Microsoft’s next-generation AI tool, Copilot, will change the way we all work. The new AI workflow tool is set to relieve us from the “drudgery of work and tasks that zap our time”, freeing us up to be more creative and innovative, says Microsoft.
So, in this blog we’ll explore what Copilot is and reveal exactly how it will make your life so much easier when it’s eventually released to us all.
What is Copilot?
Copilot is Microsoft’s latest AI tool. Think of it as having your very own digital assistant in your Microsoft 365 suite.
Powered by OpenAI’s GPT-4 model, it combines the power of large language models (LLMs) with your data in the Microsoft Graph.
Embedded in all Microsoft 365 applications, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Teams, Outlook and more, Copilot’s designed to automate a variety of tasks which, according to the creators, will make the new suite of Microsoft 365 apps the “most powerful productivity tools on the planet”.
Microsoft 365 Copilot features
So, what can it do? At a quick glance, Copilot will help everyone:
- Write, edit, and summarize text in Word
- Create PowerPoint presentations using natural language commands
- Find insights, analyze trends and create data visualizations in Excel
- Manage inbox overload in Outlook
- Generate real-time summaries and create actionable tasks during and after Teams meetings
And for businesses large and small, Copilot will enhance:
- Sales processes
- Customer relations
- Customer insights
- Product descriptions
- Supply chain management
How much will Copilot cost?
Microsoft Copilot is not cheap at $30 per user per month. This is in addition to any other licensing you might have. Copilot will be on general release from November 1, 2023, and we believe the first wave of users at that price will be the C-suite. Looking forward a year, we predict that the licenses will drop considerably so they become viable for more users.
How everyone working in Microsoft 365 will benefit from Copilot
From November 1, 2023, Copilot will be on general release and everyone from the CEO to the shop floor will be able to use Microsoft’s advanced AI capability as standard.
As Microsoft’s Chairman and CEO, Satya Nadella said in this year’s Microsoft Inspire event:
So, let’s look at how we’ll all eventually be using Copilot. Keep reading to the end to find out about more advanced business use cases too.
Creating content with Copilot
Creating content in Microsoft Word and PowerPoint will be easier than ever before…
If you’ve played around the likes of Chat GPT, the idea of putting in a prompt and asking it to draft your content is probably familiar.
The difference with Copilot is that this functionality is inside Word. Launching a word document and clicking on Copilot you can ask it to write you, for example, a proposal based on notes inside OneNote, Word, Excel or PowerPoint (see below).
But that’s not all. It can help with branding documents, and even search for relevant images from existing material to accompany your text – saving you loads of time.
Most Word users typically only use between 10 or 20 per cent of its capabilities. However, by using Copilot to aid with writing content, the tool will take full advantage of all the features without you having to instruct it to.
Copilot can summarize a long piece of text. It can make suggestions on how you can improve it. It can even create a set of FAQs (Frequently Asked Question) based on the topic within the text.
However, it’s worth noting, no matter how clever the Copilot tool is, Microsoft admits there’s still room for error. The content presented will only be a first draft, so you’ll have to double check for inaccuracies.
Once you’re happy with the content in Word you can switch to PowerPoint and instruct Copilot to create a deck based on your text. It will take all your words and create you a first draft. Of course, you can manually add more content, or ask Copilot for suggestions on how you can improve it.
Copilot can help you add more images or edit lengthy wording on the slides. You can even instruct Copilot to add animations to the slides too. Plus, it will handily generate speaker notes for you.
Data and analytics with Copilot
Excel users already rely on powerful analytics tools thanks to Power BI. However, with Copilot, the most widely used reporting tool in the world will step up a gear by putting advanced capabilities, such as pivot tables and charts, into the hands of more basic users.
With Copilot, Excel users will be able to analyze quarterly business results and summarize key trends. Apply color coding to tables. Create models, scenarios, filter and sort, and add charts at the click of a mouse.
Like with any AI tool, it’s wise to double check figures presented before showing them to the board.
Communicating with Copilot
Suffering from email overload? Or often left wondering how to respond to colleagues? Copilot is set to take away these pains…
Staying on top of emails is a challenge for everyone. Wading through the hundreds that you receive daily can be a huge distraction.
However, using Copilot in Outlook, it will give you a summary of what’s going on in the emails received and summarize what you’ve missed when you step away. It will help you draft responses (see below).
It can even create a weekly status update of all email conversations you’ve had with the references and links to where the information came from.
Copilot will help you to cut straight through the chatter to the core point in every Teams message. Plus, anytime you step away from your desk, Copilot will give you a summary of the conversation thread when you’re back.
Using Microsoft Graph, Copilot can even help you generate a response to a Teams message, and can pull in information from an Excel spreadsheet, Word, or PowerPoint document.
Like with Chat GPT, you can ask it to shorten the text, make it more professional, or even turn it into a poem.
Again, you’re in control, so you can choose to use the suggested text or edit it. You can view references to make sure the information given is correct.
