5.5 min to readDigital Workplace

Rolling out Copilot for M365 – how to make it amazing

Lisa Smak
Lisa SmakGlobal Service Delivery Lead Adoption and Change Management
Copilot for Microsoft 365

With Copilot for Microsoft 365 now generally available, the race is on for organisations to be first out of the gates to use this ground-breaking workplace GenAI technology. But the difference between outcomes that are ‘Ok’ vs ‘Amazing!’, depends on getting four critical parts of the roll out right. Skip one and your Microsoft 365 Copilot may not deliver the magic, organisation-transforming experience you’re hoping for.

Before we dive in, take a pause. Pressure is on IT budgets to do more with less. Copilot for Microsoft 365 has a list price of $30 per person per month. Used correctly, your users can probably recoup that cost in a single day through saved time and better-quality content. But unless your users know how to use it and the technical set up is correct, security and access is in place, and data, systems and policies organised, chances are you won’t see the same returns. In fact, you could put your organisation at risk.

SoftwareOne was part of Microsoft’s early access programme. For six months we’ve been working with enterprise clients who were early adopters of Copilot for Microsoft 365 and saw first-hand where the common pitfalls are. We’re sharing these learnings to save you time and to ensure your workplace GenAI experience is truly transformative.

1. People readiness - Humans make AI work

Copilot for Microsoft 365 offers a host of incredible features, but the possibility potential is dependent on your people using it correctly, or at all. As with any new technology, the challenge lies not in the technology, but in the adoption of it. Organisations need to look at the skills gap they are facing, and the communication, learning and change management needed to get everyone on board. Two thirds of major change initiatives fail …. and Copilot for M365 is a major change initiative.

Based on our first-hand learnings with early adopter clients, SoftwareOne has already created ‘unboxing experiences’, with manuals, demos, use cases, day-in-a life guides, quick start guides, training, communication plans, a Centre of Excellence framework, acceptable use policies, ethics guidelines and adoption programmes to help organisations maximise the value of their Copilot purchase.

You don’t have to go it alone or build all of this from scratch. We can help you get out of the gates fast, but effectively.

2. Organisational readiness - Plan for success

The potential for GenAI in the workplace is huge. And real. This report by Microsoft based on tests and research with early users is proof of this. But if you’re investing in Copilot for M365 for fear of missing out instead of having a well-defined strategy with KPIs, OKRs or a stated return on investment, you won’t be able to measure success or build upon it. It’s important to recognise that Copilot is not a one-size-fits-all product. Usage and outcomes will depend on the user community, their role and function. This needs to be considered when planning out your Copilot use.

Another core element to factor in is shadow AI, the unauthorised usage of unsanctioned AI tools. The reality is, workers are already using AI whether organisations know about it, or like it. Employees may be unknowingly giving away company secrets or breaching confidentiality by using the wrong tool, putting organisations at legal risk.

Adopting Copilot for M365 presents a new opportunity and responsibility to publish guidelines, policies and procedures to protect intellectual property and build trust both internally and with customers. AI has already raised ethical questions. This is an opportunity to define your ethical guidelines and protect your company reputation.

3. Technology readiness - Align applications, data and access

A successful roll out of Copilot for Microsoft 365 is dependent on several technical elements being set up and connected. Starting with applications, this is the front-end interface that users are familiar with like Word, Outlook, Teams, PowerPoint and Excel. For Copilot to work, you must have certain applications deployed and enabled. This article outlines all the apps that you will need, as well as network requirements, conditional access and access control. If you already use Microsoft 365 E3 or E5 today, then you likely already meet most of the prerequisites. If you don’t, you need to spend more time setting up your core applications before introducing Copilot.

These front-end apps interact with Microsoft Graph, which is the access method for all your organisational information. This feeds into the Large Language Model (LLM), the AI engine that processes the information it gathers through Microsoft Graph, indexing this information using Semantic Index for Copilot. While you want your data accessible through Graph, for security reasons, it’s critical to provide just enough access to ensure users only get access to information they’re allowed to see. You wouldn’t want every employee being able to prompt Copilot to provide the salaries of all personnel! This SoftwareOne blog explains this in more detail, while this Microsoft article gives more detail on security, privacy and data residency.

4. Licensing readiness - Start small, think big

With no minimum limit on the number of licences you can now buy for Copilot for M365, it may be tempting to just get started. But before you buy, give some consideration to your existing Microsoft licences and whether you have the right licence level to provide adequate security. We have written a blog dedicated to the types of licences available and how they can impact your existing Microsoft licences.

Based on experience with early adopters, many of whom were large enterprises with more extensive IT teams to get all the technical systems set up, we advise smaller to mid-size organisations to start small. Speak to SoftwareOne about buying a limited number of licences to use during set up and readiness, before embarking on a full-scale deployment. In the interim, our experts can advise on how to ready your organisation and get you the best possible licensing deal based on your requirements.

Don’t just get licences, get help.

SoftwareOne can prepare your organisation for your Copilot for Microsoft 365 roll out, starting with our Envision service in which we explore the art of the possible. These no cost, virtual seminars will explain how SoftwareOne approaches Copilot readiness and helps you think through an adoption game plan. Eligibility applies. Request a session.

In the Discover Advisory, we gather technology experts, licensing specialists and change management practitioners to determine the prerequisites for your organisation to implement M365 Copilot and identify areas that need adjustment.

Once you’re ready, we give you a guided journey to roll out Copilot for M365, including technical implementation as well as adoption and change management services to get your people on board.

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Want to start your workplace AI journey?

Explore our Copilot for Microsoft 365 page and request a call with one of our experts.

Want to start your workplace AI journey?

Explore our Copilot for Microsoft 365 page and request a call with one of our experts.


Lisa Smak

Lisa Smak
Global Service Delivery Lead Adoption and Change Management