Microsoft is bringing in an AI chatbot for data analysis

Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of the Microsoft Cloud and Artificial Intelligence group, speaks at the Microsoft CIO Summit in Redmond, Washington, on February 1, 2023.


Microsoft’s huge investment in AI chatbots finds its way into data analytics.

Following its $13 billion investment in OpenAI and its early efforts to embed the AI ​​technology into its Bing search engine and other products like email, Word, and Excel, Microsoft is rolling out a chatbot — or Copilot — that will allow users to understand the meaning of information stored in the company’s databases.

In addition to the chatbot, Microsoft is launching a new brand called Fabric, which will bring together seven data products under one umbrella. It’s similar to the introduction of the Office suite of productivity software in 1990, and Microsoft is touting cost-saving opportunities at a time when customers are tightening their belts.

The fabric is designed so that the client can store one copy of the data and work with it in several programs. For example, the data in Synapse Data Science can be leveraged to collaborate on AI models and Power BI business intelligence software to create charts and dashboards.

said Scott Guthrie, Microsoft executive vice president of the Cloud and Artificial Intelligence Group. “You don’t have to pay for everything separately. And I think that ultimately leads to some very important cost savings for customers.”

A single copilot will be available for tools in the Microsoft Fabric portfolio, which include Data Factory, Synapse Data Architecture, Synapse Data Warehousing, Synapse Real-time Analytics and a new monitoring tool called Data Activator, as well as Power BI and Synapse Data Science, a Microsoft spokesperson said.

The new technology does not require technical expertise to operate. Anyone can open Power BI and type an idea for a report in Copilot, or click through a handful of automatically generated ideas. After a screen full of editable charts appears, the user can type a question about the data and get an answer in plain English.

Earlier this month, Salesforce announced Tableau GPT, which will be able to render charts in response to text prompts.

Arun Ulagaratchagan, corporate vice president of Azure data at Microsoft, said Fabric is “more comprehensive than what has been announced in the market to date.” He said Copilot will be able to write formulas using the Microsoft Data Analysis Expressions language in Power BI.

The texture data will sit inside a single storage system called OneLake, which users will be able to access as local files on their computers, similar to the way Microsoft OneDrive’s file-syncing and sharing service works for Microsoft 365 productivity software subscribers. Users can view data stored in Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, and Google Cloud Storage and take action on them, and they don’t need to make copies.

Depending on how Microsoft builds the technology architecture, “it will definitely help them get more market share,” said Boris Ivelson, an analyst at technology researcher Forrester.

Ulagaratchagan said that Microsoft started working on Fabric two years ago. The company has not finalized pricing yet.

Also on Tuesday, Microsoft said that in June it will begin previewing Windows Copilot in its Windows 11 operating system.

“Just as you would with Bing Chat, you can ask Windows Copilot a range of questions from the simple to the complex,” Panos Panay, Microsoft’s chief product officer, wrote in a blog post.

He watches: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella talks about the relationship of OpenAI, generative AI, and the Microsoft-Activision agreement

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