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Copilot: What's the hype about the new AI-based productivity assistant for Microsoft 365?

Humans are hard-wired to dream, to create, to innovate. But today, we spend too much time consumed by the drudgery of work on tasks that zap our time, creativity and energy. To reconnect to the soul of our work, we don’t just need a better way of doing the same things. We need a whole new way to work.

Jared Spataro (CVP Modern Work & Business Applications, Microsoft)

Not even a year ago, Artificial Intelligence (AI) Large Language Models (LLMs) such as ChatGPT were barely on anyone's radar except for those working in tech. But the role of technology is changing so rapidly that it's becoming hard to keep up, and AI is accelerating that exponentially. Enter Microsoft 365 Copilot, the new AI-based productivity assistant that is the embodiment of that changing role...

What is Microsoft 365 Copilot?

Copilot is your virtual assistant with a difference. Unlike traditional 'assistants' it:

  • Speaks natural language

  • Synthesises large amount of data

  • Creates original content

  • Iterates ideas with human in the loop

What can Copilot do?

The whole point of Copilot is to boost productivity. Here are a couple of examples of how:

Word Documents

Tired of churning out those same old proposals? Copilot can look at your OneNote client meeting notes and generate a proposal for you that looks like ones you've created before. It will also recommend enhancements, such as adding an FAQ section.

Teams Meetings

You'll be able to 'follow' a Teams meeting you can't attend and get the output formatted for you. You'll even be able to ask questions about the meeting and receive answers with citations.

You'll also be able to ask Copilot to summarise a meeting, who's said what and which questions were answered, key takeaways and actions, so you can focus on the meeting itself rather than writing notes (see 'Intelligent Recap', available in Teams Premium now).

Is Copilot likely to be welcomed by end users?

There is a high degree of scrutiny on AI and its potentially damaging impact on the human race if not developed and used responsibly. But the case for Copilot is a strong one, as it's aim is to do the heavy lifting for routine and laborious tasks, allowing us to spend our time more creatively and productively. So yes, it's likely to be very popular. A warning though - it won't be available for everyone, as the rumour is you'll need at least a Microsoft 365 E3 or E5 licence to run it.

Is Copilot safe?

Copilot is guided by Microsoft's 6 AI Principles, meaning that it inherits existing organisational Microsoft 365 policies, ensures data doesn't get shared externally, and puts users in charge of what to use.

When will Copilot be available?

Copilot is currently in preview. Pricing and SKUs are due to be published in July 2023.

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