At the September Ignite event in Orlando, Florida, Microsoft made several announcements regarding what it soon intends to bring to its industry standard Office 365 productivity suite.
Several of the announcements were elaborations on product changes previously flagged, but there were some entirely new plans revealed. These included the ability to collaborate with LinkedIn contacts, plus a new AI feature called Ideas.
Since taking over LinkedIn for £20bn in 2016, Microsoft has allowed the company to run largely on its own. Despite speculation the high-priced takeover would not work well in the long run, Microsoft has continued to generate profits from the business-oriented social network. LinkedIn reported over a billion pounds in revenue in the last quarter, an increase of 37% year on year.
Now, however, Microsoft is taking a small step to more fully leverage and integrate its acquisition. Last year, it tested the waters of Office 365 integration when it added the Resume Assistant feature to Word. This tool works by picking out job descriptions from already created CVs, then finding similar examples on LinkedIn users and prospective employers may find desirable.
Coming soon will be the ability for Outlook users to co-author Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents with their LinkedIn contacts. The corporate directories of businesses can also be easily shared into Outlook via LinkedIn, making setting up calendar appointments, working on documents and generally managing one’s contacts much easier. These options have previously been available but required the installation of a special LinkedIn plugin called Outlook Social Connector.
The other big announcement regarding Office 365 was the unveiling of the Ideas feature, which will be a further real-world application of Microsoft’s leading research into artificial intelligence. Ideas aims to make creating documents in Excel, Word and PowerPoint easier by making suggestions about how presentations and data management could be improved.
For those concerned about an intrusive Clippy like feature, which was famous in the ‘90s for its ability to annoy workers and mess up documents, the Ideas feature can be enabled or disabled by a single click in the menu bar. A user could work on a PowerPoint presentation, for example, and before signing off on it, turn on Ideas for a final review and to check whether better images or a clearer layout might be an improvement. Enabling Ideas in Excel will allow the smart algorithm to find problematic data or suggest graphs and charts.
Some Office 365 users will find Ideas has already rolled out for use in Excel with PowerPoint support coming soon. LinkedIn integration into Office apps will gradually be implemented over the coming months, according to a blog by the company’s product director Liz Li.
For more information about how Microsoft Office 365 can help your business to maintain productivity and performance while it undergoes expansion, get in touch with our friendly customer service team at WM Reply .