In late September 2017, Microsoft held its annual Ignite Conference in Orlando, FL, where the company unveiled its vision for enterprise software going forward. As you might expect, the overarching themes swirled around the concept of a collaborative modern-day workforce interacting with each other in a mobile and dynamic environment. If you discount the hyperbole, that general description is a fairly accurate depiction of how enterprise employees work in today's business world.
However, there was one piece of technology presented at the Ignite Conference that you might be tempted to overlook. Bing for business is a special version of the Bing search engine that enterprises can use to help employees find information that is pertinent only to the internal organization itself. If implemented properly, Bing for business could become the technology that passes for institutional knowledge in many enterprises in the near future.
Bing for business
Bing for business is currently in private preview and not generally available to everyone, but some general information is known about the product. It leverages the intelligent cloud, artificial intelligence, and Microsoft Graph to provide relevant search results based on organizational context. Once it's installed and fully functional, employees of an enterprise will be able to search and retrieve information from internal resources, such as company data, people, documents, sites, and locations, as well as public web results. The results will be displayed in a single user experience, increasing efficiency and productivity.
By filtering the results through the prism of authentication and credentials provided by Azure Active Directory, employees will only be able to retrieve information that they are authorized to see. This means enterprise administrators will have to diligently classify documents within the system, as well as employee access.
The benefits of an efficient search of organizational data are obvious. In the past, finding the right internal information from within an enterprise involved either knowing exactly where to look on the network or knowing someone who knows where to look and asking them. The process could involve several exchanges of emails or text messages and could end up involving dozens of people—wasting valuable time and energy. Bing for business promises a better way.
When Bing for business is released to the general public, it will be available as part of existing subscriptions to Office 365 Enterprise E1, E3, E5, F1, Business Essentials, Business Premium, and Education E5. If you or your enterprise would like to participate in the private review, you can fill out a form located on a special Microsoft website.
What's the catch?
For enterprises, the success of Bing for business, and all of the products and concepts presented at the Ignite conference, will require their full and unfettered cooperation. Every employee will have to willingly and diligently provide data regarding where they are located, what they are doing, and what they intend to do later.
Human resources will have to make every personnel policy available to Bing for business, and administrators will have to determine which employees can view which data. Information about projects will have to be tightly controlled to prevent unauthorized access through a Bing search.
All in all, while the benefits of being able to retrieve pertinent data easily and efficiently may be obvious, getting there is going to take time, resources, and extensive work by many employees on many levels of the enterprise. The sheer amount of work involved may make enterprises reluctant to take on the responsibility that comes with implementing Bing for business. Only time will tell.
Microsoft uses events like the Ignite Conference to showcase what it views as the potential for Azure, Office 365, Microsoft 365, Windows 10, and its intelligent cloud infrastructure in the business enterprise. The presentations paint a glorious theoretical picture of what these products could do for your enterprise.
However, these conferences also do a poor job of explaining just how much set up, how much work, and how many resources these systems will take to implement successfully. While the benefits of Bing for business may be simple to understand, the cost of installing it into your enterprise could be prohibitively expensive. Each enterprise will have to weigh the benefits of Bing for business against the overall cost before committing significant resources.
Would Bing for business benefit your enterprise? Is it worth the setup and maintenance costs? Share your thoughts and opinions with your peers at TechRepublic in the discussion thread below.