Copilot, can you tell me why my colleague was off sick?
With recent innovations in AI and Microsoft’s significant investment into its OpenAI services and applications like ChatGPT it was only a matter of time before they looked to introduce it to its wider Microsoft 365 offering. They call it Copilot – a brand new AI tool which seamlessly integrates with Microsoft 365, helping assist with a range of tasks in well-used applications that include Outlook, PowerPoint, Word and Excel to name just a few and now its widely available to everyone.
Copilot is the latest in Microsoft automation tools combining the power of large language models and your data, whether that be calendar, emails, chats, documents, meetings and more, to enhance productivity.
Essentially Copilot brings generative AI and integrates it with Microsoft 365 apps including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Teams and Outlook combining it with Microsoft Graph (where your interactions and documents are stored) bringing an extra layer of productivity to your existing applications.
Designed to work alongside you as a ‘copilot’, it’s embedded into the apps you know and use every day, helping boost creativity and improve efficiency. Sounds great, doesn’t it? But many businesses will be wondering – how do you get the best out of it and are there any potential risks you need to be aware of?
With businesses clamouring to take advantage of Copilot at the earliest opportunity you need to be aware of the impact it has, weigh up its benefits and highlight any skills or training that may be needed whilst identifying who should be using it.
Once you move forward with Copilot the first thing you will realise is that Copilot pulls from two main sources – the internet and your own organisational data which includes SharePoint, Teams, OneDrive and more.
How much does it cost?
Copilot is priced at £24.70 per user, per month based on a 12-month commitment on an annual contract that must be paid in advance. We do not recommend purchasing this product prior to a review of your environment.
Why you shouldn’t rush to turn it on
Copilots’ capabilities are vast. It can access all of the information a user has access to.
Clients need to be aware of where their data resides, which is likely across several locations including SharePoint, Teams, and OneDrive as these are the data sources (alongside the internet) that Copilot pulls from.
Copilot has access to a large amount of your data, so you need to make sure your data is secure and private. We must ensure that Copilot is operated correctly by the correct users to safeguard confidential data, and to ensure employees are not given access to information they shouldn’t have. Training may also be required to prepare users and admins in its use before launch.
How does Copilot ensure data is protected?
Due to Copilots integration with Microsoft, it will adhere to your company’s security, compliance and privacy policies and use Microsoft trusted security protection.
We urge customers to discuss their readiness before purchasing licenses to ensure security best practises are adhered to.
Copilots’ capabilities are vast and it’s an exciting development within AI technology that we are looking forward to helping our clients take full advantage of, however, we want our clients to be fully prepared to embrace this technology.
Copilot will respect security and data boundaries for individual users as well as adhering to its own best practices which should prevent it answering direct questions for confidential information for example ‘Copilot, can you tell me why my colleague was off sick?’ with the response hopefully being ‘I’m sorry but I can’t provide information on reasons for an individual’s absence’.
Despite these measures being in place users shouldn’t rely on them. Due to the large amount of data Copilot has access to users may not even realise the data they have been given access to and the unintentional sharing of confidential data is a leading cause of major data breaches.
Additionally, Copilot can copy sensitive data from documents that may be confidential or protected and the location they are then pasted to may not adhere to the same level of security that the source data had.
Copilot has access to a large amount of your data, so you need to make sure your data is secure and private and make sure you are adhering to industry regulations. We must ensure that Copilot is operated correctly by the correct users to safeguard confidential data, and to ensure employees are not given access to information they shouldn’t have. Training may also be required to prepare users and admins in its use before launch. Your business needs to have all this in mind before unlocking the power of Copilot.
With the correct security, compliance and permissions in place Copilot is an exciting and powerful software that brings some big capabilities to the table. This is dependent on the application you are using it with as it can assist in so many ways across the Microsoft 365 offering.
For example, in Word you can jump start your creative process by having Copilot provide you with a first draft to edit or an outline of your content. You can then develop this and shape it how you see fit, greatly cutting down time spent writing, sourcing, and editing.
When it comes to PowerPoint it can help create layouts and designs and source information from past documents and presentations. You’ll be able to convert written documents into engaging presentation decks with notes and sources. Need to cut down that lengthy slide? Copilot can do that as well as reformat text and add animations.
In Excel data visualisations will be even easier to generate with Copilot able to easily analyse trends and create professional visualisations in a matter of seconds. It can actively analyse data providing correlations, scenarios and new formulas allowing you to really delve deeper into your data and find recommendations for desired outcomes.
What about Outlook? Reducing time spent in your inbox and better managing emails could give you more time to be creative and collaborate with colleagues. Copilot will be able to summarise long threads and quickly draft suggested replies helping you quickly clear your inbox. This capability extends to Teams with it able to summarise key discussion points, attribute them and suggest actions all in real time.
All businesses ultimately need a robust plan to roll out Copilot, the plan should identify any risks and impacts of its use as well as include a clearly defined management plan.
As a result of this launch, we will be hosting an in depth, exclusive webinar event on Friday 26th January which you can sign up to here to discuss our recommendations and approach, as well as our Copilot Readiness Service giving you a clear understanding of its capabilities and how to best prepare for the implementation of Copilot. You can also get in touch to find out more about our approach to Copilot as a service and how we can best prepare you and your business to harness this powerful productivity tool.