Predicting the future: Microsoft adds machine learning to Azure cloud platform

microsoftlogoMicrosoft announced today that it’s launching Azure Machine Learning, aiming to bring predictive analytics to the masses.

Companies will be able to feed data into Microsoft Azure, and then derive insights from that data that they can apply in the future. For example, companies can create their own fraud detection solutions, or use machine learning to predict equipment failures and prevent them before they happen.

Machine learning technology is all the rage these days: Microsoft uses it to power Cortana, the company’s new virtual assistant for Windows Phone, while Google has used it to improve power use efficiency at its data centers. Developers who applied for an invitation to Amazon’s launch event later this week were asked if they had any experience with machine learning. It’s a hot topic in the tech industry these days, and it’s only going to become more interesting for companies looking to get more out of their troves of big data.

Usually, companies that want to use machine learning techniques have to build their own on-premise solutions with the help of software engineers and data scientists. Azure Machine Learning is designed to democratize that process, by giving companies a solution that doesn’t require as many technical resources to implement. Here’s a video that explains how the service works:

Today’s announcement comes two months after Microsoft revealed its plans to help companies make their big data more accessible and intelligible through changes to its Power BI for Office 365 product. It’s clear that the company wants to make a name for itself in the business world by making it easier for companies and smaller teams to get access to tools that, until now, have been restricted to organizations that can afford to build solutions themselves.

Azure Machine Learning will be available in a public preview next month. Users can sign up to be notified about its launch through this link.