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3 key things to consider when building a business case for Copilot for M365

 

Generative AI is the hottest topic in tech right now. Organisations in every industry are examining AI tools, attempting to identify whether they can use them to boost productivity and gain an edge over their competitors.

Copilot for Microsoft 365 is an AI-powered assistant that could revolutionise the way you work. What sets it apart from other AI tools is that it can access your organisation’s data in your Microsoft 365 applications such as Teams, Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint, so you can use it to perform those business tasks that we all do every day, such as writing meeting minutes, compiling reports or following up on emails, completing those tasks in seconds rather than hours. What’s more, Microsoft guarantees to keep your data secure, so you can rest assured the wrong people can’t access your sensitive information.

There’s no doubt that Copilot for M365 is a superb product. But it’s also a significant investment. Currently, the price for Copilot for M365 is £24.70 per user per month, with a one-year minimum commitment. It’s no surprise that the number one question we are currently asked is, ‘What’s the business case for Copilot for M365?’ A lot of organisations want to try it, but are cautious because they need to either justify the cost of the licence or they don’t feel they’re ready yet organisationally. Many clients are starting small pilot programmes, but want to be able to decide at the end how many licences to purchase, and to whom they should be assigned.

In this article, we’ll lay out the three most important questions to consider when building a business case for Copilot for M365. We hope this helps you crystallise where Copilot for M365 fits into your organisation.

1 – Who gains the most benefit from Copilot for M365?

Copilot for M365 is there to help individuals in your team perform tasks quicker and more accurately. So, a good place to start is to look at the use cases of Copilot for M365 and match it to people’s roles in your organisation.

Copilot for M365 can speed up tasks when they involve one or more of the following three actions:

  • Search – Copilot for M365 can access and analyse information from across your M365 environment, including emails, document spreadsheets and Teams transcripts.
    • Example – Rather than scour through a mess of files to find a contract, you could ask Copilot for M365, ‘Show me the contract between us and Company X.’ Then, ‘Find all the emails related to this contract.’
  • Summarisation – Copilot for M365 can condense long and complex text documents into concise and clear summaries, highlighting key points and extracting action points.
    • Example – Instead of taking notes during a Teams meeting, you could ask Copilot for M365, ‘Produce the minutes from this meeting, including key takeaways and follow-up actions.’
  • Drafting – Copilot for M365 can create new content based on your prompts and your existing Microsoft data. It can be your starting point for emails, letters, even contracts.
    • Example – You could ask Copilot for M365 to email a client inviting them to a consultation, based on a template but with added personalisation. ‘Draft an email to Company X based on the template, using their name, company and issue. Include a call to action and a link to book a consultation.’
  • Content creation – creating documents, emails and messages based on previous information produced by your organisation.
    • Example – ‘Add 4 slides detailing the new product features and benefits based on the content in the document and illustrate with tasteful outline diagrams that look like architectural drawings.’

If you have people in your organisation who perform tasks that regularly involve search, summarisation or drafting (e.g. a Project Manager or Executive Assistant), they could easily make significant time savings with Copilot for M365 in their toolbox. If you think the cost of that time is greater than £24.70 per month, you already have a business case. For example, if your Project Manager spends two hours a week writing meeting minutes, using Copilot for M365 to halve this time could pay for the licence on its own.

However, you may need more than one task to make your business case, so you should look at other criteria.

2 – Could Copilot for M365 fit into my business processes?

In addition to individuals who could benefit from Copilot for M365, you should also consider if it could make your business processes more efficient. In essence, business processes are a combination of individual tasks that result in an outcome.

For example, when your HR team hires someone new, that’s the culmination of several other steps, including writing job descriptions and ads, qualifying out candidates to create a shortlist and multiple rounds of communication.

Utilising Copilot for M365 could impact multiple steps on that recruitment journey. You could use it to draft the job description and create a persuasive ad based on it. When you receive the applications, you could use Copilot for M365 to highlight where a candidate might fall short compared to the job spec. You could use it to draft interview questions and write up notes from the interview. Finally, you could use it to email the successful candidate, congratulating them on their application and offering them the role.

