Microsoft Copilot 365 is the most exciting update to the Microsoft Office Suite in years. It will enable Chat GPT-4 powered AI features across all Microsoft Office Products enabling users to describe tasks and have AI perform those tasks on their behalf.
To get an idea of what Microsoft has planned for Copilot they released the following demo video highlighting their vision of an AI assisted content generation across the Microsoft Office Platform.
Let’s take a look at how Copilot works and what we can expect for specific applications.
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CoPilot 365 is AI Powered by GPT-4
Chat GPT is a Natural Language Chat Bot developed by OpenAI. It allows people to ask the chat bot questions or prompt it to perform various tasks. The Chat Bot has been trained on a massive amount of data across a wide range of topics allowing it to write computer code, compose songs, and generate entire books. The number of potential use cases are limitless.
The real benefit of the program is that it is incredibly intuitive and easy to use. There is a chat box that you type commands or requests into using plain English, and it will respond to your request. Chat GPT is contextually aware of previous parts of your conversation allowing you to ask follow-up questions.
Chat GPT-4 is the most recent version of the software as of writing and represents a significant improvement over previous versions that were only released a few months prior, highlighting the pace of improvement for Chat GPT is incredibly fast.
Why Microsoft Copilot 365 Matters
Microsoft announced Copilot 365 in the middle of March 2023. During the announcement they outlined a number of AI Powered features specific to office applications, but more importantly Microsoft shared its vision for how they will integrate Chat GPT into their products.
Microsoft Copilot promises to usher in a new way to work. We believe it will do so. Even as ChatGPT and AI capabilities become infused into thousands of software products of the next several years, very few have the reach of Microsoft Office.
The Microsoft Office suite is engrained in the way that business is done around the world. When ChatGPT and AI are integrated with Office applications it will have several large benefits.
AI will enable advanced functionality for non-technical users
If you use Microsoft Excel as one example, very few people utilize the full set of features available in Power Query. You can directly connect Excel spreadsheets to SQL Data Warehouses and have live connections to your company’s data. This enables real time reporting in a program that everyone in an organization has familiarity with.
Copilot 365 will enable features like this to be used by prompting a chat bot. No technical knowledge is required,, you can ask Excel to establish a connection, create a table and summarize data. No need to find and push the right buttons to set this up.
Going beyond Excel, other AI advancements will change how content is created in Microsoft Word and PowerPoint. The average business document could go from taking hours to think up and create, to 20 minutes of editing words that were suggested by AI.
To top it off, Microsoft plans to enable Copilot to base its AI suggestions for content on your company’s own data. From OneDrive, One Note, SharePoint and internal data warehouses could all be sources of Copilot to draw upon when helping you create your next report or presentation.
Demo of Copilot in Microsoft Excel
The following video highlights Microsoft’s vision of Microsoft Excel powered by natural language processing where people can type requests and the computer automatically converts them into action. Either answering questions about data, summarizing it or adding charts and graphs without having to push buttons.
Demo of Copilot in Microsoft Word
The most obvious use case of generative AI in Microsoft Office is using it to generate text documents. The technology behind Copilot, ChatGPT was designed as a large language model. In Microsoft’s vision AI is used to generate rough drafts of text, and make suggestions for humans to proof and use and as a starting point.
Demo of Copilot in Microsoft PowerPoint
PointPoint is a great example of mixed media AI content generation. The idea is to use generative AI to generate pictures along with suggesting page layouts, and text. It could one day be possible to have PowerPoint summarize long form data into bulletpoints and even generate images to go along with them.
ChatGPT and AI Features will be Integrated into all Microsoft Products
The initial press release from Microsoft mentions most of the primary office applications. Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, Teams. Outside of the press release, Microsoft CEO Satay Nadella has talked about integrating AI into all of their products. Microsoft sees AI as the future of work and they are moving full speed ahead with integrating it into as many use cases as possible.
Microsoft Copilot Integration is Coming to Windows
Going a step further than Microsoft Office, the team in Redmond are working hard at integrating AI into all of their products. This includes their flagship product, Microsoft Windows. Copilot integration will enable many of the existing windows applications an AI boost.
Coupled with the generative AI features of Bing the future of windows looks more connected and AI powered than ever before.
The following demo highlights some of the AI features coming to Windows in the near future.
People will utilize advanced features of the software they already use
This is one of the best parts of directly integrated Chat GPT into Microsoft Office. There are so many features within each office application that the average user will never know that the exist or they are used so infrequently that power users will forget where to find the submenu that contains them.
By brining Chat GPT directly into the Microsoft Office experience, you will be able to ask the application to complete a task and will never need to know which buttons to push to complete the task otherwise.
Copilot will ingest all of you business data
Microsoft believes that the most productive business solutions will be able to reference internal data. We agree with them, but also have a million questions on how system integration with Microsoft Copilot will work.
Copilot will be able to connect to data saved on SharePoint and potentially other databases and data warehouses. It sounds great on the surface, but makes you wonder how a company will manage access to sensitive data, and how a chat bot might mis-interpret old information or information that was meant as a work in progress draft.
Will Microsoft Copilot be Safe?
The idea of an AI taking in all of your company’s data to suggest reports and help analysts perform their jobs makes us wonder how Microsoft plans to keep all of the data segregated.
For example, not everyone needs access to payroll data but the payroll team could greatly benefit from AI. A payroll team could also benefit from operational data to give context to an employee who clocked a large amount of overtime that comes up as an outlier on a payroll report.
A second concern we have is how Microsoft will determine when a file saved one OneDrive is a final draft vs one that is a work in progress. A company might have a draft of an employee handbook saved as a backup, but you would not want to use it as a reference to inform future decisions in AI generated content.
How Microsoft deploys data governance could make or break their implementation of AI. We hope to learn more when Microsoft Build
How Much will Microsoft Copilot Cost?
Microsoft pricing is always subject to change, but as of right now Microsoft has announced that Copilot will cost business users $30 USD per person per month. Depending on how close Copilot is to the feature demos already announced it could be a bargain price for such a big productivity booster.
We do have to question how many business users that are already experts at some of the office applications will actually utilize it though. On a per person basis, $30 per month isn’t much but at scale of a large organization with thousands of employees it becomes a very significant cost.
It’s not very often that a transformative technology like ChatGPT comes along. It’s the next desktop computer and iPhone of our generation. It holds the promise to enable people to achieve amazing new things.
Few companies have the resources and reach that Microsoft has in the business world. The combination of the two gives Copilot 365 the potential to change the way we work.
This is Microsoft’s opening statement for how they will infuse AI with their Office Platform. It’s a beginning point, not an ending point. When Microsoft Excel was first released in September of 1985 few could image how ubiquitous the software would become. The capabilities of the software have evolved over time to keep it relevant and is the backbone of most small businesses to Fortune 100 companies. We are excited to see how Copilot will evolve and to find out if it will follow a similar trajectory in the decades to come.