What if every employee in your organization could have their own personal assistant?
An assistant who would be available 24/7, could write hundreds of words in just a few seconds, create a pivot table without any hesitation, and organize even the messiest inbox before you can click the spam button.
What we’ve described isn’t some far-off fantasy. It’s a reality made possible by Microsoft 365 Copilot, a next-generation artificial intelligence (AI) tool powered by the technology behind ChatGPT. This tool will impact all Microsoft 365 users, but it can be a complete game-changer for small businesses, enabling them to level the playing field and compete with industry leaders. Read more in this article on the new tool available for your business!
Welcome to the Future of Office Work
Microsoft 365 Copilot was announced on March 16, 2023, as the next major step in the evolution of how we interact with computing.
According to Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s Chairman and CEO, the technology “will fundamentally change the way we work and unlock a new wave of productivity growth.”
Right now, Microsoft is testing Copilot with select enterprise customers, and a broader rollout is planned for the coming months.
With Copilot, Microsoft combines the power of OpenAI’s large language model (LLM) with Microsoft Graph and Microsoft 365 apps, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Teams, and the newly introduced Business Chat app:
- Large language model: OpenAI’s large language model, made famous by the ChatGPT chatbot, is a cutting-edge AI system capable of generating natural language and understanding context. Copilot harnesses this technology to understand written commands and act on them.
- Microsoft Graph: The purpose of Microsoft Graph is to connect data from across Microsoft 365 apps and services, serving as the gateway to intelligence. Copilot can tap into this deep pool of insights to understand context and user preferences.
- Microsoft 365 apps: Like a skilled puppeteer, Copilot can control Microsoft 365 apps, allowing users to perform a wide range of tasks, from creating a report in Excel to scheduling a meeting in Outlook, with just a few words—all while taking into consideration all contextual information that is available to the AI assistant.
Prompts for Microsoft 365 Copilot
In practice, Copilot users can get a lot of work done without barely any effort using prompts like these:
- Word: Generate a sales report for the past quarter based on the data in the “Sales” sheet of [a specified spreadsheet]. Summarize the data in a clear and concise manner.
- Excel: Compare the sales figures for the past year for each of our company’s locations and identify which location had the highest growth rate.
- PowerPoint: Create a slide deck that compares [product A] with [product B], using relevant charts and graphs for comparison.
- Outlook: Give me a summary of all emails I have missed since Friday. Flag any important items.
- Teams: Can you give me a summary of the action items discussed in the last meeting? Who is responsible for each one?
Microsoft Business Chat
In addition to working alongside the familiar Microsoft 365 apps, Copilot is also available as a standalone experience, called Business Chat. Much like Microsoft’s Bing Chat, Business Chat provides a conversational interface that allows users to interact with Copilot in an intuitive and natural way.
The interface brings together information from across the entire organization so that everyone can easily stay on the same page and make informed decisions with prompts like:
- Can you generate a summary of the latest customer feedback we received for [product/service]?
- Create a list of the top-performing sales representatives in the past quarter, ranked by total revenue generated. Include their contact information and any notable achievements.
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Big Productivity Gains for Small Businesses
Small businesses often struggle to compete with larger organizations due to limited resources and a smaller workforce. When employees are consumed with busywork, they can’t properly dedicate themselves to the tasks that really make a difference.
Copilot empowers employees to work smarter, not harder, by effortlessly automating many of the least important yet often most time-consuming tasks—from document creation to data visualization. The AI assistant even integrates with Power Automate, so tech-savvy employees can use it to build automated processes without any coding skills required.
Of course, not all employees are technologically proficient. One Dutch study revealed that employees could lose 7.6 percent of productive time due to poor IT resources or inadequate personal computer skills.
Copilot can help such employees reclaim their lost productivity by acting as the translator of their digital wishes. Instead of knowing which menu to open and which options to check in order to execute a task, employees can simply ask Copilot to perform it for them in plain language.
In summary, Copilot enables employees to complete tasks faster and more efficiently so they can take on additional responsibilities without sacrificing quality or accuracy. This represents a major step forward in the way that small businesses approach work, and it has the potential to unlock big productivity gains.
Conclusion on Microsoft 365 Copilot
The future of office work has arrived, and Microsoft is at its forefront with Copilot, a versatile AI assistant that understands your business data and knows how to use the apps employees rely on.
Only time will tell how exactly the partnership between humans and AI will affect the way we work, but it certainly seems to be a game-changer for small businesses.
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