Tech News : Copilot Can Attend Meetings For You

Following trials, Microsoft’s AI assistant ‘Copilot’, which can even attend meetings for you, will be generally available to all Microsoft 365 Enterprise customers from 1 November.

Copilot

First introduced in March 2023 and rolled out as part free update to Windows 11, Copilot is an AI assistant that’s embedded within Microsoft 365 apps and services to help users save time, increase productivity, increase creativity, and essentially upskill themselves.

Everyday Companion

Created using ChatGPT version 4 and Microsoft Graph (an API developer platform that connects multiple services and devices), Copilot is natural language conversational (generative AI) chatbot that’s designed to give human-like responses (like ChatGPT) to questions and link aspects of all the 365 apps together in a new and more productive way. Microsoft summarises the purpose and benefits of this “everyday companion” as something that “Combs across your entire universe of data at work, including emails, meetings, chats, documents and more, plus the web” and “like an assistant, it has a deep understanding of you, your job, your priorities and your organisation.” Microsoft say it “goes far beyond simple questions and answers to give you a head start on some of your most complex or tedious tasks” and that you can “ask for what you want in natural language and the technology is smart enough to answer, create it or take action”.

Attends Meetings For You?

One of the features of Copilot that has been widely reported in the media is that it can essentially attend meetings for you by summarising meetings held in Teams for anyone who’s unable to attend. Microsoft says that using Copilot, you can “Follow a Teams meeting that you could not attend live, directly from Outlook on your own time”.

Copilot can make a summary of key discussion points of meetings, including who said what, where people are aligned and also where they disagree. It can suggest action items as well, all in real-time during a meeting. It can also recap meetings for you and send you the notes afterwards.

Many Other Capabilities

With Copilot embedded in all the 365 popular apps, some of its many other capabilities include summarising email threads, drafting emails, drafting documents (e.g. contracts and letters), creating presentations, and generating reports using data from different apps and sources, scheduling meetings, and managing project timelines, analysing, and sorting through data in excel (with Python), and much more. In short, it can both take away the donkey work of some tasks and save time, but it has the capacity to dramatically improve productivity and creativity, plus provide valuable new business insights, and improve competitiveness.

Challenges

However, the fact that Copilot can carry out so many tasks (so well) on behalf of human users does present some challenges and has led to criticism from some commentators. For example:

– Businesses could become dangerously reliant on AI-powered assistance. For instance, what if there are disruptive technical problems with it or what if it’s hacked? Also, businesses may lose touch with some aspects of business and may put too much trust in a technology that is in its early stages and is known to make things up / get things wrong (e.g. AI ‘hallucinations’).

– Security and privacy concerns. Questions are being asked such as whether any data shared with it is secure/stored securely and/or used to train the AI model (Microsoft says it won’t be used to train). Microsoft says, however, that Copilot “includes enterprise-grade security, privacy, compliance, and responsible AI to ensure all data processing happens inside your Microsoft 365 tenant”.

– Its capabilities and widescale use could disrupt admin-based jobs.

– Its potential to lead to legal issues for business users, e.g. copyright infringement issues (even though AI companies have said they’ll cover the risk). For Microsoft, for example, it could fall foul of aspects of new AI laws (the EU AI Act) if it’s not compliant, such as if it’s not obvious or clear whether content has been created by humans or AI.

– If Copilot can attend meetings and provide a summary for users, this could affect company discipline and communication, e.g. people may simply not bother to attend when they should.

How Much?

Copilot for Enterprise customers will be priced at $30 / £25 per month.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Microsoft’s going ‘all out’ with their AI and Copilot. After many announcements, it will be finally available to Microsoft 365 Enterprise customers from 1 November.

Those who have already used AI natural language chatbots (like ChatGPT) will know their value in saving time and boosting productivity in a user-friendly way so with Copilot embedded in 365’s apps, businesses will have an instant, flexible, and effective way to boost productivity, upskill staff in IT and get much more out the most popular apps in Microsoft 365. For those worried about how to get the best out of it (and with the time and inclination to learn about prompts), Microsoft will soon be integrating Copilot Lab, which teaches users how to make good prompts, into Copilot.

