Are you looking for a way to boost your productivity, creativity, and skills at work? Do you want to spend less time on mundane tasks and more time on meaningful work? If so, you might be interested in Microsoft 365 Copilot, a new feature that combines the power of artificial intelligence (AI) with your data and apps to turn your words into actions.
What is Microsoft 365 Copilot?
Microsoft 365 Copilot is a feature (currentl in private preview) that uses large language models (LLMs) to understand your natural language commands and prompts and generate content, suggestions, and insights for you. It works alongside you, embedded in the Microsoft 365 apps you use every day, such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Teams, and more. It also works across your data in the Microsoft Graph, such as your calendar, emails, chats, documents, meetings, and contacts.
How does Microsoft 365 Copilot work?
Microsoft 365 Copilot works by analysing your data and context and generating relevant content for you based on your commands and prompts. For example, you can ask Copilot to draft a project proposal based on some data sources, summarize a document, rewrite a paragraph in a different tone, or create a presentation based on an outline. Copilot will use the information from your data sources and the Microsoft 365 apps to create the content for you.
You can also use Copilot to get suggestions and insights that can help you improve your work. For example, you can ask Copilot to suggest ways to strengthen your arguments, smooth inconsistencies, or add citations. Copilot will use the information from the web and other sources to provide you with helpful feedback.
Microsoft 365 Copilot also offers an entirely new experience called Business Chat. Business Chat is a chat interface that works across all your data and apps to do things you've never been able to do before. You can give it natural language prompts like "tell my team how we updated the product strategy" and it will generate a status update based on the morning's meetings, emails, and chat threads.
How to prepare for Microsoft 365 Copilot adoption?
Microsoft 365 Copilot is a game-changer for work, but it also requires some preparation and planning before you can use it effectively. Here are some steps you can take to get ready for Microsoft 365 Copilot adoption:
- Check the technical requirements and enable the features needed to use Copilot. You can find more details in the admin documentation.
- Review the security, privacy, compliance, and data residency policies and controls for Copilot. You can find more information in Microsoft's blog post and technical documentation.
- Set permissions policies for who can use Copilot and what data sources they can access. You can configure these settings in the admin center.
- Communicate with your users about what Copilot is, how it works, and how it can benefit them. You can use the community resources to help you with this. There will soon be guidance from Microsoft in the form of an Adoption Guide, which is not yet publicly available.
- Train your users on how to use Copilot effectively and responsibly. You can use the learning resources to help you with this.
- Monitor and measure the usage and impact of Copilot on your organisation. You can use the analytics tools and the feedback mechanisms to help you with this.
Microsoft 365 Copilot use cases
Microsoft 365 Copilot can help you with various tasks and scenarios at work. Here are some examples of what you can do with Copilot:
- Write more effectivity and efficiently with Word. You can use Copilot to draft documents from scratch or add content to existing documents based on your prompts. You can also use Copilot to edit, summarise, rewrite, or change the tone of your documents. For example, you can ask Copilot to "write a blog post about Microsoft 365 Copilot" or "make this document more concise".
- Create stunning presentations with PowerPoint. You can use Copilot to create slides from scratch or add content to existing slides based on your prompts. You can also use Copilot to design, format, or animate your slides. For example, you can ask Copilot to "create a slide deck based on this outline" or "add some charts to this slide".
- Analyse data and make decisions with Excel. You can use Copilot to perform calculations, create formulas, or generate charts based on your prompts. You can also use Copilot to get insights, recommendations, or predictions from your data. For example, you can ask Copilot to "calculate the average sales for each region" or "predict the revenue for next quarter".
- Communicate effectively with Outlook. You can use Copilot to write emails from scratch or add content to existing emails based on your prompts. You can also use Copilot to schedule meetings, manage tasks, or follow up on emails. For example, you can ask Copilot to "write a thank you email to the client" or "schedule a meeting with my team for next week".
- Collaborate seamlessly with Teams. You can use Copilot to write messages from scratch or add content to existing messages based on your prompts. You can also use Copilot to create polls, surveys, or quizzes, or share files or links. For example, you can ask Copilot to "create a poll about the best time for the meeting" or "share the latest report with the channel".
- Do more with Business Chat. You can use Copilot to do things across all your data and apps with natural language prompts. You can also use Copilot to get answers, suggestions, or insights from the web or other sources. For example, you can ask Copilot to "tell my team how we updated the product strategy" or "find me some articles about the latest trends in AI".
Why should you use Microsoft 365 Copilot?
Microsoft 365 Copilot is a feature that can help you work smarter, faster, and better. Here are some reasons why you should use Microsoft 365 Copilot:
- It saves you time and effort. You can use Copilot to automate or simplify tasks that would otherwise take you hours or days to complete. You can also use Copilot to avoid errors or mistakes that could cost you time or money.
- It boosts your creativity and quality. You can use Copilot to generate content that is relevant, accurate, and engaging. You can also use Copilot to get feedback that can help you improve your work and make it more impactful.
- It enhances your skills and confidence. You can use Copilot to learn new things, discover new insights, or explore new possibilities. You can also use Copilot to develop your writing, communication, or analytical skills and become more proficient and confident.
What are some of the potential cons of Microsoft 365 Copilot?
Microsoft 365 Copilot is a powerful feature that can help you work more effectively, but it also has some limitations and challenges that you should be aware of. Here are some of the potential cons of Microsoft 365 Copilot:
- It is not a replacement for human judgment or expertise. You should always review and verify the content generated by Copilot and make sure it meets your needs and expectations. You should also always follow the ethical and legal guidelines for using Copilot and respect the intellectual property rights of others.
- It is not perfect or infallible. You may encounter errors, inaccuracies, or inconsistencies in the content generated by Copilot. You may also find that Copilot does not understand your commands or prompts or does not produce the desired results.
- It may pose some risks or challenges for security, privacy, compliance, and data residency. You should be careful about what data you share with Copilot and what data sources you allow it to access. You should also be aware of the policies and controls for how Copilot handles your data and how it complies with the regulations and standards in your region.
How much does Microsoft 365 Copilot cost?
Microsoft 365 Copilot is a premium feature that requires an additional subscription fee on top of your existing Microsoft 365 plan. Once it is made available, the price for Microsoft 365 Copilot will be $30 per user per month. This price includes unlimited access to all the features and capabilities of Microsoft 365 Copilot across all the Microsoft 365 apps and Business Chat.
$30 per user, per month... Will it be worth it?
The Jury is out on this one, but if it lives up to its promise then I'd argue yes. At £25 per user, per month, you dont need to achieve much by way of productivity gains to make that pay for itself; 1-2 hours perhaps to simply break even. Thats how we should look at it, does it firstly improve productivity and crucially, does it enable individuals to do more, high value, high quality work that has a greater impact on the performance of the business.
At scale, this will add up to be a significant additional monthly cost, which in the current economic climate might present challenges with justifying the business case. With anything like this, the advice would be to start small, focus on the users that will get most benefit from it and identify ways with which you can measure productivity gains.
How to get started with Copilot
Whilst Copilot has been "announced" and there is anticipation building around its capabilities, for now, there isnt so far as we're aware any timeline set for when Copilot will be available in public preview. 600 organisations were invited to be part of Microsoft's Early Access Program which has been testing the capabilities since March. We'll continue to keep an eye on the news out of Microsoft; as with all the noise made at Inspire, I cant see it being long before its made more readily available.
About the Author: Mike Starnes
Mike has worked in the IT Industry for over 20 years. If he's not talking technology, he'll be reading, playing football or trying to embarrass his daughters.