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Business Applications 3 min read

What is Microsoft 365 Copilot

Rob Cottrill, Technology Director at ANS, explains.

Copilot is a new AI tool built into Microsoft 365 apps that improves productivity by automating projects and tasks. It uses Large Language Models (LLMs) with your data in the Microsoft Graph and the Microsoft 365 apps to generate content, activities, and other Office based tasks.

Copilot is integrated into Microsoft 365 in two ways:
  1. Embedded into the Microsoft 365 applications that are used every day, e.g. Word, Outlook, Dynamics 365 and even Power Platform. It responds to questions asked in natural language, as opposed to formulas, and can help draft or edit content, as well as answer questions, solve problems and build apps. In PowerPoint, Copilot can create presentations based on short prompts, from which users can easily edit text or adjust the layout. For Outlook and Teams, users can summarise discussion points and boost meeting productivity by quickly creating notes or invites for follow-up sessions.
  2. Business Chat that does everyday business tasks for you. It works via LLM, all the 365 apps and your data, e.g. calendar, emails, chats, meetings and contacts. Users give Business Chat simple instructions such as “explain to my colleagues how we changed the business plan”. It will then create a natural sounding email or Teams update based on the minutes from an earlier meeting, relevant chats and emails.
Copilot increases productivity

Copilot is your new common interface layer and will improve personal and work productivity. For example, Copilot in Word can give you a first draft of a document for you to edit and adapt. In PowerPoint, it can create beautiful presentations in seconds based on the content you point it at, eliminating design time and formatting. In Excel, it will help you analyse data, identify trends and produce data visualisations.

In terms of other tools, Copilot in Outlook can help you sort your inbox. It can summarise long email threads, pull together a draft reply and even help you clear your inbox in minutes. In Teams, during a meeting, for example, it can sum up the key points discussed, draft action items and even note who said what and who disagreed. All in real time during the meeting.

In addition to this, role-based Copilots are built into Dynamics 365 apps for sales, marketing, customer service and operations.

For instance, built for sales teams, Microsoft Sales Copilot helps you create contextual emails pulling in relevant data from CRM, such as customer information, account details, etc. So sellers don’t have to spend time searching for information manually. Copilot automatically summarises opportunities and brings CRM data to where you work, whether it’s Outlook, Teams, or Dynamics 365.

The most impressive, however, has to be within Power Platform. Not only can it automate repetitive tasks, Copilot can build you a fully functioning app with just a few prompts, you don’t need to have any tech skills. It can create simple apps in minutes and even chatbots.

GitHub data shows that Copilot can make everyone more productive.  Developers say it makes them 88% more productive, 74% say it enables them to do more satisfying work, and 77% say it shortens the time searching for information.

All in all, Copilot promises to make us more productive and, by taking away those dull, repetitive tasks and giving us more time to focus on the tasks we enjoy, ultimately make us happier. On a personal note, anything that can help me get through my inbox… I’m all in.