Today, fueled by the growth and demand of AI, data plays a crucial role in digital transformation and gaining a competitive Edge. Microsoft say that today’s data lakes can be fragmented, messy and complicated, making it hard for organisations to create, integrate, manage, and operate data lakes.
Microsoft, having recognised this, announced at Microsoft Build 2023, Microsoft Fabric, which provides an end-to-end platform that can bring together all the necessary data and analytics tools for an organisation. Fabric integrates Azure Data Factory, Azure Synapse Analytics, and Power BI into a single, seamless product, empowering data, and business professionals to unlock the full potential of their data.
What is the use of Microsoft Fabric?
Microsoft Fabric is made up of multiple subsystems, is “lake-centric”, open and extensible and is backed by a shared platform providing world class, enterprise grade, robust data security, governance, and compliance.
Microsoft Fabric is essentially umbrella that sits over the top of Microsoft’s three main Data Analytics products – Power BI, Azure Data Factory, and Azure Synapse. It is a third generation of data platform.
First generation data platforms, such as SQL, SQL Data Warehouse and HDInsight, were inherently isolated data platforms built on traditional data products. Second generation data platforms such as Azure Synapse Analytics, went further by providing integrated platforms at a UX level were still disjointed at the data level. This third generation of data platforms like Microsoft Fabric, builds upon the Synapse “unification” approach but are focussed on enabling data-level interoperability and insights powered by Azure AI.
What are the benefits of using Microsoft Fabric?
The benefits of using Microsoft Fabric include reduced complexity, increased agility, improved security, and reduced costs through unified capacities. Powered by Microsoft AI, and natively integrated into Microsoft 365 applications such as Excel, PowerBI, Teams, and Dynamics 365. Fabric also supports thousands of connectors and deep APIs to allow organisations to better to connect almost any application, workflow, or data source.
Fabric has been designed to empower every business user by deeply integrating with Microsoft 365 applications and provides a rich set of connectors and APIs. Power BI, a core component of Fabric, is seamlessly integrated with popular applications like Excel, Teams, PowerPoint, and SharePoint and as such this deep integration allows users to discover and analyse data directly within these applications, driving a data culture and enabling better decision-making without the needs to switch applications or context.
How does it compare?
Fabric is a complete analytics platform that should eliminate the complexity and expense of integrating and administering multiple subsystems from different vendors. This means users get a truly unified experience and architecture, providing all the capabilities required for extracting insights from data and presenting them to business users. Moreover, Fabric offers role-specific experiences for various teams involved in the analytics process, ensuring a seamless workflow for data engineers, data scientists, analysts, and business users.
Fabric’s lake-centric and open approach is another key differentiator. Fabric includes a multi-cloud data lake called OneLake, which simplifies data management, integration, and operation. OneLake aims to eliminate data duplication and vendor lock-in by organising data into an intuitive hub. OneLake supports open data formats such as Delta and Parquet and allows organisations to work with a single copy of the data across all their Fabric workloads. This reduces cost, vendor lock in, complexity, and management overhead.
Fabric is powered by AI, through Azure OpenAI Service, which is integrated at every layer, it will enable users to leverage the latest generative AI capabilities to quickly find insights across all their data. The upcoming Copilot feature will provide conversational dialogue that will let users quickly create dataflows, build models, and visualise the results using natural language queries and dialogue.
Availability and Pricing
Microsoft Fabric is currently available in preview, and organisations can sign up for a free trial to experience its capability.
Whilst this is in preview, pricing is not final, however, Microsoft say that to share content and collaborate in Microsoft Fabric, your organisation needs to have an organisational license and at least one individual license. A Microsoft Fabric subscription consists of tenants, capacities, and workspaces and can be organised in different ways to fit the needs of your organisational needs.
In short, an organisation needs capacity licenses and individual user licenses. The following information from Microsoft on Fabric Licensing which you can read more here.
Capacity is a dedicated set of resources reserved for exclusive use. It offers dependable, consistent performance for your content. Each capacity offers a selection of SKUs, and each SKU provides different resource tiers for memory and computing power
Individual licenses allow users to work in Microsoft Fabric.
Free – which allow users to create and share Fabric content in Microsoft Fabric so long as they have access to a Fabric Capacity (trial or paid).
Pro – A Pro license lets users share Power BI content with other users. Every organisation needs at least one Pro license if they intend to work with Power BI. If you’re purchasing a Microsoft Fabric license for your organisation, ensure you purchase at least one Pro license for your organisation.
In summary, Microsoft Fabric is comprehensive and integrated solution for data and analytics designed to maximise the AI era. Fabrics’ unified platform, lake-centric approach (OneLake), AI-powered features (including its own Copilot), seamless integration with Microsoft 365, and cost-saving benefits. Fabric aims to simplify, align, and streamline how organisations leverage the power of their data for insights and decision-making.
Yesterday at Microsoft Build, Microsoft announced that is making its’ inevitable step in the future of Windows – making AI an integral part of Windows 11 with Windows Copilot.
