Microsoft Copilot

The future of work has landed.

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Microsoft Copilot

Microsoft has integrated AI-powered copilots into its flagship products, enhancing efficiency in coding through GitHub, revolutionising workplace productivity with Microsoft 365, reshaping the search experience with Bing and Edge, and providing seamless contextual value across various applications and PCs with Windows.

As of November 1st, 2023, built-in Copilots will be available for all Microsoft 365 applications. Simultaneously, Microsoft embarks on a journey to unify all its copilots into a single companion, Microsoft Copilot. This comprehensive AI companion seamlessly integrates web context, work data, and real-time PC activity to offer enhanced assistance while prioritising your privacy and security.

It is no overstatement to say that this set of generative AI tools built into the Microsoft 365 suite of products will dramatically change the way we work, forever. But what is it? How will it benefit organisations and employees? And what do you need to consider before rolling it out?

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Microsoft 365: Introducing Microsoft Copilot | Your Copilot for Work

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1. What is Microsoft Copilot?

Microsoft Copilot is the name that Microsoft has given to the GenAI tools, which will soon integrate into Microsoft products, including the existing suite of Microsoft 365 tools. The product family also includes other Copilots developed by Microsoft, such as GitHub Copilot, Copilot for Bing, and others. The following product overview will specifically focus on Microsoft 365 products.

Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and Teams are the productivity building blocks employees use on a daily basis. However, the average employee only uses a fraction of the features those tools offer. Moreover, they dedicate a significant portion of their day to formatting or locating documents, interpreting data, managing conversations, or reproducing documents that have been previously created multiple times.

Microsoft Copilot acts as their personal assistant, helping to simplify everyday tasks, boost productivity and provide helpful insights, making their Microsoft 365 experience smoother and more efficient.

With Microsoft Copilot, employees can achieve more by accessing all the relevant information within your organisation to make the right decisions and take the right actions, fast.

2. Where does Microsoft Copilot fit into the larger Copilot family and Generative AI ecosystem?

Generative AI (or GenAI) are algorithms used to create new content, anything from text and images, to audio, video and code. GenAI has exploded in popularity and usage, with ChatGPT, created by OpenAI, reaching over one million users in just five days, but there are many others including DALL-E, an AI tool for generating art, Google Bard, Google Duet for productivity, Claude and countless others.

Software companies are using GenAI technology to create copilots, AI tools built directly into enterprise software to help employees work smarter.

Microsoft has created a range of Copilots that use a conversational interface based on Large Language Models (LLMs) to speed up workflows, navigate a specific platform, or support users in various tasks and decision-making across multiple areas in an enterprise environment.

These include Copilots for:

  • The web with Bing and Edge
  • Business with Dynamics Copilot
  • Analytics with Fabric Copilot
  • Security with Security Copilot
  • Development with GitHub Copilot
  • Low/no-code development with Power Platform Copilot
  • Everyday with Windows Copilot and Loop
  • Productivity with Microsoft Copilot built-in M365 business applications
Infographic Microsoft Copilots

As you can see, the Copilots within the Microsoft 365 business applications are just one part of the broader Microsoft Copilot family, which in turn is part of the broader GenAI movement. But the reason this particular set of tools is getting so much attention is because it will dramatically impact how employees do their day-to-day work.

3. How does Microsoft Copilot work within M365?

Microsoft Copilot combines Microsoft Graph with an LLM to bring artificial intelligence to the productivity suite using the information within your organisation. Here’s how:

Microsoft Graph is the ‘context’ in which your employees work. Think of it as the gateway to all the data and intelligence in Microsoft 365 - everything from your files in SharePoint or OneDrive to calendar, search, email, planner, contacts, Teams, OneNote, To Do, Viva Insights and more.

LLM applies artificial intelligence to Microsoft Graph. Microsoft uses a LLM based on GPT, the same LLM used to power Bing. LLMs are trained on massive amounts of public data including books, websites and articles. This helps it understand language, context, and meaning. This allows people to use normal language to search for information, make things, or study data quickly.

The Azure Open AI service hosts the LLM for Microsoft Copilot in the Microsoft cloud. The LLM does not train on your organisational data, nor does it share any information outside of your corporate environment. It will also automatically inherit your organisation’s security, compliance and privacy policies for Microsoft 365.

Employees can use the LLM's intelligence on Graph to quickly find, create, and analyse information using their usual productivity tools. They can access only the information they are allowed to see.

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4. What are the main benefits of Microsoft Copilot?

The overriding benefit is that of massively increased productivity, which in turn leads to:

  • More time for strategic, innovative projects
  • Boosted creativity by removing the burden of mundane tasks
  • Less wasted effort
  • Faster time to market
  • Competitive advantage
  • Increased revenue
  • Reduced costs

McKinsey predicts that the automation of work activities through the use of GenAI in the workplace could absorb 60 - 70% of employees' time, freeing them up to take on other tasks. A controlled study by Stanford University showed a 15 - 35% increase in worker productivity through the use of GenAI. But how is this productivity achieved?

