What is Microsoft Copilot: A Guide to Next-Gen AI Productivity in the Workplace

Microsoft Copilot is an AI-driven workplace assistant, that seamlessly combines Large Language Models with Microsoft Graph and M365 data. Despite more workplace tools than ever, according to Microsoft 64% of employees still struggle with the time and energy to do their job. * Deploying Copilot in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and beyond is set to increase task completion by 29%*, revolutionising workplace efficiency “to turn your words into the most powerful productivity tool on the planet”.



Key Insights for Leaders



Before jumping into rolling out Copilot, our Head of Modern Workplace shares some key insights for C-suite leaders, including:

  • How Copilot stands apart from other Large Language Models (LLMs).
  • The Responsible AI principles guiding Copilot: fairness, reliability, privacy, inclusiveness, transparency, and accountability.
  • How Copilot will transform the workplace: Practical applications of Copilot, from meetings to data analysis.
  • Copilot as Your Meeting Manager
  • Key Considerations Before Adopting Copilot



Copilot and Data Privacy



What sets Copilot apart is its ability to glean insights while respecting data privacy. Unlike other LLMs, Copilot operates securely in the Microsoft Cloud, automatically inheriting your organisation’s security, compliance, and privacy policies set in Microsoft 365.


But before business leaders roll it out across the workplace, it does require a degree of upfront planning in terms of data permissions and ensuring your employees use Copilot according to your own governance rules. This will make sure any sensitive internal documents do not end up in the wrong hands.



The Human Touch in Copilot & Responsible AI



Encouraging responsible AI usage, Copilot encourages employees to fine-tune and review outputs based on their expertise. This human-centric approach prevents overreliance and ensures alignment with your organisational policies.


AI can make humans lazy. In many cases, the speed and the quality of content can far surpass what a human can do. As a result, people start to blindly trust AI to create safe and accurate responses.


Without clear guidelines and governance, you could potentially see scenarios in which Copilot drafts a proposal for a client and includes sensitive data belonging to a completely different client. The employee hits “send” after a glance (or no glance), and now you have a privacy or data breach scenario on your hands. Microsoft has designed Copilot as the assistant; employees still need to make the final judgment call.



Copilot in Action: Transforming Workplaces



Copilot is not just another workplace tool; it is set to transform the way we work. From drafting emails to creating presentations to writing code.  Copilot streamlines mundane and repetitive tasks, freeing up employees for high-value work. Its time-saving automation extends across all Microsoft apps. For example:


For content creation, analysis and day-to-day meeting and inbox tasks Copilot provides a head start, offering a first draft that you can edit and refine. This saves you hours in writing, sourcing, editing and analysis.


  • In Word, create drafts in your preferred format, match your internal documents to successful proposals, insert images, and suggest improvements like generating an FAQ.
  • In PowerPoint Copilot can streamline presentations by generating slides, animations, and speaker notes based on your past proposals, and turn word documents into PowerPoints and vice versa.
  • In Excel, Copilot transforms dull spreadsheets into visual dashboards, complete with key insights.
  • In Outlook, Copilot can condense lengthy email threads or quickly draft suggested replies, helping to manage your inbox in minutes, not hours.


Copilot addresses the challenge of time-consuming meetings by serving as a deputy for attendance, offering recaps and notifications in Microsoft Teams. Users can leverage Copilot during live meetings to summarise discussions and receive detailed responses, going beyond traditional transcription to even capture nuances and conflicts.


Across all departments, as well as freeing up time, employees can learn from Copilot. Its suggestions and solutions serve as valuable teaching tools, enhancing employees’ skills in areas such as coding, data analysis, creative problem-solving, and strategic decision-making.



Bridging the Skills Gap with Copilot



Studies are pointing to the fact that people with a lower skill level could now perform tasks on par with higher-skilled workers when assisted by AI.  A study by the Boston Consulting Group seems to confirm this. The study revealed that individuals with lower skills can match higher-skilled workers with AI assistance. Consultants using ChatGPT-4 outperformed non-AI peers in 18 tasks, completing 12.2% more tasks, 25.1% faster, and delivering 40% higher quality results. This levelling effect, seen across AI studies, offers businesses a transformative solution for skill shortages, bridging the traditional gap in skill acquisition.



Key Considerations for C-Suite Leaders: Enabling Copilot



For tech and business leaders, unlocking Copilot’s potential requires safeguarding internal data and seamless integration into your culture. Copilot is used to best effect with the right governance in place.



1. Safeguarding Data



Preparing your data for Microsoft 365 Copilot involves crucial considerations. Identify sensitive data, continuously monitor data changes, apply labelling to safeguard sensitive information, and establish Data Loss Prevention policies to prevent unauthorised sharing.  Prioritise understanding your data’s location, recognise outdated data, implement access and rights management, and clearly define data ownership.



2. Preventing Overreliance on AI



Copilot’s intuitive, natural language interface facilitates user easy adoption, but it does require an understanding that outputs need human review and expertise.  While AI enhances efficiency, clear guidelines on Copilot usage within your organisation are essential to prevent complacency and potential data breaches.



3. Information Protection & Governance Principles



Develop and enforce clear data access policies and procedures then communicate them to all employees and stakeholders. These policies should cover acceptable use, access controls, and incident response.  These steps are essential for maximising the effectiveness of Copilot while safeguarding your valuable information.



4. Network Requirements: Making Sure Copilot Responds Quickly



Copilot is unlikely to boost productivity if employees wait a long time for your Copilot to respond. To ensure your Copilot works speedily, just like any Microsoft 365 service, Copilot works best when your network follows Microsoft’s rules.



5. License Requirements: Getting your Copilot Licence



Unlocking the power of Microsoft 365 Copilot is simple with the right licenses.  To access Copilot’s features, ensure your team holds Microsoft 365 E3 or E5 licenses and the specific Microsoft 365 Copilot license. The Semantic Index also requires Microsoft 365 E3 or E5 licensing.



Navigating the Future with Copilot: A Readiness Assessment


In conclusion, Copilot, coupled with the latest devices such as Microsoft Surface, offers immense productivity potential for organisations. While data management challenges exist, a readiness assessment is the key to unlocking Copilot’s transformative power. Telefónica Tech’s Readiness Assessment provides a roadmap, preparing individuals, data, and systems for a seamless transition to Copilot’s capabilities. As a senior leader, embracing Copilot is not just about adopting another tool; it is about steering your organisation towards a future of enhanced productivity and innovation.


*Microsoft Work Lab Index 2023



Elton Nitschke
CTO, Modern Workplace
Telefónica Tech UK&I