An AI bot is coming to Office 365 to help take the work out of scheduling work meetings, but it isn't Cortana. New York based startup x.ai announced today (via Business Insider) that their AI personal assistant Amy Ingram, and 'her' brother Andrew, will be integrated with Outlook.com and Microsoft Office 365 calendars.
Amy and Andrew are essentially bots that work simply by CC'ing their addresses in an email exchange when you are trying to schedule a meeting with someone. At which point Amy or Andrew take over the conversation, and take all the work out of trying to negotiate the best time to meet. Once Amy or Andrew work out a time with the other person, they add it to your calendar.
Previously, Amy could only work with Google Calendar. In a press release by x.ai, the company explains the service was limited to Google calendar because they wanted to focus on training their personal assistant first and foremost to work correctly before working on support for other calendars. CEO and Founder Dennis Mortensen says that from the start on of their first goals was "enabling Amy and Andrew to work across the Outlook.com and Office 365 calendars." Now that they feel they have trained the personal assistant to schedule meetings autonomously, they have enabled support for Outloook.com and Office 365 calendars.
Mortensen says that their goal is nothing short of wanting Amy and Andrew to be "schedul[ing] every single one" of the meetings that nearly 90 million knowledge workers makes in the US, a figure he cites as roughly "10 billion meetings a year."
The service is still in beta, but the press release says it will be ready for prime time later this fall. It will be interesting to see how this new digital assistant complements Office 365 and Outlook.com's services as Microsoft has been working hard to open up Office 365 as a platform for developers to enhance its capabilities with add-ins. You can read the full press release below:
New York, NY, June 15, 2016—x.ai, inc., an artificial intelligence company, today announced that its AI personal assistant can operate across Microsoft Outlook.com and Microsoft Office 365 calendars to schedule meetings. Now businesses and individual professionals who run on these Microsoft products can also enlist x.ai’s personal assistant, Amy Ingram.
x.ai launched a beta version of its AI personal assistant in June 2014. (All you do is cc [email protected], and she takes over the job of scheduling your meeting.) Since then, Amy and her brother Andrew have scheduled hundreds of thousands of meetings and processed millions of scheduling-related emails.
For the past two years, x.ai has supported only one calendar type—Google calendar—as it focused product development on the arduous task of training a machine to understand scheduling-related conversations. During this time, one of the most requested features has been support for Microsoft calendars.
“We knew from the start that enabling Amy and Andrew to work across the Outlook.com and Office 365 calendars would be one of the first things we did, once we had trained the machine to schedule meetings nearly autonomously,” said CEO/Founder Dennis R. Mortensen. “We want all of the nearly 90 million US knowledge workers to be able to take advantage of this technology. That represents roughly 10 billion meetings a year, and we want to schedule every single one of them.”
x.ai’s beta customers include small business owners, product managers, salespeople, marketers, designers, startup CEOs, teachers, students, journalists, and many others across nearly every industry.
"This AI personal assistant can schedule your meetings, saving our joint customers hours each week, enhancing productivity and unleashing creativity,” said Rob Howard, director, Office 365 Ecosystem, Microsoft.
x.ai will come out of beta this fall.