Although Copilot can carry out all manner of tasks for businesses, some critics have pointed out that an over-reliance on it could be risky and that the widescale use of AI like tools like Copilot could disrupt admin-based jobs. For Microsoft (which has invested heavily in in the development of AI), Copilot is a way to compete, stay ahead in the market, and provide a way to link all its apps together in an innovative and value-adding way. Microsoft’s 365 Copilot could be a potentially valuable tool for any business but as with any tool, if it’s not used effectively, businesses won’t get the value from it, therefore it’s going to be a case of experimenting to learn.

For Microsoft and other AI companies, new regulations for their AI tools lie ahead with the hope that Copilot and other AI tools provide adequate protection for users and businesses as well as delivering productivity benefits.

Featured Article : Google’s Answer To Copilot

In this article, we take at what Google’s ‘Duet’ is, it’s features and potential benefits to businesses, and the price.

Duet 

Introduced in May this year, Duet AI in the Google Cloud is essentially Google’s answer to Microsoft’s Copilot. Duet is a paid-for, “always on” AI assistant and “collaborator” that is embedded within (and works across) all the Workspace apps including Gmail, Drive, Slides, and Docs, linking them together to provide value-adding synergies.

The Benefits 

Google says Duet offers a “personalised and intent-driven cloud experience” and that, just as Copilot does with Microsoft’s apps, it provides cohesions of the apps and offers users a more holistic picture of the Google Cloud. Also, being able to ask Duet for help with anything related to Google Cloud’s apps on demand saves time and makes Google Cloud more accessible (and personal) to any type of user at any skill level.

Examples Of What It Can Do 

Some examples of what Duet can do include:

– Providing recommendations for building and operating apps with Google Cloud (Codey, one of the models that powers Duet AI has been pre-trained with the necessary code). For example, Duet AI for AppSheet lets users create business applications, connect their data, and build workflows into Google Workspace via natural language, all with no coding required and with users simply needing to describe their needs for apps in a chat guided by AI-powered prompts.

– Giving code recommendations, generating full functions and code blocks, and identifying vulnerabilities and errors in the code, while suggesting fixes.

– Creating slides for a presentation from Google Docs or make charts from data in spreadsheets.

– Writing email responses (Duet is embedded in Gmail), summarising documents, checking grammar, and generating images, e.g. custom visuals in Slides.

– Summarising long threads in Chat, providing automated meeting summaries in Meet, and allowing users to easily alter sound and visuals in Meet with studio look, studio lighting, and studio sound. Duet can also provide dynamic tiles (a named tile) and face detection for Meet attendees.

– Giving real-time chat assistance on various topics, e.g. how to use certain cloud services or functions, and giving detailed implementation plans for cloud projects.

When? 

From May it’s only been available to a limited number of Google Cloud users with others being invited to sign-up via Google Cloud’s AI Trusted Tester Program. However, Google announced on August 29 that Duet AI for Google Workspace is generally available now as a “no-cost trial”.

How Much? 

Google says, for larger organisations, Duet is priced at $30 per user (on top of the existing Workspace subscription), the same price as Microsoft’s Copilot.

Will It Really Work? 

Although Google Workspace has 3 billion users and more than 10 million paying customers, Google says Duet has so far been used by just thousands of companies and “more than a million trusted testers”. This means it’s still early days when you compare it to ChatGPT which was released 9 months before and has around 100 million users and had 1.6 billion visits to its site in June. That said, when Copilot was announced back in March, Microsoft said it was only being tested by 20 customers (although these included 8 within Fortune 500 enterprises).

The point is, however, anyone who’s used generative AI knows it can’t be trusted 100 per cent, and sometimes gets things wrong / makes things up so a reality check, the right prompts, and a good period of widespread use (and, therefore, more training) are needed to improve the outputs of AI work assistants like these. It should, however remembered, that Duet is mainly designed and focused specifically on working with Google Clouds apps so, hopefully, it should be relatively reliable.

Plans For More 

As with Copilot, Google says there’s plans to expand the capabilities of Duet with Google’s Workspace.

What Does This Mean For Your Business? 

Google’s keen to points out that Duet enables users to “get back to the best parts of their jobs, to the parts that rely on human creativity, ingenuity, and expertise” by simplifying and speeding up the parts that would have taken time trawling through data and manually summarising and putting reports, visuals, and other things together.

