7 Innovative ways Project Cortex Delivers Business Value Infographic

Project Cortex

Understanding Microsoft Project Cortex

Project Cortex applies AI to automatically organize your content.  It delivers innovative experiences with Topic cards, Topic pages, and both knowledge and content centers across the productivity tools of Office 365 including Teams, SharePoint, Outlook and Office apps.  It has features and tools that enhance the experiences you use everyday to connect experts to the data and capturing knowledge in innovative enhancements based on AI in ways never possible before.

If you’re one of the thousands of people looking to wrap your head around Project Cortex this is the right place.  Maybe you understand it at a high level, but struggling with how to “sell” this transformative tool to the business.  You know it’s a worthwhile investment, but can you say this is what you should be focusing on right now. 

What is Project Cortex?

Project Cortex has many components and features in it’s AI tentacles of reasoned and gathered insights and providing highlighted topics, but the two main components of these AI based Knowledge services are first the Knowledge Center based on AI “Machine Learning” and second the Content Center based on AI Machine Teaching models, classifiers and extractors which allows humans to train the AI to improve content extraction and enable business automation.  The third component is reinforcement which is an important components to both sides of this AI “brain.”  Reinforcement supports seeding topics through acronmys, taxonomy, and new topics.  The administrative interfaces of Project Cortex are designed for managing what it looks at including blocked topics, blacklisted or whitelisted content areas, and an interface for reviewing the recommended topics. 

This infographic and article was written to help you understand the business value of Project Cortex and hopefully arm you with easy ways to explain it.  Our companion webinar on June 2 will dive into each of these business value statements.

7 Innovative Ways Microsoft Project Cortex Delivers Business Value

  1. Empower teams with knowledge and expertise in the apps you use everyday.  Imagine being able to open up a document and have references back to explanations, other documents and experts who have a deeper level of knowledge and understanding!  Everyone benefits when you can find answers without getting up from your desk to go find someone.  The power of connecting topics like acronyms to a knowledge center of content is brilliant.
  2. Advanced Artificial Intelligence to harness collective knowledge.  AI is super powerful, it scales, it reasons, and gets better and better over time at extracting, grouping, filtering, clustering and ultimately building an incredible knowledge center of topics that can be tapped by the organization.  With very little human interaction, AI will gather and automate so much of what can be automated and Project Cortex gives us the connections and tools to get at the semi structured content that is scatered across our data, collaboration, storage and content services repositories.
  3. Connect people to knowledge and knowledge to people. Features built into Project Cortex help build ontologies and models, it knows how to group and cluster knowledge into a knowledge graph built to extend the Microsoft graph of people.  It helps cluster the data into recommended Topics on Topic pages with experts, files, definitions, questions and answers.  What it’s doing is helping make it easier to find answers to the questions you never knew you had.  It provides contextual knowledge providing context clues in the productivity tools and one click answers including experts and data in a knowledge center backed by an enhanced knowledge graph and topic pages that are easy to use and designed to evolve over time like a wiki.
  4. Streamline business processes with security, compliance, and automation.  With the powerful content center, the business teaches the AI about the incoming data and content types of the organization.  It learns to classify and model data through machine teaching and training.  Powerful extractors and classifiers help extract fields, metadata, and structured content enabling business processes to be automated in ways never possible right in the Microsoft 365 platform where much of this data already lives.  Power Platform tools such as PowerApps, Power Automate and Power Virtual agents can be used to streamline business processes for approvals, forms, applications, custom actions, and real engagement.  
  5. Discover information across topics platforms and connected data. As Project Cortex is looking at changes it has the ability to leverage trends, popularity, connections to help you keep on top of the topics that mean the most to you.  You can follow Topics and be aware of what’s happening in new ways only possible through AI.  The Microsoft graph has been extended to help connect not only files, objects, usage and activities, but expertise, topics, knowledge and relationships through ontologies which are easy to navigate and discover incredible insights on Topic pages.
  6. Empower organizational agility, drive efficiencies and cost savings. A better connected organization is able move more quickly, it is able to be more transparent and work in the open.  Through new capabilities as the workstreams are more automated, the business is able to make decisions faster eliminating waste and enabling cost savings opportunities through knowledge that is gathered.  An organization can work more closely together and be more aware as silos of information are broken down through transparency and knowledge sharing in context.
  7. Automate extraction and tagging improves search and discovery based on seeding topics from your taxonomies.  It is true that metadata makes content more easy to find, filter and group.  Taxonomies help us organize our content.  Humans are very bad at tagging.  They are inconsistent and yes, it’s a pain! They don’t want to do it.  AI is very good at tagging and it is very consistent.  The good news it gets better and better and a good taxonomy is the best medicine for ensuring a happier and healthier Project Cortex.  You can seed the taxonomy, acronyms, and even directly add new topics into the knowledge center.  Populating these is   a best practice that helps help provide a more intelligent AI which improves search and a stronger ontology to work from which starts adding value even faster.   

