MS Ignite 2019 : Knowledge Management with Cortex Project

Project Cortex is the main killer feature related to content services from last Microsoft Ignite Orlando.

Knowledge management is a holy grail in IT since 2005. The idea, on IT perimeter, is to manage knowledge and skills within the company, build knowledge databases to align everyone on vocabulary, corporate acronyms, main projects names and so on. It ended with knowledge database attempt, based on Wiki technologies which dwindled away due to the cost to write and maintain it. Here enters Microsoft and its Artificial Intelligence + Search engine technologies to build project Cortex.

[French version of this article available here]

The idea here is to provision a « Knowledge Center » on every O365 tenant. Content will be provisioned from Microsoft 365 search engine (Documents, sites, people, other topics, discussions) and from Azure AI capabilities.

It will appear to end users in various places as emails, documents, search results where an existing topic in knowledge database first ocurence will be underlined. On mouse hover, a contextual window will appear containing definition and links to related contextuel sur un terme identifié

Contextual menu on a topicClick on title will redirect to a full page dedicated to the topic.

page dédiée du centre de connaissances

Dedicated page in knowledge center

You will notice the new « related topics » component which displays a graphical representation of distances between topics.

Illustration de la session de la session de Naomi Moneypenny et Jeremy Chapman indiquant comment est calculée la distance entre les termes.

Illustration from Naomi Moneypenny and Jeremy Chapman session showing how distance between topics is calculated.

Those pieces of information will be available within Word. You will just have to right click, go to « Smart lookup » menu which will show a in lateral panel the content previously seen in contextual window.

Intégration des knowledge topics dans Word

Knowledge topics integration within Word

Note that a Teams integration is also planned with a « Knowledge bot » to interact with knowledge center.

Le bot lié au knowledge center dans Teams

Conversational agent linked to knowledge center in Teams

How does it work?

We don’t have technical documentation yet but we can assume that:

  • Content will rely on a SharePoint site collection with modern Wiki pages provisioned by default.
  • Microsoft announced it : permissions and compliance will be ensured (normal as topic pages will be SharePoint pages with WebParts which results rely on search engine)
  • Term sets will be used to seed knowledge database, which, by the way, made that Terms store will have a new modern interface and limit will be increased up to 1.000.000 terms by store.
  • Internal corporate expert will be able to check, edit, approve contents
  • It will be possible to have a fine-grained management on available terms in knowledge database, to submit, validate or block them. This is by the way the advice when you will start the project: begin with a small subset of data to mine at startup.

There are also new SharePoint WebParts which will be used for this portal.

WebPart SharePoint du knowledge center

New SharePoint WebParts in knowledge center

To learn more about project Cortex, go to (it’s not yet in Microsoft official roadmap but it’s planned in 2020) and this 45 minutes technical video

To learn more about MS Ignite 2019 annoucements related to Content Services, if you read French (sorry) or trust online translators, have a look to those articles:

Have also a look to local Ignite tour organized by Microsoft or, if you’re close from Paris, you can come to MWCP 2019 organized Decembre 9, 10 et 11 by independant experts community.

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