In this tech insight, we take a look at what Microsoft 365 Copilot is, how it is being used, and how it can help your business.  

What Is Copilot?  

Introduced in March 2023, Microsoft 365 Copilot is an AI assistant that’s embedded within the Microsoft 365 apps and services to help users save time and increase productivity. Copilot, created using ChatGPT version 4 and Microsoft Graph (an API developer platform that connects multiple services and devices) and, like ChatGPT, is essentially a natural language conversational chatbot that can give human-like responses to questions and link aspects of all the 365 apps together in a new and more productive way.  

Improves Productivity, Creativity, & Upskilling 

Microsoft says that Copilot can increase your employee’s productivity by as much as 50 per cent. In general, whereas the ‘average person’ uses 10 per cent of what Microsoft 365 apps can do, Microsoft says Copilot can unlock the other 90 per cent, thereby improving productivity, creativity, upskilling, and maximising use of business tech resources. 

Embedded In Popular Apps   

The Copilot AI assistant has been embedded in popular Microsoft 365 apps like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and Teams, so that it can be used to help users to use 365 apps more creatively, productively, and in a way that can “uplevel skill”, that means (as Microsoft says) it can make you “better at what you’re good at and lets you quickly master what you’ve yet to learn”.   

Business Chat   

Copilot is operated in Microsoft 365 by ‘Business chat’, which is the field (like that in ChatGPT) where you ask the chatbot questions and give it instructions using normal language. For example, to generate a status-update based on the morning’s meetings, emails and chat threads, type in “Tell my team how we updated the product strategy”.  

How Have Businesses Said They’re Using Copilot? 

A few examples online of where businesses written about how they are using Copilot or have been reported to be using Copilot include: 

  • Baker Hughes, an energy technology company, using GitHub Copilot to help their developers write code faster and with fewer errors.  
  • The New York Times is reported to use GitHub Copilot to help their developers write code for their internal tools.  
  • Spotify uses GitHub Copilot to help their developers write code for their music streaming service.  
  • Airbnb uses GitHub Copilot to help their developers write code for their home rental service.  

All of these businesses have discovered that Copilot can be particularly useful for generating code for new features and for automating repetitive tasks. 

How Is Copilot Being Used In Different Industries?  

Here are some examples of ways that Microsoft 365 Copilot is being used in different industries:  

  • In the legal profession, law firms have been using Copilot to streamline their legal document creation process. The AI-powered assistant helps them draft legal documents, contracts and letters more efficiently. It also assists in proofreading and editing these documents, ensuring they are free of errors and are professionally written. This has significantly reduced the time lawyers spend on document creation, allowing them to focus more on their clients. 
  • Large retailers have been using Copilot to manage their internal and external communications. The AI assistant helps draft emails, create presentations and generate reports, thereby saving employees significant time. It also assists in scheduling meetings and managing tasks, improving overall productivity. 
  • In healthcare, private health companies / healthcare groups have used Copilot to manage their vast amount of healthcare data. The AI assistant helps them organise and analyse data, generate reports, and create presentations. Healthcare companies have found that it improves their decision-making process and has made their operations more efficient. 
  • Manufacturing companies have used Copilot to help manage their supply chain. The AI assistant helps them track inventory, schedule deliveries, and manage orders. This has improved their supply chain efficiency and has reduced operational costs. 
  • In the education sector, universities have found that Copilot can help manage their academic and administrative tasks. The AI assistant helps them schedule classes, manage student data, and create academic reports. This has improved their administrative efficiency and has made academic management easier. 

What Are IT and Tech Companies Saying About Copilot? 

Many different technology consulting firms, IT support and managed service providers, and cloud solutions providers have published online examples of how Copilot can be used by businesses. For example: 

  • Using Copilot to streamline internal operations, e.g. using it to automate repetitive tasks, such as scheduling meetings and managing project timelines with the benefits of increased efficiency and productivity, allowing staff to focus on more strategic tasks. 
  • Copilot being used by businesses to enhance their customer service. For example, integrating it into a customer support system can provide instant responses to customer queries, reducing the workload on a customer service team and improving customer satisfaction. 
  • Using Copilot can be used to improve project management by automating the process of tracking project progress and managing project resources, resulting in improved project delivery times and reduced project costs.  
  • Copilot being used in conjunction with Microsoft Power Platform to enhance business processes, e.g. using it to build professional websites, process invoices, enhance chat experiences, analyse documents, and develop automated workflows.  
  • Using Copilot to automate workflows can reduce costly error rates. 

Microsoft Says… 

Microsoft’s examples of how Copilot can be used in its 365 apps to help your business include: 

  • If using Microsoft Word, Copilot can save hours in writing, sourcing, and editing by being able to write a first draft, to edit and shorten it, rewrite it, or give feedback as required, in the same way as you might write a piece using ChatGPT.  
  • In Microsoft Teams, Copilot could save time and effort and make meetings more productive by being used to make a summary of key discussion points of meetings, including who said what, where people are aligned and where they disagree, and suggest action items, all in real-time during a meeting. It can also recap meetings for you and send you the notes afterwards.  
  • In PowerPoint, Copilot can create whole presentations from a simple text prompt and add any relevant content from a document you made, again saving time and effort. It can also improve creativity in PowerPoint and other apps, improving the quality of work and making it more interesting and engaging. This could be useful, for example, when pitching for business or conducting training.  
  • In Microsoft Excel, Copilot can instantly analyse trends and create insightful summaries and graphs of data, all done in seconds from simple text prompts. This could improve decision making and uncover new business insights and opportunities that may not have been possible, certainly not as quickly, just through normal human efforts.  
  • Email is an important communications channel for most businesses, and in Outlook, Copilot can save time by clearing an inbox in minutes, not hours, e.g., by drafting emails for you and analysing long email threads in seconds. This saves time, simplifies the process, and could help businesses to free up time to be used elsewhere in the business.  
  • Using Power Platform, Copilot can be also used to automate repetitive tasks, even creating chatbots, and can enable a fast transition from idea to working app in minutes. This gives developers a powerful time-saving tool that can increase their productivity.  

What Does This Mean For Your Business?  

The power and versatility of AI natural language chatbots, which many people first experienced through ChatGPT, has seen them quickly adopted by businesses because of the value they add by saving time and boosting productivity in a user-friendly way. Embedding Copilot in 365’s apps has, therefore, given businesses an instant, flexible, and effective way to get much more out the most popular apps in Microsoft 365. As well as being a competitive advantage for Microsoft and for businesses, Copilot, therefore, offers businesses an easy-to-use way to save time, be more creative with IT, boost productivity, upskill staff in IT (without spending on training), and get greater and perhaps new insights into their own business and operations. As the examples in this article show, Microsoft 365 Copilot is adaptable, can be used in a wide variety of industries and can handle a range of tasks, making it a potentially valuable tool for any business that can improve efficiency and productivity and feed into improving the bottom line. 

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