  1. Automate repetitive tasks: AI copilots can take on mundane, time-consuming tasks like data entry, file organisation and content formatting to free up employees’ time for more strategic or creative work.
  2. Accelerate creation: Instead of starting a new document or presentation from scratch each time, struggling with formatting or ensuring its on brand, AI copilots can create them instantly giving a user a first draft to build on. It also offers suggestions to enhance clarity, readability or data accuracy.
  3. Analyse data: Copilots can rapidly process large volumes of information, identify patterns and trends, and present actionable insights to drive effective decision-making.
  4. Context-aware, real-time assistance: Users can get relevant, timely support during critical decision-making or document creation processes. It will proactively offer suggestions like formatting options, document structure improvements or data analysis tips.
  5. Enable seamless communication: Whether its condensing conversations on Teams, email threads, different workflows, or versions of documents, the Microsoft Copilot scans and summarises information across the M365 suite ensuring everyone stays on the same page.

5. Microsoft Copilot in action by application

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Microsoft 365: Microsoft Copilot in Word

Microsoft Word

Scenario: You're on deadline for a proposal and have writer’s block.

How Copilot Helps: Microsoft Copilot in Word can draft a proposal based on your customer notes in OneNote as well as other internal documents. Copilot scans the files creating a first draft. You can get Copilot to make it look on-brand and like other proposals by pulling in previous documents, without taking hours to format it. Copilot can also strengthen your document by suggesting an FAQ, which it will write for you.

Benefit: Hours saved by pulling up-to-date notes and relevant previous documents into a single file, creating a first draft, formatting it and making intelligent suggestions. Instead of staring at a blank page, the employee has a solid first draft to tweak.

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Microsoft 365: Microsoft Copilot in Excel

Microsoft Excel

Scenario: You need to analyse this quarter’s sales results to determine trends.

How Copilot Helps: Using natural language, you can ask Copilot to turn your data into business trends. Drill down deeper into a particular trend and Copilot will create a new sheet to use as a sandbox to work on the data. For example, you could ask what caused a particular product line to decrease in sales or add a ‘What if’ scenario to determine what might happen if you changed certain parameters. Copilot will give answers and a step-by-step guide on how it arrived at the solution. It can then turn that data into graphs for easy data visualisation.

Benefit: Reduce time spent searching for or constructing formulas. Identify trends, create powerful visualisations and get recommendations to drive different outcomes.

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Microsoft 365: Microsoft Copilot in PowerPoint

Microsoft PowerPoint

Scenario: You need to turn your client proposal into a slide deck you can present without creating it from scratch.

How Copilot helps: Ask Copilot to convert your Word proposal into PowerPoint. (It works the other way too). This gives you a first draft. Using natural language, ask Copilot to add new slides, make slides more visual, add animations and include speaker notes at the bottom of each slide.

Benefit: Enormous amount of time saved, ensuring consistency across the original proposal and customer presentation, and improved presenting skills by making slides more visually appealing, with appropriate speaker notes. A much higher chance of closing the deal!

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Microsoft 365: Microsoft Copilot in Teams Meetings
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Microsoft 365: Copilot in Teams and Intelligent recap | After the meeting

Microsoft Teams

Scenario: You’re late to join your Teams meeting or have a conflict and need to miss it. How do you catch up?

How Copilot helps: Copilot can provide you with a summary of the discussion in a meeting that you arrived late for or missed entirely. It will highlight decisions made, tasks assigned and whether you or your clients were discussed. Using natural language questions, you can drill down into the sentiment and major discussion points of a meeting, with a clear list of actions you need to take away, without sitting through an hour long meeting recording. Meeting transcriptions can be used to create documents, action plans or shared to do lists.

Benefit: Time saved and improved meetings, where attendees will be encouraged to stay focused and develop key actions.

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Microsoft 365: Microsoft Copilot in Outlook

Microsoft Outlook

Scenario: You need to read all your emails after being away from work. This is so you can prioritize the urgent ones and reply to them first.

How Copilot helps: Copilot triages your inbox, separating the priorities from the noise. It summarises email threads and condenses it into the most up to date, relevant current state. It helps you draft a reply and can pull data from Excel to add specific detail as needed. You can adjust the tone of the reply, length or additional context.

Benefit: This game changer saves time by filtering out unimportant emails, allowing focus on critical issues that drive business growth.

6. How to ready your organisation for Microsoft Copilot

As exciting as Microsoft Copilot is, every organisation needs to assess its readiness before deploying new technology. There will be licensing, technology and organisational changes that need to be made. If not adequately prepared, the introduction of GenAI into the workplace could bring in security risks, unnecessary costs and workflow disruption.

Ready to prepare your organisation for Microsoft Copilot?

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7. Envision the potential of Microsoft Copilot

If you would like to learn how Microsoft Copilot could transform your business, apply for one of our free envision sessions. These virtual seminars will showcase how SoftwareOne approaches Copilot readiness and help you think through an adoption game plan. Eligibility applies.

7. Envision the potential of Microsoft Copilot

If you would like to learn how Microsoft Copilot could transform your business, apply for one of our free envision sessions. These virtual seminars will showcase how SoftwareOne approaches Copilot readiness and help you think through an adoption game plan. Eligibility applies.