Microsoft 365 Copilot Tool: Your Copilot for Work

Microsoft Copilot Tool: Microsoft 356 Copilot to Be Available Soon

However creative a job can be, it might also have its portion of drudgery –  the tasks that make you lose your enthusiasm, something repetitive, dull, but necessary. To get rid of that kind of monotonous work curtailing our creativity and energy, one may dream of a magic wand. What if that magic wand is almost here? Something that will help change the way we work, freeing up time for more creative and important tasks by supercharging your productivity with the next-generation AI. And this is exactly what Microsoft promised when introducing Microsoft 365 Copilot in March 2023. So the world of work is in flux, but the adoption of new tech is a long process.

Let’s take a look at what Microsoft 365 Copilot tool is and how it can change our work lives for the better by answering the following questions:

Contents:

1. What is Microsoft 365 Copilot: more than AI?

2. What operations can Microsoft 365 Copilot do?

3. How does Microsoft transform your work with Copilot?

4. How does Microsoft 365 Copilot work: LLMs and AI?

5. How can Microsoft Copilot benefit business owners?

6. How can Microsoft Copilot benefit accounting professionals?

Microsoft 365 Copilot

What is Microsoft 365 Copilot: more than AI?

Microsoft 365 Copilot is basically an AI-powered assistant that helps you work with Microsoft 365 apps. The very idea is to make use of the next-generation generative AI like LLM (large language model), with Chat GPT as the driving engine for Microsoft Copilot, and the information from Microsoft 365 apps and Microsoft Graph. This combination will take productivity to the next level by “giving people more agency and making technology more accessible through the most universal interface — natural language”, according to Satya Nadella, Chairman and CEO, Microsoft.

If you’re using Microsoft products at work, Copilot is the tool that is embedded in the Microsoft 365 apps like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Microsoft Teams and others you use every day. Copilot will actually permeate all Microsoft products including Windows and Bing with the main focus on Office 365 apps. Using natural language prompts and the data from your emails, calendar, documents, even meetings and contacts, Microsoft Copilot will be able to, let’s say, make a draft for your presentation for the upcoming meeting, which you can modify, edit and use later, saving you tons of valuable time. Looks like this Microsoft’s innovation is more than just another AI product.

What operations can Microsoft Copilot do?

The creators promise us more creativity in Word, more analysis in Excel, more expression in PowerPoint, more productivity in Outlook and more collaboration in Teams, which aren’t just words. Looks like all Microsoft products we use are going to be supercharged with AI and change the way Microsoft user community interacts with AI tech.

Still being developed and available to a limited number of large enterprise clients, Microsoft Copilot is able to perform a lot of different tasks, including:

  • Text generation for a variety of purposes, including emails, blog posts, reports, and even creative writing. Microsoft 365 Copilot can help with grammar and spelling as well.
  • Translation between over 20 languages. It might seem magical, but Microsoft Copilot can translate languages that it has never encountered before.
  • Creative content making, which is one more capacity Copilot can boast.  Writing different kinds of creative content, such as poems, code, scripts, musical pieces, email, letters, presentations, Microsoft Copilot will try its best to fulfill all the requirements.
  • Answering questions in an informative way even if they are open-ended, challenging, or strange. This is something Microsoft Copilot can do, using its knowledge to provide you with the best possible answers.

We might say with some certainty that Microsoft Copilot is going to be available to large audiences closer to winter this year.

Microsoft 365 Copilot: advantages

How does Microsoft transform your work with Copilot?

According to the Microsoft 365 Copilot presentation article on the Microsoft blog, this AI-powered assistant can change the way you worked before, empowering you to do more by unleashing creativity, unlocking productivity and upleveling skills. Now that these words might seem a bit too grand, let’s see what these marketing promises really mean in terms of business processes.

Unleashing creativity

When working with Copilot in Word, you’ll never start with a blank slate again, which is a great relief for those who know how much energy and time first drafts take. Microsoft 365 Copilot provides you with a draft based on your company documents and data from other sources that you can edit and change. Copilot can make mistakes, but editing a well-written text saves a lot of time and energy compared  to writing a completely new one. Giving prompts and feedback, asking to change the text, promoting your unique ideas makes you the author. 

Copilot supercharges PowerPoint to help you create visually attractive presentations using the existing documents you made, or your company shared with you without the need to download images or compile texts, while Copilot in Excel helps its users analyze trends and create professional-looking data visualizations with simple prompts.

Unlocking productivity

We all know the Pareto principle or 80-20 rule, according to which 80 % of our work results are attributable to 20% of our efforts. This means that we all would like to focus on the 20% of our work that really matters, but 80% of our time is consumed with busywork that is of little consequence. Here is where Copilot takes the stage. It helps quickly deal with that bogging down 80% of work like summarizing long email threads by drafting suggested replies. Copilot in Outlook deals with a long list of inbox emails in minutes, while Copilot in  Microsoft Teams is able to make a summary of key discussion points with valuable details and even suggest some action plan in real time. Copilot in Power Platform allows automating repetitive tasks and creates chatbots and apps.

Github developers were testing Copilot for their work and the result is that 88% of users agree that they’re more productive with Microsoft Copilot – an example speaking for itself.

At the same time, Business Chat accumulates all the business data and valuable insights from the apps and programs the company is using, so that it saves time when you’re looking for some information.

