Cortana: The Intelligent Virtual Assistant

By CIOReview | Monday, February 20, 2017
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Cortana—an intelligent personal assistant application—created by Microsoft, originally designed for Microsoft mobile, is gaining traction in the Windows PC operations ever since the firm introduced it to its latest windows operating system. Named after a fictional artificial intelligence character in the firm’s renowned game Halo, Cortana is designed with powerful configuration options and algorithms that are specifically optimized for business. From employing as a simple search tool to an intelligent assistant, individuals as well as organizations have started identifying the real power of Cortana’s intelligence and leverage the power of new generation artificial intelligence.

Today, the key benefits of Cortana in an organizational environment include the ability to transform business applications into machine intelligence, for making the transition from simple descriptive analytics to prescriptive analytical recommendations. The state-of-the-art machine learning algorithms allow organizations to review reports and predict the future results. Cortana’s prescriptive analytical recommendations allow improving the decision making processes when dealing with problems involving multiple variables. Based on advanced artificial intelligence techniques, the software has the ability to learn from user behavior and search history.

Microsoft introduced Cortana in the latest Windows 10 operating systems, expanding the line of applications supporting the personal assistant. This new initiative has also made the application a part of organizations that are leveraging the power of Windows 10 operating system. The application can be given access to the enterprise by signing-in with an Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) account. The employees can give Cortana access to their work identity, while experiencing all the functions Cortana provides to them outside of work. For enterprise use, there is a rich set of policies for managing the various features and aspects of Cortana. Even though most of these policies will limit the abilities of the software, they cannot completely shut it down. For example turning the location services off will not allow Cortana to provide location aware search results.

For dealing with the user privacy, there are certain policies defined to allow and disallow the software to access certain data. If the user wants to secure personal data like the calendar, contacts and emails provided to Cortana on a device, it can be protected using Windows Information Protection (WIP). However, for using the WIP, the user must have a management solution like the Microsoft Intune, Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager or a third-party Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution.

The software also allows augmenting users’ experience, customising responses, and driving appropriate actions with intelligent agents while interacting with user data using natural language and speech. Cortana is not only fast, flexible, and reliable but also highly secure and scalable. It allows keeping customer data safe on a secure cloud platform with encrypted communications, threat management, mitigation practices, and regular penetration testing.

Microsoft outlooks Cortana as the key to the company’s future value recommendations for its analytics and software portfolios. According to a recent geekwire.com report, the tech giant will attempt to accelerate its efforts to improve Cortana’s reach with the launch of a new Connected Vehicle Platform, based on Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform, leveraging Microsoft services including the Cortana voice-based assistant. The software not only works on PCs and mobile devices, it is designed to integrate with other electronic gadgets and GPS devices.