsoft 365

4 simple tips to being more productive in 2020 with AI and Cortana in Microsoft 365

Time is our most valuable resource and with the rapid pace of work and ever expanding amount of information we need to process, it’s often hard to find time to manage our work.  AI and Cortana in Microsoft 365 puts you at the center so you can do your best work with intelligent, natural, and personalized productivity experiences.  Here are four tips to being more productive in 2020 with AI in Microsoft 365.

  1. Make time for focus
  2. Put your personal assistant to work
  3. Get a head start on your day
  4. Stay informed

Make time to focus

Create a focus plan in MyAnalytics and rule your day.

Productivity preferences are different for everyone, but experts on deep work report that setting aside regular blocks of time to focus on challenging work can have massive benefits. With a focus plan, MyAnalytics will help you establish a daily focus time routine. The focus plan will offer you the flexibility to have daily focus time booked automatically based on your availability, or surface suggestions to book focus time manually as you work in Outlook. The automatic booking algorithm will prioritize booking morning hours, if they are open, so you can be at your peak capacity for tackling challenging analytics tasks.

Focus Plan.2019-12-05 09_18_33

The focus plan in MyAnalytics helps you set aside regular focus time for your top-priority work. This plan helps you schedule one to two hours every day to focus, with an option to book that time automatically. During the booked focus time, it silences chats in Teams and in Skype for Business.

Learn more about focus plans in MyAnalytics at https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/workplace-analytics/myanalytics/use/focus-plan.

Put your personal assistant to work

Get control of your calendar with Scheduler.

Often the hardest part of meetings is scheduling them, whether finding the right time or the right location.  Let Cortana help manage the logistics so you can focus on the purpose.  Simply let Cortana know your meeting needs in the body of the email. You can tell Cortana the duration, timing, or location, or simply say “Find a time for us.” Since Cortana understands natural language, there are no special commands to use.

Scheduler Demo.2019-12-05 09_07_32

With the speed of artificial intelligence and the personal touch of a human assistant, it’s the best of both worlds. Cortana communicates with your contacts by email to provide a natural, almost human, scheduling experience.

Learn more at https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/scheduler?rtc=1 and sign-up for the exclusive preview.

Get a head start on your day

Get productivity tips from where you’re already working.

Information moves quickly and it’s not always easy staying on top of tasks and commitments.  Have you ever missed an important email or forget a commitment you made to your co-workers? Do meetings and emails tend to take over your calendar? Do you ever wish to see reminders for 1:1 meetings with your manager, direct reports, or other top collaborators? Would you like to be notified if an upcoming meeting doesn’t have a quorum?

Let the Outlook Insights add-in help you stay on top of your e-mail, tasks, and more.  The Outlook add-in provides actionable insights to help you stay on top of your tasks and get more done. This add-in is an extension of your Outlook experience and works within Outlook to help you gain focus time, maintain your work relationships, and improve your overall work-life balance.

Insights

MyAnalytics can also help you follow up on requests you asked of others in email. MyAnalytics will automatically find tasks you requested of others based on your sent mails. For example:

  • “Can you send me this year’s latest report?”
  • “Everyone, please complete your performance evaluations by the end of the week.”
  • “Cancel my RSVP for Carrin Patman’s lunch scheduled early next week.”

Learn more about the Insights Outlook add-in at https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/workplace-analytics/myanalytics/use/add-in.

Stay informed

Let Microsoft Search help you find what’s important and trending around you.

Let’s face it, we’re inundated with more information than ever.  Microsoft Search helps you discover what’s trending around you so you can keep informed and get back to what you were working on easily.  Whether you’re looking for a file in SharePoint or a conversation in Microsoft Teams, Microsoft Search is there to help.

Microsoft Search in Office.com.2019-12-05 11_45_57

Learn more about Microsoft Search at https://aka.ms/MicrosoftSearch.

Learn more about AI and Cortana in Microsoft 365 and get more productivity tips at https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/blog/2019/11/04/ai-cortana-microsoft-365-people-at-the-center/.

Events, SharePoint Conference

SharePoint Virtual Summit 2019

Stay tuned here on May 21st, 2019 at 12:00 P.M. PDT to watch the SharePoint Virtual Summit captured live from the SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas.

Catch up on the Jeff Teper keynote to see all the SharePoint and Microsoft 365 news in action to help you stay productive and focused on what matters to you.

 

 

Microsoft 365 empowers individuals, teams and organizations to be creative, collaborative, and effective with an integrated suite of experiences that are simple, superior, smart and secure. Jeff Teper and Seth Patton share the latest innovations and solutions for content collaboration, security, teamwork, process transformation, employee engagement & communications, and knowledge sharing & discovery. Join the world’s largest event for the SharePoint and Microsoft 365 community–business users and leaders, IT professionals and developers from across the globe–to learn how the experiences in Microsoft 365–including SharePoint, OneDrive, Yammer, Stream, PowerApps, Flow–integrate to power collaboration and the intelligent workplace across devices, on the web, in desktop and mobile apps, and in the hub for teamwork, Microsoft Teams.