In the (to be expected) incredible sizzle video from Microsoft (see below), we saw how the new Windows Copilot tool will live within the Windows sidebar and will be able to offer contextual actions and suggestions based on what’s currently on screen. The user will also be able to ask natural language questions and Copilot will respond much like Bing Chat does.
Microsoft said initial previews of Windows Copilot will begin as soon as next month with Windows Insiders and Windows MVPs.
It will see Microsoft AI becoming front and centre across more than 1.4 billion Windows users in the coming months.
What will Windows Copilot be able to do?
Microsoft say the Copilot will make all Windows users Power Users. It can be used to accomplish tasks within the OS such as turning on or off wireless, changing between light and dark mode, changing projection mode etc, all without having to fumble around trying to find the specific setting. Windows Copilot will also function as a true AI assistant, summarising documents, opening apps, and even sending documents via email. In short – Windows Copilot is the Cortana that never was.
Initially, Windows Copilot will launch as a text-only tool, but in the announcement, Microsoft’s envisions that it will evolving into something you can interact with in other ways, like voice – like Cortana once did #RIPCortana.
Extensibility and Third-Party Apps
As was another common theme at Build2023, Windows Copilot, just like Bing Chat, will also support the same third-party plugins that OpenAI’s ChaptGPT uses. This is huge, since it means that in time, any application developer will be able to easily connect their applications and services to Windows Copilot, which is vital for Windows Copilot to not just be limited to its stock apps and Operating System functions.
This means that users will soon be able use Copilot to perform cross-application tasks. For example, it could review and shorten a document, create a Spotify playlist or share a recent photo to your social media platforms or an email all through a single prompt.
One thing I will say is that by bringing AI front and center of the Windows 11 operating system, (as they will be doing with Office apps and services, I honestly believe this has the potential to totally change the landscape of how we use and interface with our apps and devices.
What about Security and Privacy
We don’t currently know where the AI processing for Windows Copilot take-place will. It is conceivable that this max be a blend of local processing and within Microsoft’s data centres. We also do not yet know if you must be connected/online to the internet for Windows Copilot to work.
From a privacy perspective, we also do not yet have information about whether things like chat history will be preserved, or if there will be a “private mode”. More I am sure will be made available in coming weeks and once it starts being tested with Windows Insiders next month.
I would image also, that the initial Windows Insiders preview will only be available to the US, as is usually the case when these previews first hit.
Microsoft says Windows Copilot will be available in a preview version for Windows 11 users in June. The feature will then roll out some time later this year.
Will it Cost?
We expect this to be “included” within the Windows 11 license for consumers. Less is known about commercial customers at this point.
What do you think?
I’d love to know your thoughts and feedback. What do you think about the flood gates of AI being injected into every application we use. Is it too soon? What are the potential issues?
Everyone has been talking ChatGPT, but here I want to talk about the similarities, differences, and in my view,the HUGE ADVANTAGES OF BING CHAT OVER CHATGPT. Whilst both look similar in the way they work, are both powered by the OpenAI’s Generative AI technology and are conversational based, the speed, accuracy, quality of their responses and capability differs hugely.
Both Bing Chat and ChatGPT are based on the OpenAI GPT technology.
Natural language chatbot ChatGPT, quickly become the focal point in the tech industry since it was annouced and released to the masses at the backend of 2022. Whilst most initially saw it as a “fun way” to write poems, essays, answer exam questions and even generate computer code, 6 months later we are starting to see the true potential of AI as digitial assistants
We now have a plethora of AI tools, with new ones (it feels) coming every day. Outside of this fun stuff, the AI technology behind these tools is capable of so much more, and we are just at the beginning of what will change the way we interface with our devices and apps such as Microsoft Copilot – more on that here:
ChatGPT debuted in Nov 2022, and in Feb 2023, Microsoft their new AI powered version of Bing with Bing Chat being its’ standout feature, powered by the same technology (be it a Peter, better version) behind ChatGPT – a generative artificial intelligence algorithm created by Open AI. Recently Google had also released their AI chat tool Bard, which is not based on OpenAI GPT technology.
ChatGPT debuted in Nov 2022.
In Feb 2023, Microsoft their new AI powered Bing Chat, powered by the technology behind ChatGPT, a generative artificial intelligence algorithm created by Open AI.
Bing Chat vs ChatGPT – What’s the difference?
Bing Chat and ChatGPT both fall under the category of generative AI, which means they can generate brand-new text that has never been written before.
This kind of AI is useful since rather than leveraging keywords to look for text and return results based on a ranking, it works by providing the answer to the question you ask. Of course, it is only able to do this if it can provide accurate information. To do this is needs access to an entire world of data – like the Internet! So how does it work?
Both Bing Chat and Chat GPT are both built on a large language model (LLM), developed by OpenAI, of which Microsoft now own a majority share.
ChatGPT’s model, known as GPT-3.5, has been trained on billions of articles from across the internet but only as recent as end of 2021.
Bing Chat uses a newer, advanced, GPT-4 language model which can work with more different media types and not just text. Free to use.
