“With Copilots, we are making the age of AI real for people and businesses everywhere.”
That proved the headline statement in Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s opening remarks during an earnings call with investors and analysts yesterday.
He continued: “We are rapidly infusing AI across every layer of the tech stack and for every role of the business process to drive productivity gains for our customers.”
In making these statements, Nadella wants to spread the message that a Copilot should be everywhere. It should run through Office 365, end-to-end business applications, and at-home consumer applications.
That’s a message for business leaders. Yet, Nadella also wishes to set new expectations for the consumer that a Copilot should be there in whatever they want to achieve – whether that’s paying a bill at home or talking to a customer at work.
In this sense, Microsoft is forging “a new life-to-business continuum”, as Liz Miller, VP & Principal Analyst at Constellation Research, puts it. She continued:
It’s a journey to change the mindset and expectation of every user, not just establishing a baseline for a business user.
That puts pressure on businesses to build an AI strategy, considering how it will help people, customer, and business outcomes. After all, people don’t view AI as just a fun toy anymore.
Which Businesses Will and Won’t Succeed In a World of Copilots?
Organizations that will have less success with Copilot are those that consider it a plug-in for individual business functions.
For instance, a sales team that thinks of Sales Copilot as another micro-solution – alongside several sales enablement, performance management, and acceleration tools – will extract minimal value.
Copilot requires a different approach. To underline why, consider Viva Sales – which became an incredibly popular tool amongst sellers last year and a big success story for Microsoft.
Why did it garner such success? Because it doesn’t take sellers outside of the environment where they want to work – aka. Outlook.
Now, Viva Sales is part of Copilot – and available to employees outside the function.
So, if marketing or service personnel want to leverage that sales insight, they may do so in the panel in which they work.
Eventually, Microsoft will pull all this together. While it’s currently introducing all these individual Copilots – including service, sales, marketing, field service, etc. – it will begin to automate and support cross-function workflows.
During the earnings call, Nadella shared another cross-function use case where marketing teams can use Copilot to leverage service data.
“We are integrating this new generation of AI directly into our ad platforms to more effectively connect marketeers to customer intent and chat experiences,” he said.
All this points to Azure. The best Coplot implementations will be from companies with their systems integrated in Azure, taking advantage of more cross-function use cases.
Making this point, Miller told CX Today:
The people who are going to win in AI are those that have taken the leap into the public cloud. That is where you can have those massive levels of computing and stores of data.
Alongside this, the Microsoft Intelligent Data Platform will play a significant role for many in supporting organizations as they consolidate their data estate.
Indeed, it will help businesses bring together operational data stores, analytics, and governance.
Building an AI Strategy and Pricing
As Nadella puts it: “We are becoming the Copilot-led business process transformation layer on top of existing CRM systems like Salesforce.”
An exciting prospect, undoubtedly. Yet, a CRM – especially a premium option like Salesforce – is not cheap. And – at a $30 per user, per day price point – the additional cost of Microsoft 365 Copilot may prove a barrier.
Next, consider how Salesforce has its own Copilot and recently rolled up Airkit.ai, a low-code platform that allows businesses to build their own bots.
Most often, businesses deploy these bots for service use cases. Yet, expect Salesforce to take it beyond Service Cloud and encourage their use across the enterprise – for applications such as solving employee questions.
As such, businesses may soon ask tricky questions relating to costs and how different Copilots can come together as part of an AI strategy.
To overcome these, expect Microsoft to tell more customer success stories and paint a detailed picture of how businesses are driving value from the technology.
Already, Microsoft has started sharing how its own contact center agents use Service Copilot. Yet, when the cross-function Copilot use cases come in – automating more processes across the enterprise – that’s when this will start to heat up.