Project Cortex has a lot going on as the biggest thing happening in Microsoft 365 this year.  It’s the culmination of a lot of technology innovation and integrates across all of the major workloads.  It has promise to add the ability to add additional compliance as it classifies and extract content, it has the ability to boost business productivity and ramp up new employees looking for contextual clues in content.  There’s so much in this package that adds real differentiation.  This is knowledge management on steroids while democratizing AI and making it more accessible to all.  Project Cortex is poised to reinvent business process automation with the Power Platform while infusing knowledge into the tools we use everyday. 

Here’s the infographic in full form.

Project Cortex Infographic

Download the 7 Innovative Ways Project Cortex Delivers Business Value infographic as a JPG or the Project Cortex Infographic as a PDF. Feel free to use this infographic in your efforts to help your business understand Microsoft Project Cortex. It’s creative commons share alike with attribution.

Join us on the upcoming Free Project Cortex webinar

Webinar: 7 Innovative ways Project Cortex Delivers Business Value

>>Register Now

Project Cortex applies AI to automatically organize your content.  It delivers innovative experiences with Topic cards, Topic pages, and both knowledge and content centers across the productivity tools of Office 365 including Teams, SharePoint, Outlook and Office apps.  It has features and tools that enhance the experiences you use everyday to connect experts to the data and capturing knowledge in innovative enhancements based on AI in ways never possible before.

What is Project Cortex?  What value does it provide?  What can AI do for my business?  If you’re either trying to wrap your head around project Cortex or simply trying to understand the business value, this webinar is for you!

When: June 2nd at 11am PDT/12pm MDT/1pm CDT/2pm EDT/7pm BST/8pm CEST

>> Register Now!

Speaker: Joel Oleson

Sponsored by WAND

Free Microsoft Virtual Events and training

Welcome to the new normal. Looks like we might be here for a while. I’ve had a few friends complain about cancelled events and many saying they were disappointed they didn’t reschedule as virtual. I’ve got a surprise for you. This new normal is settling in and we should cosy up with our virtual selves. There are a variety of webinars, summits, SharePints, even open mic social and upcoming virtual events I want you to be aware of.


Webinar: Gain Control of Microsoft Teams Chaos

While the benefits of Microsoft Teams for collaboration are clear, it’s difficult for IT and service owners to manage the sprawl including lifecycle provisioning, security and compliance.

Join Microsoft MVP and Office 365 expert Joel Oleson and Cayosoft founder and hybrid management expert Robert Bobel for key insights to help you navigate the chaos of Microsoft Teams.

>>Register for the April 15 free webinar

Webinar: Microsoft’s Project Cortex and the Future of Knowledge Management

Join Us As We Examine Project Cortex

  • What is Project Cortex?
  • How does incorporating AI and automation change the game?
  • What can you do to prepare?

Register Today

Webinar: Accelerate Adoption & Change Management for Remote Work With Teams

Microsoft Teams Summit Virtual Event 

(Full day full agenda)

When: April 20


9:00 am – Empower Your Organization with Teams Remote Work Crisis Management & COVID-19 – Joel Oleson & Ron Jones

10:30 am – Accelerating Adoption and Change Management for Teams for Remote Work – David Chapman

11:30 am – Measuring Teams Adoption and Success with PowerBI and TyGraph – Ed Senez

12:00 pm – Virtual Lunch Break and Socializing

1:00 pm – Securing Teams with Microsoft 365 Security for Remote Work – Mark Doberstein

2:00 pm – Best Practices for Microsoft Teams & Network Performance for Remote Work – Trevor Miller

3:00 pm – Closing Keynote: What’s New and Coming for Microsoft Teams – Michelle Gilbert, Microsoft


Fancy a #SharePint? Every Thursday at 5.

