Microsoft Rolls Out Free AI Courses Geared Toward Business Leaders

Videos and case studies cover less technical aspects of the field

Microsoft is looking to address a general lack of educational resources and talent in the AI field. - Credit by Getty Images
Headshot of Patrick Kulp

Microsoft is releasing a new set of artificial intelligence courses geared toward business leaders.

The free instructional videos and case studies focus on the less technical aspects of the technology as it applies to top execs attempting to integrate AI, including strategy, company culture and ethical responsibilities, into their operations. They’re the latest in a series of instructional materials Microsoft has released as it looks to address a general lack of educational resources and talent in the AI field.

The material was inspired by conversations Microsoft has had over the past three years with client executives, whom the company said felt there was a dearth of educational resources on AI that reached beyond the nuts-and-bolts technical level, according to Mitra Azizirad, Microsoft’s corporate vp of AI marketing and productization.

“[The goal] really was to approach the very distinct business needs that we saw all of our business leaders have been asking about over and over again,” Azizirad said. “We wanted to make sure we were meeting the needs of business leaders and really empowering them, no matter where they were on their journey, to drive an AI transformation with a focus on strategy, culture and governance.”

The release also comes a week after the publication of a Microsoft-commissioned survey gauging executives’ priorities when it comes to implementing AI. The report found that inspiring employees around AI ranked as the No. 1 nontechnical priority among 800 business leaders across seven European countries. Finding new market opportunities and a promoting a culture for human talent to thrive off AI also ranked high among the respondents.

Previous courses along the same lines have included a general primer called “AI School” and a version catered specifically to developers.

“People want to know, ‘What did you guys do at Microsoft?’ and ‘Who are the people in the industry that you worked with that had bumps in the road and how did they get past it?'” Azizirad said. “What we are trying to do is just to bring everybody’s experience, skills and knowledge to a level that really empowers them to participate in these paradigm shifts that AI is bringing forward.”


@patrickkulp Patrick Kulp is an emerging tech reporter at Adweek.
Publish date: March 11, 2019 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT