Microsoft has announced that it’s widening access to its AI-powered Copilot tool, which will be built into popular Microsoft 365 apps like Word and Excel, as well as other products such as Microsoft Teams.
Copilot has the potential to transform the way millions of people approach day-to-day work tasks and adds more fuel to the ongoing conversation surrounding AI job replacement.
Microsoft Expands Access to Copilot
Microsoft has launched the Copilot Early Access Program, which will let 600 enterprise customers use the tool for a period of time before it is released to the wider public.
The program is a paid access, invitation-only affair, so if your business isn’t one of the lucky 600 that have been asked to try out the new features, it looks like you’ll have to wait a little longer. The figures the businesses in question have paid to be part of the program have not been made public.
Microsoft is yet to say precisely when Copilot – which is powered by OpenAI’s most capable language model yet, GPT-4 – will be rolled out to the hundreds of millions of people using Microsoft 365 programs and Microsoft Teams.
New CoPilot AI Features Added
Along with announcing the CoPilot Early Access Program, Microsoft also revealed a number of new features that will be added to Copilot.
Copilot in Whiteboard, for example, is designed for more effective brainstorming and group ideation sessions.
“Using natural language, you can ask Copilot to generate ideas, organize ideas into themes, create designs that bring ideas to life, and summarize Whiteboard content,” Microsoft explains in a blog post published this week.
Microsoft 365 users will soon be able to ask DALL-E to create unique, custom images for their PowerPoint presentations.
There will be support for staff writing high volumes of emails too. Copilot “will offer coaching tips and suggestions on clarity, sentiment, and tone to help users write more effective emails and communicate more confidently” within Outlook, Microsoft says.
Microsoft has also developed what it calls a “semantic index” for Copilot, which lets the generative AI tool search more effectively through your company’s documents and data to find things that staff need.
The AI Revolution: Should Your Business Use Copilot and ChatGPT?
Once it's released, using a tool like Copilot to do your day-to-day heavy lifting and administrative legwork – as well as tasks like summarizing reports – is a no-brainer. Employees that are already using ChatGPT – as well as Google's chatbot, Bard – are clawing back hours upon hours of their workday. Built-in tools could be the next stage of this high-paced AI revolution.
There are, however, important things to consider when using AI in the workplace, for businesses of all shapes and sizes. For example, if you’re publishing content produced by AI, it’ll be a good idea to specify this in your editorial guidelines or declare it in such articles. This is just one of a myriad of complex considerations many businesses will have to confront in the coming months.
Understanding the limitations of products like ChatGPT is crucial too. If your business is using ChatGPT, you need oversight over what people in your business are using it for, and whether they know important facts that should sculpt their usage, like the fact it struggles with questions relating to events post-2021.
With genuinely useful AI tools in their relative infancy – but rapidly improving – creating a strategy, as well as company guidelines for its use, will put you in good stead going forward.