Microsoft Ignite 2019 – Project Cortex

Project Cortex | Who, what, when, why, how? 

At Microsoft Ignite 2019, Microsoft announced an exciting new premium service in the works, Project Cortex. It clearly got a lot of hype at the event and in the media, so what is this new feature and why does it matter to your organization? Let’s break it down… 

What is it? 

Project Cortex is a new knowledge management tool that helps to pull together like information around the content we create throughout our workday, including emails, documents, news posts, etc. Think of it like an internal smart wiki propelling throughout Microsoft 365 by AI. And by AI, it appears that means a lot of AI! 

Let’s say I’m new to my company and I’m reading a post that mentions the “PixelMill Project”. With Project Cortex I can hover over the phrase and I get a card that tells me about the PixelMill Project. I can go a step further by clicking on it and it takes me to a web page that goes more in depth on the project including things like associated employees, documents that mention the project, etc.  

How does it work? 

Project Cortex uses the collective content curated across teams, sites, and systems, and categorizes and creates a network of knowledge based on this information. For example, someone created a Wiki entry for the PixelMill Project and as soon as people were associated with it, it automatically showed up throughout the space. AI then decided that when Project PixelMill is mentioned, it should enable the card feature throughout Outlook, Microsoft Teams, and Office. 

Who does this benefit and why does it matter? 

For many large and mid-sized organizations this could be HUGE! This is how you’re going to enable your organization to understand what is happening throughout the company. Knowledge, definitions, and project details can become very siloed and we miss out on the collective knowledge, but with Project Cortex enabled, we empower and unite this fragmented information for all to see in real time. Much of this is powered by AI, but someone still has to create the content; it’s not going to all be automatically generated, and tagging still needs to happen.  

When is it coming? 

Microsoft has made it clear, they want to get this new service right and they want to get it right before it goes live so Project Cortex is currently in private preview with only a small number of organizations. It is rumored to be in public preview by the first half of 2020.  

What are the potential pitfalls? 

Here’s the problem. If you’re an organization and you want to use this premium service, it’s going to cost you. You’ll not only be investing monetarily since this does not yet appear to be a core service, but your organization may become so invested in the feature they may start to depend on it. There’s always greater risk to invest in something that will likely change. 

Project Cortex is very new and subject to many changes as we go from private to public preview and beyond. So if you want to get involved in the public preview, just consider that this may change a lot. Here at PixelMill, we’re very excited to see this feature and there is clearly a lot of energy around it in the SharePoint community. The concern is that we’re a long way away, and until this becomes a core part of Microsoft 365, you must have a good appetite for change.  


What do you think of Project Cortex? Are you ready to empower your employees with the collective knowledge of the team? One of our SharePoint experts would love to chat with you today!

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