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Microsoft Goes Deeper Into AI, Mixed Reality

Microsoft's new AI and mixed reality applications for Dynamics 365 advance the company's vision of redefining how the world thinks about business apps.

Ahead of next week's Microsoft Ignite 2018, the vendor’s conference for IT pros and enterprise developers, Microsoft announced new artificial intelligence (AI) and mixed reality (MR) applications that expand the company’s Dynamics 365 portfolio. These new offers execute on Microsoft’s vision of redefining how the world thinks about business applications.

The new Dynamics 365 AI applications include Dynamics 365 AI for Sales, Dynamics 365 AI for Customer Service and Dynamics 365 AI for Market Insights. The new – and first-ever – Dynamics 365 MR applications include: Dynamics 365 Remote Assist and Dynamics 365 Layout.

“We continue to expand our category with AI and mixed reality,” Alysa Taylor, corporate vice president, business applications and industry at Microsoft, shared in a virtual news briefing. “We’re taking another step forward on our journey to help empower every organization on the planet to achieve more through the acceleration of business applications.”

Alysa Taylor

The new out-of-the-box Dynamics 365 AI applications set out to commoditize and democratize AI within applications.

  • Dynamics 365 AI for Sales is designed to help salespeople and managers prioritize their time to focus on high priority deals, to provide answers to oft-asked questions regarding the performance of sales teams, to offer detailed analysis of the sales pipeline, and provide insights or next logical actions to help sales teams. 
  • Dynamics 365 AI for Customer Service uses Microsoft’s AI and natural-language capability to help glean automated insights from customer-service data to help guide both managers and agents to act. The new application can also leverage virtual agents – out-of-the-box – to help lower support costs and improve the customer experience — all without the need for customers to have in-house AI experts or write code.
  • Dynamics 365 AI for Market Insights empowers marketing, social media and market-research teams to make better decisions with market insights. The new application can improve customer relationships with actionable web and social insights to help marketers engage in relevant conversations and respond faster to trends.

Calling its new Dynamics 365 MR applications “a whole new kind of business application,” Microsoft introduced Dynamics 365 Remote Assist and Dynamics 365 Layout.

“We know that the way people interact with technology is changing. So, what we’re bringing to you today, is being able to evolve from just mobile and PC applications to bringing mixed reality into our portfolio — knowing that the end users need a new way of interacting with technology,” said Taylor.

Microsoft’s Lorraine Bardeen, general manager, Microsoft Mixed Reality, talked about first-line workers — those who work in field service, manufacturing, retail and warehouses, to name a few. They are required to understand their environment. First-line workers make up 80 percent of the world’s workforce, or more than 2 billion people.

“One of the things that ties together first-line workers is that for much of their day, they need their hands free and available to do their work,” she said.

Lorraine Bardeen

Microsoft HoloLens allows these workers to remain hands-free while they focus on their work space and bring any digital content into their real world, so they have data exactly where they need it to solve their work problems.

Microsoft noted that the total addressable labor force is 3.3 billion people broken down by front-line workers, who account for 2.6 billion of those, and information workers — the other 700 million. They have an increasing need to meet and collaborate remotely, which can be made more effective with 3-D content.

Here's a breakdown of the new out-of-the-box Dynamics 365 MR applications:

  • Dynamics 365 Remote Assist allows first-line workers to work in a hands-free environment to quickly triage and effectively take care of problems before they become critical issues. This application helps workers identify and address issues accurately, eliminating the need for travel while improving operational efficiency.
  • Dynamics 365 Layout allows for new ways of spatial planning, such as visualizing room layouts in real-world scale, or to walk through proposed layouts in physical space or virtual reality. This application allows users to review and make changes with stakeholders in real-time, leading to cost savings; and to move, resize, and rotate 3-D models to edit layouts on the spot.

“We know that this can be a competitive advantage for many organizations. So bringing in and merging the physical and virtual world allows organizations to quickly do new ways of space planning and realize the potential within different spatial constraints in a new way,” Taylor said.

Dynamics 365 revenue has grown more than 60 percent since the company began disclosing it in 2017's third quarter, surpassing billings of $1 billion last year, Microsoft said.

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