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Microsoft brings an AI-powered Copilot to its business app suite

Microsoft today introduced what it calls the “next generation” of AI-powered updates to its business software. They focus on Power Platform, Microsoft’s low-profile tools for building applications and workflows, and Dynamics 365, the company’s suite of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) tools.

In an interview with TechCrunch, Charles Lamanna, CVP of business software and platforms at Microsoft, described the update as the next step in Microsoft’s automation journey. With the help of tech from AI startup OpenAI and build using it Azure OpenAI Servicea Microsoft project that provides business-related access to OpenAI’s API, new capabilities follow SPREAD IT of OpenAI’s version of AI scripting in Power Platform four years ago and more recently of AI capabilities in Viva Sales, Microsoft’s software for salespeople.

“For the past four years, we’ve been on a journey to bring AI models and foundations to work,” Lamanna said via email, noting that Microsoft has a job. height agreement and OpenAI to sell vendor technology on Microsoft products and through the Azure OpenAI Service. “And now we’re at a point where technology and content can change customers.”

In Dynamics 365, Microsoft is introducing what it calls Copilot (borrowing a brand from GitHub’s. Helper service), which – to put it bluntly – aims to create some of the most repetitive products and services for customers.

For example, in Dynamics 365 Sales and Viva Sales, Copilot can help write email responses to customers and create email summaries for Teams meetings in Outlook. The meeting summary pulls data from the salesperson’s CRM, such as product information and pricing, Lamanna says, and combines it with information from Magulu’s recorded phone calls.

“We collect information carefully and intelligently from customers’ CRM, ERP and other business sources at runtime,” added Lamanna. “We use big languages ​​to combine business information with underlying knowledge to find solutions that are tailored to each customer. Most importantly, we don’t use customer data to train the models.”

In Dynamics 365 Customer Service, Copilot can write “topical answers” to customer questions via chat or email and provide “chat” to customer service agents based on data and history. This enables new “conversational stimuli” in Power Virtual Agents, Microsoft’s chatbot builder, which allows companies to connect the bot to things like a website or information to use that data to answer questions the bot has never been trained to.

Then, conversational prompts implement a new “GPT” model in Microsoft’s AI Builder tool that allows organizations to embed their scripts in Power Automate and Power Apps solutions. Lamanna says that, for example, a researcher can use it to summarize the text from the reports released every week and send it to their email, while the sales manager can use the GPT model to create emotional thoughts, created by content by entering specific words or topics.

Considering Microsoft’s latest for product development – for example Bing Chat – someone may be reluctant to develop a program using a company’s technology for fear of it going away. But Lamanna says that GPT’s conversational incentives — including Copilot, for that matter — are “integrated” with each customer’s CRM, ERP and other data sources.

“AI products are always clearly written, and users are encouraged to verify the correctness before using them. Where appropriate, we also mention the sources from which the answer was taken to help the user verify the correctness of the answer,” said Lamanna. “We have monitoring and control systems in place that allow us to respond quickly and take manual action if any problem compromises the above security.”

There is no user restriction no it takes time to verify the accuracy of the content, of course. Time will tell if that will be the case; education on machine bias, or the tendency of humans to over-rely on AI, suggests that it will.

Fortunately, all of Copilot’s capabilities are not without problems.

With Copilot in Dynamics 365 Customer Insights and Dynamics 365 Marketing, marketers can get insights into customer segments they may not have considered before and create targeted segments by describing that segment in their own words. They can also get ideas for email campaigns, write requests to view topics from Copilot, which creates them by pulling in existing emails and “many types” of websites, Lamanna says.

Microsoft plays some games with other products. The CRM elephant in the room, Salesforce, has about age has been injecting (or trying to inject) its CRM family of products with AI capabilities. Startups like Glint have it embrace AI, too, is mainly for customer service management. But if increase Many marketers say they want to sprinkle AI into all their channels, maybe it doesn’t matter who is the first to punch, really, but who sends the first. on the scale.

“CRM and ERP have long been the most important customer and business sources; however, they often require labor-intensive tasks such as manual data entry, product creation and documentation,” said Lamanna. “Dynamics 365 Copilot takes these tedious tasks out of the way and unlocks the full potential of the workforce.”

Beyond the point of sale, Copilot in Dynamics 365 Business Central, Microsoft’s business management system, tries to streamline the creation of ecommerce sales lists. Lamanna says that Copilot can create things like color, material and size and specifications that can adapt and change things like tone, shape and height.

It’s like Shopify’s latest release Description of AI-generated products weapon, a fact that Lamana mistakenly accepted. He added that Business Central customers who use Shopify can publish products with AI-generated descriptions to their Shopify store “with just a few clicks” (after proper review, hopefully).

Elsewhere, climb waves of automation in the supply chain industry, Copilot in Microsoft Supply Chain Center can better visualize factors such as weather, economics, and geography that may affect supply chain processes. Supply chain managers can choose to have Copilot automatically write an email to notify affected partners.

Lamanna says that even simple AI-infused processes like these — automated emails — can lead to measurable increases in productivity.

“According to ours recent research in the business world, 9 out of 10 employees expect to use AI to reduce repetitive tasks in their jobs. AI-powered assistants are now on the table for business applications, “said Lamanna. “We believe that Dynamics 365 Copilot will help employees to work faster so that organizations can spend more time on their work – such as building long-term customer relationships.”

As always, the truth is hidden in business. But what is clear is that Microsoft is not slowing down its investment in AI and automation. It was in January that Microsoft invested another billion in OpenAI, and the company wants to see a return on investment.

Copilot will be included in existing Dynamics 365 licenses such as Dynamics 365 Sales Enterprise and Dynamics 365 Customer Service Enterprise at no additional cost, Microsoft says. It will premiere on March 6, with regular availability to follow later.

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