Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been a game changer throughout its evolutionary track over the past years. The utility lies in its inherent ability to simplify things, help technology be more accessible even to novice end-users, and ultimately lead to the democratization of application usage that the barriers of complex technical skills had hitherto confined. As a part of our series of blogs on Microsoft Copilot, and how it has revolutionized the use of generative-AI, we bring across an introduction to the Copilot in the various Apps of the Microsoft 365 suite. Stay tuned, as the change has been overwhelming all across its journey right to your workplace!
Copilot saves time, increases efficiency and productivity with data accuracy and relevancy of information, redefines how the modern workplace functions across its routine tasks, and aligns with the organization’s security, privacy, and compliance policies set in Microsoft 365. As we explore its vast set of features, we also focus on essential aspects influencing its usage-Data security and accuracy. Read ahead to know more!
To summarize Copilot’s evolution, here’s what Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft Technologies, had to say about it.
“Today marks the next major step in the evolution of how we interact with computing, which will fundamentally change the way we work and unlock a new wave of productivity growth.”...“With our new Copilot for work, we’re giving people more agency and making technology more accessible through the most universal interface — natural language.”
How does it Work?
Copilot lies on the foundation of Large Language Models (LLM) for creating and parsing text in natural language. The Copilot Engine is an advanced processing and orchestration tool system that assesses the context of the user input with Microsoft Graph-an API that connects various M365 Apps, emails, chats, calendars, and the available data in them and sends it to the LLM. The received response is again contextually processed and analyzed for security, compliance, and privacy reviews before being sent to the Microsoft 365 App to generate the relevant output to the user’s query.
In addition, Copilot for Microsoft 365 comes with a feature called Business Chat, an interactive natural language Chatbot integrated with Microsoft Teams. Business Chat can search across files of various types, such as presentations, spreadsheets, emails, and Word documents. It generates the required output, such as the status of a project, by aggregating all the relevant information across related files and summarizes the output with links to individual items.
Copilot also includes a feature called Semantic Index, which is essential to its deployment. This feature creates a conceptual map of all the information and users across the business. It enhances searching by not just limiting it to the relevant terms but including other advanced attributes such as the usual format used for such documents, the time, and the user(s) that they are usually created or used by, amongst others. The map creates a huge stored set of vectors- mathematical representations of features and attributes of business information. Semantic Index only accesses the information the user has permission to access during searching based on the user prompt.
Let’s look at Copilot’s vast features across various commonly used Microsoft 365 Apps. It turns user input in a natural language into stunning visualizations, informative presentations, contextually relevant documents, meeting notes, action items, and more.
Copilot in Various Microsoft 365 Applications
Word: With Copilot in Microsoft Word, users can create a first draft of the document they want to make, generate improvements, edit, and rewrite text to enrich tone, tenor, and information. It can also summarize existing documents regarding existing information in the organizations. Such generative AI helps reduce the time taken for drafting documents such as proposals and the time for research and referencing, paving the way for increased efficiency and accuracy.
PowerPoint: Copilot in PowerPoint helps users create new presentations from Word documents, spreadsheets, and user guidelines. Style, alignment, speaker notes, animation, and images get automatically generated with relevance to the information. It supports the alteration of existing presentations.
Outlook: Copilot in Outlook helps you outline the key points and questions across multiple persons in an email thread. You can automatically compose individual and group responses, edit and summarize them, adjust the length and tone, and have action items flagged. These features make communication faster, effective, and more productive in a modern workplace.
Excel: Copilot redefines the conventional way of using Excel. From automatically creating graphs and visualizations to finding data and correlations to developing and analyzing what-if scenarios and data models, users can use a natural language prompt to leverage the extensive depth of features that Excel provides to users with in-depth technical knowledge.
Teams: Teams has consistently been the most widely used remote communication tool, and Copilot accentuates its vast capabilities. You can automatically organize discussion points, key actions for individual users, and query in the chat on what you have missed, all without disturbing the flow of the meeting or even after that. Advanced features include:
- Automatic creation of meeting agendas based on the existing chat history
- Debriefing late attendees
- Scheduling follow-up meetings and identifying the right contacts, along with real-time translation in more than 100 languages
In addition, Copilot has also been introduced for Microsoft Dynamics ERP and CRM, making way for driving generative AI into enterprise management.
Data Security and Accuracy in Microsoft 365 Copilot
Data security is a major concern for enterprises using Copilot with Microsoft 365, as the core business data is what gets accessed.
Microsoft addresses this aspect with various features such as two-factor authentication, M365 Isolation controls, permission-based access for individual users to have at least view privileges for the data they are requesting, along with a feature to configure access only to information on the user’s tenant, and not other tenants that they are a part of (Such as with B2B guest access).
These safety measures prevent data leakage into user groups. Copilot ensures the confidentiality of individual information that is of primary importance in a workspace in a secure, compliant, and regulated manner and guarded by Microsoft’s enterprise-grade security policies. It adheres to various compliance requirements such as the European Union (EU) Data Boundary and GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations).
Furthermore, in regards to data accuracy, Copilot is backed by constant innovation and best practice implementation of guardrails, content filters, and blocking of sensitive data with Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI service. It uses advanced Microsoft technologies such as InterpretML and Fairlearn to detect and rectify data bias. Business data is not used to train other LLMs, is integral to the specific business, and is not available to access by ChatGPT.
Licensing and Extensibility
The licensing of Copilot for Microsoft 365 will be available from November 1’, 2023, along with Microsoft 365 chat.
Copilot for Microsoft 365 has an extensibility model for plugins, making integration of third-party services possible across the business. Currently, it has three types of plugins- ChatGPT plugins, Power Platform connectors, and Teams message extension plugins.
The above features of Copilot for Microsoft 365 save time, increase efficiency and productivity with data accuracy and relevancy of information. It redefines how the modern workplace functions across its routine tasks and aligns with the organization’s security, privacy, and compliance policies. Copilot for Microsoft 365 is truly a game-changer in generative-AI, and drives simplified usage, even for novice users.
For information on how you can enhance your business productivity with Copilot in Microsoft 365, contact us, and we will be glad to help. New Era Technology is a Microsoft Solutions Partner, with vast experience in custom solutions using Microsoft technologies across various industry verticals.