Pivoting into productivity with artificial intelligence




AI may be a topical conversation, but it is proving to be an invaluable time saver and productivity enhancer, says Ellouise Langeveld, the Senior Specialist for Solutions at Altron Karabina.

In 2023, Microsoft introduced Copilot to a select group of organisations and teams to assess how well the technology reduced their ‘digital debt’ and delivered on their daily productivity and time-saving requirements. The findings were clear – 70% were more productive, 29% were faster overall in a series of tasks, 77% didn’t want to stop using it and users were nearly four times faster than usual when catching up with meetings they’d missed. In short, the platform’s productivity gains are proven.

It’s a narrative that continues as more companies adopt the artificial intelligence (AI) solution that has now been rolled out across all Microsoft 365 platforms making it accessible to small and medium-sized businesses alongside larger enterprises. Slipping seamlessly into apps such as Word, Excel, Teams, PowerPoint, Outlook and Power Platform, Copilot is designed to simplify business by introducing automation and intelligence tools that are accessible and easy to use. It removes the hum from the humdrum, doing the daily tedious tasks for users or, at the very least, reducing the admin burden.

Copilot is not pure hype either. While it is still in its infancy, finding its feet as Microsoft continues to evolve its capabilities and discover its reach, Copilot has proven itself invaluable as a time-saver. Teams, for example, are revolutionised by the tool. Meetings that would usually take hours to transcribe are summarised in seconds with meeting notes generated instantly. That’s four hours of tedium deleted, forever. In Outlook, Copilot helps users reduce inbox churn, identify urgent messages and create a to-do list before they’ve even opened an email. The time savings here are significant. That said, it is not quite at the point of perfection.

PowerPoint and Excel are still not quite there yet – Copilot is not delivering the level of productivity or time-saving gains that are felt in other applications. But the key word here is…yet. Microsoft’s commitment to the app is impressive. The company is releasing updates and patches for Copilot on an almost daily basis. This AI is being built in the air with features and capabilities evolving at the speed of algorithmic light.

For the business, the benefits of the AI are easy to locate. It can help people within the business write and create professional documents such as proposals and email replies very quickly. It supports users in doing research, finding information within the business, and gathering relevant inputs to help build cohesive documents that can be shared with teams, improving collaboration and information sharing.

Of course, one of the biggest benefits of Copilot for companies that have already invested into the Microsoft ecosystem is that it just fits. There’s little need for change management or heavy integration across platforms or complex training manuals. It slots in and starts working in a way that’s already comfortable for most users. The biggest challenge is to ensure users consistently engage with the technology. It’s very easy for users to go back to their old ways of working out of habit. Change management is key to ensure there is consistent adoption of Copilot throughout the organisation so the business gets value for money – it is a financial investment – and users continue to enjoy the time and productivity served up by the AI. It won’t make any difference to the business if Copilot is launched without change management as it won’t deliver value.

Companies should consider partnering with an accredited Microsoft service provider to ensure they are able to fully realise the value of their Copilot investment. A partner will map out the use cases and the potential and help define a roadmap that will ensure Copilot is leveraged at the right points along the way. Think of it as a subway map – every bottleneck needs to be identified so the Copilot can step in and help remove them. It is a cog in the business machine which can reduce business overwhelm, enhance productivity, reduce admin and improve processes.

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