Microsoft Copilot: Productivity Evolution, Not Revolution

Microsoft’s long-awaited Copilot finally launched recently bringing generative AI to our work files and applications. Time to take stock: Copilot is not a productivity game changer. Not yet. 

Copilot in a Nutshell

Copilot for Microsoft 365 is an artificial intelligence (AI) assistant that is embedded into various Microsoft 365 applications. Whereas Chat GPT and other AI applications (including Copilot’s free version) may offer recommendations to improve your Word or Excel files, Copilot can implement changes directly into documents while simultaneously keeping your data secure. 

Copilot’s features are not uniform. While a free version is accessible online, Copilot Pro ($0 per month) is built into PowerPoint, Word, and Excel, and Copilot for Microsoft 365 ($30 per month) is additionally integrated into Outlook and Teams.

Productivity Ninja Cartoon Face placed in front of Microsoft Logo

Copilot in Outlook

Those with messy inboxes will appreciate Copilot’s capacity to summarize long email chains or answer questions like ‘What is the latest from Jennifer?’. And Copilot will soon be able to triage your inbox by unearthing important action points from what may be dozens of unread emails.

Copilot can also draft emails based on prompts and create a certain tone. If the ‘Coaching with Copilot’ feature is turned on, you can train it with your distinct writing style and get tips on improving the tone or clarity. 

Copilot in Teams

Copilot is equally useful, although far from revolutionary, in Teams meetings. It can generate summary meeting notes and allows you to ask questions such as 

  • ‘What tasks do I need to do?’
  • ‘When is the proposal deadline?’
  • ‘What were the pros and cons discussed to launch next week?’

If you hover over the reference, useful pop-ups reveal the words used in the meeting. This practical function works well, but meeting transcription must be turned on for these features to operate.

Thus Copilot can be your personal meeting assistant which can join meetings and provide notes and tasks. Similarly, if you join meetings late, it can summarize what you’ve missed. However, other meeting apps such as Zoom and Google Meet have also introduced similar functionality as well as live translations (summarized in this post).

As with Outlook, Copilot can help you cut through digital noise and use information from Teams messages, emails, meetings, documents, and more to give you a snapshot of what is new across different teams and projects. You can prompt, for example, ‘What has been discussed about project Z?’

Copilot in PowerPoint

Copilot, just as Canva Pro or Google Docs, generates presentations from prompts. It can also do so from existing cloud documents or even from emails or Teams chats. Moreover,

  • it allows you to organize your PowerPoint presentation into sections 
  • you can add an agenda employing the underused ‘Summary Zoom’ feature and 
  • it generates speaker notes via prompt. 

And when it comes to often tedious animations, Copilot can set different animation styles for different objects easily. (Note that Canva Pro’s Magic Animate does so too and goes even further by generating several options that elegantly combine animations.)

As for image manipulation features, Copilot is, unfortunately, no match vis-à-vis Canva, be that removing a background, converting a busy room into a room of empty chairs, or expanding a square image to a landscape.

Productivity Evolution, Not Revolution

In its current state, Copilot is not a productivity game changer. But it does have some useful features to make your work life easier, avoid digital overload, enhance your productivity, and save you time.

While certain Copilot experiences such as in Outlook or Teams have been truly novel, several other features have been available natively within apps like PowerPoint or Excel for years. 

But over time, Copilot will undoubtedly become more useful, especially once its functionality is extended and the underpinning Large Language Model is fed more user data. So rather than a revolution, expect a productivity evolution. 

About the Author

Our friend David Benaim leads Xlconsulting and is a Microsoft MVP. He has published a longer version of this post on ICAEW’s blog.

If you want to know more about our upcoming fall workshops ‘Microsoft 365 for Productivity Ninjas’ and ‘Excel for Project Managers’, send us an email