ChatGPT offers a paid/premium version of its LLM (also using GPT-4), but it is only available today as a $20 per month subscription service.
The first major advantage of Bing Chat is that it, (since it’s also integrated into their native Bing Search, their Edge browser, and Windows 11), is that it can also search the internet for information and references in real-time. This is a huge advantage, because it’s up to date, but can lead also make it less accurate, since any misinformation it finds upon this search can introduce bias or error into its response. In most cases though, Bing Chat does reference its sources at the bottom of each response, which allows you to quickly verify the Bing’s accuracy and appropriateness by clicking on one of the citations.
Who “knows” more? Bing Chat vs Chat GPT
If you’re looking for information on a technical subject or recent event, Bing Chat will always deliver a higher-quality response as it can search the internet in real time so is “up to date”. ChatGPT does not do as well in recent events as it only has knowledge of events prior up to 2021.
This is the second big win for Bing, since it can be used as a copilot for the Internet, for anything from breaking news headline, shopping, days out, and travel since it does not have date limitations and can use the Internet to keep its LLM up to date.
The third key differentiator between the two is that Bing Chat lets you choose from three modes of conversation – Creative, Balanced, and Precise. Creative mode is closest to ChatGPT’s default behaviour.
More Creative: Longer, more descriptive, and “imaginative” answers.
More Precise: Shorter, straightforward search-focused answers.
More Balanced: Default mode – informative, yet friendly – middle of the other styles.
Visually Speaking | Bing Chat vs ChatGPT
The fourth standout feature for me is that you can use Bing Image Creator to generate images based on text prompts as pictured above. OpenAI does offer DALL-E for the same purpose. However, it’s not integrated within ChatGPT currently. What makes Bing Chat great is that you can use it in the flow of the conversation – or can use Bing Chat to create you an image on the fly. Bing uses also uses OpenAI’s DALL-E AI image generator (it is powered by Bing Image Creator) and has fewer limitations that the official OpenAI DALL-E website.
As shown below, by using the “More Creative” conversation style, you can start with a simple question and then elevate to an image all in the same context and without switching to a different tool.
Where can you use it? Bing Chat vs ChatGPT
ChatGPT launched in late 2022 as a web-based tool and whilst there are a few third-party browser extensions the browser remains the main mode of use.
Bing Chat is free and available to all and accessible via the new Bing home page at https://www.bing.com.
The fifth standout feature for me, is all the other places you can access Bing Chat from. For example, there is a dedicated Bing app, you can access it via the Skype app, directly from the Edge Brower, from the Windows 11 search and via the SwiftKey keyboard app.
Current limitations | Bing Chat vs ChatGPT
Bing Chat is free and available to all and accessible via the new Bing home page at https://www.bing.com. as well as via Skype, Edge, Windows 11 and more. Bing Chat uses he newer, more powerful GPT-4 model and supports image search and image creation.
ChatGPT is also free but available only via the web and is limited to Text and uses GPT-3.5, though you can pay for the premium version ($20 a month) where you get higher-quality responses, thanks to the GPT-4 model and should also get priority access to the service, faster response times, and early access to new features. as they become available.
Bing Chat limits conversation length (currently) to twenty conversations per topic before you need to start again, meaning long back-and-forth conversations may not always be possible. Microsoft says that most people find what they’re looking for within five replies or fewer.
ChatGPT doesn’t have such restrictions and imposes very few restrictions on usage (even the free version), allowing for almost unlimited length conversations.
Bing Chat can understand most major languages including French, German, and Japanese.
ChatGPT will also respond in other languages, but the underlying GPT-3.5 model was primarily trained on English samples and text so responses in other languages are not as accurate.
Bing Chat does not impose limits on use and there is no premium tier. Responses are funded by advertising, meaning you may see ads that show up embedded inside the chat responses. For example, if you ask for holiday recommendations, you may see suggestions from local travel agents.
ChatGPT uses a token system, and you are limited to a set number of tokens per day for the free version. The premium (paid) version removes these limitations. Additionally, ChatGPT does not currently use an advertising model so is cleaner not biased.
So which one? Bing Chat or ChatGPT?
So, ok, I may be biased, but that doesn’t mean I am wrong, but in my experience, Bing Chat offers a far more premium offering over ChatGPT. It is free and is (if you like that), integrated across more of the applications, services, and platforms that you most likely use. My reasons to use Bing Chat are:
Bing Chat can be accessed from Windows 11, Skype, Edge, Bing app and SwiftKey
Bing Chat can search the web – it is natively integrated into Bing Search (the new Bing).
Bing Chat lets you tailor your chat experience – providing a richer experience than ChatGPT.
Bing Chat is not just about text chat, it can use images and even create AI powered images
Bing Chat is uses GPT-4 and is still 100% free. ChatGPT 3.5 is also free but not as good and you have to pay $20 a month to use the better GPT-4 version. So just use Bing!
Questions and Answers
Is Bing Chat the “same” as Chat GPT?
