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First impressions after using Copilot for Microsoft 365 for a month

Posted : 21 February 2024

Posted In : Blogs

It has been a month since Microsoft suddenly announced that Copilot for Microsoft 365 is generally available with no minimum licence or size requirement. With all the eagerness of a lifelong technology enthusiast wanting the latest gadget, I was keen to get it set up straight away.  I wanted to understand how it can actually benefit our organisation and our customers. These are my thoughts.

Getting a licence for Copilot

With great excitement, I went to add a Copilot for Microsoft 365 licence straight away since they are now accessible through the your Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) portal.

You can license Copilot either as an annual commitment, paid in advance, or co-termed to one of your other Microsoft 365 licences in CSP.

Once you have provisioned the licences you need, a hot tip is that /the desktop app update rings may need changing to “current channel” so that the Copilot icons show up.

Using Copilot in Outlook

For  Copilot in Outlook, the first step is I had to move to the new Outlook client, which at the time of writing means a lot of the features I use on a daily basis don’t work. After getting used to this, I managed to engage Copilot to help me to draft emails, give me suggestions and summarise long email threads. It started to feel useful.

On the mobile Outlook client, it really has been a revelation for me! I can use Copilot to draft an email while walking and talking into the microphone. I can tell it what I need, the tone and the key points to make and it will draft it, ready for me to edit before I send it.

Personally, I can see Copilot being a helpful tool in Outlook for me on a daily basis. However, I think this depends on Microsoft  getting it working in the current Outlook client soon because I had to change back to this version in order to get all the other features I rely on daily. Another enhancement that is not yet available but would be very welcome is the ability to summarise an attached file directly into the email.

Example email:

Using Copilot in Teams

Copilot has been very helpful in Teams meetings, provided the meeting is transcribed. By having transcription turned on, I could ask Copilot to suggest questions I should ask, create summaries of meetings, highlight items and I can ask for Copilot to tell me what the tone of responses was.

One example that was very interesting was when Copilot pointed out in its matter-of-fact way that person X in a meeting had responded sarcastically. This actually helped demonstrate to person X, in an objective and non-personal way, that the approach they were taking may come across as sarcastic, giving them feedback that could help them to improve their conversational style.   To their credit, the person took this on board in a professional way and I think their reply was something along the lines of saying they may rethink in future before just responding in order to be more helpful. So, this was a positive outcome.

I see Copilot for Teams as being useful and engaging for individuals.

Copilot Chat

Copilot Chat with Graph-grounded chat is probably one of the most interesting parts of Copilot for me at the moment. It has made my life easier, helping me to keep track of what is going on in the business and what resources we have.

It offers a way of interrogating company information that I have access to, through natural language. Examples can include asking what type of meetings I have next week, what files colleagues have worked on and what resources we have available that are relevant to a certain subject. When I asked it, for example, what resources we have on our Microsoft Security Assessment solution assess365, the response came back with lots of information and even suggested follow up questions in case I needed more context or information.

You can even ask Copilot to give you more information about a file and its contents without actually accessing the file (although arguably this may present some concerns for organisations in that this type of access leaves no audit trail of who has accessed a file).

For readers I imagine this could be an area of concern. And it is true, security is paramount because, if the individual has access to the data, then it will be surfaced and provided. Security around Copilot for Microsoft 365 needs its own dedicated discussion, which isn’t covered here.

Using Copilot in Word

Making use of Copilot in Word has been amazing and I see this as one of the areas that will be used by people the most. Being able to reference a document and get it summarised quickly has saved me hours of work. Getting a high-level framework for a new document completed quickly, rewriting certain areas or just referencing other documents really sped up my day-to-day effort around Word. I managed to write a document for a customer in five minutes, giving them the speedy response they needed, which would have previously taken me hours. You still need to check the facts, but being able to summarise documents quickly and then copy and paste into emails is just a game changer for me.

Now you might be thinking that at this point Copilot knows too much and I think it knows enough to be dangerously good! But more seriously, all searches referenced, documents accessed, and questions asked in Chat are recorded, stored and can be retrieved if the organisation has the correct licence. So, do think carefully about what you ask and how you use Copilot from a data privacy perspective.

Using Copilot in PowerPoint

One of the best features of Copilot for PowerPoint is the ability to create a PowerPoint presentation by only referencing a Word document. It helps to create an agenda and flow for the presentation without you thinking too hard about it. It is relatively basic, and the images so far seem limited, but just being able to get a few ideas and or to ask Copilot to replace a slide or change a photo for you etc is brilliant. You do need to create corporate templates that Copilot can reference, otherwise it will create its own theme and look for your presentation. But it’s still far easier than just using it out of the box for organisations. I think a lot of people who struggle with PowerPoint, like me, will find this really helpful.

In summary

Copilot for Microsoft 365 is very promising and will help to save time every day.

As for the cost, I think it’s worth £1 a day if it can save me at least 15 minutes. It especially helps me when I’m stuck or need inspiration to write a document and don’t know where to start.

Copilot for Microsoft 365 may not be suitable for everyone in the organisation, but finding the individuals who can benefit from Copilot with training will make a big difference. Training and security are essential as you adopt Copilot into your organisation.

I expect the hype to fade in the next few months but, more importantly, more use cases will become available on how it actually helps individuals to do more and to make their lives easier.

 

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