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Microsoft 365 Virtual Marathon

Microsoft 365 Virtual Marathon is an online, 36 hour event happening May 27-28 2020. We will have sessions going the whole time with speakers from around the globe. This event is free for all wanting to attend. Come join us as we talk about the many different pieces of Microsoft 365.

Free for all attendees. We will be coordinating with sponsors to help cover expenses of running this event and for prize drawings and donation to COVID19 nonprofit to be announced.

Microsoft 365 Virtual Marathon is a joint effort with SPC and members of the Office 365 community.

We will have keynotes from Microsoft Jeff Teper, Bill Baer, Naomi Moneypenny and Jon Levesque and more… in addition to hundreds of sessions from thought leaders and members of the community from around the world.

>> Registration is available at https://bit.ly/M365VMRegister

>> Call for speakers, open till May 1st 2020, can be found on sessionize

Past but not forgotten:

Microsoft Teams Day (available on demand)

Keynote on Microsoft Teams Strategy COVID19 Frontline worker & Work From Home Strategies: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q2NzqrVPHJs&feature=youtu.be

Modern Workplace Sessions: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCI62s1pgV90olY2Naxa8ZOQ

Microsoft Crisis Management Response Templates and Remote Work Resources for Coronavirus #Covid19

Virtual Events & Training

The Microsoft teams have been releasing some super cool quick and easy solutions. Microsoft has been doing some really helpful things and my intention is to help give visibility to multiple efforts which may have been overlooked or missed across multiple blog posts or tweets from a variety of different product teams. Not only that but Microsoft has made Office 365 E1 free for 6 months, and has been highlighting the freemium version of Teams. The Power Apps team has made the otherwise premium version of notifications free during the crisis as well. Microsoft has really been doing amazing things to help serve the community and the world in this crisis. I highly recommend starting by reading Microsoft CVP Jared Spataro’s “Our commitment to customers during COVID-19.”

Crisis Communication Power Platform Template

– The solution is inspired by a rapid response app built by Schlumberger. This combines capabilities of Power Apps, Power Automate, Teams, and SharePoint. It can be used on the web, mobile or in Teams.

Key features include:

  • Employees can report their work status (e.g., working from home) and make requests. This helps managers coordinate across their teams and helps central response teams track status across an organization.
  • Admins can use the app to push news, updates, and content specific to their organization, and can provide emergency contacts specific to different locations.
  • The app includes the ability to add RSS feeds of up-to-date information from reputable sources such as WHO, CDC, or a local authority.

Microsoft Announced: “As part of this effort, we are also giving all Power Apps users temporary access to a premium feature, Power Apps Push Notifications, so you won’t need any premium licenses to use Power Apps to push information to users. We have reclassified Push Notifications as a standard connector for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis.”

>>Get the Crisis Response Power Platform Template Solution

Crisis Management Site Communication Portal

How to instructions for creating a Crisis communications site. 4 Step instructions for building out the site.  1) draw wire frame content layout plan, 2) create the site from SharePoint start page, 3) edit and rearrange text, words, links, sections, layouts off of template, and 4) finalize design, content and permissions. The instructions include twitter integration for pulling in feeds, yammer integration for pulling in conversations, resource links, and much more. Here’s a snippet from the instructions:

Going left-to-right, top-down, the crisis management site uses the following web parts:

  • Hero – use this to highlight the most important, or newest, content on the site. The one in the example uses the carousel layout.
  • Text – use the rich-text editor to add and update the main intent of the site, or an important message. You can use and adjust color, font size, hyperlink and tables.  
  • Quick links – call out primary resources. These can be internal sites, pages, documents, videos, FAQs, and can be external links, too.
  • Yammer Conversations – create an associated “Crisis Management” community and take questions and manage feedback directly from the site.
  • News – publish daily and weekly news posts. They will appear here on the site and flow into everyone SharePoint start page where News from sites appear.  
  • Twitter – pull in feeds from public Twitter handles; the above example (per COVID-19) highlights @CDCgov and I also suggest: @CDCemergency & @WHO.
  • People – indicate the right people dedicated to the specific crisis. This is tied to Azure Active Directory and on-hover, visitors of the site will be able to see all their contact information.