No. While both leverage Open AI’s Chat GPT, Bing AI uses a more advanced model codenamed Prometheus that has more capabilities than ChatGPT. Prometheus is a proprietary technology from Microsoft that uses Bing and GPT to generate responses based on real-time data. Microsoft’s new Bing also leverages real-time information and OpenAI’s next-generation GPT-4 model to generate responses and can also search the internet. You cannot do this with ChatGPT, though there are browser extensions which provide some search functionality.
What does GPT stand for?
GPT stands for Generative Pre-Trained Transformer. “A GPT is a language model that has been trained on a vast dataset of text to generate human-like text. For example, the “Chat” part of “ChatGPT” refers to it being a chatbot”. [source: HowToGeek]
Who Owns ChatGPT?
ChatGPT was created by OpenAI, a San Francisco-based start-up. The same Large Language Model (LLM) also powers Microsoft’s Bing Chat. Microsoft owns a majority share in OpenAI and is also using the technology along with its propriety Prometheus model to power upcoming features in Microsoft 365 co-pilot.
What’s the difference between Bing Chat and ChatGPT?
Chat GPT uses GPT-3.5. Bing Chat uses, GPT-4 – OpenAI’s latest language model that’s smarter, safer, and more accurate. GPT-4 supports image inputs for the first time, allowing you to submit visual prompts like a drawing, graph, or infographic. GPT-4 is also smarter and more “creative”.
Chat GPT does have a version based on GPT-4 but is a paid-for premium service. Bing Chat uses GPT-4 already. Bing Chat is also integrated into Bing, Edge, Skype, and Windows 11.
What is Generative AI?
Put simply, Generative AI is a term used to describe computer algorithms that can generate text, images, videos, and audio all on their own based on natural language queries.
Before Generative AI, most AI systems weren’t highly creative and would deliver far worse results than a human. However, that’s no longer the case with generative AI. With Generative AI, you can ask an AI tool like Bing Image Creator to create a photorealistic image of a “cute blue AI creature with orange eyes” and it will deliver the results you see above. In this case, the AI has not been explicitly taught or trained to produce this image, it creates a unique image based on what it knows and what it has therefore “learnt” based.
As such generative AI is designed to mimic the way humans perform tasks. The first step is to extract patterns from existing data (the LLM), so if you want an AI that can generate a face for example, you will need a large dataset containing different images of faces. With enough training, the learning algorithm will learn what a face looks like as well as understanding the common features that a face has, such a nose, eyes ears, and lips. From here, it can start working on smaller details like expressions, facial hair, and skin tones to create unique images.
Hope you found this blog useful and informative and above it, that it’s made you want to try to Bing Chat. As a reminder, here’s how Bing Chat differs from ChatGPT.
ChatGPT and Bing Chat both use GPT as their large language model (LLM), but Microsoft has adopted a more advanced model for Bing Chat which is more accurate and faster (currently) than Chat GPT.
Since Bing Chat is built into Bing Search, the new Chat feature is more up to date that ChatGPT since it can also leverage web results to feeds it LLM. ChatGPT (currently) does not have knowledge of most recent events like up-to-date news.
Bing Chat is available on more platforms than ChatGPT which seamless integration into Edge, Bing Search, Skype and even SwiftKey keyboard for iOS and Android.
Whilst ChatGPT is great with text-based stuff, Bing Chat also has in-built AI image generators powered by Bing Image Creator (try it – it’s awesome).
Bing Chat uses GPT-4 and is free whereas to get equivalent premium access to ChatGPT, you need to pay circa $20 a month which gives you priority usage and other benefits which include GPT-4 LLMs.
Bing provides three different Chat modes (Creative, Balanced and Precise), while ChatGPT does not have any settings or fine-tuning its output and response mode.
Bing Chat always provides links to its’ data sources whereas ChatGPT does not.
Bing Chat supports many non-English languages and is trained on more than English. Whilst ChatGPT can understand non-English languages, its training was primarily on US English words and samples.
Microsoft has announced a new feature to Outlook (initially on the web) that will allow employees to set up their work hours and location (WHL). Originally teased almost 18 months ago, the feature (tagged 88822 in the Microsoft 365 Roadmap) will let users specify the hours they will be working, and if they will be in the office or working remotely.
The feature is rolling out now (May) to preview users and will be generally availability by June 2023.
This comes because, according to Gartner, from the home office to flexible working, to days in the office and to the front line – the way we work continues to change and evolve. There’s more permanence in the flexibility people have come to expect in how they work.
By the end of 2023, 39 percent of global knowledge workers will work hybrid, up from 37 percent in 2022.
An “Outlook” for flexible work
With more people working longer days, shorter weeks or flexible hours, employees will be able to specify different working hours per day, or multiple work slots in a day (for example to fit around school / childcare). For those organisations using Microsoft Teams, which have this feature enabled in Outlook, the location status will also be displayed on their Teams profile card.
Other employees within the in the organisation will be able to see their team and colleagues, working hours, and whether they are working in the office or remote when using the Scheduling Assistant in Outlook on the web or in the Teams profile card.
