January 10, 2024
How Microsoft Is Powering Modern Work with AI
By enhancing familiar Office applications, Microsoft Copilot is changing the way people work.
The way we work has been transformed many times over the past three decades, with the rise of email, mobile apps, chat, video collaboration and countless other technologies. Throughout this time, most of us have relied on Microsoft’s Office applications — including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook — as a foundation that supports our digital work lives.
While these tools have evolved significantly, including the move to real-time cloud collaboration in recent years, the fundamental way we use them has remained largely the same — until now.
Microsoft Copilot combines the power of large language models with organizations’ own corporate data, unlocking new levels of productivity in the Microsoft 365 suite. Here’s a small sampling of how organizations are using Copilot to invent the future of work.
Using Existing Data to Enhance Word
Employees can use Copilot in Word in much the same way that they might use a large language model such as ChatGPT, providing the tool with a prompt and asking it to create a draft of a document such as a proposal, speech or job listing.
However, Copilot can draw upon an organization’s existing data to customize these documents. For instance, a manager might use Copilot to draft a speech based on an internal PowerPoint deck or to summarize the company’s employee handbook.
Adding a Helping Hand to Outlook
Recently, I returned from a vacation to a swamped inbox. In the past, I might have felt overwhelmed and spent days digging myself out from under the heap of unread emails. Instead, I asked Copilot to wade through my inbox and highlight the most important messages. As a result, I was able to set administrative tasks aside and get back to work.
Assisting with Early Drafts — and Beyond — in PowerPoint
PowerPoint presentations are a mainstay of office life, but I don’t know anyone who loves creating them from scratch. Copilot can start your first draft by pulling in relevant information from existing reports or analyses. Then, the tool can continue to make suggestions as you revise — for instance, providing alternative options for images.
Working with Teams to Improve Collaboration
No matter how hard I try to add some breathing room to my schedule, I still have days filled with back-to-back meetings. Inevitably, one of them will run long, causing me to miss the first few minutes of the next one. With Copilot, I can ask for an instant summary of everything I’ve missed so far.
Similarly, managers might use Copilot to help them keep track of team members’ contributions during Teams meetings, providing them with information to help them nurture underrecognized talent.
Simplifying Data Analysis in Excel
While Excel has always been a valuable tool for helping organizations to organize their data, Copilot makes it easier than ever to bring this information to life. For instance, an employee or manager might use Copilot and Excel to produce a chart about product defect rates, uncover hidden buying trends or display historical financial information to make more accurate revenue forecasts.
We’re still in the early days of democratized artificial intelligence, and enterprises will surely discover use cases that no one has even considered yet. True to its name, Copilot can help organizations navigate this journey and give them a glide path to the future.
Story by Bryan Letcher, a Principal Solutions Architect with more than 20 years of experience in Microsoft technologies and helping customers adopt and secure Microsoft cloud solutions. He is a private pilot and is based in Indianapolis.