There are a lot of good resources on this page as well at the bottom. Great resources:

>> Step by Step Resources for Building a Crisis Communications Site

Work Remotely with Microsoft Teams Guidance & Resource pages

for links for administrators, communications teams and end users. Work Remotely With Microsoft Teams

You may not know, but even companies who don’t have Microsoft today can get FREE access to Office 365 for 6 months during this crisis using the free 6-month Office 365 E1 offer or the Freemium version of Teams. Reach out to your Microsoft account team or partner if you need help. I work at Perficient and I know we’ve been working hard to help people who are looking to get up to speed quickly.

Support remote workers using Microsoft Teams

There are a ton of great resources:

>>Resources: Work Remotely With Microsoft Teams

Absence and Out of Office Monitoring Dashboard Solution in Power BI

This solution is part of the Crisis Communication Template, but could be used without the app as well.

Here’s a link to the Git Hub solution: https://github.com/microsoft/powerapps-tools/tree/master/Apps/CrisisCommunication

>>Monitor Office Absence with Power BI

Building a Crisis FAQ Bot using Power Virtual Agents

There’s a bot too! Integrate your customer support area by providing common FAQ through a bot.

>> https://powervirtualagents.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/building-a-crisis-faq-bot-using-power-virtual-agents/

Infographic: 7 Analytics Dashboards for SharePoint and Teams and Office 365 in Microsoft 365

Teams Analytics Infographic

If you’ve been looking for the best deployment and adoption dashboards and analytics in Office 365, SharePoint and Teams, this is the webinar for you.  In this discussion we’ll dive into the best Power BI charts, graphs, and dashboards that are frequently hidden in deployment and getting started kits.  Microsoft has sprinkled the Compliance and Security centers, Adoption kits, Deployment Advisors, and Admin Centers, often unintentionally well hidden behind aka.ms links.  In this session we’ll walk through and expose the top 7 places where you can find these FREE Power BI analytics that you can use to track adoption and deployment. 

Analytics in SharePoint Teams and Office 365 Infographic

#1 Office 365 Power BI Usage Analytics by Workload – Many dashboards and reports.


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Office 365 Usage Reports by Workload

These activity reports give you Power BI dashboards for each workload.  You’ll find one for Exchange, SharePoint, OneDrive, Yammer, Skype for Business and Teams.

In your tenant go to https://admin.microsoft.com/Adminportal/Home?ref=reportsUsage you’ll see there are a number of reports including the following. Many of them added in the last 6 months. You can also get these and customize them in Power BI:

#2 Office 365 Deployment Advisors for Migration, Usage Adoption Planning


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#3 Microsoft Teams Advisor in Teams Admin Center for Planning, Deployment, and Multi phase Approach of Project Tracking. Includes Planner plans and Admin dashboard.


4. Teams Call Analytics and Call Quality Dashboard


5. Compliance Center Classification Analytics for Sensitivity and Retention Label Usage


6. Microsoft MyAnalytics for Personal Productivity and Workplace Insights


7. Office 365 Client Management Health and Upgrade Management Dashboard


This session is sponsored by NGAGE who have created even more powerful reports, charts and graphs for tracking your Teams and SharePoint Usage, Adoption, and Deployment answering key questions that will help you in your efforts to track adoption, money saving business value, and return on investment.

Join us on the upcoming webinar where we will explore each of these analytics offerings which are included with your Office 365 or Microsoft 365 Subscription.

Title: 7 Free Analytics Dashboards for SharePoint and Teams in Microsoft 365

When: February 13, 2020 at 11am Pacific

>>Register Now!

I will be diving into some these useful Power BI charts, graphs and dashboards that Microsoft have sprinkled across multiple Admin UIs, Deployment and Getting Started kits and Compliance and Security Centers. These FREE tools will help you track adoption and deployment of SharePoint and Teams.

Before the Q&A session there will be a brief overview of NGAGE’s enterprise-class analytics products for SharePoint and Teams. These go way way beyond providing basic adoption metrics to deliver on countless use cases to help Administrators, Communicators, Knowledge Managers, Team and Site Owners be measurably more successful. Hope to see you there!!


Migration and Coexistence Skype for Business to Teams Infographic

I’ve been telling my iceberg analogy on Skype and Teams for about a year at least.  When I say iceberg analogy, you may have heard other uses of the iceberg analogy.  Essentially when you look at an iceberg in the water what you really see is what is visible or basically the ice above the water, the craggy or massive shards under the water are not visible and if they were they would look a lot smaller than what they actually are.

