Let’s face it: AI is shaking up the workiverse*.

Now, a new kid’s moving into the block. It could re-spell your team’s productivity with a capital P – if you prepare for it well before it lands on your doorstep.

The new kid’s name is “Copilot” and, if it lives up to the hype, it could help you finish in minutes or seconds, tasks that currently take you hours. Whilst Copilot isn’t publicly available just yet, now is the time to start getting ready and preparing your business for the age of AI.

That’s just the surface, and here’s what we’ll tell you about it in this article:

What is Microsoft Copilot?

Microsoft Copilot is an AI-powered assistant that lives in Microsoft 365. It’s integrated into the suite’s apps and available via Business Chat when you work across the Microsoft 365 platform. This includes in the tools you know and love like Teams, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, SharePoint to name a few.

Copilot has been called “a processing and orchestration engine” that coordinates three main areas:

Large language models (LLMs) are the AI algorithms trained on massive amounts of data.Your Cloud Data via Microsoft Graph, which includes your documents, calendar, emails, chats, and meetings.Microsoft 365 apps are the individual tools you use for specific purposes (e.g., Word, Excel, Outlook, OneDrive, etc.)

Before we dive into how Copilot does this job, let’s peek at what it can do for you.

How Microsoft 365 Copilot can help your business

A good way to understand Copilot is to preview how it can work for you. Based on information from Microsoft, you can ask Copilot to:

  • Write in Word a business proposal based on your existing data/files
  • Compose an Outlook email reply based on your specified content
  • Create an Excel chart to see projections due to a change in, say, sales channels
  • Create a PowerPoint presentation using available written content
  • Summarise the emails you missed while on holiday
  • Generate a Teams meeting summary, including decisions made and actions to take
  • Provide you with project status updates, drawing from multiple sources (email threads, document revisions, file sharing notifications, etc.)

Copilot benefits and features

From those examples, can you imagine how Copilot could impact your business? It seems that Copilot will be able to:

  • Boost your productivity
  • Help speed up workflows
  • Enhance collaboration
  • Provide important data for decision making
  • Improve accuracy and minimise errors

Copilot can become a powerful tool because:

  • It uses natural language processing (NLP), making it easier for the user.
  • It has the power of machine learning and can keep improving.
  • It is integrated into Microsoft 365 apps and available on Business Chat.
  • It supports real-time collaboration, which can help in processes like brainstorming or giving and getting feedback.

It will be available on Windows, macOS, and Linux.

How Microsoft 365 Copilot works

The Microsoft 365 apps are where you can input your prompts. For instance, you could ask, “Create a presentation called ‘[title]’ based on files [filenames] in [folder]” in PowerPoint. You could also enter your prompt through Business Chat when in Teams by saying, “What were the activities in [project] when I was out yesterday?”

The LLMs is where processing happens, drawing information from the relevant information/files accessed via Microsoft Graph. These work in the background, and you need not worry much about them.

To illustrate, this is how Copilot works:

Ways to prepare your business to use Copilot

Just like when you download and install a new app on your phone, you must check if you and your device are ready for it. You can prepare for using Copilot as follows:

1. Get on Microsoft 365 for Business or Enterprise.

Microsoft have indicated that you will only be able to use Copilot on a Microsoft 365 Business or Enterprise plan.

  • If you’re already on Microsoft 365, make sure you have the latest updates installed.
  • If you need help, just send us a message and we’ll guide you through getting on Microsoft 365.

2. Check that you have these Microsoft 365 Copilot requirements.

Copilot can work for you if you have:

  • An Azure Active Directory account
  • A OneDrive account
  • The new Outlook for Windows
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Microsoft Loop enabled for your tenant

3. Get your business data on the cloud.

This is crucial to unlocking the potential of Microsoft 365 Copilot. You must organise your files into OneDrive, SharePoint, or Business Central, because that’s where Microsoft Graph will access information that Copilot needs to be able to assist you. Without your data in this environment, Copilot may not be able to fully comprehend important aspects of your business and may not be able to produce the best outputs.

4. Ensure good content management and security.

Microsoft 365 has data security and privacy policies in place, but it is good to check your current permissions and controls since Copilot will be using those. You may also apply some content management and content security best practices for your organisation. It is also critical to ensure your data is clean and consumable. While Copilot should have the smarts to work around your current data structure in Microsoft 365, it may mean that it won’t be as efficient as possible. We refer to the adage “mess in equals mess out”. Spend the time getting you data cleaned up now, ready for when Copilot goes live.

Questions you might ask about Copilot

As with any new tech tool, questions can arise about Copilot. A few of them are briefly answered below, some in Microsoft’s own words.

Why would I need Copilot when there’s ChatGPT?

ChatGPT and Copilot both use NLP, machine learning algorithms, and a vast amount of data. However, ChatGPT is a public tool, cannot search the internet nor access your files, and does not have the most up-to-date information. Copilot is embedded in Microsoft 365, can access your business data (as your permissions allow), and ensures data security and privacy. Copilot is designed to help you with tasks specific to your business, while ChatGPT can deal with more general stuff.

Will our data be safe with Copilot?

According to Microsoft, “Microsoft 365 Copilot ensures data security and privacy by adhering to existing obligations and integrating with your organization’s policies. It utilizes your Microsoft Graph content with the same access controls as other Microsoft 365 services.” What’s more, your Copilot engine is exactly that, yours. Initial indications from Microsoft indicate that Copilot instances will not be able to communicate with each other thus ensuring data privacy.

Will Copilot replace your staff?

A Microsoft study says almost half of employees are worried about AI replacing their jobs.

It also found that 70% of people “would delegate as much work as possible to AI” and that “business leaders are looking to empower people with AI rather than replace them.”

The name “Copilot” itself seems to support the idea of an “AI-employee alliance.” Now, as AI becomes more popular as a tool, people must learn how to leverage AI and upgrade their AI competencies.

Who will own output that is created via Copilot?

Microsoft makes no ownership claims to content created using Copilot. It explains: “As copyright and other laws regarding ownership vary by jurisdiction, Microsoft does not make a determination on whether the content created by Copilot experiences is copyright-protected.”

How much will M365 Copilot cost?

There is no available pricing information yet for Copilot, as it is still in private preview status.

What is the Copilot Early Access Program?

Microsoft first tested Copilot with 20 enterprise customers. They then rolled out the Copilot Early Access Program (EAP), an invitation-only, paid preview for 600 customers in various countries.

Be ready for Copilot

Microsoft 365 Copilot can turn out to be a powerful tool for your business. You just need to understand how it works and prepare to get the most out of it:

  1. Get on Microsoft 365
  2. Check for other technical requirements
  3. Get your data on the cloud
  4. Ensure good content management and security

Watch out for Copilot updates and watch this space for other IT resources from ONGC.

(*Workiverse is not officially in the dictionary, but we use it to refer to the interconnected ecosystem and dynamics of work-related activities, environments, and interactions that exist in the modern professional world. This can include remote work, freelancing, gig economy, flexible schedules, virtual collaboration, and digital communication.)