Get caught up our 2018 Ignite announcements while you wait…

Better teamwork, together: SharePoint and OneDrive integration with Microsoft Teams
https://myignite.techcommunity.microsoft.com/sessions/65660

The future of Yammer: Vision and roadmap
https://myignite.techcommunity.microsoft.com/sessions/65607

Microsoft Graph: The API for Microsoft 365
https://myignite.techcommunity.microsoft.com/sessions/66045

New in Microsoft 365: Leadership engagement featuring live events
https://myignite.techcommunity.microsoft.com/sessions/65620

What’s new in Microsoft Teams, the hub for teamwork
https://myignite.techcommunity.microsoft.com/sessions/65503

SharePoint Development for Enterprises – What’s new and what’s next
https://myignite.techcommunity.microsoft.com/sessions/65818

Getting started with Microsoft Search
https://myignite.techcommunity.microsoft.com/sessions/64597

Best in class Security and Compliance with SharePoint and OneDrive
https://myignite.techcommunity.microsoft.com/sessions/65657

What’s new and coming to Microsoft OneDrive
https://myignite.techcommunity.microsoft.com/sessions/65723

Successfully embrace video adoption across your organization with Microsoft Stream
https://myignite.techcommunity.microsoft.com/sessions/65737

Content collaboration in the modern workplace
https://myignite.techcommunity.microsoft.com/sessions/65658

Intelligent content services in Microsoft OneDrive and Office 365: Giving your content super powers
https://myignite.techcommunity.microsoft.com/sessions/65697

Events, SharePoint Conference

Using a Flic Smart Button as a PowerPoint Remote

When speaking at conferences, you usually spend a lot of time time asking the organizer questions like “what inputs will you have, will there be a digital switcher, etc.”.  This usually leads to carrying an array of adapters to be sure you’re prepared for those circumstances where there’s just VGA at the podium when you need micro/mini HDMI, DVI, USB to RJ45, and more…

One of the most common requirements is something to control your presentation.  If you’re like me, you often find yourself either running out of USB ports or having large inputs making nearby ports inaccessible or don’t want to carry a USB hub around with you.  At the same time, many conferences don’t provide remotes for controlling your presentations (they have a propensity to “walk away” or someone leaves the session before yours with the input – leaving a hapless remote behind).

A couple of weeks ago, I picked up a Flic Smart Button that we had provided our MVP’s as swag at the 2019 MVP Summit and stashed it away in my desk drawer, not quite sure what I’d use it for.

If you’re not familiar with Flic, check out https://flic.io.

With the SharePoint Conference just a week away, I started to think about ways I could use the Flic Smart Button, but everything I found limited its’ use to a connection with a mobile device…  then I discovered the Flic App for Mac – perfect I thought – I’ll use the keyboard shortcuts action I saw in the mobile app on my MacBook as a way to remote control PowerPoint.

After installing the Flic App for Mac, I couldn’t find the keyboard actions so started to do a little research to find a plugin that would work…  I couldn’t find anything that would do what I wanted it to do so decided to build my own…

It took a little bit of time to get it right, at the same time, simple – but I was able to build a user defined plugin to use with my Flic Smart Button and Mac to act as a PowerPoint remote.

Screen Shot 2019-05-15 at 11.17.09 AM

If you’re interested in using the plugin, I’ve made it available here on Github.

Events, Microsoft 365

A Fibonacci guide to the 2019 SharePoint Conference

With 200+ sessions across all things Microsoft 365 at 2019 SharePoint Conference there’s no doubt you won’t be able to make them all in the 3 core days of the conference. Whether you plan to be there in person or watch the keynote live here’s a Fibonacci guide of key Microsoft 365 sessions organized by topic of interest.

SharePoint Portal Server 2001 Sessions (0)

Session Title Session Code
   

SharePoint Conference Keynote (1)

Session Title Session Code
Content collaboration in the modern workplace KEYNOTE

Kaizala Sessions (1)

Session Title Session Code
What’s new and what’s next: Microsoft Kaizala BRK171

Employee Engagement Sessions (2)

Session Title Session Code
Building employee engagement with Microsoft 365 – 5 Strategies for a collaborative corporate culture BRK016
Drive employee engagement with Yammer, SharePoint & Stream BRK017

Live Events Sessions (3)

Session Title Session Code
Hosting and Managing Live Events in Yammer BRK164
Reach large audiences with immersive video and interactive discussion using Microsoft 365 live events BRK154
Transform how your organization uses video with Microsoft Stream live events, mobile and integrations across Office 365 BRK103

Microsoft Graph Sessions (5)

Session Title Session Code
Consuming the Microsoft Graph and 3rd party APIs with SPFx BRK025
Integrate OneDrive and SharePoint files, collaboration and sharing using Microsoft Graph BRK053
Microsoft Graph Data Connect: A Case Study PART006
Microsoft Graph with Microsoft Teams BRK068
Use Microsoft Graph to integrate data and services to your business applications BRK130

Corenote Sessions (8)

Session Title Session Code
What’s new and what’s next: Content services (ECM) BRK111
What’s new and what’s next: Microsoft OneDrive BRK112
What’s new and what’s next: Microsoft Search BRK113
What’s new and what’s next: SharePoint administration BRK114
What’s new and what’s next: SharePoint development for enterprises BRK115
What’s new and what’s next: SharePoint team sites and integration with Teams BRK011
What’s new and what’s next: Transforming processes with SharePoint, PowerApps & Flow BRK077
What’s new and what’s next: Yammer BRK116