I’m fortunate enough to have not one, but two personal assistants.  Alexa, my first assistant, is fantastic.  She’s my personal DJ.  She tells me the weather.  She even adjusts the thermostat in my house.  Google, my second assistant, is also fantastic.  He’s my navigator.  He knows all the traffic spots to avoid.  He even gets people on the phone for me.  But recently, I was introduced to a third personal assistant that I didn’t even know I needed:  Cortana 

Cortana is Microsoft’s artificial intelligence (AI) built into Windows 10.  A late comer to an already crowded space, Cortana often gets overlooked because of her lack of integration into other ecosystems, such as Amazon and mobile devices.  But Cortana has two very strong points in her favor: 

 

  1. She is deeply integrated into the Microsoft ecosystem 
  2. She has a monitor to show me things 

As a working professional, I rely heavily on Microsoft’s services.  My corporate data is stored in Office 365.  I use Outlook to check my email.  My computers are Windows 10.  And because Cortana is built in, she can help me manage it all. 

“Hey Cortana, what’s on my calendar?” 

Because Cortana *is* Windows 10, she uses the built-in Calendar app to retrieve this information, which takes a little setup at first.  She can read this information out to me, but she can also display it on the screen. 

“Hey Cortana, launch Outlook” 

Yes, I could’ve reached for the mouse and done this myself, but this way is much cooler AND I didn’t have to put my coffee down! 

“Hey Cortana, what time is my flight?” 

When I booked my flight, the airline sent me a confirmation via email.  Cortana is able to locate and provide me this flight information, even though I didn’t put it on my calendar. 

“Hey Cortana, how long will it take to get to BWI airport?” 

Sure, I could’ve asked Google.  But my phone is in the other room.  Cortana can provide that information immediately, and I can get back to work. 

Some of the best things, she does without me needing to ask.  Yesterday, I emailed a client promising to send them a report in the morning.  This morning, Cortana popped up to make sure I remembered to send that report.  If I have an appointment out of the office, she lets me know when it’s time to leave. 

Alexa’s and Google’s jobs are safe.  What they do to enrich my life cannot be replaced.  But when it comes to staying focused and getting work done, Cortana is my right hand!