Artificial intelligence

What should I know about Microsoft Copilot for my business?

If you’re one of the millions of businesses using Microsoft products, Microsoft’s artificial intelligence offering called Copilot will shake your world.

It will be as ubiquitous as Windows. It will be as disruptive as the cloud. It will generate billions for Microsoft and you will contribute a little to this income because you will use it a lot. At least, I hope you will use it a lot. If you spend the time to truly understand the power of what it can and will do, you will be able to significantly – significantly – improve your workforce productivity and increase profits. of your company.

It’s still early for that though. But here are six things you need to know about Copilot right now.

You can’t use it yet.

Microsoft launched Copilot in March 2023 and made it available to a number of large enterprise customers. The videos released by the company sound exciting, but they were made in very controlled environments using very limited data and examples. In June 2023, Microsoft expanded product availability to a “guest” list of approximately 600 customers. At the time, the company said a general release would be available in the “coming months”, but I’m realistically betting that it will take at least four to six months to complete these tests and roll out the features for Microsoft 365 users. Hopefully this will be in our hands by the end of 2023, but given the scrutiny it will receive, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Microsoft push general release early of 2024.

Copilot is ChatGPT on steroids.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s ChatGPT, but taken to another level. Although Microsoft does not share details of its relationship with OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT, it is been reported that the software giant – which has invested billions in what was once an open-source company but is now turning to a for-profit model, will be entitled to 75% of OpenAI’s profits until it recovers its investment, after which he would have a 49% stake in the company. Microsoft is also the “exclusive provider” of Azure’s back-end infrastructure, products, and programming interfaces on its Azure platform. Microsoft and ChatGPT are one.

The co-pilot will be in your face.

Once it’s released with Microsoft apps, you won’t have to look far to find Copilot functionality. You will see it everywhere. In the demos I’ve attended, almost every screen will have a Copilot button to “help” do more. Once selected, a panel will open in the app that looks like a chat box and you’ll be off to the races. Copilot is going to be everywhere in every Microsoft product. Although the company focuses on its Office 365 apps, you’ll also see it in Windows, Bing, and most of its developer tools and platforms.

Copilot will save a considerable amount of time for your users who will learn it.

In Word, it will create a proposal based on the notes you took in OneNote, customize it to look like your previous proposals, and add any illustrations or visuals you request. It can turn a proposal – or any document – into a PowerPoint presentation, add new slides as needed, and create speaker notes. Excel users will be able to ask Copilot to list trends based on spreadsheet data, add new spreadsheets by diving into existing data, generate charts and tables, apply color coding and performing what-if scenarios. Teams and Dynamics users can have Copilot “listen” to meetings, write a summary, create tasks, and email attendees next actions. You and your employees will need training not only to understand how to use Copilot, but also where it can be used.

The co-pilot will not be perfect.

I want to be clear here: Copilot will do all of the above things just by asking. It will suggest better formulas in Excel, come up with better wording for an email, make a proposal look more professional with better formatting and graphics, and come up with ideas for emails, policies, memos and other communications. It is literally an assistant who will perform these functions. However, like any wizard, it’s not you. It won’t be perfect. All of the recommendations, suggestions, proposals, and brainstorming sessions it offers are aimed at helping you and your employees get things done faster. This will save a lot of time to do the mundane tasks that need to be done before people analyze the result. But ultimately, humans will make the final call to any of these changes.

Copilot has an Achilles heel: your data.

Copilot uses a Large Language Model (LLM) that draws information not just from the web, but from all of your internal data sources. He will provide all his advice, recommendations and modifications based on what he sees in Outlook messages, Dynamics databases, Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, SharePoint files and any other internal (and external) information. that he can find and to which he is authorized to access. Privacy issues aside, the biggest problem this will create for your business is that it will often be inaccurate and incomplete. Indeed, your data is probably inaccurate and incomplete. This is a problem that will need to be fixed and it’s something you can do right now – check out some of my thoughts on fixing this problem here.

AI is not something for your technicians. Copilot is not just a product. It’s a way to reduce costs, increase revenues and increase profits. If you run a business, you need to understand it. Otherwise, you’re going to be outwitted by others – especially your competitors – who do.

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