Like Copilot, some of the main advantages of Duet are that it allows business users to get more value from the synergies of making more holistic use of many Google apps, i.e. it provides an instant, on-demand, flexible, and effective way to get much more out the most popular apps.

As with Microsoft’s Copilot, businesses using Google’s Duet can save time, be more creative with IT, boost productivity, upskill staff in IT (without spending on training), and get greater and perhaps new insights into their own business and operations.

All this, however, comes at the price of $30 per user which (as with Copilot which is the same price) has been criticised by some for being quite expensive. Since we’re still at the very early stages of businesses trying and using Copilot and now Duet, plus with businesses wanting to protect the source of any competitive advantages, it’s not easy to find any clear information of how much of a boost to productivity and profits either are, so making the decision to take the plunge may be based more on price which (at the moment) may not be particularly attractive. That said, Duet does offer some tempting capabilities and potential benefits to businesses.

36 Cents per Chat Query Prompts $30 Microsoft Fee

Microsoft’s announcement of pricing for its AI productivity suite 365 Copilot shows its intent to monetise its AI, ending any expectations of free AI provision.

Furthering Its (Monetising) Ambitions – Microsoft 365 Copilot & Bing Chat Enterprise 

Announced under the heading “furthering our ambitions”, Microsoft has released details of both Bing Chat Enterprise and Microsoft 365 Copilot pricing.

Bing Chat Enterprise is an AI-powered chat tool for work with commercial data protection that’s accessible for subscriber via bing.com/chat and the Microsoft Edge sidebar in their work account.

Microsoft 365 Copilot is the company’s AI chatbot, processing, and orchestration engine that’s embedded in the Microsoft 365 apps and works behind the scenes to combine the power of LLMs like GPT-4, with the Microsoft 365 apps and business data in the Microsoft Graph.

Microsoft 365 Copilot Pricing 

Microsoft has announced that 365 pricing for Copilot for commercial customers will be $30 per user, per month for Microsoft 365 E3, E5, Business Standard and Business Premium customers (when broadly available). The pricing follows the expansion of the Microsoft 365 Copilot paid Early Access Program in May to 600 enterprise customers worldwide, including companies like KPMG, Lumen, and Emirates NBD. The company is confident that the value of Copilot expressed during the Early Access Program and the AI tool’s benefits justify the price tag, saying: “The more customers use Copilot, the more their enthusiasm for Copilot grows. Soon, no one will want to work without it.”

Why Microsoft Says It’s Worth The Extra $360 Per Year 

In its pricing announcement, Microsoft reminded users what makes Copilot worth the extra investment, citing:

– Unlike some generative AI apps, Copilot doesn’t focus on a single capability but “puts thousands of skills at your command and can reason over all your content and context to take on any task”.

– Copilot’s good on its own, but also integrated into the popular 365 apps (millions of people use daily).

– It uses the customer’s actual business data in the Microsoft Graph thereby “grounding” it – making it practically useful and customised.

Microsoft’s Investment In AI (And OpenAI)

Microsoft has invested heavily in AI and incorporating it into its products. For example, OpenAI, ChatGPT’s developers, first partnered with Microsoft in July 2019 in a collaboration aimed at bringing OpenAI’s technologies to Microsoft’s cloud services, allowing customers to build and run AI-powered applications and services. ChatGPT is also supported by Microsoft’s Azure services as part of the collaboration.

Fast forward to today and OpenAI’s models and generative capability have been deployed across Microsoft’s consumer and enterprise products as Copilot in (for example) 365 Copilot, Copilot for Viva, Copilot X (for coding), and Security Copilot.

A Lesson From ChatGPT 

It’s clear that Microsoft has learned from ChatGPT’s experience, i.e. having to introduce a $20 version relatively early on to cover its operating costs, estimated in April to have been $700,000 per day / 36 cents per query (ref. SemiAnalysis) and, therefore, has realised the need for and the potential value of monetising Copilot as early as possible.

Also, with many businesses now having fully adopted ChatGPT as an important business tool, realised its benefits (and therefore the benefits of generative AI), and with many having signed up happily to the $20 version, $30 for what Microsoft sees as an added value, wider scope version probably seems to Microsoft like a fair price. To Microsoft at least.

