microsoft 365 copilot usage tips


Microsoft Copilot is an AI platform developed by Microsoft that aims to improve productivity and efficiency in business environments. With the integration of AI and natural language conversations, Microsoft Copilot can assist users in finding better answers to their questions and even generate content based on those answers. This article will provide tips and insights on how to effectively use Microsoft 365 Copilot to maximize its benefits and enhance productivity in the workplace.

What is Microsoft Copilot?

Microsoft Copilot is a powerful AI product that combines large language models with enterprise data generated by the Microsoft Graph and Microsoft 365 applications. The platform was developed on the ChatGPT platform and was announced as an in-development platform at the July 2023 Microsoft Inspire conference. There are two versions of Copilot: Microsoft 365 Copilot and a more general Microsoft Copilot.

Microsoft 365 Copilot is specifically designed for enterprises and relies on in-house, enterprise-generated data. On the other hand, the general Microsoft Copilot uses aggregate data pulled from the internet. Both versions are embedded in Microsoft 365 apps such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Teams, enabling users to unlock their creative potential and improve productivity.

Business Benefits of Using Microsoft Copilot

Using Microsoft Copilot can provide several benefits to businesses, including:

  1. Improved Efficiency: With Microsoft Copilot, employees can jump-start their projects, such as emails, presentations, reports, and data visualizations, with AI-generated first drafts. This allows them to quickly refine and iterate on subsequent drafts, eliminating unnecessary steps and improving efficiency.
  2. Productivity Gains: By leveraging enterprise-specific data, Microsoft 365 Copilot enables employees to access relevant and pertinent assets from the start of a project. This streamlines the workflow and boosts productivity by ensuring that the AI platform uses data generated internally by the enterprise.
  3. Enhanced Skills Development: With the assistance of Microsoft Copilot, employees can focus on refining and iterating on their projects, enabling them to develop new skills and improve their abilities. The AI platform provides a foundation for employees to build upon, allowing for continuous skill development.

How to Integrate Copilot into Microsoft Applications

Microsoft Copilot is seamlessly integrated into the fabric of all Microsoft 365 applications. When using Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, or Teams, Copilot’s generative AI abilities are readily available to assist users. While the specifics of how each application will utilize Copilot are still being developed, Microsoft has outlined some basic commands that users can give to Copilot in different applications:

Copilot in Word

  • Draft a two-page project proposal based on data from a Word document and an Excel worksheet.
  • Make the third paragraph in the current document more concise and change the tone to be more casual.
  • Create a one-page draft based on a rough outline.

Copilot in Excel

  • Break down sales data by type and channel and insert a table.
  • Project the impact of a variable change in the data and generate a chart to visualize it.
  • Model how a change to the growth rate for a variable would impact gross margin.

Copilot in PowerPoint

  • Create a five-slide presentation based on a Word document and include relevant stock photos.
  • Consolidate a presentation into a three-slide summary.
  • Reformat three bullets in a specific PowerPoint presentation into three columns, each with a picture.

Copilot in Outlook

  • Summarize emails missed while out of the office and flag important items.
  • Draft a response thanking the senders of an email and asking for more details.
  • Shorten a draft email and make the tone more professional.
  • Invite everyone to a lunch-and-learn about new product launches, mentioning that lunch is provided.

Copilot in Business Chat

  • Summarize chats, emails, and documents about the topic being discussed.
  • Identify the next milestone for a project, brainstorm potential mitigations for identified risks.
  • Write a new planning overview in the style of an existing document, incorporating the planning timeline from a different document and the project list from an email.

By incorporating Copilot into these Microsoft applications, users can leverage AI to improve their productivity and streamline their work processes.

Potential Problems and Caveats with Microsoft Copilot

While Microsoft Copilot offers powerful AI capabilities, there are some potential problems and caveats to consider:

  1. Training Data Quality: The effectiveness of Copilot relies heavily on the quality of the training data. If the data is incomplete, biased, or inaccurate, the suggestions generated by Copilot may also suffer from these shortcomings. It is crucial to ensure that the training data is reliable and relevant to avoid incomplete or biased results.
  2. Biases in AI-Generated Output: General versions of Microsoft Copilot that use aggregate data from the internet may be influenced by inherent biases, fads, or misguided trends. Organizations and users should be aware of this and exercise caution when incorporating AI-generated output into official documents.
  3. Data Siloing: Some departments may choose to silo their data behind firewalls, making it inaccessible to Copilot. This may be necessary for sensitive or non-disclosure agreement-related information. Organizations should carefully consider whether restricting AI access to certain data is more beneficial than allowing full access.
  4. Platform Development: Microsoft Copilot is still in development, and its capabilities and limitations will only be fully revealed once it is released to the public. The use cases outlined by Microsoft at the Inspire conference are the company’s vision, and the actual capabilities may differ. It is important to approach Copilot with realistic expectations and consider its potential and limitations.

Alternatives to Microsoft Copilot

While Microsoft Copilot is a powerful AI platform, there are several alternatives available in the market. Major tech companies like Salesforce, Oracle, and Adobe are also working on their own AI platforms. Additionally, there are numerous independent developers and smaller companies developing their versions of AI platforms.

Furthermore, AI integration is becoming increasingly common in various digital applications. For example, Bing Chat, an AI chatbot based on ChatGPT, is integrated into Microsoft Edge. Google has also recently released an AI for its search engine and Chrome. Apple is also reportedly developing its AI platform.

With the expanding AI platform landscape, businesses have a wide range of options to choose from when considering AI integration into their workflows.

Cost of Microsoft Copilot

As of the 2023 Inspire conference, Microsoft 365 Copilot is priced at $30 per user per month. While this may seem expensive at first glance, it is important to consider that this version of Copilot is designed for large enterprises. For enterprises with a large number of employees, the productivity gains and potential cost savings offered by Copilot may justify the subscription cost.

Consumer and small business versions of Microsoft Copilot are likely to be priced lower than the enterprise counterpart. Bing Chat, which is based on ChatGPT, is already available for free as part of Microsoft Edge. Additionally, Microsoft may offer modified versions of Copilot at lower costs for SMBs that do not have sufficient in-house generated data to train the AI platform effectively.

It is worth noting that the pricing for Microsoft Copilot is subject to change as the platform continues to develop and competition in the AI platform space increases.

Businesses Suitable for Microsoft Copilot and Considerations

The suitability of Microsoft Copilot depends on the size and nature of the business. Large enterprises with the resources to invest in the platform and generate and maintain accurate enterprise-specific data may find Microsoft 365 Copilot beneficial. However, the decision to implement Copilot in large enterprises requires a significant commitment due to the associated costs and data management requirements.

On the other hand, individuals and small businesses with limited data may still benefit from the consumer and SMB versions of Microsoft Copilot. These versions, which are likely to be more affordable or even free, can provide AI assistance without the extensive data requirements.

Ultimately, businesses must weigh the potential productivity gains and cost savings against the initial investment and ongoing expenses associated with Microsoft Copilot. Each organization should consider its specific needs and resources to determine whether Copilot is a suitable solution.

Availability of Microsoft Copilot

As of August 2023, Microsoft Copilot is still in the testing phase of development, with a limited number of organizations and Microsoft Insiders providing feedback on its functionality. There is no official release date announced for any version of Microsoft Copilot.

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