Microsoft Copilot uses the same large language model as OpenAI’s ChatGPT, but it’s trained to function across all Microsoft products. Explore what’s available now and what’s ahead for this powerful productivity tool.
Do you ever feel like you’re flying solo at work? If so, Microsoft Copilot may be the AI partner you need to share the controls when the winds get rough.
Whether you need to answer a simple “How do I …?” question in Microsoft Excel, have several meetings’ worth of notes stored in SharePoint to sift through quickly or need to find a complex solution in Power Platform, Microsoft Copilot has the answers — and they’re all based on your business data.
In this blog, we’ll give you everything you need to know to chart your course with Microsoft Copilot. After getting a lay of the land with a quick overview of Copilot’s history and benefits, we’ll dive into the currently available copilots and the copilots yet to land. Then, we’ll provide an example of how these copilots can work together to promote new product development, increase efficiencies, and lower costs.
So fasten your seat belt, and get ready to learn how Microsoft Copilot will unlock business value.
What Is Microsoft Copilot? A Flight Log
Through its purchase of a 49 percent stake in OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT, Microsoft gained access to the same large language model (LLM) and natural language processing (NLP) power that drives the popular chatbot. That access allowed Microsoft to build Microsoft Copilot, a suite of AI tools that enhance various Microsoft applications across the company’s platform.
So, how does it work? Microsoft 365 Copilot processes each NLP prompt and places a call to Microsoft Graph, which contains all your Microsoft files, emails, meetings, chats, calendars, and more. Copilot then uses that data, along with the Microsoft Semantic Index, to “ground,” or contextualize, your prompt before sending it to the LLM.
The LLM puts the response into human language, and Copilot again performs another set of grounding processes with Microsoft Graph and the Semantic Index while ensuring that returned information draws on data the user is authorized to access.
Finally, after Copilot orchestrates this iterative process, you receive an NLP response along with the information created from your Microsoft files, emails, meetings, chats, calendars, and so on — all without ever leaving the familiar Microsoft 365 environment.
The Benefits of Microsoft Copilot: Why Fly With AI?
Microsoft Copilot’s main benefit is its power to help you be more productive by automating tasks and achieve goals without leaving the Microsoft app you’re using. Whether it’s creating Word documents, conducting business analysis, or building apps, Microsoft Copilot makes it easy to complete your task using NLP prompts and queries.
From that foundation, the benefits compound. For example, Copilot will:
- Streamline and increase productivity for virtually anything employees need to do with your Microsoft tools.
- Reduce costs through automation so your team can focus on strategic tasks.
- Empower developers to integrate apps and services with your existing software and tooling investments.
- Gather data from your Microsoft Office files and other information sources in real time.
- Provide answers and recommend actions.
- Allow teams to serve more clients faster, all while increasing sales with immediate, data-driven recommendations.
- Ensure security, compliance, privacy, and responsible use of AI.
That’s a tall order, but the vision gets closer every day. Let’s explore the possibilities by examining current and upcoming functions for late 2023 and 2024.
Recent Arrivals: Microsoft Copilot Tools at the Gate
Bing Chat Enterprise
Bing Chat Enterprise is Microsoft’s version of ChatGPT with the added benefit of commercial data protection. Bing Chat Enterprise is available now when using the Microsoft Edge browser, and it’s safe to use at work because the data from employee prompts and responses don’t go outside of the organization.
Also, Bing Chat Enterprise doesn’t interact with your documents within your organization, and the LLM doesn’t store or use your prompts and results for training the AI model. These features further protect your employees and your data.
Microsoft Sales Copilot
Salespeople will close more deals more easily with Microsoft Sales Copilot. Previously known as Viva Sales, Sales Copilot uses your Microsoft data to automate multiple common sales tasks, from customer relationship management (CRM) to summarizing meetings and generating emails.
And because Sales Copilot is role-specific, users have access to all the information they need to close sales, but without a lot of clutter. Sales Copilot can also generate AI-assisted content, such as contextualized email drafts and customer opportunity summaries that draw on Outlook or CRM data. Finally, salespeople access Sales Copilot from within the various applications where they work, such as Dynamics, Outlook or Teams.
Developers can gain productivity through GitHub Copilot. GitHub, which Microsoft acquired in 2012, is a software development platform where developers can store and manage their code as well as share their code with others.
GitHub Copilot accelerates quality software development with its ability to scan billions of lines of code that match a developer’s particular need. The time they gain will increase their productivity and innovation.
