Microsoft Copilot for 365

Copilot Champions: One Month with Copilot for Microsoft 365

Copilot for Microsoft 365 is a new AI-powered assistant that integrates into widely used applications, helping you to conduct data analysis in Excel, create visually impressive presentations in PowerPoint, manage your Outlook inbox, summarise meetings in Teams, and write faster and better in Word. It generates suggestions, summaries, headlines, lists, and more. It does all thisbased on context and preferences. 

As a leading MSP and technology leader, we jumped at the opportunity to use Copilot for Microsoft 365 when it became available, forming an internal working group named the ‘Copilot Champions’. Various members of the team from our IT Services division are trialling a pilot programme (pardon the pun) of Copilot for Microsoft 365, to gain greater insight into the technology, helping us better educate our clients on its benefits. Our Copilot Champions are:

  • Warren Thatcher, Support Services Manager

  • Mark Williams, Chief Operating Officer

  • Robbie Mott, Technical Consultant

  • Janine Chattenton, Head of Professional & Managed Services

  • Simon Jefferies, Director of Technology

  • Tyron Raubenheimer, Head of Cloud Technology

  • Simon McGowan, Regional Sales Manager (Thames Valley Office)

  • Esmee Phillips-Howl, Client Success Manager

  • Tim Bosch, Technical Consultant (Sharp Europe)
  • Nick Rose, Functional Consultant

After a month of using Copilot for Microsoft 365, it’s clear to see that it is providing efficiencies in their day-to-day activity. We’ll explore some of the key advantages identified by the Copilot Champions after a month of use, breaking it down per week.

Week 1

  • Warren managed to save approximately an 1 per day in Week 1 by using the technology for report writing, data analysis, and meeting follow-ups. Though these time savings will depend on your job role, this is not a small amount of time and equates to around 20 hours a month! 

  • Mark gained time back by being able to review key points from meetings that he could not attend.  The Transcription feature within the tool allowed him to receive a summary of the meeting, who attended, who spoke, key points, and the agreed follow-up actions.

  • Robbie made good use of the toolset to improve the quality of his proposals, utilising the integration within Microsoft Word allowed him to create a professional proposals for client opportunities more effectively.

From Simon Jefferies’ point of view, ‘There are clear time savings to be made in everyday activities. Reviewing long email chains that can take many minutes, can now be done in seconds. Note-taking in meetings is going to be a thing of the past, allowing you to concentrate on the subject at hand. Creating more professional-looking slides and documents, with little effort is going to be a game changer.’

While the rest of the team was using Copilot for Microsoft 365 with  their day-to-day Tyron was evaluating the behind-the-scenes configuration of the technology, understanding how we can enforce policy, restrictions and deploy configuration across the Microsoft 365 tenancy.

Week 2

The below notes for this Week 2 of using Copilot for Microsoft 365 are AI-generated from the weekly Copilot Champions meeting. While this is a great way to summarise meetings quickly and efficiently, notes should always be checked for accuracy.

Some of the AI-generated notes that were suggested:

  • Warren, Simon McGowan and Tyron discussed their experience with Copilot and new version of Teams. Simon McGowan faced issues with camera and went back to using normal Teams. Tyron suggested to use WIP to get around the issue. Simon Jefferies suggested checking the online version of Outlook to see if the Copilot option is available.

  • Simon McGowan and Tyron discussed the efficiencies brought about by the Copilot feature in Outlook. Simon also mentioned creating a presentation for an internal meeting using a document and referenced it to create the slides.

  • Warren discussed his experience with Copilot and how it hasn't been useful for him this week. He mentioned that he was always up to date with what was going on and didn't have anything to catch up on. 

  • Simon Jefferies and Robbie discussed how Robbie used Copilot to create a technical handover document for his supporting team. Robbie explained how he copied and pasted his task list from a proposal made by another TCS into OneNote, then fed it into Word to create a technical handover document. 

  • Robbie and Tyron discussed the efficiency brought about by SharePoint. Robbie shared how he was able to draft a handover document in half a day, which would have taken him a day and a half to two days to write. 

