Diary of an Augmented Exec – Week 4

Nathan Marke, COO of Giacom, is writing a weekly diary of his first month using his own personal Microsoft 365 Copilot AI

Microsoft Copilot

Week 3

(see week 1 here, week 2 here and week 3 here)

I’m writing this on 16th January, which has turned out to be yet another ground breaker on the AI news front. The day started with the IMF releasing a report claiming that AI will affect 40 per cent of jobs across the planet, with mostly negative connotations for employment in developed economies. ‘Your job won’t be taken by AI, but by somebody using AI’, being a recurring theme. This was followed swiftly by Microsoft announcing the immediate GA (General Availability) of MS365 Copilot on CSP (the one I’ve been trialling), meaning that the channel can now get hold of it and start to actively sell it to SMBs.

On the release of that piece of news, I have decided that this fourth diary entry will be my last, given that for a mere $30 per month (and a 365 license) you can now get one, play with he/she/it for yourself, and make up your own mind, which I would actively encourage you to do.

Having been tipped off about Microsoft’s GA announcement, last week I met up with my fellow Giacom Pilots (sic), thinking it would be useful to summarise for you here our collected and shared augmentation experiences.

The good:

Teams – unanimously impressive feedback from everyone – the ability to record and transcribe meetings, then pull together meeting summaries, key points and actions is worth the license fee on its own – with everyone in awe of the accuracy of the Copilot contribution and saying how much time it saves them on meeting wrap-ups.

Word – again incredibly positive feedback from all on how useful and intuitive it is to effectively have Chat-GPT4 pulled natively into your word processing app. Everyone agreed that while tone of voice isn’t yet Copilots strong point (although this will get there soon with the ability to ask it to write in the style of…), the way it can quickly get you over writer’s block by creating a starter for ten is incredibly valuable.

M365 chat – This is a plug-in to Teams available in the Teams app store, enabling you to chat with your Copilot as a virtual assistant through Teams IM. You can ask Copilot anything, but the enterprise search is particularly useful – ‘find me all conversations with x about y’, ‘find me all ppt slides containing information about our Azure proposition from 2023’ etc. It’s a search game changer.

Bing Enterprise – as with M365, but in the Bing experience, enabling natural language search both inside and outside Giacom.

Outlook – Copilot significantly improves search, and although many struggled with the results when Copilot offered to author responses, everyone found the summaries of email chains incredibly valuable and time saving.

The slightly underwhelming:

Excel and PowerPoint – perhaps because they were least used by our Pilots, but we had very few reports of positive functionality. Microsoft, we understand, share a view that these are the weakest of the in-app experiences in the Office suite.

I then asked the killer question. ‘So, the pilot is over. How would you feel if I now removed your Copilot from you?’ I was unsurprised with the unanimous view that this would be a hugely backwards step because I feel much the same. I’ve been augmented. The tools are useful. I want my Copilot to stay, even though he/she/it is not perfect, I’m keen to coach her to get better, which will happen the more I use it. And I can see how Copilot changes my way of thinking about how I work, opening a door to a world of new potential. One of the team even went as far as to say that he would happily pay out of his own wages to keep his Copilot in place. I think we are safe to assume that our Pilots won’t be going back to days on their own in the cockpit without a Copilot.

So what’s next for Giacom? I’m thinking about three big things: –

Firstly, we have set up our AI steering group. Last week I chaired the inaugural meeting. In a fortnight we will launch a campaign inside Giacom with the aim of encouraging everyone in the team to raise their awareness of, learn about, tinker and play with AI tools to help them at work, rest and play. We’re also setting clear guidelines as to what data it is OK to share with a large language model like ChatGPT4 and where we would advise caution. We are planning Teams Talks to evangelise the technology, video support on demystifying AI using our own AI avatar as a presenter, and also a confessional corner where we will encourage people to confess to their own usage of AI in whatever context – to bring to life real-world applications of AI to help people better understand and take on board its potential.

Secondly, our own internal AI tech strategy – we already have multiple emerging AI use cases springing up across the business. In addition to our Copilot usage, notable early adopters includes our platform team where we are using Gen AI tooling to create quality, consistent, engaging marketing content at scale; in our development teams with coding support; in our IT Security teams as we seek to bolster our cyber defences; in our data teams where native tooling in AWS and Azure is enabling us to grapple with fuzzy logic to help make sense of large, conflicting datasets in our partner data; and in our operations teams, where AI embedded in our service management tooling is helping with search, trouble shooting and self-service. We are scratching the surface of the opportunity, and our tech teams are now working on a wider strategy to ensure a deliberate, concerted effort to adopt AI across every major service and application line in Giacom.

Thirdly, selling and making money out of Copilot – as to the commercial opportunity, I’m sold. But don’t take my word for it. If you are a Giacom partner, visit our Cloud Market and get yourself some licenses. If not, let’s have a chat and get you onboarded. The Giacom pilot teams have also prepared lots of partner readiness guides and help in getting started with Copilot and here are some links that I hope will help.

Copilot Quick Start Guide

Copilot Frequently Asked Questions

The time for talking is over. If I may make a rallying cry to our amazing channel – let’s get selling! Let’s help UK SMBs to get to grips with and prepare for the potential of Gen AI, because if they do this then I can see a route to significant near-term productivity benefits for all and a huge growth opportunity for the channel.

Are you Microsoft 365 Copilot ready?

Microsoft’s transformative AI tool is here, and we’re perfectly placed to help MSPs introduce Copilot to their customers.