Microsoft Cognitive Services, what can we do with them?

Session: Deep Dive into Azure Cognitive Services

Track: DA321

Speakers: Rolf Tesmer and Kristina Rumpff

In the Microsoft Ignite keynote speech, there was a brief demonstration of the capabilities Microsoft’s Cognitive Services and they touched on the Language Understanding Intelligent Service (LUIS) API.  I became very intrigued by the topic and decided to attend the session “Deep Dive into Azure Cognitive Services”… I most definitely didn’t regret that decision.

The presenters Rolf Tesmer and Kristina Rumpff were precise and provided great demos and examples in such a short time. It was a concise yet insightful presentation, in terms of “This is what you get and this is how you get it”.

Microsoft Cognitive Services is a group of APIs that provide the intelligence and automation to create powerful applications with contextual and natural interactions to improve the user’s experience. With these APIs developers can create smart applications that allow to detect emotions through text and facial recognition; determine language and topics through speech processing and language understanding; and map complex information to produce recommendations, all with just a few lines of code.

The APIs are grouped by categories: Vision, Speech, Language, Knowledge and Search.

During the presentation, Tesmer and Rumpff took us through the steps to set up and use two of the APIs: the Text Analytics and LUIS APIs. It was fascinating to see how easy it is to start using them and because Cognitive Services expands as part of Microsoft’s machine learning APIs, it enables the continuous improvement of your applications.

The major impacts I found is that the complexity is hidden, it’s been simplified to an API call; applications are getting smarter, easier to maintain at a lower cost that allows you to innovate and scale easily. Personally, I think this is a great improvement, and developers can take advantage to use a combination of these services in the best way to suit their applications.

Another topic discussed during the session was Bots. This smart concept “sells” the idea that the future is focused on conversations (human-machine interactions) which puts Cognitive Services (LUIS API) in the centre of it. Microsoft offers the Bot Service: you can create your Bot and define interactions, then publish it to channels like Skype, Facebook Messenger, email, or any type of web chat application.  I can see this being applied in multiple business processes,  for example in a customer service call centre, they could implement intelligence that will predict interactions with clients and provide helpful information to the person taking a call from a client.

Cognitive services is a relatively new functionality with so much potential.  It’s one of those subjects that relies on your creativity to imagine all the automation and the programs that could be to develop to improve efficiency and the accuracy of the information provided to a client. I’m looking forward to start creating amazing functionality with APIs!

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