  • Simon Jefferies, Tyron and Simon McGowan discussed Copilot and its potential to save time in generating content for proposals and presentations. They also discussed the importance of educating clients on how to use Copilot effectively.

  • Simon Jefferies and Tyron discussed the use of Copilot for creating a presentation on cybersecurity defense. Simon mentioned that a lot of the content was done with Co-pilot, and once the Sharp branding is working, it will be much better. 

  • Simon Jefferies and Simon McGowan discussed the use of Bing to summarize key points on a page. They also talked about the limitations of the search function in Microsoft Teams, including the inability to drag and drop files and the limited search capabilities. 

Week 2 of Copilot for Microsoft 365 emphasised a couple of key points.  The first being   data security, and how important it is to ensure the correct security and processes are in place to prevent Copilot surfacing data that employees should not have access to. The second was around how clever Copilot is with understanding the sentiment and actions of people in a meeting.

After the weekly Copilot Champion meeting had finished, Simon Jefferies asked Copilot ‘What is the mood of this meeting?’ and the response detailed:

  • Who spoke and how frequently

  • Participant key discussion points

  • Participant follow up actions

  • How participants interacted

  • The mood and sentiment of participants

Simon Jefferies notes ‘It is important to detail the elements of Copilot that do not work so well at present.  You will have seen some of these from the meeting notes detailed above, but a more common issue is the new Outlook and Teams version require you  to have the full Copilot integration. I think many have experienced issues with these, such as camera glitches in Teams, Transcription being unavailable in meetings, and some other inoperability in Outlook.’

Robbie had also been testing Copilot in Excel this week, with limited results, albeit Copilot in Excel is still in preview. Simon Jefferies also had little success in using Sharp branded PowerPoint templates to generate content. ‘Issues are of course to be expected with such a new technology and we must remember that we cannot rely on Copilot, the human is still King/Queen at present!’

Week 3

For the 3rd week of using Copilot, the Champions focused more on the refinement of the elements and how it can support our job roles rather than its capabilities. There was also an emphasis on potential privacy concerns. This week, we welcomed Esmee from the Business Applications team to help provide insights into Copilot for elements that most of us won't use day to day.

Key points discussed by the Copilot Champions:

As with week 2, the below notes from the meeting were generated by the AI. Tyron hosted the meeting and engaged the attendees in providing feedback as well as providing a summary of evolution in Copilot.

Overall Meeting Notes

  • The introduction of Esme, a new member of the copilot persona group, who works in the business applications team and is interested in using power automate and forms.

  • The announcement of copilot becoming generally available for sales and the innovations around notepad and snipping tool that allow summarizing and interrogating logs.

  • The comparison of teams premium and copilot features, such as coaching, summarizing, and transcription, and how they affect different roles and tasks.

  • The challenges and benefits of using copilot in one-to-one meetings, such as data privacy, engagement, mood analysis, and action items.

  • The best practices and tips for using copilot in word, such as being specific, using prompts, and drafting documents.

  • The governance policies and cultural shift needed for using copilot, such as retention, consent, subject access requests, and data security.

Specific points from Warren

Here are some specifics from Warren who also gained access to Teams Premium this week

  • The coaching feature of copilot and how it helped him to self-evaluate his communication skills in meetings and emails.

  • The comparison of teams premium and copilot features and how they suited his role and tasks.

  • The challenges of using copilot for transcribing one-to-ones and the potential issues of data security and privacy.

  • The limitations of copilot for interrogating teams chats and the need for more specific prompts.

Specific points from Janine

  • The use of copilot for one-to-one meetings and how it helped her to fully engage and capture actions and mood.

  • The challenges of using copilot for creating a business case in Word and how she needed to be more specific with her prompts.

  • The data security and privacy issues of using copilot for recording and transcribing meetings and the need to have a clear retention policy.

Specific points from Esmee

As mentioned, Esmee is new to the group, so her focus is around the Power Platform elements which are more aligned to her role.

