Microsoft is adding Microsoft 365 Copilot into its office productivity applications. Who doesn’t remember Mr. Scott in Star Trek 4: The Voyager Home sitting in front of a computer trying to speak with it via to come up with the transparent aluminum formula. Well, we aren’t quite there yet but the momentum is definitely headed in that direction. As I alluded to in an earlier take, Microsoft is headed down the path of turning its every day users into power users coupled with offering them greater skills at a more rapid rate translating into productivity improvements.
Generative AI promises to transform how we work on nearly every level, saving time but also enhancing what we’re able to create on our own. Copilot for Microsoft 365 is embedded directly into 365 apps like Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Outlook, making generative AI intuitive and easy to harness thanks to GPT-4 and large language models (LLMs). Let’s take a brief look at Microsoft’s infusion of Copilot across the Office suite.
Microsoft 365 Copilot in Excel
For lack of better words, Microsoft Excel with Microsoft Copilot is exactly what Microsoft Excel should be for the mainstream corporate world. Not every user is the quantitative type who knows the ins and outs of formulas. In fact, for those who worked in the corporate world for many years, they know that there were always those handful of gurus (or super users) throughout the company that you can call up (you owe them many lunches) how to calculate something for some analysis you’re performing along with the perfect graph to illustrate your data in a presentation.
A favorite quote of mine is from Albert Einstein. “Genius is making complex ideas simple, not making simple ideas complex.” In our view, Microsoft 365 Copilot in Excel is the embodiment of that idea and the proverbial sherpa helping you gather and analyze the complex and turning it into more childlike games where you can spend more time interpreting, unlocking creativity and coming up with more inventive solutions. Why do we feel that way? Well, one of the great examples that Microsoft illustrated with Microsoft Copilot was taking a table of data and seamlessly turning it into a pivot table allowing you to ask it to perform various types of analysis on-the-fly calculating everything and graphing it for you. Also, you can ask it for more color about what changed.
Fundamentally, you have your business analyst or operational mathematics sherpa sitting next to you – Scotty would be proud.
Microsoft 365 Copilot in Word
To further unlock productivity, Microsoft also added Copilot to Word. This tool can write, summarize and edit automatically with a simple prompt. Using a command like, “Write a two-page draft based on the following outline,” or “Make the introductory paragraph more casual,” Copilot can write entire documents for you, saving incredible amounts of time and (depending how much you enjoy writing) stress. In essence, Microsoft 365 Copilot in Microsoft Word is also acting like an editor, market researcher and strategic marketer all at once while you are editing a document which is incredible.
Microsoft 365 Copilot in PowerPoint
Going a step further, Copilot in PowerPoint will take the information from your Word document or your Excel sheet and create a presentation. A proficient designer to accompany your Excel MBA. Simple prompts to generate powerful presentations — which likely could save hours of tedious work. These advancements will help employees get more things accomplished and faster — a win-win. Here’s a quick demo from last week’s launch.
Exploring The “Copilot Future”
It is abundantly clear what artificial intelligence or the power of Power of large language models (LLMs) can do. For me, this is the time when AI gets exciting, and I love seeing Microsoft (and the industry at large) take so many leaps in the past month alone to bring these new capabilities to the marketplace. The news comes not long after Microsoft announced continued partnership with OpenAI, the creator of the trending AI chatbot ChatGPT that was recently added to Microsoft’s Bing search engine. It will be interesting to see how these advancements make a difference in the way we work, but it is all but certain that they will make us more productive.
We think we are in the “very early innings” (we need to underscore very early) of how Microsoft plans on weaving artificial intelligence into its enterprise and office productivity applications. And you can be sure Google, Salesforce, Amazon and others will follow suit with an “Infuse generative AI in everything” approach. Moreover, what this latest set of capabilities does is it turns novice users into power users at a more rapid rate to help organizations accelerate productivity and do more with less. And while it is certain that the suggestions in some of the applications won’t be entirely accurate from the start, the answers will be “usefully wrong” as Microsoft put it, helping employees move a project forward regardless. Continued use and reinforcement learning will eventually turn them from usefully wrong to just useful.
Based on what I’m observing, it makes sense that Microsoft will continue to profile and innovate at the division (e.g., marketing, purchasing, finance, etc.) and job function levels, looking at day-to-day activities and critical metrics and figuring out ways to customize and improve them. We are at the beginning of a very fast paced generative AI revolution and it’s only going to continue to be more useful from here. And yes, we are all trying to reconcile the impact of having more augmentation and the impact it will have on work, and there will be some discomfort before it’s all said and done. But the bottom line is you can’t put the genie back in the bottle. Generative AI will quickly become pervasive, and businesses that embrace the technology will become materially more productive. Workers will become more productive too. And the more everyday office workers can leverage the power of generative AI, the better.