June 13, 2023

Your new Copilot in productivity is coming: here’s how to start preparing

Steve Bedwell
Consultant at Data#3 Limited

It’s been an exciting year for advancements in technology and tools that boost productivity. Next-generation AI is reinventing the way we work at a rapid pace. The changing digital landscape has put creativity and innovation at the forefront of everyone’s priority lists – none of us have time for busywork anymore.

One of the most exciting new productivity tools coming this year is the launch of Microsoft 365 Copilot. It’s set to fully transform the way we work by automating everyday tasks that currently take up the bulk of our time.

If your organisation wants to stay ahead of the curve this year, one of the best ways to do so is to start preparing for Copilot. Here’s a brief overview of what Copilot is, what features it offers, and our top three tips on how you can prepare to make the most of it before it launches.

Microsoft 365 Copilot | An overview

Remember the Microsoft assistant Clippy from the 90s? Think of Copilot as a new and (considerably) improved version of Clippy.

Copilot is an inbuilt assistant in Microsoft 365. It helps you with everyday tasks such as reading and summarising email threads, creating draft documents, putting presentations together, and analysing spreadsheet data. It operates across all the applications you use every day, automating and assisting you with as many simple tasks as possible.

It’s powered by GPT-4 from OpenAI and will appear in the sidebar of your Microsoft 365 applications as a chatbot you can call upon when needed. Copilot uses grounding to learn from the prompts it’s given. The more you use it, the more relevant input it’ll offer you.

If you ask Copilot to create a Word document, it sends your prompt to the Microsoft Graph to collect data and contextualise the information you’ve given it. It then modifies the prompt before sending it to the GPT-4 large language model, so it can give you accurate and useful suggestions.

For example, let’s say you’re working on the launch of a new product and want to create an initial Word document that summarises important info to share with your colleagues and other relevant stakeholders. You need to get it done quickly, but you don’t have time to spend on writing thousands of words to put your document together from scratch.

With Copilot’s assistance, you can create a draft of your document in minutes by simply providing it with an outline and relevant data. Copilot will then analyse existing materials, your organisation’s voice, and industry trends to generate a comprehensive first draft. You can then concentrate on fine-tuning the details and working on strategy – skipping the need to spend hours of time on the initial framework.

That’s just one example of the many ways Copilot can streamline your workday and make everyday tasks easier. Across the Microsoft 365 suite, here’s a few more of the things Copilot can do:

Copilot in Word

Copilot in Excel

Copilot in Outlook

Copilot in Power Platform

How can businesses best prepare for the launch of Copilot?

The key to unlocking all the productivity benefits of Copilot? Making sure as much of your corporate information as possible is stored within Microsoft 365.

Copilot relies upon drawing all relevant data, context, and information about your organisation from Microsoft 365 across the board. This includes all your corporate data, such as files, emails, Teams messages, Excel data, Word documents, and more. Ensuring as much of this info as possible is accessible within Microsoft 365 will make sure you’re set up for success when Copilot becomes available.

For comprehensive data gathering and relevant suggestions, Copilot will utilise its Semantic Index, which is being rolled out for E3 and E5 Microsoft customers. The Semantic Index is essentially a library of all your user and company data for Copilot to draw upon. Rather than providing general recommendations, Copilot will learn details specific to your organisation, such as who provides reports you might need.

With this in mind, here’s a checklist to make sure you’re ready to run with Copilot once it’s here:

  1. Have you migrated corporate data from legacy file stores?

The first thing we recommend you do in preparation for Copilot is to start thinking about migrating any corporate data you might have stored in legacy files. This way, you won’t leave any important information behind that Copilot could’ve utilised if it were stored in Microsoft 365.

  1. Have you moved your mailboxes to Microsoft Exchange Online?

It’s likely you’ve done this one already – we’ve found that Microsoft Exchange Online is currently the most popular email and calendaring application. However, if you haven’t yet migrated your mailboxes to Microsoft 365, now’s a great time to do so.

Again, having all your corporate info stored in Microsoft 365 gives Copilot as broad a database as possible to work with, so it can offer you relevant and useful information and content.

  1. Do you regularly assess your compliance and data governance?

Assessing your compliance and data governance will be an ongoing process in the lead up to, and launch of, Copilot. Naturally, new technology such as this brings with it all sorts of questions around data, compliance, privacy, licensing, and security. Managing any potential risks, protecting sensitive data, and ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements are all important when implementing new tools such as Copilot.

Data governance is also critical when making any changes to the way data is handled, stored, and accessed. Making sure you have internal policies in place that dictate who can access certain types of data is key to ensuring sufficient data governance. With the launch of Copilot, you’ll likely want to review the ways your data is gathered, stored, processed, and disposed of.

Need some help with putting a plan in place to get ready for Copilot?

Copilot is set to revolutionise the workforce. For organisations like yours to capitalise on the productivity gains as soon as possible, you need to have a solid plan in place as to how you’re going to work alongside Copilot. Contact Data#3 today to find out how we can support you.