Questions 

Some commentators, however, still have some questions about a possible lack of case studies, figures, and success stories to date about how companies have actually been using Copilot in the real world to demonstrably improve productivity, efficiency, creativity, and profits. No doubt, these will come in time as Copilot is relatively new to most businesses.

Also, since Copilot is grounded in a company’s own data, it’s arguably important to have quality data in the Microsoft Graph to get a quality output. For example, as ChatGPT users will know, the better the prompt and help that the chatbot’s given as an instruction, the better the relevance and quality of its output.

What Does This Mean For Your Business? 

It’s true that the operating costs of AI chatbots are high, as experienced by ChatGPT. Many businesses are already aware of the value of generative AI and as with ChatGPT, have shown that paying for a ‘business’ version is popular. These are two reasons why, along with its considerable investment in AI, Microsoft’s “Ambitions” already include charging $30 per user per month for Copilot which the company sees as more than just a one-trick AI pony. Copilot’s integration into popular apps and its ability to work across the whole 365 suite as an orchestrating engine offers businesses obvious productivity and efficiency benefits, provided users are able to understand and harness its power, and this ability to get much greater value from Microsoft 365 that could translate into profits may be something that businesses feel is worth the extra money.

Just as Microsoft is committed to AI across its services, AI is something that’s spreading across all areas of work and personal life in some form or another and with Microsoft and OpenAI both charging for it, perhaps expect (business) AI services coming from other providers to be chargeable too.

Tech Insight : How ‘Copilot’ Can Help Your Business

In this tech insight, we take a look at what Microsoft 365 Copilot is, how it is being used, and how it can help your business.

What Is Copilot? 

Introduced in March 2023, Microsoft 365 Copilot is an AI assistant that’s embedded within the Microsoft 365 apps and services to help users save time and increase productivity. Copilot, created using ChatGPT version 4 and Microsoft Graph (an API developer platform that connects multiple services and devices) and, like ChatGPT, is essentially a natural language conversational chatbot that can give human-like responses to questions and link aspects of all the 365 apps together in a new and more productive way.

Improves Productivity, Creativity, & Upskilling 

Microsoft says that Copilot can increase your employee’s productivity by as much as 50 per cent. In general, whereas the ‘average person’ uses 10 per cent of what Microsoft 365 apps can do, Microsoft says Copilot can unlock the other 90 per cent, thereby improving productivity, creativity, upskilling, and maximising use of business tech resources.

Embedded In Popular Apps

The Copilot AI assistant has been embedded in popular Microsoft 365 apps like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and Teams, so that it can be used to help users to use 365 apps more creatively, productively, and in a way that can “uplevel skill”, that means (as Microsoft says) it can make you “better at what you’re good at and lets you quickly master what you’ve yet to learn”.

Business Chat   

Copilot is operated in Microsoft 365 by ‘Business chat’, which is the field (like that in ChatGPT) where you ask the chatbot questions and give it instructions using normal language. For example, to generate a status-update based on the morning’s meetings, emails and chat threads, type in “Tell my team how we updated the product strategy”.  

How Have Businesses Said They’re Using Copilot? 

A few examples online of where businesses written about how they are using Copilot or have been reported to be using Copilot include:

– Baker Hughes, an energy technology company, using GitHub Copilot to help their developers write code faster and with fewer errors.

– The New York Times is reported to use GitHub Copilot to help their developers write code for their internal tools.

– Spotify uses GitHub Copilot to help their developers write code for their music streaming service.

– Airbnb uses GitHub Copilot to help their developers write code for their home rental service.

All of these businesses have discovered that Copilot can be particularly useful for generating code for new features and for automating repetitive tasks.

How Is Copilot Being Used In Different Industries?  

Here are some examples of ways that Microsoft 365 Copilot is being used in different industries:

– In the legal profession, law firms have been using Copilot to streamline their legal document creation process. The AI-powered assistant helps them draft legal documents, contracts and letters more efficiently. It also assists in proofreading and editing these documents, ensuring they are free of errors and are professionally written. This has significantly reduced the time lawyers spend on document creation, allowing them to focus more on their clients.

