Introduction to Cortana Analytics

Microsoft previewed Cortana Analytics in July 13, 2015, and since then, they have published a lot of information on their site about it. Based on what I’ve seen on the internet, there appears to be a lot of confusion as to what Cortana Analytics is. This is completely understandable when you consider the number of different products the name Cortana has represented for Microsoft. My favorite is the image with the picture of a blue girl, which is from the Xbox game Halo 3. A video game was character was the first place Microsoft used the name Cortana in 2007. At the Microsoft BUILD Developer Conference in April 2014, the name Cortana was used for the Microsoft version of the Apple’s Siri phone application. If you are interested in hearing about it, I’ve included a link to the Channel 9 video here where they talk about Cortana. Finally, a year later Microsoft comes out with a product called Cortana Analytics. No wonder people are confused.

Cortana Analytics is not a Product

Cortana Analytics: the bow tying different apps together

Cortana Analytics: the bow tying different applications together

To help bring clarity to what Cortana Analytics is and is not, I wanted to start out with what I think is the most confusing point. Cortana Analytics is not a product, but a name given to a bunch of other applications which are designed to work together. In essence, Microsoft tied a bow around a bunch of applications and called the bow, Cortana Analytics. Here’s an example scenario. Start by sending water meter data from the physical meters to the cloud, where you aggregate, analyze, store and end up with a Power BI application on your phone showing you a visualization of some aspect of the data. To make this happen from a technical perspective using Microsoft’s tools, one would need to probably create an Event Hub, run a Streaming Analytics Process, use Data Factory to call a Machine Learning experiment, migrate the data to an Azure Storage account of some kind and then create a Power BI report to be sent to your phone. All of that, is Cortana Analytics. It is not one product, but a big bow tying all of the applications they have designed to work together under one name. Power BI is part of it. On that note, I recently saw Microsoft do a demo with Power BI where they integrated the Cortana-phone like functionality of talking to Power BI and it displayed the information it was asked. I have no idea when this will be released, but it sure was a neat demonstration. In this demo, they mentioned they were adding Cortana funcationality to Power BI, which really didn’t help the confusion level with the name.

Cortana Analytics Web Presentation

I recently recorded a video presentation of Cortana Analytics where I described in greater detail the components which make up Cortana Analytics and how they work together. That video is available here. As I am working more with the components which make up Cortana Analtics, such as Machine Learning and Power BI, I will definitely be devoting more blog post to the topic, so please subscribe to my blog if you are interested in learning more about it.

Yours Always

Ginger Grant

Data aficionado et SQL Raconteur


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