Upleveling skills

Microsoft 365 Copilot frees up time for self-education, mastering new skills while covering the operations that zap your work time. Using natural language for prompts unlocks multiple opportunities, but there’s always a learning curve with any new tech. Embracing the new ways of work with AI when it’s yet being developed seems like a smart move that will give you a competitive edge.

How does Microsoft 365 Copilot work: LLMs and AI?

Microsoft 365 Copilot is leveraging LLM or large language models, which in their turn, interact with the organizational data. Sounds simple and complicated at the same time. To get a better idea of the process, we need to understand how LLMs function and get their knowledge. 

First, all LLMs like Chat GPT are a type of AI that can mimic human language. They’re trained on massive amounts of public data, including books, articles, and websites, which helps them learn language, context, and meaning. Interaction with LLMs is carried out using natural language prompts, normally a statement or question. When you ask a question in the prompt, the LLM generates a response based on its public data training and understanding of context, which partially depends on how you phrase your prompt. Giving LLM additional information, details helps it get more context – same as we can give more relevant answers getting more details in a human-to-human conversation with one significant difference: LLMs only remember the conversation while they’re in that conversation as the chat history is wiped clean with each new conversation, which is a good point for security of using AI tech for your business purposes.

Mary Pasch, a principal product manager lead at Microsoft, gives an example of interaction with Microsoft Bing Chat’s GPT, by asking it a question about her shirt color that it can’t possibly answer. The LLM gives an accurate response, that it knows what a shirt is but can’t see it, so it can’t give an answer. By getting more additional information about the outfit in the second attempt, LLM gives the right answer, so that’s how the context may help LLMs give more relevant answers. In a new chat session, the story repeats. The LLM can’t answer the question about the shirt color again, as it doesn’t retain the information from the previous chat.

This example can be transferred to Microsoft 365 Copilot system, which interacts across different app experiences. Copilot has several core components. One of them is the LLMs hosted in the Microsoft Cloud via the Azure Open AI, which has nothing to do with the public Open AI service that powers Chat GPT as it could provoke security concerns. Next, Microsoft 365 Copilot has a powerful orchestration engine with Microsoft Search used for information retrieval to feed prompts. Copilot is designed to work with the Microsoft 365 apps. Then, Microsoft Graph includes additional information about the relationships and activities concerning your organization’s data. 

What’s specifically important to mention is that the Copilot system respects per-user access permissions to all content and information it retrieves in the organization, which means that Microsoft 365 Copilot will only generate responses based on the information that you have explicit permission to access. And we shouldn’t forget that Microsoft security apps Microsoft Entra and Microsoft Purview are also on guard, the latter replacing Microsoft 365 Compliance.

How can Microsoft Copilot benefit business owners?

Being a powerful AI-powered tool, Microsoft Copilot can be of great help to business owners in a number of ways. Let’s look at the surface and see the most obvious benefits for business owners from various industries.

Increased productivity

As it was mentioned before, Copilot can help business owners save time and effort by automating many repetitive tasks like writing emails, creating presentations, managing spreadsheets and analyzing data. This can help business owners allocate time to focus on more strategic and important business management tasks. This is especially true for small business owners, who cover lots of functions at work and need this extra productivity.

Improved accuracy

By providing business owners with real-time feedback and suggestions, Copilot can assist business owners in improving the accuracy of their work, which results in reduced errors and improved quality of their work. This is also a way of business management education for Copilot users.

Boosted creativity 

Copilot can be creative, providing ideas and suggestions, which can be a great material to start with, change and tweak to come up with the best option. Getting more inspired can help generate new and innovative solutions to various problems.

Reduced costs

Automating tasks naturally leads to reduced costs, which can free up budget for other purposes, such as hiring new employees or investing in new technologies and education.

Improved customer service

Copilot can be a great assistant when it comes to improving customer service. It can provide real-time assistance with customer inquiries, which might help to reduce the time it takes to resolve customer issues and improve customer loyalty and satisfaction.

How can Microsoft Copilot benefit accounting professionals?

When it comes to accounting, aside from the benefits for business owners mentioned in the previous section, Copilot can help accounting professionals stay compliant with regulations by providing them with real-time information about the latest changes to tax laws and accounting standards, which can help them avoid costly mistakes. Using Microsoft Copilot capacities, accounting professionals will keep up with the latest trends and developments in the accounting industry, learn new skills and improve their knowledge base, collaborate with colleagues and clients in a more effective way. If we turn to specific examples to illustrate how Copilot can really benefit accounting professionals and change their workflow, here are some basic ideas:

  • Tax accountants can use Copilot to help them research tax laws and prepare tax returns.
  • Financial analysts can analyze financial data faster and prepare reports with the help of Copilot.
  • Bookkeepers can use Copilot to help them enter data, create invoices, and prepare financial statements.
  • Controllers can utilize Copilot in managing the accounting department and ensuring that the company is compliant with the regulations.

Final thoughts

AI-powered tools and apps will soon become an inseparable part of our work and social life, boosting our productivity, bringing new opportunities and potential challenges. So the sooner we embrace the change and learn the ropes, the easier the transition period will be and the better result we are going to achieve. Microsoft 365 Copilot is one of those tools that might become a game changer in the world of work, making the whole community of Microsoft users  shift to new ways of conducting business.

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