Introduction to Microsoft Cortana Intelligence Suite (2023)

By: Dattatrey Sindol | Updated: 2016-07-08 | Comments (1) | Related: > Cortana


I have been hearing about the term Cortana Analytics for a while now and wouldlike to know more about it. Can you explain what this term means, how is it relevanttoBusiness Intelligence, and any other details which will help me getstarted with this technology.


Cortana Analytics is a suite of fully managed Business Intelligence (BI),Big Data,and Advanced Analytics service offerings from Microsoft in the Azure Cloud. Recentlyit has been re-named / re-branded as Cortana Intelligence, so we will refer to itas Cortana Intelligence Suite through the rest of this tip.

Overview of Cortana Intelligence Suite

Cortana Intelligence is a Suite of service offerings on theMicrosoftAzure Cloud, which enable businesses to transform the data into Intelligent Actions.The following is a high level diagram which shows where exactly Cortana IntelligenceSuite fits in the overall Data Analytics Ecosystem.

Introduction to Microsoft Cortana Intelligence Suite (1)
Source: Microsoft (

As we can see from the above diagram, Cortana Intelligence allows us to processthe data from a variety of data sources, transform the data, apply advanced analyticaltechniques (DataMining,Machine Learning etc.), and extract actionable insights which enables the businessto take intelligent and timely actions.

Data can be extracted from a variety of data sources including applications,files, logs, devices and sensors, and a variety of Big Data and Internet of Things(IoT) systems. There are various offerings as part of Cortana Intelligence Suitewhich enable data engineers and power users to extract valuable insights from suchvariety of data sources and deliver them to decision makers, applications, and automatedsystems enabling them to take intelligent actions.

Architecture of Cortana Intelligence Suite

Now let's take a look at the architecture of Cortana Intelligence Suite. Thebelow architecture diagram shows the various Azure offerings which the Cortana IntelligenceSuite is comprised of.

Introduction to Microsoft Cortana Intelligence Suite (2)
Source: Microsoft (

As we can see from the above architecture diagram, following are the key pillarsof Cortana Intelligence Suite:

  • Information Management: Consists of services which enable us to capturethe incoming data from various sources including the streaming data from sensors,devices, and other IoT systems. Manage various data sources which are part ofthe data analytics ecosystem within the enterprise; and orchestrate and buildend-to-end flows to perform various activities and data processing and datapreparation operations.
  • Big Data Stores: Consists of services which enable us to store andmanage large scale data. In other words, enables us to store and manage bigdata. These services offer high degree of elasticity, high processing power,and high throughput with great performance.
  • Machine Learning and Analytics: Consists of services which enableus to perform advanced analytics, build predictive models, and apply machinelearning algorithms on large scale data. Allows us to perform data analysison large scale data of different variety using programming languages like Rand Python.
  • Dashboards and Visualizations: Consists of services which enableus to build reports and dashboards to view the insights. It primarily consistsofPower BI which allows us to build highly interactive visually appealingreports and dashboards. Apart from this, other tools likeSQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS),Excel, etc. can also be used to connect to data from some of these servicesin Cortana Intelligence Suite.
  • Intelligence: Consists of advanced intelligence services which enableus to build smart interactive services using advanced text, speech, and otherrecognition systems.

Each of the above areas contain one or more offerings. We will look at each ofthese areas / offerings in subsequent tips.

Cortana Intelligence Suite Highlights

Here are the highlights of Cortana Intelligence Suite:

(Video) Microsoft Cortana Intelligence Suite Workshop Video Tutorial Series (1/5): Introduction

  • A fully managed Big Data and Advanced Analytics Suite enabling businessestransform data into intelligent actions.
  • An excellent offering perfectly suited for handling modern day data sources,data formats, and data volumes to gain valuable insights.
  • Offers various preconfigured solutions like Forecasting, Churn, Recommendations,etc.
  • Apart from the big data and analytical services, Cortana Intelligence Suitealso includes some of the advanced intelligence services - Cortana, Bot Framework,and Cognitive Services.
  • Contains services to capture the data from a variety of data sources, processand integrate the data, perform advanced analytics, visualize and collaborate,and gain intelligence out of it.
  • Offers all the benefits ofCloud Computing like scale, elasticity, and pay-as-you-go model, etc.