If users don’t set up WHL, nothing will change.
This feature lays the foundational groundwork needed to support the upcoming Microsoft Places.
Setting your work hours and location
To set your work schedule in Outlook on the web, you simply need to:
Select Settings > View all Outlook settings > Calendar.
Choose Work hours and location, and then define your work schedule by choosing days, times, and locations.
When your schedule changes, you can make the changes in the Calendar view in Outlook or directly from within Microsoft Teams.
Viewing others work schedules
You can view others’ locations when scheduling from Outlook or when viewing their profile card in any the Office apps.
From Outlook, when scheduling a meeting, any employee that has set up their work hours and location, will have their work location and availability shown in the Scheduling Assistant, as shown below. This is also great for shift and part time workers.
Semantic Index for Copilot promises to help organisations get ready for AI within their workplace. What is it? How does it work? and Why will we need it?
Last week as part of Microsoft’ annoucement about the next stage of the early previews of Copilot, they also annouced Semantic Index for Copilot, which will allow organisations to better prepare their data and users for Copilot by creating a “sophisticated map” of user and corporate data.
This map is formed by encoding and indexing the keyword searches by uses into a vector that combines the phrsses, meanings, relationships and context of the data. This map is used to help Microsoft 365 Copilot to essentially learn more about your organisation (privacy and data protection being preserved of course), allowing it to better respond to user queries or “prompts.”
Available soon (for no additional cost) for Microsoft 365 Enterprise [E3 and E5] customers as well as Microsoft 365 Business Standard and Premium, it will work with the Copilot subsystem and the Microsoft Graph to create a sophisticated map of all the users, data and content in your organisation. It’s purpose will be to identify relationships between people and data, helping it to create important connections between them. Organisations will be able to use this to test the responses, answers and deductions formed by Copilot to help clean up, secure and better govern data eliminating the “garbage in, garbage out”, ensuring it will be able to deliver relevant, actionable responses to prompts based on data held within the company. This little video from Microsoft helps bring the process to life:
As the technology community eagerly anticipates the wider release of Copilot, Microsoft’s ongoing efforts to enhance its functionality and expand its accessibility represent a significant step forward in harnessing the power of AI to empower users and streamline work processes. Last week the early preview was extended to 600 (invite only) organisations across the US.
Microsoft also shared new upcoming improvements to their existing products which will become AI infused. These annoucements include the integration of Copilot into Whiteboard, Outlook, OneNote, Loop, and Viva Learning. They also said that new image generation features powered by DALL-E are coming to PowerPoint.
Finally, a reminder from Microsoft that they are committed to ensure tbeir AI solutions adhere to their strict Responsible AI Standard while providing meaningful benefits to their customers.
Microsoft’s Work Trend Index reenfoced our ‘need’ for AI
In order to further remind us, why we lift like Copilot is needed in today’s work environments, Microsoft also revealed the results of their 2023 Annual Work Trend Index.
This report is based on surveys of 31,000 individuals spread across 31 countries. Microsoft’s findings this year indicated that there has been a drastic increae in the volume of assigned work and the pace required from employees. The report claims that leaders, managers and workers are more looking towards AI solutions to reduce their respective workloads, rather than being scared about jobs it may replace.
The work trend index also highlights the following key points..
62% of employees spend unnecessary time searching for information, as well as communicating and coordinating across teams, leaving little focus time
Nearly two-thirds of the respondents noted that they did not find enough time to do their actual job
70% of respondents would prefer delegating some of their workload to AI copilots
With the rise in AI-powered solutions, 49% are concerned about job security
Managers are 2x more likely to empower their employees with AI rather than replace them with it
82% of enterprise leaders believe that their employees will require new skills in this age of AI, including prompt engineering and enhancing their workflows by integrating AI
There has been a 79% year-over-year increase in LinkedIn job postings which have used words like “GPT” and “GAI” (generative artificial intelligence)
Everyone got very excited when Microsoft introduced the world to Microsoft Copilot back in March this year and just yesterday they reached a new milestone, after annoucing a private preview with just 600 global customers.
But… One of the questions I get asked a lot (between colleagues, partners and customers) is “…are there things we need to do to be ready for Copilot when it becomes available”.
The simple answer is yes – if you want it to work as expected
The longer answer is “it depends” on if you plan to use it, how well your current data is structured, organised and governed, and what processes you have in place around user education, training and change management.
Based on the work I have been doing with Microsoft, this list is aimed to provide the key things, suggestions and considerations for IT, managers and leadership on things you’ll want to get ship-shape while we wait for Copilot to be more generally available, which my sources tell me will be late 2023 to Q1 2024.
1. Get your data in shape.
The reason Microsoft 365 is the productivity suite of choice for so many (arguably most) organisations is because it brings together applications, data, groups, users and services into a common and integrated suite, as well as providing thousands of connectors to allow organisations to connect third-party apps and data into mix.
Powered by the Microsoft Graph, Microsoft 365 already has the power to connect people, teams, and organisations across all their apps and services in an intelligent and context aware, with AI powered services scattered across the Microsoft 365 apps and services you use every day….
