Surely you have heard about Microsoft Cortana as the intelligent personal assistant, available for mobile devices and even as a Windows 10 user assistant; If you’ve never heard of Cortana as a personal assistant, Cortana is a smart assistant that allows you to recognize natural language live and makes it easy to search Bing, Yelp and Foursquare. With the prior authorization of the user, Cortana processes all his information, his interests, routines, calendar, searches, etc., allowing to erase, suggest or improve his search preferences; Cortana opens applications, tells jokes, riddles, provides flight information, weather, access to contacts, calendar and user agenda. Cortana sets smart reminders when arriving at a certain place; for example, Cortana is able to recommend buying a product in a store near to where the user is located according to GPS. And in line with the interests of the user this software is able to provide feedback, for example, the latest results of the European league. Some commands can be understood by Cortana in the form of questions, such as: The capital of Colombia? Am I going to need umbrellas? This is thanks to Microsoft Cognitive Services, which is the tool that allows natural and contextual interaction with the user, a growing collection of artificial intelligence algorithms for vision, voice and knowledge.
But Microsoft gives Cortana a much wider reach, so introduced and directly associated it to the advanced processes of analysis of business information systems.
When we talk about data analysis tools, we find several alternatives, from static reports in which the treatment and analysis are performed through manual processes mainly, these include the commonly used Excel dynamic tables. If we go a step further we find interactive Dashboards that allow visualizing the information through much more intuitive graphs which allow to disaggregate the information until arriving at its more elemental detail; additionally, we also find tools that help to project a behavior from a Data history. Although these tools facilitate interpretation, however, the design and analysis of Dashboards and projections remains in the hands of the user. Microsoft wants to offer a step further advanced data analysis in which the system also offers recommendations, provides a much closer support to decision making and even automatically make those decisions. In this last step we find the Cortana Intelligence Suite.
For Microsoft, Cortana Intelligence is a platform and a process to carry out advanced analysis from begining to end, regardless the industry to which the company belongs. This platform is comprised of different pieces that may or may not be Microsoft technology; however, in this blog we will mention these pieces focused on the options that Microsoft offers.
The second piece is Azure Data Catalog, which corresponds to classification definitions and labeling of information. To these two it is added Azure Data Factory, that is “the conductor of the orchestra”, in charge of organizing and automating the movement and transformation of data between a data source and, for example, a SQL repository for Power BI or Machine Learning; this, in turn, is able to perform the job of getting incoming data from different data stores, transform, process and finally publish them in other data warehouses for different purposes.
To the Azure Event Center joins the Azure Event Hubs, Azure’s hyper-scale telemetry service, that collects, transforms and stores millions of events.
These powerful tools join to the Azure Machine Learning, which is a predictive analytics service that enables to quickly create and deploy predictive models resulting from analysis processes. In simpler terms, these models are those used in online purchases which automatically help to recommend other related products according to what has been acquired.
For real-time analysis of events related to data flows from mobile devices, websites, social media, apps, etc. we have Azure Stream Analytics, which is also part of Cortana’s Intelligence Suite platform.
In a world as competitive as the present, these tools are very useful for a company that processes different type of internal, external information from different sources, purposes and finally converge to take different type of operational, commercial and / or financial decisions.
If we stop to think about the volume of data being processed and managed through this platform it overflows our imagination, and at this point we have Azure Data Lake, which is an unlimited data repository provided by Azure. Along with Azure Data Lake we have also Data Warehouse, Azure SQL BD and Document DB.
As a visualization piece on the Cortana Intelligence Suite platform we find Power BI, which allows to view and share status reports of organizational metrics from your Desktop or mobile device.
Once we put all these pieces together, there is an advanced analysis solution framework, which from different internal or external data sources, events in mobile applications, web pages, search engines, sensors, etc., is able to analyze in a global way the information related to your industry, work the information in a certain way, store data, analyze it, project it, visualize it and finally make decisions. It is also posible to include algorithms and defined models to identify trends of consumption, maintenance, and even allow Cortana to make decisions automatically.