Why do I need Microsoft Copilot?


Human nature is hard-wired to dream, create, and innovate. We all aspire to engage in meaningful work – anything from crafting a remarkable novel, making a discovery, inventing something, building strong communities, or looking after the elderly or the unwell. The yearning to establish a profound connection with the essence of our work lives in all of us. Herein lies the rub – in our present day, we find ourselves bogged down by the monotony of time-consuming tasks. By extension, these humdrum activities hinder creativity and drain our energy. To reconnect with our true motivation for working and achieving, finding a better way of doing things isn’t good enough. We need a paradigm shift in the way we work. To overcome this challenge, Microsoft Copilot shines as a beacon of light in the workplace.


What does Microsoft Copilot do?


Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said recently:


“We believe in a future where there will be a Copilot for everyone and everything you do.”


So, what exactly is Copilot and what does it do?


Microsoft 365 Copilot is an artificial intelligence (AI) feature designed to assist you with repetitive tasks like writing documents, summarising emails, and preparing presentations. It deploys innovative AI technology using the GPT-4 large language model (LLM). This advanced technology is applicable across widely-used tools such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Teams, ensuring a consistent user experience with its easy and uniform interface. Copilot serves as an advanced processing and orchestration engine, combining the capabilities of LLMs, including GPT-4, with Microsoft 365 applications. Microsoft is so confident about Copilot’s awesomeness that it had this to say:


“The tool is going to turn your words into the most powerful productivity tool on the planet.”


Microsoft Copilot default chatbots


Microsoft Copilot has several default chatbots. These include:


  • Microsoft Edge – Copilot provides information about any website you are browsing.
  • Windows – Copilot supports voice commands and is accessible via the Windows taskbar or a dedicated Copilot key.
  • Mobile – Standalone Copilot apps available for Android and iOS.
  • Word – Copilot generates and edits text in Word documents based on user prompts. It also offers to rewrite suggestions to strengthen arguments in highlighted texts.
  • Excel – Copilot assists with data analysis in Excel spreadsheets, formats data, creates graphs, identifies trends, and summarises information.
  • PowerPoint – Copilot creates presentations summarising information from Word documents or Excel spreadsheets. It can also condense lengthy presentations.
  • Outlook – Drafts emails with varying length and tone based on user input. In Outlook, Copilot is also able to extract relevant information from other emails and summarise content from email threads, highlighting viewpoints and unanswered questions.
  • Teams – Copilot presents information in upcoming meetings, transcribes meetings, provides debriefs for late joiners, and summarises discussion points, lists key actions, and answers questions after the meeting.


Is Microsoft Copilot the same as ChatGPT?


ChatGPT operates as a conversational or generative AI model, employing advanced LLM technology and machine learning to generate responses based on natural human input. Similarly, Copilot allows users to engage in natural interactions, posing questions and seeking assistance through standard text prompts. Nevertheless, Copilot excels in contextualisation and personalisation of responses, leveraging its integration with Microsoft 365 for enhanced effectiveness. While Microsoft Copilot and ChatGPT may appear similar at first glance, they exhibit notable distinctions. ChatGPT is versatile and applicable to a wide range of content creation tasks. On the other hand, Copilot is specifically crafted to enhance the productivity and efficiency of team members collaborating with Microsoft 365 tools and applications.


How much does Copilot cost?


Unfortunately, Copilot doesn’t come cheap. At the moment, it comes in at £19 per user per month. Luckily, Microsoft has removed the 300-seat minimum, so the generative AI has become somewhat more affordable, especially for SMEs. For those operating on a shoestring, there’s also a free – and extremely limited – version of Copilot, operating on the Bing search engine. When purchasing Copilot, CEOs and CIOs need to be aware that the £19 is in addition to the licence costs. For example, for users on a Microsoft 365 Business Standard plan, adding Copilot means there is a 240% or 3.4x uplift on the initial licence fee.


Does every user need Copilot?


CoPilot doesn’t need to be mandatory for every user. Here you have a unique opportunity to play your tactical AI card by deciding who truly needs it. Whether it’s your C-suite executives, high-performing sales professionals, data experts, or those extensively involved with spreadsheets who spend more time with data than humans, you have the flexibility to decide. But think on this – is it justifiable to implement CoPilot across all white-collar workers, especially considering that some of them may never use it? Some companies are considering the all-in option, but this may not be the most strategic move. We know that gauging the potential return on investment (ROI) for a company-wide deployment is challenging without firsthand experience with the final product. If you’re considering this approach, factor in the investment required for training and adoption, along with any other costs.


What are the benefits of Copilot?


Microsoft has showcased compelling use cases for Copilot, demonstrating its ability to enhance work experiences, overcome creative hurdles, and expedite decision-making processes. One noteworthy application is its assistance in email writing. In recent news, Octopus Energy in the UK utilised AI for email composition, resulting in a substantial increase in customer satisfaction from 65% to 80%. However, the true value of Copilot becomes evident in its ROI. Think about a scenario involving a busy sales executive or a data analyst on a £50,000 annual salary. Crunching the numbers reveals that each hour of their time costs approximately £30. If Copilot assists them in saving just one hour per month, you achieve a 1:1 ROI. Given the advertised capabilities of this generative AI, the potential time savings extend well beyond a single hour, making Copilot a highly beneficial tool for efficiency and productivity.


How secure is Copilot?


Copilot may sound like a dream come true but given all the scaremongering about AI going around, will it become a threat to us humans? Probably not, but there are some security concerns. While Microsoft prioritises security in its product, data security teams must recognize that Copilot essentially possesses extensive access to sensitive data – sometimes more than necessary. Here’s the lowdown on the major risks:


  • Copilot accesses all employee data who often have permission to access more sensitive data than they need to.
  • Results generated by Copilot do not automatically adopt security labels from source files. This poses a serious risk, particularly for source files containing sensitive data.
  • Employees are responsible for manually reviewing and ensuring accurate classification and risk assessment of AI-generated results. As such, this underscores the importance of a diligent and hands-on approach in overseeing the accuracy and security of the data processed by Copilot.


Addressing data privacy concerns, Microsoft outlines in its AI usage terms that confidential data will not be utilised to train or retrain its AI models. This assurance means that your data remains your own and will not extend beyond the confines of your business. Is this enough to confirm Microsoft’s commitment to maintaining the privacy and integrity of your sensitive information?


The best of both worlds


“SMEs can benefit tremendously from AI automation, but the technology does come with inherent threats.”


That’s’ a tiny extract from my latest Amazon international bestseller, You Don’t Need a £1 Million Cybersecurity Budget. Yes, it’s true that AI automation tools like Copilot can transform any SME. It’s also true that without the appropriate cybersecurity tools in place, an SME might find itself up the creek. I’m talking data breaches, non-compliance with privacy regulations, copyright infringement, and all the pesky and expensive litigation that follows. I have 25 years in the business of IT support and cybersecurity, helping to guide SMEs on their journey of growth. You can have the best of both worlds with AI and IT security. Reach out to me and I’ll show you how.


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