3aIT Blog

Microsoft Copilot LogoA few months ago, Microsoft unleashed its Copilot AI system for various Office apps, including Word, Excel and Powerpoint. It was initially made available to business users with at least 300 seats subscribed, but it is now generally available to everyone that feels it might be worth the extra monthly subscription.

Copilot for Office is designed to perform various context specific tasks depending on the app. In Teams, for instance, it can summarise what has happened in a meeting you were late to, or the whole thing if you were unable to attend. Given prompts, it can add whole chunks of text and generated images (or, with a bit of extra configuring, relevant images from your own repository) to Word and Powerpoint documents. In Excel, it can be used to dynamically generate tables from data and also unlock some of the more complex features like PivotTables to users that find it easier to define what they want in conversational text. In Outlook, it can summarise everything in your inbox and help you draft emails (as long as you're using the new Outlook app - it isn't and is unlikely to ever be added to the "classic" version, which is very slowly being decommissioned).

The monthly price for this on top of the base 365 subscription is £19 for a personal account (which Microsoft is branding as Copilot Pro), and about £30 per user for a business account. The business version includes the Teams Copilot and a few other features that the home one doesn't. Whether that's a rip-off or an absolute steal will depend on how useful it is to you. At a business level, the calculation is likely to be that if it's aiding you enough that it frees up an hour or so a month, then it's probably worth it. We probably wouldn't recommend this is rolled out to all users in a business until a few people that are keen to put it through its paces have worked out if and how it could speed things up in that organisation. The average user is likely to ignore it completely unless they're given a reason not to.

One other thing that the business version includes is access to "Copilot Studio". This application allows business-specific data to be included in the responses that the AI can provide. This could be as simple as pointing it at some HR documents so you could question it about company rules, or at a more advanced level, it can be connected to external systems to gather data, including SAP and Workday. We'll probably cover this in more detail in future months, as this is likely to be where these sorts of AI systems really come into their own.