I designed this new infographic to take you through three very important aspects of migration to Teams.  A Visual comparison (icons and text), Coexistence Modes, Migration Approaches and high level strategies to divide them up into cohorts or staggered gradual approaches.

Skype to Teams Migration Infographic

First the Visual Iceberg analogy of Skype for Business Online comparison and to illustrate the important new aspects of Teams with Storage, Bots, Apps, Connectors, and Tabs and that’s really just the start… there’s so much more.

Second the Coexistence modes that ultimately lead to Teams Only mode which process we call migration or Skype to Teams Migration.  There are obviously differences in moving between Skype for Business Online vs. a Skype for Business Server 2019, but this is really designed to help provide some best practices not just in the changes, but in the strategy.

Third is the Migration approaches and strategy of breaking it down into cohorts.  This idea that an early adopter group should be able to go to Teams only, but in contrast those using voice plans and meetings in a staggered more methodical approach.  Rather than going direct to the departments, I’ve suggested the division based on their willingness to move.

Visual Comparison of Skype for Business & Teams

This iceberg analogy fits well with Skype and Teams.  With Teams what you see is a simple looking chat interface that many see as the successor to Skype. It’s so much more than that. With the Skype, you’re seeing what you expect, those items that are absolutely visible like chat, meeting, and calling capabilities.

Skype for Business Migration to Teams Infographic TItle

You may even be aware that Teams supports storing files in SharePoint, but the collaboration bucket and the road map to the enterprise digital workplace has many other features. Rough estimates suggest there are over a thousand people working on Microsoft Teams. This is not just a simple chat app, this is a significant investment in the future of modern work.  When you compare the number of sessions at Ignite vs. Teams you’d notice there were 2 sessions at Ignite 2018 on the release of Skype for Business Server 2019 and one of them was migration related.  In 2019 all sessions that contain the words Skype are in actuality sessions about Teams or migrating to Teams and in fact Microsoft is very committed to Teams.  It has huge momentum with over 30,000 customers and more than 20 million daily users.  Teams 20M daily users, up 50% in 4 months … 

Migration and Coexistence Modes

SFBO to Teams coexistence modes

There are a number of coexistence modes to streamline and make it easier for users.  You may have heard of islands mode where users can use either Teams or Skype for Business.  That may sound great, but in reality there are a ton who have complained about how it really doesn’t work and is confusing for users.  Microsoft recommends a more gradual migration in steps where the users get used to the technology, but also ultimately recommends that you get to Teams only mode as quickly as you can to minimize the confusion.  They’ve come up with cohorts as a strategy for grouping departments or locations or really any group of users that need to be staggered in their move to Teams.  Personally I do NOT recommend islands mode, and I also highly recommend actually having a strategy and not waiting to get to Teams for longer periods of time.  Come up with your strategy and then execute.  Absolutely use one of the coexistence modes for those who have calling plans, and absolutely plan an adoption change management strategy involving champions.

Use Teams Advisor a planner that’s populated with tasks and tracking… then follow the paths laid out in front of you.  Jamie LaPorte does an excellent job of breaking out the details and walking you through the benefits of Teams Advisor which while many customers have it in their tenant as available it is still in preview.

Migration Approaches

Migration Approaches of Skype to Teams Strategy

Direct to Teams in one step essentially means “ripping off the band-aid” or moving as quickly as possible to Teams Only Mode.

The two step or gradual approach to teams is a minimal coexistence mode while being a 2 step approach takes you into coexistence for some period of time prior to going to Teams only mode.  That in between time provides time to train users and have them get comfortable with both tools while avoiding islands mode.  You can choose either Teams for Collab or Teams for Collab and Meetings with Skype for your calling.

The third recommended choice is moving from the Skype only to Teams for Collab, to then using Teams for Collab and Meetings before the final cutover of Teams only.  In all cases you really need to ensure the champions are in place, network is ready, the users and trained and ready, the calling plans are ready,  Even then this should be seen as the first phase in a broader adoption strategy were focus continues to embrace helping users use Teams as an application platform, as well as productivity and integrations with tools they use every day, and integration on many levels to continue to move forward the vision of a single hub for modern teamwork, productivity, communication, collaboration, and app platform.

Here are the references in the Infographic which have some great Microsoft resources and additional deployment resources around adoption to consider.