Artificial intelligence (AI) tends to be a buzzword these days. Once tied solely to science fiction, AI captures the attention of developers and laypeople everywhere.

Perhaps it all began in 2011 when IBM's Watson wowed the tech industry with its big win against two of Jeopardy's greatest champions. Or maybe AI started with Siri (Apple's virtual assistantalso released in 2011. Only a few years later, Microsoft introduced Cortana and Amazon debuted Alexa and the Echo Dot smart speakers. 

But when those headlines became yesterday's news, we seemed to forget about AI for a while. Now, AI can't be avoided; but no one could have anticipated how pervasive these technologies would becomenor did we realize the implications for the future of AI. 

The Future of AI and Microsoft

To understand the degree to which AI is impacting and currently implemented in different industries, take a look at the agenda for the Microsoft Future Decoded conference. AI is written all over the two days of technology-driven keynotes in London. 

Day one of the conference is all about exploring technology as an enabler for modern enterprise covering topics such as chatbots. Day two is primarily AI-focused, titled, Prepare for the future of work, paired with the following description:

AI is already having an incredible impact across all industries and throughout wider society – from delivering personalised patient care to transforming supply chains, resulting in faster, personalised, and more efficient customer experiences. ​​The foundation for a better future starts at the top, ensuring you have a culture that supports new ideas, fuels innovation and fosters an environment of openness and transparency. 

microsoft future decoded conference artificial intelligence infographic

A quick glance at just a few of the 56 breakout sessions gives you an idea of how integral AI is to every business:

  • Bite-sized AI Business School: Defining an AI strategy for
    • Healthcare
    • Manufacturing
    • Financial Services
    • Retail
  • How to connect AI to disruptive business impact and KPIs
  • How to develop an AI roadmap to compete and win

This is just a small taste of everything to be learned regarding the topic of AI at Microsoft Future Decoded and beyond.

At last year's conference, Clare Barclay, Chief Operating Officer of Microsoft UK, had this to say: 

AI represents a huge opportunity, but only if UK organizations embrace its application in the right way. AI is not about making UK businesses leaner; it's about how we use the technology to make them stronger. In doing so, we can make our work more meaningful and boost UK competitiveness.

Barclay's statement hardly applies to the United Kingdom alone. AI provides a significant opportunity across just about every industry in the world. Articles about AI advances, and the advantages it provides, continue to rapidly accumulate on the Internet. AI is already a widespread trend seen in manufacturing, life sciences, retail, agriculture, education, transportation, government...etc. and the list continues to grow.

In an age of transformative technology, staying informed on new advances is crucial to adapting to the future of work.

Microsoft Search and AI

Last year, Microsoft began to roll out Microsoft Searchusing artificial intelligence provided by Bing and personal insights from Microsoft Graphto improve user's search experience at work. As improvements are made, the scope continues to widen the possibilities for AI to benefit digital workplace efficiency.

  • Microsoft Search in Bing provides a secure search experience and combines work and web for the most effective results
  • Microsoft Search in Office powers your queries at work to explore new apps, tools, and other, relevant recommendations within Office 365.
  • Microsoft Search in SharePoint displays suggestions and recent documents as soon as you click the search bar. 
  • Microsoft Search in OneDrive helps you find what you need, when you need it, wherever you are; intelligent results every time.
  • Microsoft Search in Windows allows you to search right from your desktop's taskbar returning results from your organization and device

Technology knows no bounds when combined with AI. Microsoft Search is just one of many applications using AI to power real-world results. Set up Microsoft Search today with Microsoft's documentation to start searching smarter. And keep an eye on how Microsoft Search will soon be expanded to search more places across your Office 365 Intranet.

Further Reading on AI

Change never comes without challenges. Skilling up in an AI dominant time is especially relevant for the future of the digital workplace. 

With AI rapidly improving, but also invading, society, we must be ever aware of how it will affect our lives both personally and professionally. In some respects, AI simultaneously presents as many opportunities as it does concerns. 

An ever growing list of questions could be asked around the unknowns...

Can AI-based solutions aid worldwide tragedies? 

What does good governance look like in relation to AI? 

How does ethics play a role in AI?

Will AI impact my job?

Don't jump to conclusionsplan ahead! In the same way CRM and SharePoint adoption begins in the planning phase, so does the adoption (and adaption) of AI in the workplace. Man and machine can do more together than they could ever accomplish on their own; and today, we are witnessing the beginning of that collaborative relationship.

To learn more about the growing topic of AI in our world, read, The Future Computed: Artificial Intelligence and its role in society, written by Brad Smith, President and Chief Legal Officer, and Harry Shum, Executive Vice President, of Microsoft AI and Research Group. The book brings to light the societal shifts resulting from AI and where we can expect the future to lead us. 

You can read more about the contents, questions, and conversations tackled by Smith and Shum's in their book on Microsoft's Blog

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