Note: Our focus in this post will be on Microsoft Copilot for 365, but the mindset applies to any AI productivity platform. Talk to your IT provider to help you find the best solution for your Business.
If it hasn't already, AI is going to impact your industry. We are already seeing differences in productivity between a business, application, or even an individual that is "AI Enabled" and one that is not. If you are not up to speed on AI technologies for your Business, it's time to catch up.
If it hasn't already, AI is going to impact your industry.
A few months ago, we wrote about 3 objectives every business should focus on by the end of the year. As part of that post, we wanted to communicate that AI is coming and to be cautiously excited about the impact of AI in your industry.
And now, only a few months later, Business Productivity platforms such as Microsoft Copilot and Google Duet are not only readily available for most businesses, but the cost of entry has also dropped significantly. At the same time, the capabilities, accuracy, and speed of AI solutions are rapidly improving.
Microsoft enables smaller businesses to use AI
"Copilot" is the branding Microsoft is using for their various AI products. The capabilities of the different Copilot products will vary, and their cost will range from "Free" to "Included with your existing license" to a completely new product to purchase. The upgraded business product, "Copilot for 365", adds a new level of privacy and security while adding AI capabilities to most of the Microsoft 365 platform and app suite. New features are rapidly being added as the platform evolves.
On January 15th, 2024, Microsoft announced that they had removed the 300-seat purchase minimum for their business offering "Microsoft Copilot for 365". At $30 per month, per user (with a 1-year commit), the cost for any business to explore this new technology went from $108k to $360 for a year!
This announcement enables every business of any size to utilize the AI capabilities that were previously only available to larger companies willing to make a much larger investment. That's a big deal.
This means that instead of turning this on for 300 people to test it out, you can do a small, controlled pilot to explore what copilot can do.
So why should you be testing AI right now?
AI solutions like Copilot are capable of doing many tasks. There is a lot of excitement about all sorts of content it can create. It can be used to create videos, review content, generate pictures, and draft documents.
Regardless of the capabilities, here are two goals AI solutions should accomplish:
Help you do more in less time.
Improve the quality of your work.
With the recent release of Copilot for Microsoft 365 those goals are easy to realize. Let's go through some examples that you might be able to relate to.
Catching up on Email
Let's pretend you had a sizable email chain with a lot of back-and-forth messages. In the past, you needed to open Outlook, go to your email, and then scroll through each message and sort out what was and wasn't important.
When you are AI-Enabled, your Copilot can do this for you:
In the current version of this feature, you click "Summarize" and Copilot will provide a summary of all relevant communications with sources for you to review as needed.
Notetaking and action items in a Microsoft Teams Meeting
Imagine being in a meeting and you brought with you your own personal notetaker who happens to be a genius that is able to listen to everything at once while writing down notes and creating to-do lists based on action items at the same time. That's how Copilot in a Teams Meeting works.
You enable your Copilot, and it listens, takes notes, and is ready to answer questions related to your meeting in real-time.
An example of a real "Action Item" list we asked Copilot to create after a test accounting meeting below:
"Make me an action item list from this meeting"
• Make sure that no state tax withholding is accurate. (Bob) 1
• Finish Updating homestead exemption (Bob) 2
• Clean up the marketing category and verify accuracy in Quickbooks.(Bob)3
• Send the December ST1 report and the bank reconciliation report to Sally. (Bob) 4
• Get the tax return moving and have a preliminary K1 ready for the February meeting. (Sally) 5
Nexus and allocation:
• Determine the portion of Company income and expenses that are attributable to States respectively. (Sally) 6
The list included every single action item we expected it to create. It's scary, it's amazing, it's the future. You need to try this and see this in action as soon as possible.
Create a PowerPoint Template in Seconds
In less than a minute, you can have copilot create you a presentation template with images, videos, and content to kickstart. For the example above, all I did was type a request to make the presentation and then export it to a GIF. That's it.
If this was a real presentation, this would give me a base design to work with. I could then tweak, add content, and rearrange my slides as needed.
AND.... Copilot also gave me speaker notes to use for the presentation:
And now for words of caution
Those were just 3 quick examples of capabilities out of a seemingly infinite number of features available today or coming soon to Copilot. However, Copilot and AI in general is an assistant, not a replacement.
The version of AI you are using today is the worst version you will ever use. Tomorrow it will be smarter, more accurate, and more capable. You still need to learn how to use the tool and how to teach and verify what it knows.
Much like any good tool, it's still only as useful as the person that wields it.
Directly from Microsoft:
By now you may have heard of horror stories from people using AI to do work for them. Almost every story out there is an example of how to NOT use AI. These horror stories generally exist because someone used AI improperly.
Here are a couple of things to keep in mind:
Prepare your Staff
Discuss with your leadership and management teams on how workflow will evolve once you are AI Enabled
Educate your Staff on how to safely and securely use your business' AI solutions. There is a large difference between consumer and business solutions, especially when it comes to privacy and data security.
Old Computers and Servers need to be dealt with
Modern computers with data stored in modern locations like Microsoft 365 are essential for a good experience.
You won't be able to take advantage of all capabilities if you are using legacy solutions and dealing with problems caused by old tech or poorly run IT.
Don't skip proper Identity and Access Management
AI can think, read, and process faster than you realize.
Users of your data should only have access to what they need. (Their copilot can access what they can access)
You absolutely must use modern security methods (such as MFA) to secure your copilot from malicious and unauthorized use.
So let's wrap this up
It's time to start seriously paying attention to AI for your business.
If you reached the bottom of this post, you've already taken the first step of being curious enough to start reading about it.
Next up is to evaluate your IT environment to make sure if it is ready for AI. (If you are currently an Aevo customer, it's ready.)
After that, it's time to pilot. Seeing your copilot in action is the best way to explore and evaluate. You now can do this with just a handful of people or just a single person. We're recommending people in positions of leadership or workflow managers to start testing things out first.
If you are a current customer, we can do a quick introductory demo and training of Copilot with you anytime, just shoot us an email. Copilot can be added very quickly when you are ready to do so.
If you are not a current customer, reach out to your IT or reach out to this company that specializes in IT Management and Business Modernization.
Interested in having a conversation about technology in your business?