Cortana - Remembering the Future

 If you have ever watched the Star Trek First Contact film the crew allude to the fact that the star ship Enterprise is named after the first space shuttle, when actually it’s the other way around the first space shuttle was so named because over 2 million star trek fans lobbied NASA to call it Enterprise.

A different kind confusion seems to surround another icon of science fiction Cortana. Originally a fictional AI  that was embedded in the Halo franchise of XBox games, Cortana is the name and inspiration of your digital assistant on phones and in Windows 10.  That sort of makes sense as she was a very smart advisor to the Master Chief in those games, and now she can help us with our daily lives, if we want her to.

However the real point of confusion seems to be the announcement of the Cortana Analytics Suite, specifically what is it and how does that relate the assistant on Windows 10 devices and phones?

From a services perspective Cortana Analytics Suite represents the collection of data tools to do analytics that exist in Microsoft’s cloud services, Azure and Office 365. So it includes Power BI , Machine Learning, Data Lake, Data Catalog and Data Factory, amongst others as well as the digital assistant, Cortana..


This makes it a superset of all of these capabilities much in the same way as Office 365 covers traditional tools like Excel and Word as well as newer ones like Sway.  However today this is just a collective term in that you can’t buy Cortana per se, so is this just the marketing folks trying to create impact and build on what is a cool brand?

Not really, as that set of services can be used by any developer to create intelligence in application that also mimic Cortana in that game.  For example you could develop applications to monitor your health and your team’s health through wearables like the Microsoft Band, recommend courses of action based on behaviour to make your web sites appear more personal and relevant to predict what action to take before systems fail and if allowed to carry out that preventive maintenance,

Is Cortana Analytics Suite relevant?  I have already done a series of posts on these services and how they can be wired up to create solutions around predictive analytics, big data, near real time analysis and “traditional BI” – I just didn’t know at the time this would all be joined up in this way. What this means for me is that I am betting my future on Cortana.