Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels.

Finding and sharing information is a daily activity in any organization—albeit a time-consuming one. For newcomers to a project or role, you can expect to spend a quarter of your workday talking to colleagues, hunting down documents, and scrolling through countless emails, spreadsheets, and slide decks. This amounts to almost 10 hours of lost time and focus per week that could have been spent adding actual value to the organization. 

Content management systems, such as Microsoft 365, have greatly helped centralize scattered information and improve its findability. Microsoft’s next step in knowledge management is Project Cortex—an exciting new service that harnesses Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) to pull important information from across the organization and make it easily discoverable within Office, Outlook, SharePoint, and Teams.

Be it through search or timely prompts nestled in your day-to-day workflow; this innovative way of delivering knowledge instantly connects you to key insights so you can spend less time and effort on searching and more time and effort on driving the organization forward.

Intelligently Organizing and Delivering Insights With AI

In brief: Project Cortex collects and digests all your organization’s content—including documents, emails, chats, videos and even scanned files—then tags key information to automatically build a central “wiki” that neatly organizes related projects, people, and resources.

Furthermore, Project Cortex offers machine teaching so you can train the service to accurately identify and process the content it handles. For example, if certain contracts have inconsistent formatting, you can teach the AI to recognize and extract key information to fill the gaps in your knowledge base.

Behind the scenes, the metadata extracted from all this information is used to group related content sitting in your Microsoft 365 suite or external systems, such as Salesforce. This metadata is handled by Managed Metadata Service, which you can integrate with third-party systems, such as THEMIS IA, to define a custom taxonomy for more intricate and comprehensive insights.   

Based on all this metadata-linked content, Project Cortex diligently creates Topic Cards, Topic Pages and Knowledge Centers, all of which users can edit and build upon to keep everyone up-to-date.

Topic Cards


Snapshot of a topic card appearing when hovering over a project name in Outlook. (Source.)

These are essentially well-timed tooltips that deliver a quick overview of relevant information. When a topic is detected anywhere within Microsoft 365—like in an email, chat or document—the first mention of the term is highlighted to bring it to your attention. 

As a new project manager, for example, you can hover over an unfamiliar term mentioned in an email (see image above) and the topic card will summarize the project, key people and related documents. This provides the context you need to understand the rest of the email and respond quickly, rather than keep everyone waiting while you frantically ask a colleague. 

Topic Pages

Snapshot of the project’s Topic Page. (Source.)

For an in-depth view of a topic card, you can follow it to the dedicated topic page. These pages are automatically built and updated by AI but can be enhanced by users with the right permissions. Using topic pages and the intuitiveness of SharePoint’s interface, you can effortlessly pinpoint exactly whom to contact and/or what to read so you can excel in your role.

In addition, Project Cortex only shows topics to the people who have access to that particular information. This safeguards the privacy and compliance that many organizations rely on—and expect from Microsoft 365.

Knowledge Center

Snapshot of the Knowledge Center showing topics pertinent to the project. (Source.)

The Knowledge Center is based on SharePoint—Microsoft’s content management and collaboration platform—and provides a highly personalized view of relevant topics and other information, such as training materials, policies, customers, and associated Q&As picked from internal conversations. 

For example, within Microsoft Teams you can summon the “Knowledge Bot” at any point in a chat to add your question (and corresponding answer) to the Q&A section of a topic page. This enables organizations to intelligently enrich their content through organic, day-to-day interactions among their employees.

Streamline Knowledge Management With Project Cortex

As the latest peak of Microsoft’s innovation in AI and ML, Project Cortex is a powerful lever for organizations struggling with efficient content management. With the innate ability to connect people to key insights, organizations can effectively accelerate innovation and speed up knowledge transfer to new generations of workers—as well as giving people a quarter of their day back.

Your organization likely has its own preferred workflows and technologies that might not click perfectly into place with Project Cortex’s standard functionality. That’s why HELUX is excited to release GENESIS AI—a cutting-edge product that uses AI and ML to complement and extend Project Cortex in new and powerful ways so that organizations can truly take full advantage of Microsoft’s latest innovation.

Curious about how to get your hands on Project Cortex and all of its amazing potential? HELUX recently hosted a webinar with Creospark VP Technology & Co-founder, Noorez Khamis, on “How To Prepare for Project Cortex”. I encourage you to check out the recording here for everything Project Cortex!