Collaborating with Copilot
We all want to be at the top of our game, right? Working in multiple channels, documents and teams can make it hard to keep up at times. Not any more…
Using all the existing tools you’re already using in Teams – combined with the data generated from chats, meetings, recordings, and transcriptions, Copilot can help you stay on top of what’s going on, prompt you to respond to events, and recap meetings with notes and action points.
This will be especially useful if you miss a meeting and don’t have time to watch the recording. As Microsoft is committed to being transparent about displaying original source material, Copilot will automatically add references for you to click on so you can double check information given for context and verification.
Live Teams meetings
Joining a live meeting late can often mean you miss the vital part of the conversation at the start. Yet with Copilot you’ll get a recap of what you’ve missed as soon as you log in.
Eventually, you’ll even be able to use it for sentiment analysis, helping you to read the mood of the meeting. It can also identify questions left unresolved. And can give attendees prompt questions to ask based on what’s going on.
Loop is a relatively new app that you can use in Teams to facilitate real time collaboration on tasks or lists. Adding Copilot to the mix, you can reference documents, sales figures, and spreadsheets in seconds.
Colleagues can add columns, sales conditions, and Copilot will record who’s asked for what and what changes have been made by whom.
(Look out for more details on Loop in next month’s blog)
Business use cases of Copilot
Last month, Microsoft announced the launch of the new Microsoft Dynamics 365 Copilot – delivering interactive, AI-powered assistance across business functions.
With Dynamics 365 Copilot, the AI tools will empower people in sales, service, marketing, operations and supply chain roles to “spend more time on the best parts of their jobs and less time on mundane tasks,” it said.
So, let’s look at a few ways Copilot will help reduce burdensome tasks like manual data entry, content generation and note-taking and transform how you do business…
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Viva Sales already connects your documents, emails, chats and proposals in your CRM within Dynamics 365. Yet, using Copilot, you will be able to catch-up on a Teams meeting, join a call midway through and have a summary of what’s been said, using the data directly from your CRM.
The idea is, the more data you’ve got saved in your CRM, in your documents, collaboration space, chats and emails, the better Copilot can be – as it draws on all your combined data to give you an accurate summary of the status of your customer. This is particularly useful if you come to a meeting unprepared or need to answer customer questions on the fly.
Sales teams can already access analytics around a meeting in Viva Sales. However, Copilot will take this a step further improving the flow of work.
Scanning the meeting transcription and recording, it will identify sentiment, actionable items, key themes discussed, and recommend next steps.
Switching to Outlook and using that data, it will create a new email summarizing the meeting to the client/your boss.
Microsoft emphasizes the need for transparency, and practicing responsible AI, so it will show you what data it has drawn on and which customer it’s referring to before you press send.
Responding to customers
The clever thing about Copilot is that when you receive a customer email with a yes or go-ahead response, it can detect this sentiment, pull up a summary of the conversation in a sales panel in Outlook and will give you context without having to open Dynamics 365.
Using AI generative content in the context of all your CRM data, plus your history of conversation with your customer, Copilot will even help you generate an accurate email response, saving you loads of time.
For those not yet familiar with the Power Platform, Power Automate allows users to create automated triggers and action style workflows. Introducing Copilot, using natural language query, it can generate a suggested response for when a support issue comes through.
Connecting to, and working across multiple different systems, including non-Microsoft products such as Salesforce, it can create a new channel in Teams and bring in all the documents, information and messages relevant to that customer summarized in a post.
If that’s not clever enough, it can automate collaboration support by identifying which departments or contacts are most appropriate to help that customer.
Virtual customer service agents
Your customer service departments can use Copilot to build virtual agents in minutes with conversation boosters in Power Virtual Agents.
Harnessing the power of Azure OpenAI Service and Bing, they can add trusted internal sources from your SharePoint library or even an external website, and Copilot will take the valuable information and turn it into a chatty, summarized response.
Customer insights and marketing
Using Natural Language Segments, Copilot will allow you to unify customer data across various sources and then use that to segment and communicate in a highly personalized way.
Essentially, it enables you to have a dialogue with your data. All you’ll need to do is go in and ask a natural language question – and it will help you identify customer segments.
It will even give you other suggestions of how you can reach customers in segments that you might not have thought of before.
Supply Chain Management
Tapping into a news module and AI generated outreach, Copilot can notice events that might affect your supply chain – for example, weather or geopolitics and will flag them to you.
Copilot will bring these insights straight to you and will suggest which orders are likely to be affected. You can even ask Copilot to proactively contact everyone who will be affected by the delays.
By the end of the year, it’s clear to see that Microsoft 365 business applications will transform how we work thanks to generative AI. The CRM and ERP applications will bring AI-powered expertise to every line of business, with the aim of improving the customer experience, the employee experience and operational efficiency.
We’re excited to get to grips with these new tools ourselves and are looking forward to showing you can make the most of them too.
Get in touch with our experienced team to find out how you can take
advantage of Copilot in your organization.