Since its arrival in November last year, ChatGPT has taken the world by storm. This powerful new chatbot with seemingly endless possibilities took 3 months to reach 100 million users; Facebook took 4 years to reach the same milestone!
Microsoft is leveraging some of this technology to introduce AI into Microsoft 365 this year – a tool called Copilot. Early testing from a pool of 25,000 users is showing some amazing efficiency gains for those day-to-day tasks we all deal with – taking minutes, actions, summarising meetings, writing slides for presentations etc.
In this blog, we discuss what Copilot is, what it will do from day 1, how much it will cost, and what security and governance considerations you might want to think about as we all get “AI Ready”.
What is Chat GPT?
Chat GPT is a chatbot developed by OpenAI – an American AI research and deployment company. It is built on top of large language models (LLMs) – a type of AI trained on a wealth of data from the internet including articles, books, social media and other resources to produce natural sounding answers to questions.
As shown over the past 8 months, the capabilities are endless. Chat GPT can not only quickly find information, but assist with tasks such as writing code/software or copy for social media, coming up with creative ideas, and can even offer personal advice/ in human-like conversations.
What’s the link to Microsoft and what is Copilot?
Microsoft and OpenAI have an ongoing strategic partnership, whereby it is estimated that Microsoft have invested an estimated $13 billion in Open AI to date. Open AI uses Microsoft’s cloud computing platform Azure as the infrastructure upon which they power their systems and train their “Large Language Models” (LLMs).
Microsoft is integrating OpenAI’s ChatGPT technology into their latest product, Copilot – an AI-powered digital assistant built into Microsoft 365. Copilot combines the power of LLMs with user data in the Microsoft Graph and 365 apps to provide a powerful productivity tool. Microsoft are labelling Copilot not just as a better way of doing things (anyone remember “Clippy”?!), but an ‘entirely new way of working.’
The tool is currently in the Beta testing stage, and an official release date hasn’t been announced yet but it is expected to be later this year. Microsoft just announced it will be priced at $30 per user per month for commercial use, but we are expecting charity / nonprofit pricing to follow.
You can watch an overview of Copilot and some examples of how to use it here.
How charities can use Copilot
Copilot will bring time saving efficiencies to everyday tasks at work, freeing up time to focus on other projects. It is fully embedded into apps like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Teams. Some early examples of how Copilot can help you include:
- Summarising the main discussion points from Teams calls into bullet point notes
- Asking Copilot what you missed at a meeting you couldn’t attend – including what the mood of the meeting was, and who said what
- Capturing the action points discussed on a call and sending it to attendees automatically, then assigning these as tasks in Outlook / OneNote / To Do etc.
- Analysing long email chains you’ve just been added to, summarising the pertinent points and actions for your attention
- Analysing a set of documents and creating bullet points for PowerPoint to present the findings to others
- Taking large Excel files and allowing you to ask questions to interrogate the data and produce graphs, pivot tables etc. through natural chat.
- Generating content such as blogs or whitepapers for social media based on industry themes, datasets and reports.
Copilot will use data from your own Microsoft 365 tenancy by default -Teams, SharePoint, OneDrive, Emails – are all connected, so become part of its field of vision and therefore can be interacted with via natural chat. The platform will evolve over time, so who knows where it could lead!
What charities need to be aware of
Of course, getting up to speed with the capabilities and nuances of Copilot will take time, especially given the security and privacy considerations it will bring. Getting “AI Ready” will be a real project for most of us. Broadly speaking we see five emerging themes in this area:
- Governance: including issuing staff with guidance and principles on use of AI tools, GDPR compliance and data protection.
- Security & Permissions: Copilot will bring back information from any source the user has permissions to access, so an audit of user permissions is recommended. Any access that is in place that should not be, will be very quickly in sight of users.
- Data: the Large Learning Models (LLMs) need big data sets to be fed into them if AI is to be of any value. Most charities will need external expertise and guidance to connect up their existing data siloes, and possibly undertake large projects to restructure data, to be useful for AI
- Use Cases: a lot of people are pondering the question “how can our organisation really leverage AI and Chat to improve what we do?” It’s a very valid question and one that requires creative thinking coupled with basic understanding of the building blocks of AI and LLMs to come up with potential use cases. In theory it should be able to offer your supporters and beneficiaries the information they need, more quickly than ever before
- Training: people will need to be trained on the art of the possible. There is no “end” to AI, but giving staff some suggested productivity gains will encourage them to engage in it more, and it should become a virtuous circle over time. Colleagues should also be trained on the principles and guidance you create, to ensure safe use of AI.
On a very practical level, reviewing your file security permissions before turning on Copilot should be a mandatory exercise (imagine a search with Chat GPT “show me salaries for our Leadership Team”!). Copilot will inherit the security permissions of the user, so it’s a good chance to review people only have access to what they should.
ChatGPT is also not a search engine and does not have the ability to search the internet – its data is limited to 2021, so events/information after this date are not currently updated. However, Microsoft’s Bing has combined both functions, labelled ‘copilot for the web’, and Google will be doing so soon through Bard.
In the short term, we recommend issuing guidance or principles to staff on use of AI tools like ChatGPT in terms of what is acceptable and what isn’t. Bear in mind some staff may also be worried about job security.
In the longer-term, consideration will need to be given to themes such as the above, before Copilot is enabled and staff can start benefitting from it.
At Smartdesc, we are experts in migrating nonprofits to the cloud, infrastructure design and optimisation, information governance, data protection and cybersecurity. Get in touch today if you’d like to speak to us about any of the themes discussed in this blog in more detail, or to find out how we can help you improve IT efficiencies at your organisation.
- Number of ChatGPT Users (2023) (explodingtopics.com)
- A Short History Of ChatGPT: How We Got To Where We Are Today (forbes.com)
- Microsoft and OpenAI extend partnership – The Official Microsoft Blog
- OpenAI and Microsoft extend partnership
- ChatGPT vs. Microsoft 365 Copilot: What’s the difference? – Microsoft Support
- Microsoft’s complex bet on OpenAI brings potential and uncertainty (cnbc.com)