Microsoft Co-pilot

This week Microsoft announced Co-pilot for Microsoft 365. The Large Language Model capabilities of AI that have been so widely hyped will now be available to everyone as a productivity assistant in the apps we use every day at work. Importantly, these tools will leverage the Microsoft Graph and the content of other Microsoft Apps to summarise, plan and draft.

This move is hardly a surprise. Microsoft has been discussing the potential power of data analytics in its suite of tools for almost a decade. Cortana is using graph data. Powerpoint Designer has been improving our powerpoint. With Microsoft’s investments in Large Language Models (& the hunger of those models for data) this move was inevitable.

Inevitability doesn’t guarantee success. However, the capabilities today are far more subtle than Clippy’s banal interruptions. Actually writing a first draft from other documents is much more useful than pointing out you might be writing a document.

So much of knowledge work is about the gathering, digestion and presentation of information. Harold Jarche talks of the importance of Seek, Sense and Share. These tools promise to streamline the Seeking proves. These tools and others like Microsoft Loop and the new role of Microsoft Viva reduce the costly context shifting inherent in pulling together information from multiple source documents, emails, excels, databases, online sources and more.

If Clippy was banal and often annoying, the danger of all this digital creation is that employees will forget that the critical elements of knowledge work is the insight of sensing and the discretion of sharing. LLMs are improvements on past tools but are hardly perfect. In a world where the volume of information means many people scan everything, we need to remain alert for the risks of the models false inferences or patterns gone awry.

In the history of aviation, it became apparent that pilot personal relationships are critical to avoiding dangerous incidents. Authoritarian cultures meant senior pilot mistakes went devastatingly unchallenged. We must remember the work is a collaboration of man and machine and employees must be prepared to change and improve on the mechanical co-pilot.

Knowing how and where to share our new digital creations depends on social intelligence that is often beyond these tools today. Social collaboration will become a differentiator in people’s work and bring new richness to the Microsoft Graph underneath their work. Microsoft Viva Engage and Microsoft Teams will be important powerhouses of differentiation for employees.

We are likely all to become prompt engineers in a world of competing large language models. This course is inevitable until some newer tool takes over from LLMs. Microsoft has made the transition remarkably easy by integrating these tools for us. We need to come to this ongoing transition with our intelligence, our social skills and our discretion.

2 thoughts on “Microsoft Co-pilot

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s