Microsoft Ignite Virtual 2020: Microsoft Search – The Answers

In our previous article, Microsoft Search – The Questions, we reviewed the many exciting new features and many improvements to Microsoft Search, with the focus on the question. In this article, our focus will be on the answer because that is what Microsoft Search is about – asking the question to obtain the most accurate and relevant answer quickly.

What happens when you Search? You get answers! There are now new and improved answers in Microsoft Search:

Acronym Answers: acronyms can have different meanings between different types of sectors, within an organization, and even between projects and Teams within an organization. It is now easier to find out what an acronym stands for within an organization with a simple query such as “Define…”  as the definition is mined from content that your organization has curated, the content accessed by a user and the definition as defined by a Microsoft 365 Administrator. Acronym Answers is available in English in SharePoint and Office.com, Bing.com (other languages in addition to English), and soon it will be available for Outlook mobile, Outlook web, Teams Mobile, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

Calendar Answers: available on the Outlook mobile app, you can use either voice or type in the search box to find your meetings without having to scroll to find it. Find your meeting or event by title, time of the meeting, or attendee name and RSVP, join a Teams meeting, or send an email right from the answer. On the desktop, you can search for the meeting or replying to an invitation with the meeting notes, all from the inbox.

File Answers: searching for files in Outlook can be tedious – opening emails with attachments only to find that it is not the right one and repeating until you find the right one – extremely time-consuming! With File Answers, searching for file documents in Outlook can be achieved by using natural syntax that contains the author of the file, the sender of the email that contains the file, the file name, file type across attachments that have been received, and shared files from Teams chat, OneDrive for Business, and SharePoint.

Optimizing Search for Your Users

Your users, and your organization, depend upon successful searches conducted for information, content, and people but how does the Administrator know that users are finding what they need? With improved search analytics and a new feedback loop, Administrators will begin to receive better information on Search’s success with their users. Improvements and new features include:

Admin Feedback: as part of the search lifecycle, users will be able to provide secured feedback on the quality and accuracy of search results and suggested answers to the search administrator to help improve Search.

Analytics: with the right tools and insights, search administrators can keep team members productive with the new Microsoft Search Insights dashboard. Insights include top search queries on Microsoft Search, impression distribution over time, and what users are searching for.

Personalizing and customizing Search allows it to work at its best as it is working based on your organization’s and team’s unique needs. Personalization and customization will be rolled out, including the ability to customize verticals and filters, add your organization’s filters that are based on refinable managed properties, edit out of the box verticals, and change how results will look like. Compelling views of connector content via Adaptive Cards can be simply created by a layout designer.

Microsoft Search is Everywhere! But Where, Exactly?

Microsoft Search has been becoming available in Microsoft 365 apps and services, including contextual search in Microsoft Teams, with more improvements coming, Windows, and Outlook.

Microsoft Teams: using CTRL + F plus search terms allows desktop users to search in channels and chats, resulting in contextual search results. This ability is now available for the mobile app. The full page of immersive search results is optimized with better relevance and context, resulting in improved user recognition. By applying filters, users will find content faster and exactly what they are searching for. Microsoft Search will suggest and introduce answers that are mined from the organization, knowledge that is curated by its users. Because the answers are unique to the organization, the user will access relevant information quicker, and in turn, return to complete their tasks more quickly.

Outlook: fun fact – the most popular activity is email with search as the second most popular activity. A successful search understands ambiguities, the language being used, and delivers reliable results when you need them. In the new search bar for Outlook, there is a new microphone option so that users can either speak or type the search criteria. Search criteria can be contact specific, and the result will provide an actionable result. Search criteria can also be a specific contact, and the results will result in actionable and relevant results as opposed to keywords from email or calendar information.

Windows: when logged in with their work account, uses will be able to search local and organizational content from the Windows search box.

Microsoft Office: located at the top of the app, Microsoft Search is easily accessible in Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. By combining query, document understanding, indexing, and deep learning-based natural language models, search queries do not have to be an exact match for content to be found. On the mobile app, scanning QR codes, signing of PDFs, and turning pictures into editable Word and Excel documents are additional features that can be done.

Information Islands – How to Connect Them

Knowledge is exponential when it is shared and when the collaborators are situated in many different offices, including home offices, information can be distributed across platforms, ranging from cloud applications to on-premises. Connecting this information is the key to continued growth, collaboration, and success. Microsoft Graph connectors will become available for Microsoft Search, becoming the connector for disparate systems so that information can be found across the systems.

A new subscription is available for organizations without an Office 365 subscription. Microsoft Search service is now a standalone product that is available that allows the connection of applications and data platforms and will help users to quickly and accurately find the information they are searching for.

As they say, knowledge is power, but how to get that knowledge is dependent upon asking a relevant question and receiving accurate, precise, and up to date answers. With Microsoft Search, asking a question has never been easier, and obtaining the best answers quickly with accurate relevancy is the golden grail as Microsoft Search, powered by AI, combs through content across platforms and systems, curating it based on personalization and customization, and delivering it quickly to the user. Microsoft Search, with its people-centric focus, is once again raising the bar and changing the face of how information is obtained as a response to how we perform our day to day tasks.

  • Wednesday, September 30, 2020 By : Mike Maadarani   

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