How AI can copilot productivity and creativity in business

Artificial intelligence has already proved itself to be an intriguing technology, but many businesses are unsure how to integrate it into their daily activities. Microsoft Copilot points the way forward

Joe Carlyle, Microsoft practice director and Microsoft MVP at eir evo

Without a doubt, generative artificial intelligence (gen AI) was the breakout technology of 2023, and as the new year dawns businesses are asking how it can be used in their operations.

What is not in doubt is that it is a transformative technology that will produce strategic value for businesses. A 2023 survey by analysts Gartner found that 79 percent of corporate strategists see AI and analytics as being critical to their success over the next two years.

However, in Ireland adoption lags slightly. A November survey by Deloitte found that while over 60 percent of people in Ireland have heard of generative AI, only 33 percent had used it. Legal Island, meanwhile, found 95 percent of respondents to its survey of HR professionals worked in organisations that had not yet implemented an active AI use policy in the workplace.

If AI is widely transformative for business it is worth asking why adoption has lagged.

How it should be integrated into workflow is one issue. Joe Carlyle, Microsoft practice director and Microsoft MVP at eir evo, says the adoption of Microsoft Copilot to assist with tasks such as diary management is an easy first step.

“That is where we will see a change from perception of AI as a party trick to a real productivity tool,” he says.

The boost from having Copilot manage this kind of task for them is immediate.

“Seeing how it can use corporate data, email and help with meetings will move it forward from a concept. There is a lot to be said for the simplicity of being built-in,” he says.

One concern businesses have is data leakage. Whether the issue is use of corporate data for the training of AI models or compliance, these concerns are valid – and closing down access to the plethora of generative AI-augmented websites is a wise policy.

That is where we will see a change from perception of AI as a party trick to a real productivity tool

However, AI running in the Microsoft Cloud, whether in Microsoft 365, advanced software such as PowerBI or full-blown Azure instances, is pre-trained and corporate data remains sacrosanct.

Using AI has the potential to prove transformative. Applications used daily, such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and Teams, can be augmented to eliminate repetitive tasks and provide crucial information as it is needed.

Not only can Copilot write first drafts based on supplied information and improve the quality and aesthetics of presentations, it can get into the nitty gritty of business. For example, tools like Business Chat can summarise complex information, such as by drawing on documents, emails and meeting records to describe to a team how a product strategy has changed. Customer contact can be augmented by providing agents with relevant information from billing to the content of previous communications.

Enterprises already using Copilot include Visa, BP, Honda and Pfizer, but now businesses of all sizes will be able to take advantage of the power of gen AI. Demonstrated at the CES show Las Vegas this month, Copilot for Microsoft 365 is now available to individuals and businesses of all sizes. “The buzz has started to die down, so it’s now being seen in a mature practical way. People aren’t using it just because it’s novel, they want to see results,” Carlyle says.

For details: email: spark@eirevo.ie or visit eirevo.ie