Why is Microsoft Cortana still the great unknown in the world of AI? We’ve all heard the excitement and read countless stories around the continual advancement of artificial intelligence with Apple Siri, Google Home, Amazon Alexa and countless others. Why then can’t Microsoft seem to get any traction?

This is a marketing failure on the part of Microsoft. This is the kind of failure we have seen them suffer with the Lumia smartphone over the last decade. This is something they need to correct before it’s too late. Before the AI change wave passes them by and leaves them behind.

Past success for Microsoft kept them from learning the importance of tools for growth. Marketing, advertising, public relations, media relations, analyst relations and more have not really been an effective tool for the company.

Yesterday, that was not a problem since the company was only about Windows and software like Word and Outlook and their only real competitor was Apple. However, going forward, things are very different.

Marketing is weak link in Microsoft chain

The future is about AI, the cloud, wireless and so many new and different areas. There is fierce competition from heavy hitters like Amazon, Google, Facebook, Apple and many smaller players as well. In this new marketplace, winning companies capture the imagination with their marketing and messaging.

Unfortunately, marketing is a weak spot with Microsoft, and always has been. While that didn’t matter in the past, it is important going forward. Their failure with the Lumia smartphones over the last decade is an important lesson to them, their customers and investors.

Considering how poorly Cortana is doing in the marketplace today with regards to buzz, I don’t think Microsoft has learned this lesson yet.

AI is the future. Microsoft can be a key player in that future. They are a player in the AI space with Cortana. However, over the last several years as we have seen artificial intelligence get better and stronger, we have not heard much at all from the Cortana front.

Microsoft Cortana is barely visible in AI marketplace

Cortana was developed by Microsoft to help users work with Windows 10 using their voice, along with the touch screen and keyboard on their computer. It has been in the marketplace since 2015. It has quietly grown and is now also available on Apple iOS and Google Android devices through an app. That’s all good. However, they are not part of the growing AI discussion.

Microsoft says nearly 150 million people use Cortana, but if that is the case, I think we should hear more about this technology. One reason may be that while 150 million people may have enabled it and tried it, many may not use it as much as they use Siri, Home and Alexa. There is a difference.

Perhaps one reason is it’s not written about, so it is not talked about. After all, a company can have the best technology, but if it’s not written about and hot on the marketing front, it will never make it. While lesser quality competitors with better marketing can thrive. This is disturbing, but true.

Cortana isn’t part of AI conversation like Siri, Google Home, Amazon Alexa

Microsoft is a heavy hitter. They have the most customers with Windows on the business side and the consumer side, so they have a rich environment to grow in. That’s why I expected them to really hit it out of the park.

If that’s the case, why don’t we hear more about Cortana? It should lead the conversation any time we talk about AI. However, it’s quiet. It’s like Microsoft in the smartphone space. Who do we think about in this space? Apple Siri and Google Now on the iPhone and Android smartphones. We also think of Amazon Alexa or Echo and Google Home with home AI devices.

Both of these spaces are rapidly growing and are capturing the attention of consumers and business customers. Their advancements are sometimes rapid and bigger than life. Other times companies struggle with this new technology.

AI growth wave rises, crests and falls

Either way, Cortana is not part of that discussion and this needs to be fixed. This is an important black hole that Microsoft needs to be aware of. Something that can cause problems in the future if they don’t get a handle on it today. They failed with their smartphones over the last decade. They can’t have another failure with AI.

Every company needs to be on the radar of investors, customers, competitors, the media, analysts, everywhere. That means they need to have a great marketing strategy. This seems to be a problem at Microsoft today.

So, this is a warning to Microsoft. I always talk about the growth wave. How companies are either rising or growing, or they’ve crested, or they are falling. Companies need to be on the growth side of the wave or it will pass them by. If the growth wave passes them by, they will find it a very challenging job to get back on and ride that growth wave like their hot competitors. 

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