In the late 1990s, Microsoft decided to jump into the search engine arena with “MSN Search.” Over the years, this product underwent several transformations, first to “Windows Live Search” and then to “Live Search.” In 2009, after much reshuffling, rebranding, and reorganization, Microsoft settled on “Bing”, which has been the preferred name for Microsoft’s search engine offering ever since.
Bing, despite having the backing of one of the largest IT organizations in the world, has been struggling to escape the shadow of its primary competitor, Google Search. While Bing has managed to grab about 21% of search engine market share, Google Search is still the most visited site in the world with 64% of the search market.
Microsoft, however, is the clear leader in terms of enterprise-level business productivity and collaboration platforms. In an attempt to combine existing technology and industry expertise with AI (Artificial Intelligence) technology, Microsoft created a sub-product of Bing designed for a specific use: internal search within Office 365 and SharePoint. The result was “Bing for Business”.
Enter Bing for Business
During the Ignite conference last September, Microsoft announced the release of Bing for Business, its business-friendly search engine. Unlike the more generic Bing, which delivers global searching of the Internet to the public, Bing for Business provides search capabilities internally in enterprise settings.
Bing for Business and AI/Machine Learning
Searching for data is one thing, but deciding what to display (i.e., search results) is another. The type of content displayed as a result of internal searches is a product of machine learning algorithms, not keyword relevance or frequency. Microsoft’s AI-based technology—which the company is implementing on a large scale across all their product families—is being used to support Bing for Business’ search and display capabilities.
In short, Microsoft Graph (the engine behind Microsoft’s AI endeavors) is used as an aggregator of data. When a search is performed, Graph pulls in data from across all active platforms (SharePoint, Outlook, OneDrive, Teams, Office 365, etc.) and displays results based on the content’s relevancy to the search term(s) AND the user performing the search, as well as all other data associated with the searcher.
For example, if a user is searching for an internal document about “financial compliance,” the search results will not be the document with the highest occurrence of the term “financial compliance” nor will it be a document with that term in the filename/title. The results will be aligned with information relating to the user performing the search. Bing for Business’ AI-powered search engine may prioritize search results based on:
…”financial compliance” related documents shared between the searcher’s colleagues;
…”financial compliance” related documents recently saved by the searcher’s Manager;
…”financial compliance” related documents used by members of an Office group that the searcher is a member of; etc.
In this way, Microsoft hopes to add a deeper level of relevance to search results by offering content that is, potentially, more meaningful to the user performing the search.
Bing for Business represents another value offering to organizations. It leverages pre-existing technology, and capitalizes on newly-researched and developed technology that Microsoft is keen on running in a real-world setting. From Microsoft’s perspective, Bing for Business is a win-win product that will retrieve the most valuable type of content possible: user entered data. The millions of searches to be performed using Bing for Business will be used to further refine the user experience as well as providing deeper insights into its customer base, whether the users are aware of it or not.
Crow Canyon Software delivers the power of a connected, digital workplace to your organization, helping you be more successful and competitive. We provide the tools that allow you to gain the maximum benefit from SharePoint and Office 365, Microsoft’s premier collaboration platforms.
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