AI tool Copilot is changing how we work. Here's what to keep in mind before migrating to Microsoft 365.

Stacey Farrar, Product Marketing Manager

January 5, 2024

4 Min Read
AI tool Copilot and Microsoft 365
JLStock/Shutterstock

This past fall, Microsoft rolled out Copilot, a tool the company billed as an "everyday AI companion." Almost immediately, its power was obvious. Promotion videos show Copilot across Office apps, summarizing meeting minutes in seconds, drafting reports and emails just as quickly, generating original images, slides, and text for tasks that might normally take half a day to hash out — all with a sentence or two of prompting.

Microsoft claims that Copilot isn't just the latest neat chatbot, but an integrated tool that will change the way work is done in Office (and offices). According to Forrester, roughly 6.9 million knowledge workers in the U.S. will be using Copilot in 2024. That means there could be a rush of Microsoft 365 migrations to take advantage of the AI assistant. It also means IT teams and MSPs will have their work cut out for them.

Copilot Goes Beyond a Single App

Even though Copilot runs on the advanced capabilities of OpenAI's GPT-4 large-language models, it's not simply a chatbot tacked on to a Microsoft Office app. It's an office assistant that moves across all Office apps. Users can summon it (much like Clippy), but instead of offering not-always-wanted advice, Copilot will complete tasks such as generating outlines or texts of documents, summarizing email threads and meeting minutes, creating PowerPoint decks from scratch, analyzing Excel data and creating PivotTablets, and prepping users for Teams meetings.

Related:TD Synnex Launches New Microsoft 365 Copilot Program

In other words, the claim that Copilot will introduce "a whole new way of working" doesn't seem too far-fetched.

Copilot enhances and streamlines the creation process and has the potential to be a powerful organizational tool. "On a given workday, our heaviest users search for what they need 18 times, receive over 250 Outlook emails and send or read nearly 150 Teams chats," writes Microsoft's Yusuf Mehdi. “Teams users globally are in three times more meetings each week than they were in 2020. And on Windows, some people use 11 apps in a single day to get work done."

Microsoft touts Copilot as a cure for such complexity. Because it works across Microsoft 365, Copilot can develop a deep understanding of a user's job and workflow, helping to prioritize and organize tasks, meetings and emails. Copilot also connects and coordinates various calendars and accounts — such as Gmail, Yahoo, iCloud and more — to build a seamless approach to knowledge work. 

Its large language models allow it to quickly do complex tasks. "You can give it natural language prompts like 'Tell my team how we updated the product strategy,' " says Microsoft's Jared Spataro, "and it will generate a status update based on the morning's meetings, emails and chat threads."

Related:Microsoft Previews Bing Chat Enterprise, Sets Microsoft 365 Copilot Pricing

What IT Professionals Need to Know

With Copilot's promises of productivity, many organizations will be eying a Microsoft 365 migration. Before starting, however, there are some key considerations for IT teams and MSPs. It's important to understand the migration's impact on cost, security and compliance, data governance and change management.

The first step is understanding Microsoft's licensing model. These models can be complex, and finding the right fit depends on the size and needs of the organization. A comprehensive assessment of your organization's product and service requirements will make this decision easier and prepare leadership for the potential cost implications.

Anytime you move data, security and compliance needs to be a top priority. Microsoft provides a range of security features and compliance certifications. Before the migration, your team will need a clear and detailed understanding of your organization's specific compliance requirements. Only then can it make an informed decision about how Microsoft's services can help achieve and maintain data security and compliance.

Related:10 Channel-Impacting AI Predictions for 2024

The best way to mitigate security and compliance risks during a migration is to have a comprehensive data governance plan in place. This plan establishes organizationwide policies for managing the availability, usability and integrity of data before, during and after the migration. Scalable and sustainable data-governance plans ensure that companies retain the correct level of data privacy and comply with government and industry-specific regulations such as GDPR and HIPAA.

Before the first piece of data is migrated, though, it's essential to create a change management plan. This plan should include training and resources to help all employees adapt to the new Microsoft 365 process and workflows. If Copilot is driving a migration, it's essential that employees understand what this new AI assistant is capable of and how to use it. Training and support must be a priority early in the migration — not an afterthought.

Select Migration Tools Carefully

There are different migration tools to help with such a large and fundamental change to your organization. Selecting the right one for your specific job is key to a successful migration. You will want a migration tool purpose-built with Microsoft — this helps avoid setbacks that can derail a migration and cost your team and company time and resources. Be sure to look for third-party tools. They often provide advanced configuration options, technical support and cost-effective capabilities that you don't get with other solutions.

Microsoft is betting that Copilot will change the nature of knowledge work. Early indications show that this is a sound bet. Copilot's power promises to be a big draw for Microsoft 365. That means IT teams and MSPs need to be prepared for the extensive migrations ahead of them. 

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About the Author(s)

Stacey Farrar

Product Marketing Manager, BitTitan

Stacey Farrar is a product marketing manager at BitTitan, where he oversees go-to-market strategy and product messaging for MigrationWiz. His areas of expertise include cloud automation, SaaS, product marketing and management, digital marketing, customer engagement and business development.

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