With Microsoft Copilot….this will move to a whole new level.
Copilot will put conversational AI at the front and centre of every app and service you know and use. Leveraging personal context, re-generative learning and of course the Microsoft Graph, Copilot will make its’ own deductions on what you ask, what you mean, and how you work. Whilst it will learn and evolve, it will of course, still be dependent on your organisational data, and how its structured, governed and secured.
This means if you have say 50 different documents spread out in 15 different locations that talk about your company strategy or business objectives, and only one of them is the up-to-date version. How will Copilot know which version is correct when it needs to surface information based on a request? In the same way, if the management and reporting structure, job titles and other information is incorrect in Azure AD, Copilots’ decisions and advice around people will also likely be incorrect.
To help, organisations get AI-ready, Microsoft have announced that they will soon start to roll out a service known as Semantic Index for Copilot. This is a new service coming to Microsoft 365 which will create a sophisticated map of your data to help you test how Copilot will ingest and act on your data. Image for example a sales manager asking for “FY23 Sales Report,”. Copilot will be data and context aware, meaning that it will not simply look for documents that contain keywords in the filename or text body. Instead, Copilot will try to “understand” and “learn” about who within the organisation produces such reports, when they are shared, and where they are shared to.
Microsoft say that Semantic Index for Copilot will be a vital tool to help organisations ensure that employees will get predicable, relevant, accurate, and actionable responses to their asks of Copilot and will help your organisation to “tweak” their data lifecycle and governance to ensure that the data Copilot acts on is correct and accessible (or not) by the right people.
What should you do? 1. Check and refine your SharePoint and Teams lifecycle, governance and compliance policies 2. Speak to your Microsoft partner about a funded data governance workshop 3. Review and update Active Directory (or connect to HR to ensure these are up-to-date) 4. Look out for the release of Semantic Index for Copilot to "test your data"
2. Get your security in order
In a similar fashion to making sure our data is correct from a version and validty perspective, if we dont get our security and access control polcies in shape, we risk Copilot duiscovering data that a employee or team may not “meant to have access to”.
In the much the same way that the Office 365 apps “discover” the data around you – presenting files that your collegaues and teams are working on together, Copilot will do the same but on a whole new level, as what is searches for, indexes and uses, will be instructed by the user rather than simply surfaced.
Just like the rest of Microsoft 365, Copilot will adhere to the security, privacy, data governance and data sensitivity policies that has been set-up within your organisation, and will not provide information that the user doesn’t have access to. It may suggest for, example, “you dont have access to that, you may need to request this from Pam in accounts”.
The potential problem of course is that many (ok most) organisations have a sprawl of Teams sites, poor or inconsistent data governance, and inadequate user training, meaning that put simply, you may not realise the sheer amount of information and documents that is being shared within your organisation, and more importantly who actually has access to what data and how many copies may exist and where!
We all worry about Security – do we have MFA? Do we have conditional access configured? Are account protected? Is sensitive information protected? etc. We know the slogan “hackers dont hack in, they login” – just imagine if you have Copilot, and a users’ identity gets compromised. They log in, and with Copilot at their fingertips, they don’t need to worry about where stuff is stored as Copilot will do all the discovery for them!
So what can you do? 1. Review and refine your document management, security and privacy policies - perhaps introduce or enforce DLP and Data Classifcation - aka Microsoft Purview 2. Review your security posture, MFA enforcement, risk based conditional access etc 3. Create straightforward instructions and train people where to store documents and how to protect and secure them 4. Run a pilot and look at adoption data loss prevention and information classification to protect sensitive data. 5. Speak to your Microsoft partner about a funded workshop for 1, 2 and 3.
3. Explore, Plan, Experiment – but treat it as organisational change!
The release of Microsoft Copilot is still a little way away (it is a closed Private Preview today with around 600 global organisations) and there are currently no dates on the roadmap for a public preview mainstream release. There is also no pricing yet about pricing.
What we do know is – it is coming and it will fundamentally impact and change how your people and teams will work. Yes, there is still an element of hype, lots of desire to test it out, loads and loads of questions and lots of unknowns.
Communication and training is going to be a key part of sucess. How do you interface with AI? Yes its’ intelligent, but it’s not a human, therefore people need to be taught how to best work with Copilot. Bear in mind most people use around ten percent of the functionality of say Teams (with most just using basic functions like chat and calling), but to get the most from it, users need to know what to expect, how to use it and how the organisation wants (or not) employees to use it…
Create a pilot group and mini success team. Use this team to keep up-to-date with the news and blogs and above all make sure leadership, management and IT are “in the know”.
Start communicating your plans for Copilot and AI in general. Employees will and should have questions. Are there roles that might change or not be needed? Will you stop hiring? Will you wait and see? It will be important to talk to, and listen to employees, and ideally form a “success with AI” unit, bringing people together from different parts of the business, to discover the challenges they face in their everyday work and how they think and hope AI will help them.
