Microsoft did what we had hoped it would do next year, integrating generative AI called Copilot in Microsoft 365. This technology could be as important a game-changer for office productivity than Microsoft Office was initially.
Let’s discuss the impact of Copilot this week. We’ll end with my Product of the week, an HP laptop that was created in unusually close collaboration and which gives people like me who don’t have IT departments better support than other IT shops.
Microsoft 365 Copilot: Your Digital Secretary
Secretaries were an everyday part of the technology industry when I first started. It was great to share one with my coworkers. Unfortunately, I was the one who received this assistance. It was amazing to have someone who was there to support me and to give me advice.
Companies realized that secretaries weren’t necessary as Office became more popular, so executives were provided tools to automate the secretary’s job. But they didn’t because the tools weren’t smart.
While the automated tools were more productive, they didn’t address our weaknesses like human assistants. For example, writing letters, maintaining correspondence and keeping our inability manage our tempers a secret (something that social media has made famous).
While Copilot’s initial use of generative artificial intelligence in Copilot is far more intelligent than Office without it it won’t overcome all our flaws but it will become smarter over time. It will eventually take over the role of secretary. It will initially increase productivity by transforming our ideas and concepts into finished works.
This digital secretary is still young and naive
This technology is in its fourth generation and still in its infancy. It is not as reliable as a human assistant. This means that it is more dependent on quality than quantity. This tool is both a learning tool and a weakness.
Although it’s smarter than Office, it isn’t as intelligent as a human assistant. It won’t understand context and will not be able to detect the effect of tone.
Although the tool is not yet a peer, I believe it will. It is a child who looks up to their parents like they are gods. It doesn’t grasp nuance and can’t see that parents are imperfect.
This tool will do more than just what you tell it, even if it’s not in your best interests. It will also use the data it receives, fact or fiction and treat it as truth. You will have to provide oversight and acknowledge that the tool can move at speeds that could prove dangerous.
Twitter is dangerous because you can react to something without considering the consequences. It’s easy to see a funny tweet and then repost it, without realizing that it is racist or sexist. Your career is over.
Your career may be over if you get mad and vent about the CEO’s actions. If you missunderstand a post, or poorly respond to one, it could spell doom for your career. Twitter is one of the greatest threats to your future because of its speed.
Copilot was initially designed to be a speed tool. It will send you an email if you get upset. This could potentially end your career. You must be Twitter-like to avoid sending the email. Writing something yourself has the advantage of giving you time to reflect on what you have done and perhaps rethink it.
Although I don’t think the tool is bad, it increases the likelihood of people acting without thinking. We know how to stop and think before we act, so those of us who haven’t lost their jobs because of a poorly thought out Tweet are still in good company.
Despite being amazing (and it is awesome), it’s still awesome. We must realize that this technology can act first and cause us to regret it later.
Microsoft Office Assistant Clippy Back
That heading is so bad that I can almost hear people shouting, “NO!” As Copilot develops, it will be able to assist you with certain tasks more effectively as it learns how to do them. Clippy may be more helpful at first, but Copilot is far more useful than Clippy.
PowerPoint is where I am most interested in this tool working. PowerPoint is a common tool that many of us, including myself, hate. This is odd considering my first success as an executive was in creating excellent presentation slides. As time passed, I became lazy and began creating slides with too many words that didn’t use the visual aspects of PowerPoint.
Copilot for PowerPoint uses the text approach to build visually engaging slides. This allows me to be more creative and lazy, but still create visually appealing presentations. It eliminates the bad habits that many of us have accumulated over the years. The forcing function allows us to iterate content until we get the story we want.
This version of Copilot seems to offer the most benefit and the lowest risk. This could be life-changing, given my poor presentation record. This is Copilot at work.
Another point to be made is that you can iterate faster with this tool. Although I write what I think, I am often too wordy and have a poor flow.
Copilot allows you to quickly iterate on a document, create multiple drafts and then improve each one. To improve the quality of your result, I recommend this approach. Copilot is a tool that I believe will bring the greatest benefit to people who can learn to use it and improve their results.
Although it may result in a lower production output, this will not affect the quality of the product. Instead of being produced faster, it will produce a better product.
Wrapping up: Who is most at risk?
Automation advancements can put people at risk. But there are also people who stand to benefit the most from it. This tool will be a problem for those who are focused on speed and less quality. However, the technology can be improved over time to improve quality. Others who value quality over quantity will find this a blessing.
A bad driver driving a powerful car is analogous to a bad driver. Bad drivers are more likely to be killed, while good drivers will arrive at their destination faster and safely. This tool will improve both good and poor behavior. This tool will be a favorite of those who are methodical and disciplined. Others may not love it as much.
As with any new technology, it is important to look beyond the hype and to understand the true benefits and risks of a tool before you make any decisions. Although Copilot is a powerful tool, it’s initially more quantitative than qualitative. This means that you need to be more focused on quality and learn how to use this tool properly before getting too excited.