Use Cases for the Cortana Intelligence Suite

Cortana Intelligence Suite can address the data challenges in various industriesand enable them to transform their data into intelligent actions and helps to bemore proactive in the day-to-day operational aspects of the business. Of the variousindustries where Cortana Intelligence Suite can be used, here are a few of them.

  • Financial Services: Monitor the transactions as they happen in nearreal-time and based on the analysis on the historical data and historical dataanomalies/trends, Cortana Intelligence Suite can be used to apply complex machinelearning algorithms and predictive models to predict a potential fraudulenttransactions and help business prevent such transactions in future thereby protectingcustomer's valuable money. The Financial Services sector is pretty vast and we canuse Cortana Intelligence Suite in various scenarios including credit/debit cardfraud, electronic transfer fraud, phishing attempts to steal confidentialcustomer data, etc.
  • Retail: Cortana Intelligence Suite can be used across the Retail Industryin various scenarios including optimizing availability by forecasting demand,enabling businesses to ensure the right products in the right location at theright time. There are numerous use cases in the retail industry and CortanaIntelligence Suite can be used in conjunction with IoT systems. For instance,with the help of sensors (Beacon Technology) we can detect when a customer entersa retail store and based the data that we have in the database about that customer,we can offer them targeted discounts based on customer's demographics, pastpurchase history, what the customer has been browsing online (this is wherebringing in the data from outside the enterprise comes into picture as discussedin this tip onIntroduction to Big Data), and other relevant information which can help understandthe customer's preferences.
  • Healthcare: There are various scenarios in Healthcare where the CortanaIntelligence Suite can be used. Historical data on the utilization of variousresources (Rooms, Beds, Other Equipment, etc.) and manpower (Doctors, Nurses,general staff, etc.) can be analyzed to predict the future demand thereby enablingthe hospitals to mobilize and optimize the resources and manpower accordingly.Historical patient data can be analyzed in conjunction with weatherdata to identify the patterns and potential illness that might be caused duringparticular seasons and help the authorities take preventive measures.
  • Manufacturing: By constantly monitoring the equipment and collectingthe data over time, probability of issues occurring can be predicted and accordinglya maintenance schedule can be defined to prevent the potential issues whichif occur can hamper the production and day-to-day operations leading to unhappycustomers, loss of business, and increased operational costs. Cortana IntelligenceSuite fits very well in this scenario and enables end to end data collection,monitoring, alerting, and to take proactive actions/decisions.
  • Public Sector: There are various areas in the public sector whereCortana Intelligence Suite can be used to improve the overall operationalefficiency including Public Transport, Power Grids, Water Supplies, and a lotmore. By monitoring the usage of resources in various areas, we can identifythe patterns in the usage, predict and forecast the demand, and accordinglyensure the supply so that there is neither shortage nor a waste of resourcesthereby improving the overall operational efficiency and happy customers.

Above are just a glimpse of scenarios in each of those sectors and there aremany more such scenarios in each of the sectors. Apart from these, there are variousother countless sectors where the Cortana Intelligence Suite can be used like Education,Insurance, Marketing, Hospitality, Aviation, Research, and so on.

Each of the areas of Cortana Intelligence Suite contain one or more offerings.We will look at each of these areas in subsequent tips.

Next Steps
  • Follow CortanaIntelligence on Twitter (@MSAdvAnalytics) to get the latest news and updatesabout Cortana Intelligence Suite.
  • ExploreCortana IntelligenceGallery which contains Experiments, Machine Learning APIs, Solution Templates,Tutorials, and a bunch of other resources from Microsoft as well as those contributedby the developer community.

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About the author

Dattatrey Sindol has 8+ years of experience working with SQL Server BI, Power BI, Microsoft Azure, Azure HDInsight and more.

View all my tips

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Article Last Updated: 2016-07-08


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