Above all – think of this like a project (one of continual change). Depending on your business, AI will have an impact, and the whole organisation will need to understand and embrace this change (once we have it all working of course). Consider an AI abmassador and follow your usual approach to change management with a roadmap, PoCs, pilots and feedback groups so you hit it head on, with ideas, and a solid vision but with room for hiccups, course changes and surprises on the way.
That sounds like a lot - what can we do? 1. Build a success unit (could be a Team site of Viva Community) 2. Get onto early adoptor programmes when availble, go to the AI conferences and start to leverage demos etc when available. 3. Talk to your peers, partners, and Microsoft Team and look out for funded workshops which will likely be available from summer. 4. Read Microsoft's Worklab report on working with next generation AI (it's a good read).
4. Keep Calm – it is coming but there is time to prepare
Microsoft has just announced the launch of their Microsoft 365 Copilot Early Access Program. It’s an invitation-only, paid preview program that’s set to roll out to only 600 clients across the globe at first in the coming weeks.
They say that they have received overwhelming feedback from their initial early preview clients, they have been “testing the concepts” with. They say those clients have indicated huge benefits to business and the ways in which it can transform and reshape work. In recent months, Microsoft have also released further information around how Copilot will will impact other applications such as Viva, Dynamics 365, Teams and more with new capabilities being announced almost weekly.
We will know more as we move forward – there are lots of moving parts – previews, public previews, (potentially) governments getting in the way, data soverignty issues (today data is only processed in the US and not local in local geo), licensing prices and of course availabilty….
In fact – this is probably already out of date as its a rapid moving landscape, and this is just the tip of the iceberg and just Microsoft.
What should you do? 1. Keep checking with your Microsoft team,. your partner and the Microsoft 365 Roadmap 2. Start thinking roles that will be positively affected by AI in the workplace. Speak to users, buid your success team. 3. Think about new skills your teams will need to work along side AI. 4. Read Microsoft's Worklab report on working with next generational AI (it's a good read).
What is next in CoPilot?
A good question….
When Microsoft annouced Copilot in March, where they showed the value concepts in apps like teams, Powerpoint and Excel, they said that this was “just the beginning”. Over the last couple of months, Microsoft have continued to tease new Copilot capabilities to bring AI to every part of Microsoft apps and services. The key annoucements (since the actual annoucement include):
Copilot in Whiteboard – which will make Microsoft Teams meetings and brainstorms more creative and effective. Using natural language, you will be able to ask Copilot to generate ideas, organize ideas into themes, create designs that bring ideas to life and summarise whiteboard 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 will helps your team stay in sync by quickly summarising 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.
Q&A – This will evolve
What we know
Where will the data be processed by Copilot?
Microsoft have said that currently all processing will take place is the US. It will eventually be regionalised based on customer tennant. No time scales yet
May 2023: Microsoft 365 Conference
Will Copilot respect data seciuroty and soverienty?
Yes -Microsoft have made it clear that Copilots’ sphere of access will be limited to the user context in which it runs, goverened by your organisation’s policies.
Microsoft Loop was originally announced back in late 2021 and a “next-generation co-creation app that connects teams and tasks across your tools and devices. It’s a new way of working – so you and your team can think, plan, and create together from anywhere!” | Microsoft.
Loop introduces a new collaborative way for people to come together and collaborate in new and simple way, breaking down the traditional barriers and issues of over emailing, co-authoring, and sharing. The flexible interface means employees can organise their workspace the way that works best for them.
Microsoft have been working for years to create a new kind of dynamic Office document, known as fluid. The core idea is to transform the tables, graphs, and lists that you typically find in Office documents into living, collaborative blocks of content that exist anywhere.
For me, what makes Microsoft Loop different is the sheer ways and places in which live collaboration can take place – from any Office App
This means for example, that you can create and share loop components (a pool, list, paragraph etc), a loop page (consisting of multiple loop components), or a loop workspace (multiple loop pages) via any, or multiple methods such as in an email, a Teams chat or within say a Whiteboard. The loop component exists once, and all changes and updates are therefore update in real time no matter where they are.
Getting started with Loop
You can get started with Microsoft Loop by signing in with your work (or personal) account at https://loop.microsoft.com. You can also download the Loop mobile app for Android and iOS to access Loop on the go. I’d also strongly suggest pinning the Loop webpage as an app to make it easier to access like you would Word or Teams. You can do this from the tool bar in Edge.
Microsoft say that the primary goal of loop is to help “break down silos between apps, people, teams, tools, and devices – enabling your people to be more efficient when creating or organising content” when compared to the current method of document sharing and co-authoring (though there are similarities to the latter).
Microsoft Loop has three main elements, which are made up of components, pages and workspaces.
Loop workspaces: shared spaces that allow you and your team to see and group everything important to your project. You can easily catch up on what everyone is working on and track progress toward shared goals. These contain loop pages.
Loop pages: flexible canvases in the Loop app where you can bring together people and all your components, links, tasks, and data. Loop pages can start small and grow to match the size of your ideas. You can share them across Microsoft 365 apps as a link or as an embedded Loop component. These contain loop components.
