Home Artificial Intelligence Microsoft brings an AI-powered Copilot to its business app suite

Microsoft brings an AI-powered Copilot to its business app suite

Microsoft brings an AI-powered Copilot to its business app suite

Microsoft today introduced what it’s calling the “next generation” of AI product updates across its business apps portfolio. They touch on each Power Platform, Microsoft’s set of low-code tools for constructing apps and workflows, and Dynamics 365, the corporate’s suite of enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) tools.

In an interview with TechCrunch, Charles Lamanna, CVP of business apps and platform at Microsoft, described the updates because the logical next step on Microsoft’s automation journey. Powered by tech from AI startup OpenAI and built using the Azure OpenAI Service, Microsoft’s service that gives enterprise-tailored access to OpenAI’s API, the brand new capabilities follow the rollout of OpenAI text-generating AI models in Power Platform 4 years ago and the more moderen debut of generative AI capabilities in Viva Sales, Microsoft’s seller experience app.

“During the last 4 years, we’ve been on a journey to bring generative AI and foundation models to the workplace,” Lamanna said via email, noting that Microsoft has a longstanding partnership with OpenAI to commercialize the seller’s tech in Microsoft’s own products and thru the Azure OpenAI Service. “And we’ve now reached the purpose where the tech and product can enable transformative outcomes for purchasers.”

In Dynamics 365, Microsoft’s launching what it calls Copilot (borrowing branding from GitHub’s Copilot service), which — broadly speaking — goals to automate a few of the more repetitive sales and customer support tasks.

For instance, in Dynamics 365 Sales and Viva Sales, Copilot may help write email responses to customers and create an email summary of a Teams meeting in Outlook. The meeting summary pulls in details from the vendor’s CRM, similar to product and pricing information, Lamanna says, and combines them with insights from the recorded Teams call.

“We securely and intelligently access information from customers’ CRM, ERP and other enterprise data sources at runtime,” Lamanna added. “We use large language models to mix the enterprise data with underlying knowledge to provide responses tuned for every customer. Importantly, we don’t use customers’ data to coach the models.”

Over in Dynamics 365 Customer Service, Copilot can draft “contextual answers” to customer queries via chat or email and supply an “interactive chat experience” for customer support agents that pulls from knowledge bases in addition to case history. These complement the brand new “conversation boosters” feature in Power Virtual Agents, Microsoft’s chatbot builder, which lets corporations connect a bot to resources like an internet site or knowledge base to make use of that data to answer questions that the bot hasn’t been trained on.

In turn, conversation boosters complements a recent “GPT” model in Microsoft’s AI Builder tool that lets organizations embed text-generation features into their Power Automate and Power Apps solutions. Lamanna says that, for instance, a researcher could use it to summarize text from weekly released reports and have it sent to their email, while a marketing manager could tap the GPT model to create targeted, generated content ideas by entering specific keywords or topics.

Given Microsoft’s recent foray into generative text — i.e. Bing Chat — one is likely to be reluctant to construct an app using the corporate’s tech lest it go off the rails. But Lamanna asserts that conversation boosters and the GPT model — plus Copilot, for that matter — are “grounded in point of fact” by each customer’s CRM, ERP and other data sources.

“AI-generated content is at all times clearly labeled, and users are encouraged to confirm the accuracy before using it. When relevant, we also cite the sources from which the reply was retrieved to higher enable the user to confirm the accuracy of the response,” Lamanna said. “We’ve monitoring and controls in place to permit us to quickly respond with manual intervention in case any issues slip through the above lines of defense.”

There’s nothing to stop users from  taking the time to confirm the content’s accuracy, in fact. Time will tell whether that becomes a problem; studies on automation bias, or people’s tendency to position an excessive amount of trust in AI, suggest that it’d.

Fortunately, the remainder of Copilot’s capabilities are less potentially problematic.

With Copilot in Dynamics 365 Customer Insights and Dynamics 365 Marketing, marketers can receive suggestions about customer segments that they may not have previously considered and create goal segments by describing the segment in their very own words. They can even get ideas for email campaigns, typing in requests to see topics from Copilot, which generates them by pulling from a corporation’s existing marketing emails in addition to “a variety” of web sources, Lamanna says.

Microsoft’s playing catch-up in some respects. The CRM elephant within the room, Salesforce, has for years been injecting (or no less than attempting to inject) its CRM family of products with AI-powered capabilities. Startups like Glint have embraced AI, too, mostly to automate customer support workflows. But as an increasing variety of marketers say they plan to sprinkle AI throughout their content strategies, it may not matter who’s first to the punch, necessarily, but who deploys it first .

“CRM and ERP have long been mission-critical customer and business data sources; nevertheless, they regularly require burdensome tasks like manual data entry, content generation and notetaking,” Lamanna said. “Dynamics 365 Copilot automates these tedious tasks and unlocks the total creativity of the workforce.”

Beyond the sales realm, Copilot in Dynamics 365 Business Central, Microsoft’s business management system, tries to streamline creating e-commerce product listings. Lamanna says that Copilot can generate product attributes like color, material and size with descriptions that will be tailored by adjusting things similar to the tone of voice, format and length.

It’s a bit like Shopify’s recently introduced AI-generated product descriptions tool, a incontrovertible fact that Lamanna not directly acknowledged. He identified that Business Central customers using Shopify can publish products with AI-generated descriptions to their Shopify store in “just a number of clicks” (after they’ve reviewed them for accuracy, hopefully).

Elsewhere, riding the wave of automation in the provision chain industry, Copilot in Microsoft Supply Chain Center can proactively flag issues like weather, financials and geography which may impact supply chain processes. Supply chain planners can then decide to have Copilot mechanically draft an email to alert any impacted partners.

Lamanna argues that even easy AI-imbued processes similar to these — automating emails — can result in a measurable boost in productivity.

“In accordance with our recent survey on business trends, 9 out of 10 staff hope to make use of AI to scale back repetitive tasks of their jobs. AI-powered assistants are actually table stakes for business apps,” Lamanna said. “We imagine Dynamics 365 Copilot will help employees get work done faster so organizations can spend more time on the creative, revolutionary facets of their jobs — like constructing long-term customer relationships.”

As at all times, the reality lies clouded in some marketing fluff. But what’s clear is that Microsoft isn’t slowing its investments in AI and automation. It was just in January that Microsoft invested billions more in OpenAI, and the corporate’s wanting to see a return on investment.

Copilot shall be included in existing Dynamics 365 licenses like Dynamics 365 Sales Enterprise and Dynamics 365 Customer Service Enterprise at no additional cost, Microsoft says. It’ll launch in preview starting March 6, with general availability to follow sometime down the road.


  1. Thank you for your sharing. I am worried that I lack creative ideas. It is your article that makes me full of hope. Thank you. But, I have a question, can you help me?


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