Microsoft Announces Copilot for Microsoft 365
by Daniel Newman | March 22, 2023

The Six Five team discusses Microsoft’s announcement of Copilot for Microsoft 365.

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Patrick Moorhead: Microsoft had a gigantic announcement yesterday bringing out Copilot for Microsoft 365. Dan, do you want to lead this one?

Daniel Newman: Yeah, it’s interesting Pat, because we didn’t do the GPT-4 announcement here because there were so many other announcements. But, by the way, GPT-4 came out, which is kind of a big deal. That’s going to be a lot of the foundation here of taking what we kind of experienced to the next level. Oh, and we also forgot to mention Honeywell and the new CEO. I’m just squeezing that into the Microsoft segment. Okay, so…It totally fits, right? I just mean things that didn’t get talked about because there were so many things to talk about. And so we went to the event, what? In early February, Pat, and the Bing powered Edge browser, kind of, open internet GPT, was disclosed. And then quickly after, we’ve now seen Dynamics come out and a big set of announcements around Dynamics 365 and ChatGPT and OpenAI. And this week we saw the Copilot being now announced for M365, which means Teams, all the Office tools, they’re all getting supercharged with GPT.

Now, Pat, you and I, and a few others, have had a chance to be briefed and see some of these demos, and I’m blown away. I just want to say I’m blown away, one, at the pace of innovation that’s coming out of Redmond, the company is doing an incredibly good job of taking that 10 billion investment into OpenAI and supercharging its entire portfolio. If you can’t start to kind of predict what’s ahead for you, take your head out of the sand. It’s not that hard to figure out.

Now, the exact sets of features that will be launched, this gets really interesting, Pat. Microsoft was able to show demonstrations of which you could take a technical marketing document and from that technical marketing document you could, say, basically, create a press release. And, voila. And I read this thing and there’s a lot of kind of controversy about the accuracy and the quality because it’s so exciting to see the generative thing happen that sometimes you forget to actually read and be like, “Is this factual? Is this accurate?” And I think we do all have to remember, though that this is reinforcement. So as we continue to do more of this, as we continue to create more of this and continue to provide more data to the models, the models will get better and they will continue to work better. But what I read when I saw this demonstration and the press release it created, pretty impressive.

And then, of course, it has customization. So they call it Copilot, by the way, because the whole idea is this is not supposed to be a displacement tool. And this is going to be a really interesting conversation we’re going to be having with the market, with Wall Street, with employees, with advocacy firms. I wrote a book called Human Machine. I don’t know if you remember that? I don’t talk much about the books I’ve written. I wrote seven, by the way. So-

Patrick Moorhead: That’s one of the things you don’t talk about.

Daniel Newman: Yeah, one. I rarely talk about my accomplishments because I don’t have any. No, I’m kidding. But the whole idea with Human Machine was sort of this convergence, and we were kind of calling this – this was four or five years ago – that this was going to happen. But what we’re seeing now is this sort of augmentation process. So what this Microsoft Copilot does, is it augments the worker. So your comms team used to have to sift through hundreds of technical documents, meet with product managers, product marketing teams, meet with comms, meet with executives, strategy teams, come together and figure out, “How do we take two years of work on developing a new product and put it into four paragraphs in 500 words and send it out on a news wire?” Well, now you don’t have to do any of that. You can take a single spec document and write something that I think gets you 90, 95% of the way there. And that’s really the way Copilot is being positioned.

Now, in the real world that means we’re upskilling and we’re bringing our workforce to a higher level of productivity and a higher level of cognitive quality in the work that they’re going to do. Of course, there’s also markets like Elance and Upwork that are entire communities of people that do what, Pat? Write press releases for you, create a PowerPoint. By the way, same marketing document can draft out a really impressive five-slide PowerPoint. And you can say things to it like, “I want slide three to be visual showing a split of three main bullet points with three pictures and three bullets beneath each,” and it will do that for you.

And I don’t know about you, Pat, but I hate creating PowerPoint decks. And so what did I used to do? I used to hire people to create my decks for me. And now I do wonder is, “Would I still do that or would I use Copilot?” And I think the answer is you’d probably do a little bit of both, but where you might had to hire someone and take a week to get you a PowerPoint deck, Pat, now you have Copilot create it and you have someone spend an hour making it look perfect for you. So these are things that are going to create great efficiencies. It’s really exciting. You can kind of see how this fits in. It’s in the edge. By the way, great article on Forbes by a senior contributor named Patrick Moorhead where he talks about the AI Copilot for 365. There was advancements made in Teams, there’s advancements made in other areas.

I will pause here because I want to give you oxygen, but my big thing to watch has been upskilling, how this work changes that knowledge work category and, of course, the accuracy that’s going to continue to improve with the utilization of these models. But, Pat, I was really impressed.

Patrick Moorhead: Man, I got to tell you, these demos speak to me in the way that I do work, but I know the way that billions of others get stuff done. What I liked about it too is you can go from a PowerPoint deck to a Word doc. You can go from a Word doc to a PowerPoint deck. You can string together two or three pieces of input and it cranks something out.

Now, I want to use this thing. First off, hats off to Microsoft for unleashing and letting people other than what Google calls trusted testers to use this. You and I were using this on day one in Redmond for basic Bing Chat. And I can’t wait. Microsoft has not opened this up to analysts, that I’m aware of, or press. I’m really looking forward to that. This could fundamentally change the way that we do work, that my team does work. And it’s not just n equals one. It’s n equals a billion people. Check out the article that I did, a tag team analysis with Melody Brue and myself, my VP of Modern Work.

But what’s next, Dan, I mean, for these folks? They’ve kind of shown what they’ve done. Now they have to deliver and there’s going to be mistakes. Nothing aggravates me more than people saying, “Hold on. Slow down.” I mean, it’s not like we’re talking about self-driving cars that can kill people. We’re talking about PowerPoint, Word and Excel. I was at AltaVista when Google was forming, and I remember people loved Google because the search was parsed. And back then, for our engineers, that was a dangerous thing. It’s not the real internet. People didn’t want the fricking real internet. It was ugly. It brought up a bunch of college essays as its top return. They wanted the parsed internet. And Google, they got taken to the mat on everything. Every new feature that Google Search added, they got taken to the mat.

So I urge people to be caught. Just don’t be stupid. Be cautious. But I’ve been a big believer in this in my entire work career, if you’re not breaking some glass or pissing somebody off, you’re not leaning in hard enough. It’s just the degree of the risk that comes out. So hats off to Microsoft.

About the Author

Daniel Newman is the Chief Analyst of Futurum Research and the CEO of The Futurum Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise. Read Full Bio