Microsoft adds bot to Office 365 with Genee acquisition


Redmond brings scheduling artificial intelligence to its cloud productivity suite

Microsoft is acquiring Genee, an artificial-intelligence-powered scheduling service, and will eventually add the technology to its cloud productivity suite.

Co-founders Ben Cheung and Charles Lee, who plan to join Microsoft, started Genee in 2014 to simplify the time-consuming task of scheduling (and rescheduling) meetings. The technology is especially useful for large groups and for when users don’t have access to someone else’s calendar, said Microsoft.

robotGenee uses natural language processing and “optimised decision-making algorithms” so that interacting with a virtual assistant is “just like interacting with a human one”.

Rajesh Jha, Microsoft corporate vice president, Outlook and Office 365, explained the type of solution that would now be offered to Microsoft customers: “Say you want to meet a potential customer, Diana, for coffee. Simply send an email to Diana and copy Genee, like you would a personal assistant.

“Genee understands that you want to find a time to meet with Diana for coffee next week and will streamline the process by emailing her directly with appropriate options that work with your calendar and preferences. Genee will also send out the meeting invite on your behalf – freeing up your time.”

Jha added: “As we continue to build new Office 365 productivity capabilities and services our customers value, I’m confident the Genee team will help us further our ambition to bring intelligence into every digital experience.”

The Genee service for existing users will cease to work from 1 September. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.


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