How to prepare for Microsoft 365 copilot

As organizations embrace digital transformation, intelligent, AI-powered tools like Microsoft Copilot are becoming essential for enhancing productivity, optimizing processes and streamlining workflows. Copilot offers real-time assistance across various Microsoft apps, from drafting emails to writing code, it can help people across your organization be more efficient and successful with their everyday tasks.

What is Microsoft Copilot?

Microsoft Copilot is a categorization of products that integrates and leverages large language models, based on the ChatGPT framework, that allows for the creation of content based on input prompts. The Copilot brand encompasses a diverse range of tools with differing functionalities to assist users across various organizational tasks. There are Copilots designed for building chatbots, aiding in Python code development, facilitating the creation of Power BI reports and more. Each separate Copilot serves as an AI companion, providing support tailored to your distinct needs.

While Microsoft does provide a variety of Copilot options, Microsoft Copilot for Microsoft 365 is the primary offering for users in any organization.

Microsoft Copilot for Microsoft 365

Microsoft Copilot for Microsoft 365 seamlessly integrates into the Microsoft 356 ecosystem, including Teams, Word, Outlook, PowerPoint and Excel, allowing your organization to efficiently collaborate by accessing Copilot features where you need them. By offering relevant content, ideas and insights while you work, Copilot for Microsoft 365 can bring immense value to your organization, regardless of industry, size or level of expertise. The following outlines a few of the benefits Copilot can bring to your organization:

  • Enhance productivity: Copilot can enhance productivity across your organization by streamlining both coding and various organizational tasks by providing intelligent suggestions and automating manual processes. Copilot functions as an intelligent assistant, offering real-time suggestions as professionals and developers work on their respective tasks. By providing context-aware code completions and suggesting alternative phrases or better sentence structures, Copilot accelerates working processes, reducing the time and manual effort required to accomplish them.
  • Automate tasks: Copilot can help automate repetitive, time-consuming tasks by identifying patterns and executing actions on your behalf. For example, in Outlook, it can categorize emails automatically, set reminders and even draft responses by leveraging insights from your communication history. For developers, it can help to identify and correct common coding errors and propose relevant functions based on the context of the code being written. This automation not only reduces the likelihood of human errors, but also frees up time for workers to redirect toward more value-added aspects of their work.
  • Improved coding: Copilot can help you write code faster and easier, reducing the time and effort required to develop, test and deploy your applications. It can also assist you in reusing and refactoring your existing code, minimizing the need to write new code from scratch. Additionally, Copilot helps you avoid bugs and errors, improving the quality and reliability of your code.
  • Elevate competitiveness and innovation: Copilot can help you leverage the latest technologies, such as cloud, AI and IoT, to create cutting-edge applications that solve your business challenges and improve your customer experience. By enabling you to update and improve your applications faster and more efficiently, Copilot helps your organization keep up with the changing market demands and customer expectations. With the ability to create unique and customized solutions that can meet your specific needs and goals, Copilot helps you differentiate yourself from and stay ahead of your competitors.

To get started using Copilot for Microsoft 365, organizations will need a Microsoft 356 Business Standard or Premium subscription as well as an annual commitment of an additional $30 per user per month for the Copilot tool.

Five privacy and security concerns to address

While Microsoft Copilot is a powerful tool that can help enhance productivity across your organization, like any AI-powered technology, it raises certain privacy and security concerns that organizations should carefully consider and prepare for prior to implementation. This is due to Copilot’s ability to access data from your internal systems, such as SharePoint, Outlook and Teams, which may contain proprietary or sensitive information.

Implementing a well-defined data privacy, data security, and data governance program is crucial before deploying Microsoft Copilot for several reasons:

  1. Compliance and legal obligations: The use of consumer data may be subject to state-specific or international regulations and compliance requirements, depending on the location of your organization’s operations. Having a robust program ensures compliance with these legal obligations, safeguarding the organization from potential legal consequences.
  2. Protection of sensitive information: Copilot may have access to sensitive information within your organization's data repositories. A comprehensive data privacy and security program helps identify and protect sensitive data, such as personally identifiable information (PII) and trade secrets.
  3. Data exfiltration prevention: Copilot's capabilities may inadvertently lead to data exfiltration, where sensitive information leaves the organization's secure environment. A strong data governance program establishes controls to prevent unauthorized data access and transmission.
  4. User awareness and training: Employees need to be aware of data privacy and security best practices when working with AI tools. A structured program includes training initiatives to educate users on handling data responsibly and securely.
  5. Avoiding bias and fairness issues: Copilot, like any AI tool, may exhibit biases present in its training data. A data governance program can include measures to identify and address biases, promoting fairness and equity in the use of AI.

Overall, a well-established data privacy, security and governance program not only safeguards the organization from legal and regulatory risks but also promotes responsible and ethical use of AI technologies like Microsoft Copilot. It helps create a secure environment that fosters innovation while protecting the integrity and confidentiality of organizational data.

How to prepare for Microsoft Copilot today

Like any digital transformation initiative, before implementation, your organization should engage in an organizational readiness assessment to ensure leaders can identify any roadblocks that may impede the implementation’s success and have the time and flexibility needed to make any necessary adjustments before the transformation gains momentum.

It's crucial to engage your workforce in the strategic planning process as they bring valuable perspectives essential for understanding the practical implications of the initiative. Ensuring everyone in your organization is in alignment and aware of why the ongoing changes are necessary to your organization will increase the likelihood of its success.

Additionally, an AI readiness assessment can help you identify intolerable security vulnerabilities and outline the necessary actions you need to take to safeguard your organization. Understanding where your organization is currently at will help you in building out strong data privacy, security and governance programs necessary prior to implementation. From compliance and data protection to risk mitigation, a comprehensive assessment can help your organization ensure a seamless and secure adoption of Microsoft Copilot.

How we can help

Microsoft Copilot is a game-changer for business leaders looking to leverage AI-powered technology to stay ahead of the curve. However, integrating advanced technologies requires a proactive approach to address privacy and security concerns. Baker Tilly Digital can help your organization assess and establish robust data privacy, security and governance programs to navigate any potential risks effectively.

And as fostering understanding and support among employees plays a pivotal role in the success of any initiative, organizational change management support can help ensure your organization is foundationally prepared to implement Microsoft Copilot successfully. By prioritizing these considerations, organizations can leverage the benefits of Microsoft Copilot while safeguarding their data and maintaining a resilient and secure technology landscape.

Interested in learning more? Contact one of our professionals today.

Chris Wagner
Jordan Anderson
college and university boards can co-source or outsource internal audit function with Baker Tilly
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