Loop components: are portable pieces of content that stay coordinated across all the places they are shared. They can be lists, tables, notes, and more. You can use them in your preferred app, like Microsoft Teams, Outlook, Word, Whiteboard, and the Loop app.
So, you might be in a Teams chat and working on a quick table or list with a couple of a whole team of people. Rather than all send out multiple versions or create a formal document, you can quickly create a loop component in Teams and then if you need wider input, share that component in an email for others to review and edit – the table will be updated for everyone wherever it’s embedded or updated from. Check out the example below.
Similar Products: Microsoft Loop is designed with collaboration and co-creation in mind. The main interface looks a lot like Notion, a workspace app that is used by Adobe, Figma, Amazon, and many other businesses. What makes Loop different is the seamless integration across the rest of the collaboration tools employees use in Microsoft 365.
Benefits of using Loop
Microsoft Loop can help you work better with your team in many ways. Here are some of the benefits of using Loop to work:
Stay coordinated without switching apps: Loop lets you get more done from where you are working without needing to switch apps since Loop components synchronise across apps in real time meaning no copying and pasting information or switching between apps.
Get started quickly: Loop lets you kick off projects or discussions with intelligent suggestions and page templates along with quick access to add the other components you need to work together.
Work together wherever, whenever: Loop is all about collaborating on ideas asynchronously. Loop is simple to use, fluid and intuitive meaning people can come together regardless of time zone, location, and work preference.
Seamless integration across Microsoft 365 Apps: Loop lets you also assign tasks, have task lists, and therefore assign actions. As you’d expect these are fully integrated into the native project and task management features across Microsoft 365. This means teams can create progress trackers and custom labels and have these automatically synchronised up to Planner and To-Do.
Loop Use cases
Ok, so why might you want to use Loop? Afterall, people have been collaborating, brainstorming, working on stuff together for ever using the tools we already have. Since Loop is about breaking away from the constraints of the app and instead focusses on collaborate content, there are some notable examples of where organisations are using Loop to help with:
Brainstorming ideas: Loop is a great space to use components, such as lists, tables, or notes, to quickly create and share your ideas with your team. When available, Copilot will be able to be used to get AI-powered suggestions.
Creating a project plan: Loop pages can be used to make a dynamic project canvas. Since Loop page can leverage sync components such as Todo lists, planner boards and other components, you can create a flexible canvas for the project that is more creative. From here you can easily add components, such as tasks, calendars, roadmaps, and charts, and you can even link to other loop pages, files, or websites to pull all the project resources together in one place.
Preparing a Presentation or Executive Summary: Rather than sharing files and emailing back and forth, you can use Loop components, such as paragraphs, images, lists etc to draft and refine a presentation or document summary. You’ll also be able to use Copilot to improve your writing and generate content or create a starting point from another document. You can also insert Loop components directly into other office apps meaning they can contribute and review without needing access to the full document. This can also be useful for sensitive docs with limited audience.
Running a Meeting: This will soon be how meeting notes work in Teams – but, Loop components, such as agendas, notes, or polls, are a great way to plan and run meetings in real time. Since you can then share the agenda, actions, and other information into other apps like email and teams, these components (such as actions) can be updated easily from anywhere.
Loop Adoption tips
As with anything new that changes how we work, the key with evaluating the use cases of Loop are to start in a confined group.
Start small and simple: Loop is a new way of working together, so it might take some time to get used to it. Start with simple use cases, such as brainstorming ideas, creating checklists, or sharing notes. Use Loop components in your existing apps, like Teams or Outlook, to see how they can enhance your collaboration.
Show the value and benefits: Loop can help people work more efficiently and creatively. As you find use cases of your own, showcase these and spread the loop love. Show others how Loop can save time, reduce app and context switching, and keep everyone aligned. Share examples of how Loop makes the process easier than for example sending emails back and forth.
Be flexible and open-minded: Loop is a flexible and dynamic platform that can adapt to the diverse needs and preferences of different people, use cases and needs. Be open to trying new ways of working together and experimenting with different components and pages. Loop is designed to empower you and your team to co-create like never before.
Get feedback and support: Loop is new and in preview, so it’s not yet a finished product. Ensure you discuss issues and feedback using the feedback section in the Loop app. There are also loads of useful help articles and user groups on linked in and in the Microsoft Tech Community.
Yeah – it’s still in early preview so several things are not where they will be. For me one, the things I hope come soon are the ability to use Loop with guests/external users as today they are “internal only”. It would also be nice to be able to use Loop within Teams Channels (when used in a chat, the Loop is stored in the users OneDrive which is pain). I know both are high on the agenda for Microsoft.
What about Copilot?
Copilot will also be coming to Loop at some point (they do like to tease it) and is currently in private preview with a subset of organisations. Microsoft say that users will be able to use AI-powered suggestions to create a “brainstorm or blueprint”, with Microsoft adapting its Copilot to support a multi-user mode where people can work together with Copilot and ask it questions and manipulate the responses.