How to Make Use of Machine Learning Capabilities in Office 365

If you are a business operator, you certainly understand the importance of enhancing processes to optimize performance. Business is dynamic and in order to remain relevant, there is a constant need to reevaluate strategies and keep up with the changing tides.

One of the tools that can help you transform your business, technologically speaking, is machine learning. The modern-day business framework revolves around data. And machine learning, whose foundation and primary focus is on data, is a key asset in exploiting the potential of this data to the full.

Among the obstacles many business operators highlight in the adoption of machine learning is the high entry barrier. To address this bottleneck and make the technology easily accessible, Microsoft has integrated cognitive services and machine learning into various platforms. One such platform is Office 365, which currently hosts a variety of machine learning-related capabilities.

Let us examine some of the practical ways in which these machine learning capabilities of Office 365 can transform your business.

Record Management

Businesses today collect more data than ever before, to the extent that its volume might seem overwhelming. Organizations have to constantly deal with this data explosion, as well as find ways to manage it effectively.

Unfortunately, not all data is useful, as some often end up in the Redundant, Obsolete and Trivial (ROT) category. It clearly emerges that there is a need for the modernization of information management strategies in order to manage this evolving problem.

In recognition of this trend, Microsoft Office 365 has incorporated various data governance tools. These have the ultimate objective of helping organizations deal with the data shock wave and stay ahead of it.

Instead of opting to generate less content so as to manage it effectively, business operators and organizations can use machine learning to prioritize productivity. It is thus becoming easier than ever to pull data from external sources, protect and secure it then monitor its usage.

For instance, Office 365 recently extended the Security and Compliance Center (SCC) to include Team Channels and Team Chats. Using the new provisions, administrators can manage data retention within new workloads in these heavy-use environments.

They have also incorporated a provision for auto-classification to make it easier for organizations to declare records. Now, a user can bring a file plan to the SCC using the new File Plan Manager and automate retention using Microsoft Flow.

Information Access

Microsoft Office Delve is yet another provision incorporated into Office 365. The role of this feature is to give you access to information when you need it. For instance, if you have been working on some documents with your team, it will remember this. It can therefore give you access to relevant documents that you need at any given time.

Office Delve is comparable to a social networking equivalent for enterprises. You can use it to search for other users’ names and see what they have been working on. This is on a purely collaborative basis and is not in any way meant to compromise user privacy.

With this in mind, you can mark a document as private and no one will have access to it. It is however greatly advantageous in situations where you work together with a colleague on a document.

For instance, if you attend a meeting with a colleague via Outlook and work on a common document, you would both have access to it and have the ability to review it later. To find such an item, simply use “Discover.” This differs from “Search” as it actively searches for relevant documents on your behalf without requiring your intervention.

Data Analysis

Another great machine learning-based feature for enhancing your business is known as Ideas Insight Services and it is available on Excel. It is a great tool when you have tons of data to crunch but have no idea where to begin.

The feature allows you to understand your data better through the use of high-level visual summaries as well as patterns and trends. To use it, all you have to do is click one cell within a data range then select the “Ideas” button which is on the “Home” tab.

With this simple command, Ideas will analyze the data and give feedback in the form of interesting visuals, which it presents on the task pane.

In order to make the most of the provision, it would be best to format your data as a table on Excel with a single header row. Another important consideration is to ensure that you have good headers for your columns.

These should preferably appear as a single row without any blank labels. Furthermore, avoid merged cells and double rows of headers. In case your data is complicated or nestled, use Power Query for the conversion of tables with multiple header rows or cross-tabs.

Managing Security and Compliance Risks

A key concern for organizations in this era of cybersecurity threats has to do with catching breaches before they wreak havoc. Due to the prevalence of threats, security signals are also increasing exponentially. Consequently, it has become challenging to prioritize them manually.

Office 365 makes use of intelligent automation features to get around this obstacle. Using its machine learning provisions, you can proactively monitor your systems for risks and keep threats at bay. Let us take a look at the provisions:

Office 365 Secure Score

This is a new analytics tool focusing on security that scores your current safety configurations on the Office platform. It makes use of two major features, a Score Analyzer and a Secure Score Summary.

The total score that you get sums up all of the security features that are in place, as a fraction of the total number of security controls that you can access. Using the Analyzer, you can track and report your score over a period of time.

In addition to the handy insights, the provision also gives you suggestions on how to improve your position.

Office 365 Threat Intelligence

A Ponemon Institute Study estimates the cost of a data breach to be approximately $4 million. Preparing adequately for the eventuality is a great way to ultimately reduce this cost. Using Office 365 Threat Intelligence, you can adopt a proactive rather than reactive approach to achieve data security.

It analyzes countless data points from data centers on a global scale, including Microsoft Office clients and incidents that affect the Office 365 ecosystem. The analysis, based on machine learning, provides actionable insights on attack trends as well as recommendations on how to mitigate risks.

Office 365 Advanced Data Governance

Many organizations have poor data management strategies that expose them to unnecessary risks. For instance, holding on to data they no longer require can be a major risk. If hackers were to access data on former employees, the liability costs are unnecessarily compounded.

The essence of using this provision is to identify important data for retention and eliminating ROT to reduce the risk margin. Using machine learning, the tool intelligently offers proactive policy recommendations.

It classifies data using automated analysis on factors such as age and level of interaction then takes action in the form of deletion or preservation.

Time for a Transformation

In the past, advances based on machine learning may have seemed to be only for the high and mighty in business and organizational contexts. But thanks to the integration of the technology with commonplace platforms such as Office 365, it is within reach.

Based on the above features, it is clear that the cognitive services and machine learning provisions on the Office 365 platform have what it takes to completely transform a business. Without the entry barriers that once stood in the way of such a transformation, there are no limits on what you can achieve.

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Janica San Juan

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