After the Internet, Artificial Intelligence has the potential to be the next big thing in the tech world. But there has been a lot of noise around the technology. There are debates over the opportunities created by AI and its potential risks. By launching Copilot, its generative AI tool, Microsoft has made it loud and clear that AI is not a fad. AI is here to stay. In March 2023, Microsoft announced that it would bring Copilot into Dynamics 365, Microsoft 365, and Power Platform. This marked the beginning of the AI-driven enterprise era.
What is Generative AI?“Generative AI is a type of artificial intelligence that can create new content, such as images, text, music, or video, that resembles a given set of examples. It does this by learning patterns and structures from large datasets and then generating new content that fits those patterns. Generative AI has many practical applications and is used in a wide range of fields, including art, music, and design.,” says ChatGPT, a generative AI model developed by OpenAI.
Enterprise AI takes off with Microsoft Copilot
Any digital technology’s purpose is to enhance its users’ experience. For instance, you can stand in line and buy tickets. But online booking gives you time to have a coffee with your friends before the show begins. The purpose of Artificial Intelligence is to assist humans in making the world a better place. Ideas hold no power if actions do not follow them. AI should deliver faster actions to bring human ideas to life. It should further help humans think better and make informed decisions. Businesses buy this promise. They are trying to leverage AI in every possible business operation. But there has never been an AI tool for end-to-end enterprise operations. Microsoft Copilot fills this void.
From assembly languages of the 1950s to high-level languages to modern low-code/no-code platforms, software development has evolved to build robust applications that enhance people’s experiences. Today, Copilot shifts the paradigm of building and running an enterprise ecosystem with customer and employee experiences at the center. Application development, workflow automation, and customer engagement have never been this easy. You describe your requirement, and the AI tool will deliver it. It’s that simple.
Let us discuss the significant changes Copilot will bring to the global enterprise landscape.
Democratization of application development
Most businesses have already identified the why of enterprise applications; the challenge is to find the how. Application development is resource intensive. A basic mobile app costs between $20,000 and $50,000 and requires 700 hours on average. Also, there is a widening gap between the demand for enterprise applications and the availability of IT resources. Microsoft predicts that enterprises worldwide will need 500 million applications in the next five years. But there is a shortfall of four million developers. This disparity increases the demand for developers and eventually raises app development costs.
Copilot in Microsoft Power Apps is poised to democratize software development through natural language-based no-code/low-code development. It empowers citizen developers to build applications, automate workflows, and create AI-powered chatbots within minutes. Suppose you are a construction company. Imagine your supervisor creates a site inspection application for your new project within minutes without waiting on the IT team.
There are concerns that AI will snatch people’s jobs. But the applications of Copilot show the other way. Human potential is powerful. But mundane tasks such as sending emails, collecting information, documenting, etc., are wasting much of their time. AI cannot mimic humans’ creativity, critical thinking, and decision-making capabilities, but it can give us our time back. It takes away tedious, repetitive tasks from employees, frees up their time, and allows them to focus on things that truly deserve their efforts.
Copilot in Microsoft 365 and Power Automate helps unleash creativity and boost employee productivity. Copilot can be your co-author in writing emails, proposals, and documents. It can be your co-creator turning your ideas into designs for presentations. It can be your assistant scheduling meetings on Teams. It can be your analyst to help you with numbers. Microsoft is putting employee experience at the center of this end-to-end process automation.
Enable personalized customer experience
Customers expect personalized experience at every stage of the sales funnel – from being a prospect to becoming a loyal customer. However, tracking each customer’s journey is almost impossible, given the size of your customer base and the volume of data. The combination of Dynamic 365 Customer Insights, Dynamic 365 Marketing, Power Virtual Agents, and Power BI can help you create tailored customer experiences.
The Copilot AI capabilities of these tools offer you a comprehensive view of a customer’s journey. So, you can know key details such as what a customer is more interested in, their purchase behavior, what they purchased from you, what challenges they are facing, and what feedback they have about your offerings. Copilot brings up this information as required, creates campaigns based on this information, and launches those campaigns automatically. While Copilot takes care of these actions, your CX professionals can focus on creating strategies to enhance customer experience.
Build innate operational resilience
Resilience is your ability to come back to normal during a crisis. Resilience is one of the most desired qualities of a successful enterprise. For instance, no one expected the Evergreen ship would block the Suez Canal and disrupt supply chains. What would you do when you realized your supplies were in the vessels and would take a week more to arrive? Consider another instance where a technician identifies that some critical machinery is about to break down. Should this machinery break down, it would bring the entire production line to a grinding halt. How can your asset manager ensure production continuity? Answers to these questions lie in your resilience in these business areas.
Copilot in Dynamics 365 Supply chain, Power Apps, and Power Automate can help you create resilient business processes. Using the AI capabilities in these tools, you can focus on what’s necessary at such critical times while Copilot takes care of mundane tasks such as passing information, approvals, automation of workflows, etc.
The way ahead for Microsoft Copilot
Copilot is built on large language models (LLM) and learns from data collected from all your Microsoft applications. As they learn, they become more efficient and powerful. Should you leverage Copilot’s full capabilities for your enterprise, build your ecosystems on the bedrock of Microsoft applications.
Microsoft expects to deliver all the features announced in the release wave 1 (April 2023) for Dynamics 365 and Power Platform by the end of 2023. The company announced that more features are in the pipeline. I’m excited to see to what level Microsoft will take this game and how other key players will catch up.