At Doherty Associates, we regularly run workshops with organisations considering rolling out Copilot for M365. In one popular session, we look at ‘The Art of the Possible’, exploring how to unlock gains in creativity, productivity, skills and collaboration. We then look at scenarios specific to that organisation where Copilot for M365 could make a difference and build a plan to get there. As well as the above illustration of HR hiring, popular scenarios our clients identify include:

  • Keeping operations running smoothly
  • Giving salespeople AI assistants to help close more deals
  • Amplifying IT efficiency
  • Boosting marketing speed and creativity
  • Streamlining finance team decisions
  • Keeping executives informed about essential developments

3 – What are the risks?

As illustrated above, scenario discovery may identify efficiency gains that justify your purchase of Copilot for M365. However, you also need to consider the risks associated with introducing AI into your organisation and weigh up whether it’s worth the boost to productivity.

Every organisation is different. They hold different types of data, using different methods. They also regard risk differently. Another workshop we regularly run with companies considering implementing Copilot for M365 is one where we discover how they work with data, identify the risks, then create a plan to protect their data from those risks.

The initial discovery stage is all about seeing where we are and identifying potential pitfalls:

  • What sensitive data do you hold? – E.g. client data, company secrets
  • Where do you hold this data? – Is it in sources potentially accessible by Copilot for M365 (indicating you need to consider accessibility controls)
  • Who can access it? – What internal and external permissions are in force?
  • How is it used? – What tasks involve sensitive data?
  • What are the risks? – What happens if something goes wrong? E.g. Could there be potential compliance issues?

By answering these questions, you better understand your readiness for Copilot for M365. If there is a low risk to your data by implementing Copilot for M365, you could potentially enable it straight away. However, you may need to put in new data controls before rolling Copilot for M365 to your teams. Measures that better protect your data in Copilot for M365 include better classification and labelling, access controls, encryption and lifecycle controls.

The point is that there will always be risks, but likewise, there are ways around those risks.

Exploiting your data

The most significant benefits from Copilot for M365 come when you add your data to the AI capabilities.

When building your business case, consider the data that you want Copilot to access. You need your Copilot to be able to access your most important pieces of data and use it to generate valuable output. However, this can be a challenge when data is stored in multiple locations.

However, with expert help, you can ensure your most important data is accessible for Copilot for M365. Then, even if your people use the most general search terms, Copilot knows the right content to feed the large language model and generate the right output.

AI can be a great help when someone performs a similar task regularly, only with slight differences (see section 2). The key to this is having the right data available, in the right format, for Copilot for M365 to pull together.

The path to ROI

Copilot for M365 is a terrific AI-powered tool that can supercharge productivity in your organisation. It can also make a positive difference to morale in your workforce, as your people spend less time on repetitive tasks, which they can spend doing things only humans can do.

Building a business case for Copilot for M365 requires consideration of all three of the points above. However, if you can see value in points one and two, you can move past point three with the right help. Making sure your team members can use AI properly is vital to achieving ROI. Training and workshops are a great first step.

In a recent survey of leading financial services organisations by Nvidia, 82% of respondents said AI had helped them reduce operating costs (1). The vast majority of organisations we’ve assisted with this mapping have found several areas that AI can streamline operations, ensuring a more efficient and cost-effective business environment.

Book your Free Copilot Readiness Diagnostic Call

Doherty Associates can help you adopt Microsoft Copilot into your business. This usually starts with a free 1-hour Copilot Readiness Diagnostic call where we cover: 

  • Assessing Readiness: understand how prepared your business is to deploy Copilot. 
  • Mitigating Security Risks: understand the potential risks and how to mitigate them. 
  • Building a Business Case: discuss your reasons for adopting Copilot and how to achieve ROI. 
  • Exploring Possibilities: discuss pain points and opportunities to enhance your operations. 
  • Planning Deployment: discuss key user groups and use cases specific to your industry. 

Get in touch today to book your call.

Sources:

1- https://blogs.nvidia.com/blog/ai-in-financial-services-survey-2024/

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