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Microsoft Copilot: The AI-Powered Future of Work

Microsoft share a powerful vision for how AI embedded transparently into our office tools will transform how we work.

This entry is part 7 of 8 in the series Exploring the Future of AI

The central value of the Cloud has always been that it enables organizations of any size to tap into computing power on a shared basis that they couldn’t afford or have the skills to adopt directly in-house.

Ai represents the pinnacle of this. The ultimate evolution of massive, intelligent computing capability, made accessible to even the smallest of organizations via Cloud services like Microsoft 365.

A New World of Work

Jared Spataro, Head of Microsoft’s Modern Work team, sets the scene in this Harvard Business Review interview, which looks at the future of work and the technologies that will get us there.

Microsoft just finished their second annual Worker Trend Index, which analyzes a survey of 31,000 people in 31 countries as well as other data and trends, discovering that the people coming back to the office post-pandemic are very different from those who left it two years ago. But many leaders don’t fully understand just how different.

This interview is part of a series called “The New World of Work,” which explores how top-tier executives see the future and how their companies are trying to set themselves up for success.

At a media event in Redmond, Washington, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella laid out the companies vision for enabling and accelerating this transformation, showing off new advancements in artificial intelligence for its productivity tools, like Outlook and Teams.

In this WSJ interview he discusses how the company is expanding access to OpenAI tools and the growing capabilities of ChatGPT. Recently Meta and Microsoft announced a partnership for the Llama 2 family of large language models (LLMs) on Azure and Windows. Llama 2 is designed to enable developers and organizations to build generative AI-powered tools and experiences.

The Era of the AI Copilot

For the vast majority of businesses Ai won’t be something they access or develop with directly; rather it will be embedded transparently into the general office tools they use on a day to day basis, greatly enhancing how they work in an almost unnoticeable way.

At the centre of this revolution is the ‘Copilot’ concept and applications, which Microsoft CTO and President of AI Kevin Scott describes in this keynote talk: The Era of the AI Copilot.

In this video Microsoft introduces the 365 Copilot and in this one How It Works. There is one for each major product, such as Copilots for Teams Meetings, Outlook, Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Security and Power Apps.

The core ideal is one of intelligent work augmentation, where the copilot accelerates and magnifies the end result of what a person is trying to achieve, automating the mundane and enhancing the output.

For example imagine you missed an important meeting. You can use the Teams copilot to ‘follow’ the meeting, and be sent a summarized recap of what you missed. Consider the billions of other interactions like this one that office workers participate in, and how much of an overall productivity boost can be achieved with all of them enhanced this way.

This is especially powerful when you consider scenarios such as Sales, where increased productivity can directly translate into increased revenues. Charles Lamanna, CVP Business Apps and Platforms, demonstrates exactly this in a demo of Microsoft Sales Copilot, an AI-powered solution that enables sellers to increase productivity and personalize every customer interaction.

Copilot Ecosystem

A critical dimension is that Microsoft is opening up this platform to third-party developers, via their Copilot Ecosystem.

At Microsoft Build 2023 they announced a joint commitment from Microsoft and OpenAI to support and grow the AI plugins ecosystem, embracing an open standard for plugins that integrates across OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Microsoft’s copilot offerings, including Bing Chat, Dynamics 365 Copilot, Windows Copilot, and Microsoft 365 Copilot.

There is such a vast array of knowledge work scenarios that these innovations can be applied to, that Microsoft alone could not address. It needs an equally large network of partners with the multitude of domain expertise required, and in turn presents each with a uniquely powerful market opportunity as AI becomes the largest catalyst for new technology adoption we’ve ever witnessed.


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