SEMA News—June 2019


By Joe Dysart

9 Ways Artificial Intelligence Can Work For You

Scores of software companies are powering their latest productivity apps with AI, including Microsoft.

While artificial intelligence (AI) is increasingly being applied on a massive scale to alter the very nature of how the world works, it turns out AI is also very good at making everyday drudgery disappear.

Productivity apps powered by AI are emerging, for example, that will help you come up with snappier and more personalized emails, transcribe all your phone calls into searchable text or find just the right photo that goes with the color scheme you’re using for your presentation.

And while most of us are well-acquainted with everyday apps designed to help us work more efficiently, the best of the new incarnations powered by AI have been programmed to learn over time and become ever-smarter at the everyday tasks they’re handling for you.

The latest search tool for Microsoft Office, for example, goes far beyond searching for things that you’re looking for and actually gets to know how you work. The idea: The better the program “knows” you, the better search results it can bring back to you.

“Based on the user’s work patterns, the new search tool makes suggestions on content you may be looking for, actions you can take, and people you might want to connect with—all made to happen using machine learning and Microsoft artificial intelligence,” says Jon Friedman, chief designer, Microsoft Office.

In a phrase, scores of productivity tools are currently being completely remade by AI.

It’s a great time for businesses to take a look at what’s out there, and where the software category is headed.

Here’s a representative sampling:

Personalize Your Emails With an AI Web Crawler: Aizimov ( adds a personal touch to your emails by auto-crawling the web for interesting insights on the people your do
business with.

“All you have to put in are four things: first name, last name, email and company,” says Jerome Devosse, Aizimov’s CEO. After that, the software searches Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social networks to bring back insights about your contacts, including their likes, dislikes and passions.

“If the guy, for example, has done a marathon, I may finish the email by saying, “By the way, I also did a marathon in Rome, here’s my time—how do we compare?” to get their attention,” Devosse says.

Aizomov also works for you after you send your email, collecting info on the types of emails you send that get the best responses, based on tone, length, content and time-of-day sent.

Using these insights, it will put together a draft of an email the next time you want to communicate with your marathon buddy or similar—which you can use as is or customize to your own tastes.

Leverage Microsoft Office’s New AI ( Stop One for millions of computer users each day, Microsoft Office has been given an AI facelift. It will now automatically transcribe your conference calls into text and even organize that text with automatic

Businesses who use Powerpoint will also appreciate the new Powerpoint-on-AI, which can automatically put together a presentation after you type a line or two of text over each slide you plan to use.

Still other Microsoft Office apps reworked with AI include it’s search function, which is completely powered by AI now. And Cortana, an AI assistant that made its debut in Microsoft Windows 10, has also been integrated into Microsoft Office as another AI-powered app.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is also attempting to make machine learning more accessible to analysts within companies by offering them the ability to write their own machine learning models—without writing a single line of computer code.

The capability was recently integrated into Microsoft’s “Power BI,” a business analytics tool that scans company data for hidden patterns and renders the results into easily understandable reports and visualizations.

“Instead of targeting developers or data scientists, we’ve simplified it and made it broadly accessible for common use cases,” says Arun Ulag, general manager, engineering, at Microsoft. “This means that when an analyst builds a machine learning model in Power BI, it does all the heavy lifting by selecting the best algorithm and features with just a few clicks.

“As an example: a business analyst could leverage the automated machine learning technology to quickly and easily build a model to predict how likely an open sales opportunity is to be won. This could help a sales manager prioritize which high value opportunities to focus on and how likely they are to meet their target.”

Auto-Transcribe Meetings to Text: Eva, Voicea’s AI assistant ( automatically transcribes the highlights of any meeting into easily readable text for all participants. The app also will email all the notes to everyone who attended the meeting, or just key players.

Plus, its auto-transcription also works for phone conversations.

Send Out for an AI Rewrite: Businesses looking for a different take on some text they’ve just written can turn to Spinnerchief ( It will rework anything you write from a slightly different perspective. The software has also been designed to ensure the text it produces is optimized for the search engines.

Another AI program in the same genre is Writer ( Writer is designed to learn everything you need to know about a specific topic by crawling the Web and then present the results to you in a text article. The program works best when you instruct it to research an extremely narrow topic.

Index Your Photo Library With AI: Imagga ( is able to analyze the entire photo library of a business, studying one picture at a time at blazingly fast speed and then tagging each image so you’ll be able to quickly call up any image with a text search.

Find Images for Your Color Theme: Everypixel ( bests the other stock images libraries on the Web by offering you the ability to find an image based on the color scheme you’re using for your ad or presentation.

Have an AI Assistant Schedule Your Meetings: There are a number of AI assistants dedicated to using email to auto-schedule meetings for businesses using email. Those worth a try include Julie Desk (, Kono (, Clara ( and Hire Amy (

Pick an AI Personal Assistant to Your Liking: Unlike task-specific AI apps, AI personal assistants attempt to handle a number of everyday tasks for you simultaneously. It’s a popular AI productivity category, so you’ll have plenty to check out.

Zoom.AI (, for example, is designed to help organize your schedule, prepare meeting notes, handle travel logistics, search for files, order a car and more. Braina ( is designed to perform similar functions, as is Vesper (

Joe Dysart is an internet speaker and business consultant based in Manhattan.


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