The Rise Of The Copilots: Microsoft Steps Up The Pace

This week Microsoft unleashed a massive array of product announcements (50 in total) around the use of Copilots throughout our daily lives. And while we all may understand the idea, now these tools are real. And it’s clear to me that Microsoft has gotten their groove and is executing quickly with a laser focus.

While there were many things launched, the most significant to me are the introduction of a Copilot for Microsoft Windows (making AI available to a billion PC users), a Copilot for PowerBI (essentially making data analysis an out of the box exercise), a new Microsoft Fabric big data lake, and a set of tools to help developers build their own Copilots and add plug-ins from third party systems.

In whole, these announcements put Microsoft far into the lead in bringing the power of Large Language Models (OpenAI GPT) to all sorts of business applications, including the day to day life we lead dealing with meetings, messages, documents, and spreadsheets. And to build on this strength in tools, SuccessFactors, the largest HR platform in the world (by users), just introduced Copilots into their suite and a deeper integration with Azure AI.

What Does All This Mean?

As I discuss in the attached podcast, these Copilots are highly intelligent “Prompt Engineering” tools that let you access your own information (security protected with the Microsoft Graph) to read, ask questions, analyze, and produce content you need to do your job.

Consider a Copilot for sales that lets your sales people directly look up pricing, discount rules, and product information by simply adding your product documentation into the corpus and then enabling it with your own Sales Copilot. Your sales force and sales enablement team will jump for joy! Ditto this for customer service, HR, and dozens of other applications.

So not only can we use these tools to better understand and use all the Microsoft tools, but we can now build applications for HR self-service, onboarding, training, leadership development, recruiting, and much more with the out-of-the box Copilot development stack. The actual LLM (GPT4) is simply available as a platform service, and Microsoft protects your security and performance management behind the scenes.

We have built our own Josh Bersin Copilot (come see the preview at Irresistible 2023) and in only a few weeks we now have full conversational access to more than 20 years of research, more than 600 blogs and articles, our 100+ podcasts, and soon the Josh Bersin Academy. You can literally ask it any question and 90% of the time it delivers a perfect, easy to understand answer – right out of our large corpus of research, case studies, vendor analysis, and data. It’s unbelievable to tell you the truth.

Thanks to Microsoft, this is likely to revolutionize IT and many vendor offerings. As I discuss in the podcast, these tools don’t only make us more productive, they help software developers to radically simplify their user experience. Consider the following: Yahoo vs. Google from around the year 1998.

Yahoo vs. Google Circa 2001

Yahoo’s website tried to design a user interface to find everything, and it got messier and messier over time. Google, by contrast, got simpler and simpler while the underlying search got smarter and smarter. The Copilot (powered by OpenAI) gives you this power.

Consider your own applications. Rather than click around through Workday, SAP, or your corporate portal to find things, we’ll be asking the Copilot for help and it will immediately show you precisely what you want to see. Our Copilot, for example, has a simple command line interface, and once you type a question it immediately gives you access to 50,000+ pages of comprehensive research in only a few seconds. I can’t wait to show it to you.

Microsoft is very focused on this solution now, and it’s going to transform how we do HR, implement HR technology, and develop IT systems in general. I can speak directly from our experience: our use of a Copilot is totally transformational to our users. Listen to this week’s podcast for many more details.

Additional Information

Microsoft’s Massive Copilot Announcements

Microsoft Build 2023: all the news and announcements from the developer conference

Microsoft Build 2023: Five Top Announcements

Microsoft CTO Kevin Scott thinks Sydney might make a comeback

Microsoft Goes All In On Plug-ins for AI Apps