Microsoft infuses Office 365 with AI capabilities

A screenshot of a product page showing each piece of software included in the Office 365 suite

Microsoft has supercharged Office 365 with more AI goodies, including Office Insights that will analyse Excel data to automatically create pivot tables and trend charts, recognise business-centric acronyms and make sure you get to meetings on time.

Insights in Excel highlights patterns in your Excel data, making it easier to discover trends and create visualisations of your data so everyone in the organisation can understand what it means, even if they're not fired up by a page of numbers.

Acronyms can uncover industry-related acronyms used by an organisation by trawling through documents, emails and more, identifying what they are and what they mean using machine learning. It uses the Microsoft Graph to find definitions of the terms in use and making it easier for everyone to decipher even the most technical lingo.

New AI functionalities in Outlook will help you get to your meetings on time, by triggering a notification when it's time to leave for a meeting (hello, Google Now), alongside directions for how to get there and any traffic holdups there may be.

Microsoft also introduced Microsoft Whiteboard Preview, which uses AI to recognise freeform drawings, transforming them into standard shapes to help the production of flow charts, tables and diagrams, with teams able to collaborate better.

The final new addition is intelligent search, which autonomously extracts text from images and makes it searchable. For example, it'll scan business cards and receipts, meaning you can search your device for the information on the picture rather than the filename.

"Office 365 is built on Microsoft's powerful platform for AI that makes advancements in machine learning and AI accessible to every developer and organization," Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president for the Office team said in a blog post. "From document translation to intelligent threat detection, AI is already enhancing the productivity experience of over 120 million commercial Office 365 users."

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.