Using Artificial Intelligence to make business knowledge transparent and accessible


02-04-2020
Man at desk in office_Microsoft Future of Work

Do you want to have a say in designing the next generation of tools that support how work will be done in the future? Microsoft Research Cambridge is looking for workers across Cambridgeshire to participate in a virtual focus group for new research about how knowledge is used in the workplace.

Knowledge in organisations is stored in different silos, forms and formats, which are distributed across both public and private data. This makes it difficult for employees to answer basic questions, such as ‘Who has worked with this client before?’ or ‘How do I know I’m doing this business process correctly?’

The aim of this project is to build a system that automatically collects and organises the information that is most important to a business, in order to make it accessible to its employees. The goal is to leverage Artificial Intelligence (AI) to power this system and to ensure that knowledge is accessible at the right time, for the right individuals, while respecting the privacy and security of each business.  

Denise Wilkins  explains: "Our team at Microsoft Research brings together individuals with diverse backgrounds in machine learning, social science, design and engineering. We are focused on using AI to automatically extract business knowledge into a single, consistent knowledge base, made up of the topics that really matter to each organisation.

"We want our system to be able to compare content across teams and systems, recognising different content types, extracting important information, and automatically organising it into a shared “network of knowledge” made up of topics like projects, products, processes and customers. This technology could help with diverse business challenges such as keeping related content together within one place, finding relevant subject matter experts, and discovering already-existing business assets for reuse in new contexts.

"To build this system, we undertake human-centred research to explore the meaning and value of knowledge in the workplace. This helps us generate compelling and innovative designs for new user experiences that meet real needs and solve real problems. With rapid change from automation and a global skills shortage, enabling people to harness knowledge to pick up new skills and learn faster is critical. To do this, we need to understand the real-world knowledge challenges that people face in the workplace. We also need to understand how we can design new experiences that use AI to deliver insights and expertise in the apps that people use for everyday work. For example, how might we use AI to enable experts to curate and share knowledge with little effort? Or how might AI help us deliver knowledge just-in-time to people in tools like Microsoft Outlook, Teams, and Office?

"We are looking for people who are passionate about the future of work and the design of new technology to join us as participants in a series of focus groups to explore these issues and more. We particularly want to speak to people who work with documents and email, across both mobile phone and desktop/laptop.

"If you would like to participate in our virtual Cambridge-based focus groups, or would like to find out more, please contact Denise Wilkins."

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