Arriving Soon: Microsoft Copilot Tools Circling the Airport
Microsoft 365 Copilot
Scheduled for a November 1, 2023, release, Microsoft 365 Copilot will transform how people use the core 356 apps: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Teams, and Outlook. You will access Microsoft 365 Copilot from these everyday apps to help build spreadsheets, compose emails, create presentations, revise documents, and find solutions.
In short, Microsoft 365 Copilot will be your daily AI assistant, helping you combine relevant data and information from other company sources and information found in the LLM.
Microsoft Security Copilot
Microsoft Security Copilot helps you analyze your company’s security posture, identify risks, determine mitigation steps, and respond more quickly to security incidents — all with the help of insights and data found across your various security applications. In addition, Security Copilot records every activity to ensure full transparency and solid audit trails throughout the event response, restoration, and mitigation process.
Once available, Windows Copilot will provide centralized AI assistance over your computer’s operating system. You’ll be able to ask questions and get NLP responses to help you in your day-to-day activities, such as personalizing, configuring, or navigating your PC — all within a single interface.
Microsoft Power Platform Copilot
Most U.S. users with Microsoft admin rights can now access a preview of Microsoft Power Platform Copilot to see some of what it can do. The preview allows you to test-fly capabilities such as creating apps with NLP commands (Power Apps), editing your apps and enhancing them with Copilot controls or AI chatbots (Power Virtual Agents), or creating automation flows for business processes (Power Automate).
Microsoft Dynamics 365 Copilot
Also, currently in preview mode for U.S. Microsoft admins is Microsoft Dynamics 365 Copilot. The first AI tool to combine CRM and enterprise resource planning (ERP), Dynamics 365 Copilot will make automating sales and marketing tasks easier, from creating customer profiles and market analyses to asking for insights with NLP commands.365
Imagine the Possibilities: A Mini Microsoft Copilot Case Study
As you can see, the copilots described above will soon help in many different business use cases. Below is a hypothetical scenario to help you envision how copilots can work together to solve business problems step-by-step.
- Through interviews, surveys and sales data, you’ve collected enough customer feedback to make a new product recommendation, but you need it for tomorrow’s board meeting. Access Microsoft 365 Copilot within Microsoft Word to produce a two-page product proposal and a one-page bullet-pointed features list. Then, ask 365 Copilot in PowerPoint to create a 10-slide sales deck. 365 Copilot in Excel can also create a chart of sales revenue to include in the PowerPoint. Remember, when creating these documents, Microsoft 365 Copilot does all of the data collection, analysis, and composition based on the information you have access to across the Microsoft information sources (for example, OneDrive, SharePoint, MS Teams, Outlook emails, calendars, meetings, and so on). 365 Copilot also securely accesses third-party applications and your intranet, providing access to all the relevant data.
- The board wants to know more about your new product’s market potential. During a break, you use Microsoft Sales Copilot to tap into your CRM — whether it’s Dynamics 365 or a third-party CRM, like Salesforce — to create customer personas, sample customer emails for each persona, and evaluate business opportunities.
- Good news! The board approved the product, and now you need to meet with one of the new product’s vendors. However, you must maintain your competitive advantage by keeping your drawings, specs and market analysis confidential. Microsoft 365 Chat helps assemble the documents and securely shares the summarized collection of data with only your new product team, all from within the group’s collaboration channel within Teams.
- Now, you need to create an app that allows all employees working on the new product to access role-based information and communications channels. Microsoft Power Platform Copilot helps you create the flow, app and an NLP chatbot to create FAQs quickly and automate them without human intervention. Need to tweak the app? Use your own words to explain the changes to the Microsoft Power Apps Copilot and let it make that adjustment for you.
- While assembling your product, cybersecurity alerts and warnings begin to sound. Microsoft Security Copilot quickly analyzes the alerts and signals so you can react quickly and intelligently, heading off the cyber-attack before it brings the production line to a halt.
- Hurray! Your product has reached the market, but you need to continue gathering, classifying and distributing customer information. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Copilot uses your sales data to help segment and analyze audiences, generate and send email responses to customers based on their questions, and prepare product listings.
The age of AI is here, and other cross-platform deployments of LLMs have already emerged. More are undoubtedly on the way. But don’t lose sight of the bigger story: AI itself.
Whether it’s Microsoft Copilot or another tool, you should explore what any AI offering can deliver to your organization. Run through a checklist to determine if your organization is ready. Start with your processes that bog things down or that employees find painfully redundant. What can you automate? What can you speed up? What will help you achieve your vision? And how can you get AI into the hands of your traditional office workers to help them become more productive and creative?