In the wake of OpenAI’s remarkable success with ChatGPT, there has been an overwhelming trend to integrate the capabilities of generative AI into various applications, ranging from search engines like Bing to customer relationship management products like Salesforce. Building on this momentum, Microsoft, a significant partner of OpenAI, is now introducing this cutting-edge technology to its Office 365 productivity suite, aptly named ‘Copilot for Work.’ This innovative tool will bring generative AI to popular applications such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook, while also unveiling a new Business Chat tool to enhance collaboration and communication within the suite.
A NEW WAY OF DOING
As part of its $10 billion investment in OpenAI, Microsoft secured access to its extensive language models. Since then, the company has integrated these models into various products, including Bing Search, Dynamics 365 – its CRM platform, and the Azure cloud service. Within Bing, an AI chatbot tool, powered by GPT-4 and similar to ChatGPT, has been implemented to provide context-aware search results. During an online event led by CEO Satya Nadella and Jared Spataro, corporate vice president for modern work and business applications, Microsoft unveiled Copilot for Work. Nadella described this groundbreaking tool as a “whole new way of working,” transitioning AI from being in autopilot mode to a more collaborative copilot role. Nadella said of this transformation:
“We believe it will unlock a new wave of productivity growth with Copilots freeing us to rediscover the joy of creation. Just as we can’t imagine computing today without keyboard, mouse or multitouch, going forward we won’t be able to imagine computing without natural language prompts and human copilots.”
Spataro claimed that Copilot integration signalled a new era of computing and said:
“Work is meant to be more than just a job. At its best work not only feeds our families, it feeds our souls but today the reality often falls short of that promise as we spend too much on the drudgery of work. The tools that should make us productive often get in the way.”
Within Excel, AI takes data analysis and exploration to new heights. Users can engage in natural language questioning over their data, allowing for a more intuitive and conversational approach to data analysis. Furthermore, AI can assist in creating formulas directly from natural language inputs, making complex calculations more accessible. Additionally, Excel’s AI capabilities extend to suggesting new formulas based on what-if scenarios, fostering dynamic and innovative data analysis.
In the realm of Word, Copilot serves as an invaluable writing companion, working alongside the user to facilitate various tasks. It acts as a copilot rather than taking control in autopilot mode. By providing a brief prompt, Copilot in Word can swiftly generate a first draft by gathering pertinent information from within the user’s organization. This feature proves immensely helpful in adding content to existing documents, condensing text into concise summaries, and even reworking sections or the entire document to enhance clarity. Moreover, Copilot in Word goes the extra mile by offering suggested tones to ensure the right tone is struck in written communication. Whether one needs a professional, passionate, casual, or thankful tone, Copilot can assist in achieving the desired effect, aiding users in delivering their intended message effectively. With Copilot as a dependable companion, writing in Word becomes a collaborative and productive experience.
The PowerPoint iteration of Copilot serves as an exceptional “storytelling partner,” revolutionizing the process of creating impactful presentations. With its advanced capabilities, Copilot can seamlessly convert a written document into visually captivating slide decks, complete with speaker notes and cited sources. Whether initiated from a basic prompt or an outline, Copilot streamlines the presentation creation process with remarkable efficiency. Additionally, Copilot excels at condensing lengthy presentations with just a click of a button, saving valuable time and effort. This feature not only simplifies the process but also ensures that the core message remains intact while eliminating unnecessary content. Furthermore, Copilot can assist in retiming animations, ensuring a smooth and engaging presentation experience. With Copilot by your side, crafting compelling PowerPoint presentations becomes a seamless and collaborative endeavour.
PRODUCTIVITY FOR MICROSOFT 365 COMMUNICATION
Outlook is set to revolutionize email management by providing enhanced capabilities for efficient email triage. With the integration of Copilot, Outlook will excel at summarizing lengthy and complex email threads, even those involving multiple participants with diverse viewpoints. This feature will streamline the process of understanding the core discussion points, allowing users to grasp the key aspects quickly. Furthermore, Copilot in Outlook will assist in identifying unanswered questions within email conversations, helping users prioritize and address them promptly. In addition, it empowers users to respond swiftly to emails by providing quick prompts and suggestions, ensuring efficient communication. Leveraging the vast resources available within Microsoft 365, Copilot in Outlook can seamlessly utilize content and data from various sources, facilitating comprehensive and context-aware responses. Whether it’s transforming notes into a professional message or drawing relevant information from across the Microsoft 365 ecosystem, Copilot enables users to compose well-informed and effective email communications. With these advanced features, Outlook becomes an invaluable tool for email management and communication productivity.
MICROSOFT 365 BUSINESS CHAT
Alongside the advancements in their product offerings, Microsoft has introduced an exciting new addition called Business Chat. This innovative tool operates seamlessly across the Microsoft 365 suite, harnessing the power of the Language and Learning Model (LLM) as well as user data from various sources including calendars, emails, chats, documents, meetings, and contacts. Business Chat revolutionizes the way users access information by providing natural language search capabilities. With Business Chat, users can effortlessly interact with the system using natural language prompts. For example, one can simply say, “Tell my team how we updated the product strategy,” and Business Chat will generate a comprehensive status update based on the morning’s meetings, emails, and chat threads. By leveraging the wealth of information available within Microsoft 365, Business Chat delivers tailored and contextually relevant insights, enabling users to stay informed and connected. This integration of natural language search and data analysis within Business Chat empowers users to effortlessly navigate their work ecosystem and retrieve information with ease. Microsoft’s commitment to enhancing productivity through innovative tools is evident in the introduction of Business Chat, offering a more intuitive and efficient approach to accessing and utilizing data across the Microsoft 365 suite.
WHO’S THE LEADER
In a parallel move to Google’s recent developments, Microsoft is introducing Copilot for Work. This follows Google’s plan to integrate its massive PaLM language model into Workspace, initially starting with Docs and Gmail. Google aims to provide users with the ability to generate text based on simple prompts, enhancing productivity and content creation within those applications. While Workspace already incorporates some AI features like Smart Compose in Gmail and document summaries in Docs, it hasn’t fully embraced the generative capabilities seen in tools like ChatGPT or Wordtune Spices from AI21 Labs. In response, Microsoft’s Copilot for Work seeks to bring similar generative AI capabilities to its productivity suite.
MICROSOFT 365 EMPOWERMENT
With Copilot, Microsoft aims to empower users by allowing them to generate content by typing in a topic, instantly producing a draft that can be refined as needed. Although Google plans to gradually roll out its features to select testers in the coming weeks, the availability timeline for wider use remains unclear. Both Microsoft and Google’s initiatives highlight the growing focus on harnessing generative AI within productivity tools. By leveraging these capabilities, users can enhance content creation, collaboration, and overall productivity in their daily work routines. Forrester Analyst Rowan Curran said of embedding generative AI into productivity tools:
“These models are not nearly as powerful in their foundational version as when they have been fine-tuned on a company’s specific data – and so when the major productivity suite providers start enabling this capability is when we may start to see an acceleration of the use of these capabilities if they don’t immediately take off in their initial version. The impacts might not transform the workplace tomorrow, but the wheel has started rolling forward on this.”
MICROSOFT 365 – WIN WITH ME
I believe that AI in business is key to efficiency, productivity and standing out from the crowd. Microsoft promises to make much of this happen by integrating Copilot into Windows 11. I have over 20 years of experience in providing professional IT support and cybersecurity for London-based SMEs. I have seen their pain, their challenges and their successes. And the latter is what I wish for you. Let’s get together and take your business to the next level through automation. Contact me today and begin your journey into a new world of technology.