News Uses Microsoft Graph To Bring AI to Outlook

A new tool from Microsoft Gold ISV partner aims to leverage Microsoft Graph APIs to make the Outlook mail and calendar application the center of the digital workspace.

The company launched Collage late last month to gather information from disparate apps and cloud services into one place, using AI and machine learning -- enabled by the Microsoft Graph, which recognizes keywords across different apps -- to provide context where appropriate.

According to CEO Yaacov Cohen, Collage is among the first enterprise applications to make use of the Microsoft Graph APIs, which were released last year. "It's a very important API," Cohen said in an interview. "During the last six months, Microsoft has released more and more of Graph APIs, which give not just information but insights such as who I am working with. Based on these APIs, we can deliver an experience that can deduce things for you."

During a demo, Cohen showed how Collage recognizes topics that users are working on and associates them with relevant information from different apps. Collage lets users access information from Outlook in their native app experiences and brings documents from SharePoint and Office 365 as links, rather than attachments, to ensure information is current, Cohen explained.

While Collage works with on-premises SharePoint Server, it requires organizations to use OneDrive for Business to store data, Cohen said, noting its dependence on the Microsoft Graph and Office 365.

"The tool is great for organizations who use Office 365, as well as other services that Collage can connect to," said SharePoint MVP and vNext Solutions President Vlad Catrinescu via e-mail. "By showcasing information 'in-context' from multiple services directly in Outlook, it allows users to be more productive, really get work done and make the right decisions because they have all the information available to them. I think Outlook is a great place to be the 'hub' of this information because, let's be honest, that's where most of the work of the classic information worker is."

In a review posted on his Web site, Catrinescu illustrated how Collage connects users with SharePoint sites relevant to a given topic, letting users view, open and drag and drop documents into SharePoint. Users can also drag and drop documents from the sidebar in Outlook and create an e-mail with a link to the document. As users with access to that shared document make changes, it ensures everyone has the most recent version, he noted.

"The big challenge for is really to make sure their AI engine and machine learning will do an amazing job in tagging content from so many systems, so it becomes useful for the users," Catrinescu said, adding that it performed well in his recent tests. first introduced Collage last fall at Microsoft's Ignite conference in Atlanta, offering the free preview as a separate tool outside of Outlook. Now it's available to enterprise customers at a price of $6 per user per month and is unified with the flagship client.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.


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