By Marc Stephenson |

February 9, 2024

Metataxis tests Copilot and the power of generative AI

The world is awash with Microsoft Copilot stories – social posts, webinars, announcements, reports and more – all shouting and sharing about the power of generative AI and the exciting potential this innovative AI technology can apparently offer you and your organisation.

Did you know, there are several versions available in the Copilot product line-up?

There is Copilot and Copilot Pro, both for individuals, as well as Copilot for Microsoft 365 for organisations.

Copilot logo

Here at Metataxis, we have been taking a keen interest in the development and release of Copilot for Microsoft 365 and the reflections of firms who have been testing it.

Just last month, Microsoft announced that they would be removing the 300-seat purchase minimum for Copilot for Microsoft 365 commercial plans. Perfect timing – as this now presents the ideal opportunity for us to test Copilot for Microsoft 365 for ourselves. We want to see first-hand how this generative AI technology works, understand the opportunities and challenges it presents, so ultimately, we can better support our clients become AI empowered and gain the most from this new era of generative AI.

What is Copilot for Microsoft 365?

Copilot for Microsoft 365 includes Copilot in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, and Microsoft Teams – combined with your universe of data in the Microsoft Graph. It has enterprise-grade data protection which means it inherits your existing Microsoft 365 security, privacy, identity, and compliance policies.

Copilot family

It also includes Copilot Studio, allowing organisations to customise Copilot for Microsoft 365 and build their own custom copilots and plugins – as well as manage and secure their customisations and standalone copilots with the right access, data, user controls, and analytics.

How to purchase Copilot for Microsoft 365

Of course, before we can begin to test the value of Copilot for Microsoft 365 – we need to buy it! There is lots of information widely available on how to purchase the product and the process was relatively simple. We just went to the M365 Admin Marketplace and selected our licencing options.

Here, we noted that there were two subscription options available, for either 1 or 3 years. Typically, Microsoft subscriptions are charged on a monthly basis as opposed to annually. We assume the introduction of an annual subscription specifically for Copilot may be due to:

1) it takes time for users to understand and leverage its potential
2) it takes time for Copilot to build the connections and effectively, the “intelligence,” to yield useful results.

We therefore assume it will get better the more you use it. Watch this space…

How to install Copilot for Microsoft 365

We found the installation process to be relatively straightforward, although not necessarily obvious without doing a little digging and initial research. However, there is lots of information available online if you search for it.

We quickly realised that you do need to have installed the “New Outlook” in order to use Copilot for Microsoft 365 for emails. So, if you are not comfortable with the new Outlook or ready to switch just yet, this could present a bit of a challenge.

Testing Copilot – Game changer or over hyped?

We are looking forward to understanding first-hand all the opportunities presented by Copilot, as well as identifying any risks associated with the implementation of Copilot into an organisation.

It will be invaluable to learn more about how it actually works, in particular how it works with metadata in SharePoint. Microsoft is shouting about how much Copilot will drive productivity for businesses, so it will be interesting to ascertain if this is actually the case.

Microsoft claim “Copilot for Microsoft 365 can help reduce this daily grind, giving business owners valuable time back to focus on what matters most: growing their business.”

As part of the testing process, we’re looking forward to discover if Copilot for Microsoft 365 will make M365 search much better AND if it can actually remove the need to perform these so-called “boring routine actions” that Microsoft claim it will.

Observations to date

We will share our observations as we test over the next few weeks. Initial testing undertaken to date has however, revealed some intriguing results.

M365 Copilot

We asked Copilot to produce a status update of our activity in relation to a specific entity: The output resulting from a single prompt was a well written document in terms of tone, language and layout. The professional presentation and expeditiousness with which Copilot generated the content was highly impressive. However, a significant number of facts were incorrect. The sheer exhilaration of having the content readily available in a matter of seconds could, for some, be enough to overshadow any inaccuracies within the content itself. One to watch.

A further limitation we encountered while testing Copilot was, in this specific case, was its inability to disclose the sources of its research. As a result, the only way to verify the accuracy of the information presented was to cross-check it against our pre-existing knowledge of the subject matter. This underscored the crucial role of information literacy, emphasising the imperative for employees to engage in critical thinking when evaluating the outputs of AI.

We will continue to familiarise ourselves with Copilot’s capabilities and put Copilot through its paces to establish whether it really is ready – and if we are really ready – to create an AI-powered world.

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