  • Her interest in using power automate and forms for the business applications team.

  • Her willingness to try different applications with copilot each week and share her experiences.

(end of AI-generated notes)

Thoughts from Simon Jefferies

This week, I have been trying to leverage Copilot in Word and PowerPoint more, as well as utilise it more from Teams. I do not have a Teams Premium license, so do not have the coaching feature.  It's good to understand from the Copilot Champions what works well in both Copilot and Teams Premium so that we can provide the right advice to our clients.

PowerPoint - Copilot can certainly create full presentations based on existing content or for what you ask, but this is not always in a format that works for me. I have my own approach to presentation, aligning this to how I like to present to an audience, so currently, I am not using Copilot in PowerPoint. 

Word - I must confess this week to have used Copilot in Word to generate content.  This has been really helpful and saved time overall. What I have found is that it can create great content if I provide specific points.  You may have to write in the Copilot prompt 2 or 3 sentences of what you need, detailing specifics around names, events, products, etc. to get a complete and useful response. 

Teams - This week the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) used Copilot to record and transcript a meeting that was around 4 hours in length. I do not believe that Copilot captured all the discussed points and actions, but it did a relatively good job. A key area of the SLT meeting is the discussion of victories, issues, and priorities. With these, the AI notes did not capture all points from the attendees, and it highlighted that we must announce these specifics whilst in the meeting e.g. “Here are my victories”. There is some more learning in understanding how to ask the correct questions of Copilot in Teams to get what you want from it. 

Another area in Teams meetings is when there are multiple people in one room.  This makes actions and points from specific people much more challenging as Copilot sees anyone who speaks in that room as the same person. At present there is no voice recognition, or at least not one I am aware of.

Week 4

In Week 4 of the Microsoft Copilot trial, we delve deeper into some of the Champions personas and try to understand what use cases we could create based on the efficiencies they have achieved over the 4 weeks. Below are some of the key personas and their efficiencies within their roles we have already identified and the message we are getting loud and clear is that once you understand how to work with Copilot, the tool becomes an indispensable assistant.

Persona: Support Service Manager (Warren)

Efficiencies achieved: 

  • I save an average of 1-2 hours a week by having Copilot summarise Teams chats. This could be anything from Priority 1 showstopping incidents, to new client onboarding updates.

  • For some specific cases in Excel, Copilot was useful in suggesting formulae to use to achieve the data analysis I needed.

  • Copilot in Outlook is invaluable in enabling me to summarise emails quickly. In my role, I am often copied into an email trail or incident ticket notes which span several pages and to be able to quickly summarise these saves me 1-2 hours a week.

As a Support Services Manager, Copilot supports me in treading the line between being operationally aware and present, whilst allowing me to consume enough information at a higher level to take on more projects and juggle a more varied workload.

Persona: Head of Managed and Professional Services (Janine)

Efficiencies achieved: 

  • Copilot has been hugely helpful in summarising emails and Teams communication when I have been unavailable for periods of time.

  • Using Copilot for Teams meetings I’ve managed to be fully engaged and allow Copilot to take notes and actions - it's very accurate.

  • Copilot for Outlook provides some accurate responses based on the history of the email, with only a few prompts.

  • Copilot helps me to review data and look for trends making reporting far quicker.

Since I started using Copilot, I have noticed a significant improvement in my productivity and efficiency. I have more time to focus on the strategic and creative aspects of my work and less time on the mundane and repetitive tasks. I have also improved the quality and consistency of my services and increased the satisfaction and loyalty of my clients. Copilot has become my trusted partner and advisor, and I can't imagine working without it.

Steps to Prepare for Using AI and Microsoft Copilot

While Copilot is a powerful and helpful tool, it is not a replacement for human judgment and expertise. It is a Copilot and not an Autopilot. We still need to be mindful of how we use it, especially when we are dealing with our clients and their sensitive data.  We have also found some inconsistencies and inaccuracies with certain requests, which is why we will support our clients who want to utilise this game-changing tool within their organisation by first helping them to:

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