Microsoft to Acquire Genee for Smarter Office 365 Scheduling
Microsoft is snapping up the artificial intelligence startup to help Office 365 users improve how they manage their calendars.Microsoft announced on Aug. 22 that it is acquiring Genee, an artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual assistant technology startup from Mountain View, Calif., for an undisclosed amount. Genee's technology will be used to enhance Office 365's scheduling and meetings management capabilities, Rajesh Jha, corporate vice president of Microsoft Outlook and Office 365, said in an Aug. 22 announcement. Dovetailing with Microsoft's "Conversations as a Platform" vision, Genee enables business professionals to set reminders and carve out time for meetings, calls, dinners and other events in their calendars in much the same way a personal assistant would. Using a set of natural-language commands, users can instruct Genee to find, book and confirm times that work with the parties involved, even if they lack shared access to one another's calendars. "Genee uses natural language processing and optimized decision-making algorithms so that interacting with a virtual assistant is just like interacting with a human one," stated Jha. Instead of suggesting specific times for a meeting, users can send a more open-ended email invitation to get together sometime in the next week, for example. By copying Genee on the email message, the service proposes some meeting times based on a user's availability and sends invitations on a user's behalf, explained Jha. Apart from email, Genee also works with Short Message Service (SMS) texting systems and Twitter. Chatbot support for Facebook includes Facebook Messenger and Microsoft's own Skype Bot platform.
Microsoft is apparently wasting little time incorporating Genee's technology into the Office 365 software ecosystem.