Microsoft introduces Office 365 Copilot for Work powered by AI

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Ever since OpenAI’s ChatGPT became a sleeper hit, there’s been a race to use generative AI in everything from search engines like Bing to customer relationship management tools like Salesforce.

Microsoft, an extensive OpenAI partner, is adding the same technology to its Office 365 productivity suite with “Copilot for Work.” This tool will add generative AI to Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Outlook, and a new Business Chat tool will be released.

Microsoft has access to its great language models as part of its $10 billion investment in OpenAI. So far, the company has integrated this into many products, such as Bing Search, its Dynamics 365 CRM platform, and integration with the Azure cloud service. An AI chatbot tool on Bing works like ChatGPT and works with the new OpenAI GPT-4. It gives more relevant results based on the situation.

Today, CEO Satya Nadella and Jared Spataro, Corporate Vice President, Modern Work and Business Applications, hosted an online event to discuss Copilot for Work. Nadella called it a “whole new way of working” that moves the AI ​​from “autopilot to copilot.”

He said: “We think it will unleash a new wave of productivity growth by allowing us to get back to the fun of doing things.” Just as we can’t imagine computing without a keyboard, mouse, or multi-touch, we can’t imagine computing in the future without natural language prompts and human co-pilots.

Spataro said it was the beginning of a new era in computing. “Work is not supposed to be just a job. “At its best, work not only feeds our families, but also feeds our souls. But today, we spend too much time fighting labor, so it doesn’t always deliver on that promise,” he said. “The tools that are supposed to help us get things done often get in the way.”

“We need a whole new way of working to get back to the heart of work. We are going to talk about Microsoft 365 Copilot. It combines the power of big language models with enterprise data and 365 applications,” he said, intending to turn “his words of him into the most powerful productivity tool.”

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AI has been fully integrated into Microsoft 365, including applications like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Teams that people use every day. Users can add content to existing documents, summarize text, write an entire document, and even convert a Word document with descriptive words into a PowerPoint document. In Excel, you can view data and ask questions using natural language. You can also use natural language to create formulas. This could also include what-if scenarios that suggest new ways to solve the problem.

Every product receives an update from Copilot

Word’s Copilot feature can be used as a copilot instead of an autopilot to write, edit, summarize, and produce text “along with the user.” “With just a few instructions, Copilot in Word will produce a first draft for you, including the necessary data from across your organization. To make a document more compact, Copilot can add material, summarize text, and rework individual paragraphs or the entire document. To help you hit the right shade, you can get suggested shades, ranging from formal to dynamic to casual, much appreciated.

With Excel, you can ask questions about your data set and get answers in natural language, eliminating the need for complicated formulas. You can also find connections, suggest what-if scenarios, and even get formula suggestions based on your questions. To drive diverse outcomes, you can spot trends, perform visualizations, and request advice.

The Copilot PowerPoint add-in was created as a “narrative companion” for turning textual content into presentations, including speaker notes and fonts. You can also condense a long presentation with the press of a button, including retime animations, all from a single message or outline.

Outlook can summarize long and complicated email threads, even if they contain multiple people and voices with divergent opinions, and perform better email classification. You can highlight unanswered questions, quickly reply to an email, or transform notes into a formal statement. You have access to data and content from across Microsoft 365.

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Microsoft has also released a new item called Business Chat. Natural language search access works across LLM, Microsoft 365 Apps, and user data from calendars, emails, chats, documents, meetings, and contacts. According to Microsoft, you can ask it questions in natural language, such as “let my team know how we’re reviewing product strategy,” and it’ll produce a status update based on your morning meetings, emails, and chat conversations.

A whole new category of products is being marketed within Microsoft 365 that allows customers to “spend less time focusing on the tools and more time focusing on the most important tasks,” according to the company. Asking them to summarize all conversations, emails, and documents about a specific customer escalation is an example of a potential prompt, as is inviting them to indicate when the next project milestone will be reached and highlighting risks. Subsequently, tasks based on those discoveries can be completed using the various 365 applications.

The products are now being tested among 20 customers, eight of whom are Fortune 500 companies, to increase this number in the coming months. Specific pricing information will be released in the coming months.

Microsoft Copilot for Work follows Google’s AI Workspace tools

This comes after the announcement that Google intends to integrate Workspace with its own massive 540 billion parameter PaLM large language model, initially starting with Docs and Gmail and allowing users to generate content from a direct message. Workspace already has some AI features, like Smart Compose digests and Gmail Documents, but it still doesn’t have all the generative power of programs like AI21 Labs’ ChatGPT or Wordtune Spices.

According to Google, new capabilities for generating content will be available once you write a topic. This will quickly produce a draft that can be modified as needed. Over the next few weeks, these features will be gradually rolled out to a small group of testers, though it’s unclear when they’ll be widely available.

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Incorporating generative AI into common office and productivity tools, according to Forrester analyst Rowan Curran, has the potential to “significantly change the workflows of people in whatever role they play.” For example, summarizing a white paper into a blog post within a core productivity app makes it easy to integrate multiple tools.

If they don’t take off immediately in their initial release, these features may become more widely used once major productivity suite providers start enabling this feature. However, these models are not as powerful in their basic version as when they have been fine-tuned to specific company data. The effects may not change the workplace tomorrow, but the ball has already started moving in this direction.

Tech giants must address AI trust and security issues

According to AJ Grotto, former White House director of cybersecurity policy, “Bill Gates promised in a document twenty years ago that Microsoft would put security first and not rush features and products to market. Has Microsoft withdrawn this memo? With its rush to bring ChatGPT, a product with a history of problems, into Office 365, that certainly seems to be the case.

ChatGPT’s underlying technology is now a practical application that millions of people will soon be using to increase their productivity, according to Marshall Choy, SambaNova Systems’ senior vice president of products. However, he cautioned that the one-size-fits-all approach is not appropriate in all circumstances.

What happens when models are at the heart of business, rather than just employing generative AI to improve business operations like content creation? Where things get interesting is with these basic models, Choy says. Custom proprietary models deliver huge efficiency savings that give companies a clear competitive advantage in their lines of business compared to one-off models where their data must be passed to a third-party API.

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