Microsoft’s new Cortana VP wants trust as a differentiator for the digital assistant

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During the Consumer Electronics Showcase this year, a battle of artificially intelligent infused tech gadgets took center stage with the brains behind a multitude of hardware being primarily provided by Amazon and Google.

Curiously missing from the showcase was Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana digital assistance. For Apple’s part, their presence at CES has remained one of silent imposition, but Microsoft’s seeming misstep in promoting Cortana was noticeable and perhaps the reason for the absence lay in the AI’s shifting of its employee structure.

Reported earlier today, Microsoft’s Cortana has a new corporate VP which will now oversee the development and direction of Cortana for the foreseeable future.

The new Cortana VP, Javier Soltero comes from a background in productivity and enterprise with previous top role among Microsoft’s Office team. Over the past couple of months, we’ve seen Microsoft focus its Cortana efforts in less of a consumer capacity and more of a centralization on business integration and that could be because Soltero has actually been at the helm for a little over three weeks.

Despite being a VP Soltero will report to Microsoft’s head of AI and research, Harry Shum and Cortana’s engineering VP, Andrew Shuman.

While Soltero’s background is in business applications, in an interview with AXIOS, he mentions that voice has always been a passion of his.

“If I was to leave Microsoft and start another company I would be doing something related to voice,” Soltero said.

Going forward, Soltero appears to want to leverage his expertise in privacy protection of Office documents and use that knowledge to help differentiate Cortana from the field of other viable AI assistants.

“The real contest is about which company users will choose and entrust with essentially all of their information or the majority of their information.”

Now, for those of you a bit worried that Cortana will fade into corporate oblivion held behind a wall of security red tape, Soltero also acknowledges that privacy alone isn’t the way to sell what could be the next computing platform battle for Microsoft. He admits that, “A very private but mediocre experince will not win.”

So, it looks like there may be hope and perhaps we’ll hear from Soltero about Cortana and its direction at Microsoft’s developer conference in a few months