In March, we introduced the world to Microsoft 365 Copilot – your copilot for work. We’re excited to share the next step in our journey as we bring Copilot to more customers and introduce new capabilities. We’re also releasing new data and insights from our 2023 Work Trend Index on how work is changing in the era of AI.
Microsoft 365 Copilot Early Access Program
Since March, we’ve been testing Copilot with 20 enterprise customers, learning alongside companies like Chevron, Goodyear, General Motors and Dow. Their overwhelming feedback is that Copilot has the potential to revolutionize work. They point to how it is a game changer for meetings and is beginning to transform the way they create. And, they’ve identified areas where we can do more to help people adapt to this new way of working, like the need for more conversational, multi-turn interactions. As we bring Copilot to more customers, we’ll continue to rely on this kind of feedback to refine Copilot and help guide users as they adapt to this new way of working.
“The potential of Microsoft 365 Copilot is undeniable, and it’s energizing to explore the possibilities as we couple the ingenuity of our people with the functionality of the tool. Early access has given us visibility into how it can further streamline processes, speed insights, spark ideas, enhance productivity and evolve the way we work. We’re proud to team with Microsoft as we continue to achieve new levels of innovation and advance the future of energy.” – Guy Moore, Workforce Enablement Lead, Chevron
Today, we’re excited to announce the Microsoft 365 Copilot Early Access Program, an invitation-only, paid preview that will roll out to an initial wave of 600 customers worldwide.
And, to help every customer get AI-ready, we’ll also start rolling out Semantic Index for Copilot – a new capability in Microsoft 365 E3 and E5. Semantic Index for Copilot is a sophisticated map of your user and company data. For example, when you ask it about the “March Sales Report,” it doesn’t simply look for documents with those words in the file name or body. Instead, it understands that “sales reports are produced by Kelly on the finance team and created in Excel.” And it uses that conceptual understanding to determine your intent and help you find what you need. The Semantic Index for Copilot is critical to getting relevant, actionable responses to prompts in Microsoft 365 Copilot. And, it enhances enterprise search results for E3 and E5 customers – whether they are using Copilot or not.
2023 Work Trend Index
The platform shift to AI is well underway. Just as customers turned to Microsoft to help them make the shift to remote and flexible work, they’re now turning to us to help them understand how this new era of AI will change work yet again.
Our 2023 Annual Work Trend Index surveyed 31,000 people in 31 countries and analyzed trillions of aggregated productivity signals in Microsoft 365, along with labor market trends on LinkedIn to understand what the new era of AI means for work. The data paints a clear picture: The pace and volume of work has increased exponentially, and employees are struggling under the weight of work – putting innovation at risk. Leaders and employees alike are eager for AI to lift the burden.
“This new generation of AI will remove the drudgery of work and unleash creativity,” said Satya Nadella, Chairman and CEO, Microsoft. “There’s an enormous opportunity for AI-powered tools to help alleviate digital debt, build AI aptitude, and empower employees.”
The report unearthed three key insights business leaders need to know now, as they look to responsibly adopt AI:
Digital debt costing us innovation
We’re all carrying digital debt: The volume of data, emails and chats has outpaced our ability to process it all. Every minute spent managing this digital debt is a minute not spent on creative work. In a world where creativity is the new productivity, digital debt is more than an inconvenience – it’s impacting business.
When 62% of employees report spending too much time searching for information, communicating and coordinating, they have less time for deep thinking, creating and social collaboration. Nearly two in three people say they don’t have enough time and energy to do their job. And those same employees are 3.5 times more likely to struggle with innovation and strategic thinking.
There’s a new AI-employee alliance
One of the predominant narratives around AI is the notion employees are fearful it may ultimately put them out of a job. While 49% of our respondents had some concerns about job security, a staggering 70% would still choose to delegate as much work as possible to AI to lessen their workloads. Simply put: Employees know what’s in it for them, the promise of relief outweighs the threat. They envision using AI not just for administrative tasks, but also for analytical and creative work.
This is one place where employees and leaders agree. Our data shows managers are two times more likely to say they’re looking to empower people with AI, rather than replace them. In fact, reducing headcount was last on their list. Their top hopes for AI? Increasing productivity, automating tasks, increasing employee well-being and enabling employees to focus on impactful work.
Every employee needs AI aptitude
AI will introduce an entirely new interaction model between humans and computers, and soon we won’t be able to imagine work without it. A platform shift this big will require new skilling – from prompt engineering to reimagining workflows with AI. Eighty-two percent of leaders anticipate employees will need new skills in the AI era, and we’re already seeing a 79% year-over-year increase in the number of LinkedIn job postings in the U.S. that reference “GPT” or “GAI” (generative artificial intelligence).
Employees are ready for this new aptitude — learning new skills is the No. 1 thing they’d do with more time and energy. Leaders feel the same: Learning new skills is also the No. 1 thing they wish their employees would do with more time and energy.
Introducing new Microsoft 365 Copilot capabilities
When we introduced Copilot in March, we unveiled capabilities across the Microsoft 365 suite of apps that millions use every day to get work done. We’re not stopping there – we’re continuing to add new Copilot capabilities to bring AI to every part of the suite, enabling employees and organizations to unleash creativity, unlock productivity and uplevel skills.
- Copilot in Whiteboard will make Microsoft Teams meetings and brainstorms more creative and effective. Using natural language, you can ask Copilot to generate ideas, organize ideas into themes, create designs that bring ideas to life and summarize whiteboard content.
- By integrating DALL-E, OpenAI’s image generator, into PowerPoint, users will be able to ask Copilot to create custom images to support their content.
- Copilot in Outlook will offer coaching tips and suggestions on clarity, sentiment and tone to help users write more effective emails and communicate more confidently.
- Copilot in OneNote will use prompts to draft plans, generate ideas, create lists and organize information to help customers find what they need easily.
- Copilot in Loop helps your team stay in sync by quickly summarizing all the content on your Loop page to keep everyone aligned and able to collaborate effectively.
- Copilot in Viva Learning will use a natural language chat interface to help users create a personalized learning journey including designing upskilling paths, discovering relevant learning resources and scheduling time for assigned trainings.
As we bring Microsoft 365 Copilot to customers, we are guided by our AI principles and Responsible AI Standard and decades of research on AI, grounding and privacy-preserving machine learning. A multidisciplinary team of researchers, engineers and policy experts reviews our AI systems for potential harms and mitigations — refining training data, filtering to limit harmful content, query- and result-blocking sensitive topics, and applying Microsoft technologies like InterpretML and Fairlearn to help detect and correct data bias. We make it clear how the system makes decisions by noting limitations, linking to sources, and prompting users to review, fact-check and adjust content based on subject-matter expertise.
The platform shift to AI is underway, ushering in a new wave of productivity growth. And for both overwhelmed employees and leaders looking to bolster productivity, that promise can’t come soon enough. AI represents a whole new way of working – one that will require new skills and habits. Organizations that embrace this new way of working from AI on “autopilot” to AI as copilot will create a brighter, more fulfilling future of work for everyone.
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