– Large retailers have been using Copilot to manage their internal and external communications. The AI assistant helps draft emails, create presentations and generate reports, thereby saving employees significant time. It also assists in scheduling meetings and managing tasks, improving overall productivity.

– In healthcare, private health companies / healthcare groups have used Copilot to manage their vast amount of healthcare data. The AI assistant helps them organise and analyse data, generate reports, and create presentations. Healthcare companies have found that it improves their decision-making process and has made their operations more efficient.

– Manufacturing companies have used Copilot to help manage their supply chain. The AI assistant helps them track inventory, schedule deliveries, and manage orders. This has improved their supply chain efficiency and has reduced operational costs.

– In the education sector, universities have found that Copilot can help manage their academic and administrative tasks. The AI assistant helps them schedule classes, manage student data, and create academic reports. This has improved their administrative efficiency and has made academic management easier.

What Are IT and Tech Companies Saying About Copilot? 

Many different technology consulting firms, IT support and managed service providers, and cloud solutions providers have published online examples of how Copilot can be used by businesses. For example:

– Using Copilot to streamline internal operations, e.g. using it to automate repetitive tasks, such as scheduling meetings and managing project timelines with the benefits of increased efficiency and productivity, allowing staff to focus on more strategic tasks.

– Copilot being used by businesses to enhance their customer service. For example, integrating it into a customer support system can provide instant responses to customer queries, reducing the workload on a customer service team and improving customer satisfaction.

– Using Copilot can be used to improve project management by automating the process of tracking project progress and managing project resources, resulting in improved project delivery times and reduced project costs.

– Copilot being used in conjunction with Microsoft Power Platform to enhance business processes, e.g. using it to build professional websites, process invoices, enhance chat experiences, analyse documents, and develop automated workflows.

– Using Copilot to automate workflows can reduce costly error rates.

Microsoft Says… 

Microsoft’s examples of how Copilot can be used in its 365 apps to help your business include:

– If using Microsoft Word, Copilot can save hours in writing, sourcing, and editing by being able to write a first draft, to edit and shorten it, rewrite it, or give feedback as required, in the same way as you might write a piece using ChatGPT.

– In Microsoft Teams, Copilot could save time and effort and make meetings more productive by being used to make a summary of key discussion points of meetings, including who said what, where people are aligned and where they disagree, and suggest action items, all in real-time during a meeting. It can also recap meetings for you and send you the notes afterwards.

– In PowerPoint, Copilot can create whole presentations from a simple text prompt and add any relevant content from a document you made, again saving time and effort. It can also improve creativity in PowerPoint and other apps, improving the quality of work and making it more interesting and engaging. This could be useful, for example, when pitching for business or conducting training.

– In Microsoft Excel, Copilot can instantly analyse trends and create insightful summaries and graphs of data, all done in seconds from simple text prompts. This could improve decision making and uncover new business insights and opportunities that may not have been possible, certainly not as quickly, just through normal human efforts.

– Email is an important communications channel for most businesses, and in Outlook, Copilot can save time by clearing an inbox in minutes, not hours, e.g., by drafting emails for you and analysing long email threads in seconds. This saves time, simplifies the process, and could help businesses to free up time to be used elsewhere in the business.

– Using Power Platform, Copilot can be also used to automate repetitive tasks, even creating chatbots, and can enable a fast transition from idea to working app in minutes. This gives developers a powerful time-saving tool that can increase their productivity.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?  

The power and versatility of AI natural language chatbots, which many people first experienced through ChatGPT, has seen them quickly adopted by businesses because of the value they add by saving time and boosting productivity in a user-friendly way. Embedding Copilot in 365’s apps has, therefore, given businesses an instant, flexible, and effective way to get much more out the most popular apps in Microsoft 365. As well as being a competitive advantage for Microsoft and for businesses, Copilot, therefore, offers businesses an easy-to-use way to save time, be more creative with IT, boost productivity, upskill staff in IT (without spending on training), and get greater and perhaps new insights into their own business and operations. As the examples in this article show, Microsoft 365 Copilot is adaptable, can be used in a wide variety of industries and can handle a range of tasks, making it a potentially valuable tool for any business that can improve efficiency and productivity and feed into improving the bottom line.