Microsoft Ignite 2021 – What is new in AI?


Every year we are looking forward to some big Microsoft Events.

  • Ignite
  • Build
  • Inspire

Today 2nd of March 2021, ‘Ignite’ has kicked off with a great keynote from Satya Nadella. One thing I like to share was the following quote


As an AI firm, we can only agree with this. Organizations are saving more and more data, and that defines their organizations. Data tells stories of how your company is doing and how it will be doing in the future.

What we are most eager to learn is what has been released or updated.

Semantic Search Capability in Azure Cognitive Search

Azure Cognitive Search

Microsoft Release Note:

A new semantic search capability in Azure Cognitive Search, an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered cloud search service for mobile and web app development, is now available in preview. This capability enables developers to deliver results based on user intent as opposed to a keyword-based search, which is the industry norm. Semantic search leverages some of the most advanced natural language models to improve relevance and ranking of search results. It uses concept matching, synonym search and other techniques to deliver a more personalized search experience for users.

In addition, a new SharePoint connector makes it easier to ingest and explore SharePoint content within Azure Cognitive Search.

Blog post by Luis Cabrera (Microsoft) with more details: Introducing semantic search: Bringing more meaningful results to Azure Cognitive Search – Microsoft Tech Community

Arinti Comments:

The enhanced capabilities of Azure Cognitive Search are impressive. We have been able to play around with it in private preview, and it works really good. The quality of the search results is much better. Also, the highlights that are returned can be more specific by really giving answers to a question. This will improve our implementation of Tafuta for many customers! Want to know more about Tafuta? Contact Us.

Form Recognizer recognizes and extracts data from IDs & invoices

Form Recognizer

Microsoft Release Note:

Form Recognizer, an Azure Cognitive Service, is introducing support for pre-built identification documents (IDs) and invoice extraction, plus the ability to read data in 64 additional languages (raising the total to 73).

The new pre-built IDs feature will enable automated extraction of data from worldwide passports and driver’s licenses, helping customers avoid manual data entry and improving services like online banking transactions and hotel registration.

Data extraction from invoices will further help customers extract text, key-value pairs and tables from documents to produce structured data that reflects the relationships in the original file without manual data labeling or intensive coding.

Language support will expand to 73 this month from the existing nine: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch (all generally available), and Simplified Chinese and Japanese (in preview).

Blog post by Christina Lee (Microsoft) with more details: Form Recognizer now reads more languages, processes IDs and invoices, trains on tables, and more – Microsoft Tech Community

Arinti Comments:

A year ago, we had to build a custom AI model to recognize and extract data from Belgian IDs, and now it’s available as a service. Once again, Microsoft is really democratizing AI.

Automating your business processes, like booking your scanned invoices into your accounting software, will now be easier with the data extraction possibilities for invoices. Combining this with Power Automate or Logic Apps makes it possible for non-IT people to setup perfect pipelines.

Azure Machine Learning Service Updates

Azure Machine Learning

Microsoft Release Notes:

Azure Machine Learning, an enterprise-grade service that helps customers build and deploy models rapidly, has several new capabilities.

Role-based access control (RBAC) is now generally available. It enables IT administrators to grant fine-grained access to data science teams and create customizable roles.

A new integration with Azure Synapse Analytics, in preview, enables data science teams to use Azure Synapse Analytics Spark clusters for large-scale interactive data preparation tasks from within Azure Machine Learning notebooks.

Azure Percept, a family of devices and services, is now available in preview. Azure Percept powers real-time insights at the edge through hardware accelerators integrated with Azure Machine Learning and Azure Cognitive Services. More information on this announcement can be found in the Azure IoT section.

Azure Arc now supports Azure Machine Learning. Customers can sign up to access the preview today. More information on this announcement can be found in the Azure Hybrid, Azure Infra, Azure Migrate section.

Arinti Comments:

Again this is the power of the Microsoft Azure platform. Every service they built perfectly works together with other services. Azure Synapse Analytics just got released in GA, and they already worked for integrations between them. Same thing for Azure Percept.


Stay tuned.