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Microsoft’s Latest AI Acquisition Can Set Up Your Meetings — Location Marketers Take Note

Microsoft's purchase of Genee follows its smart device deal and its Starbucks partnership on setting up meetings at based on location.

Microsoft’s purchase virtual assistant software provider Genee is more than just another way for the Redmond company to build up its artificial intelligence and Internet of Things holdings.

It’s also about finding its niche within the evolving to offer one-to-one communications, which is largely focused on Snapchat, Kik, Facebook Messenger, chatbots, and other platforms.

In comparison, Microsoft Outlook’s email system may appear outmoded. But as a business tool, it’s still in wide use.

As for an example of how Genee works, Microsoft offers a look at a common scheduling problem.

“Say you want to meet a potential customer, Diana, for coffee. Simply send an email to Diana and copy Genee, like you would a personal assistant,” the company writes in a blog post heralding the acquisition. “Genee understands that you want to ‘Find a time to meet with Diana for coffee next week’ and will streamline the process by emailing her directly with appropriate options that work with your calendar and preferences. Genee will even send out the meeting invite on your behalf — freeing up your time.”

One recent sign that Microsoft has recognized an area it can compete is with business meetings. Earlier this summer, Microsoft Outlook began allowing an embed of a Starbucks extension in its dashboard may point the way for how the upstart communication apps connect local places to consumers.

The purchase of Genee, which is part of a wider trend of using AI tools to “anticipate” users needs based on the time and place they’re in, could make Microsoft’s connections more valuable.

It could present the “Meet At Starbucks” widget as a model for other businesses that want to be top of mind for users setting up an appointment or a meeting. In the Starbucks offering, when an Outlook sender clicks on the icon, a pop-up map appears in the message with pindrop locations for nearby Starbucks locations. It’s the kind of thing brands would love to take advantage of.

The Genee deal could also buttress Microsoft’s completion of its $26.2 billion acquisition of LinkedIn, by expanding the ability to connect professionals and places. The potential of other Microsoft properties can also be brought to bear on these kinds of “personalized” meetings arrangements. Just think of the was Microsoft’s search engine Bing could see mutual benefits through its store locator and discovery system.

“We consider Microsoft to be the leader in personal and enterprise productivity, AI, and virtual assistant technologies, so we look forward to bringing our passion and expertise to a team that is committed to delivering cutting-edge language and intelligence services,” write Ben Cheung and Charles Lee, Genee’s co-founders, in their own blog post about the deal.

Ultimately, the deal gives Microsoft greater leverage in exploring the ideas of loyalty and rewards programs, which become more fully evolved as customer relationship management strategies.

In any case, all these moves, including Microsoft’s acquisition of Italian IoT software provider Solair in June, are designed to accelerate its efforts to better power the connection of consumers’ smart devices to a range of physical businesses.