Microsoft on Wednesday unveiled Copilot for Customer Service and Copilot for Sales to allow business service and sales teams to access data from third-party CRM and contact center platforms with tools which is supported by AI.
In this way, Microsoft aims to simplify the services and sales teams’ daily workflows by reducing the clicks between apps and screen clutter to get the necessary information from other systems.
The two new Copilots include a license for Microsoft Copilot for Microsoft 365, which extends AI access to data from Microsoft 365 apps as well as third-party platforms such as CRM systems and knowledge base. Microsoft Copilot for Sales is the updated, redesigned version of Microsoft Sales Copilot.
Copilots was unveiled at Microsoft Ignite, the software vendor’s annual conference for developers and IT professionals, held November 14-17 in Seattle with many new product updates and releases almost every part of the technology giant’s business software portfolio, many. of them focusing on AI.
The product moves also come as other tech giants pursue similar strategies to incorporate generative AI assistants into workplace productivity and other applications.
Copilots is an example of how Microsoft is using technology from AI vendor OpenAI, in which Microsoft has invested $13 billion, to bring generative AI capabilities to its products. Copilot’s technology is derived from OpenAI’s GPT large format language model.
Each new Copilot costs $50 per user per month, and that includes Microsoft 365 Copilot.
A data collection assistant
These new Copilots reflect Microsoft’s strategy to incorporate generative AI capabilities that simplify sales and service teams’ workflows by going beyond the boundaries created by other applications.
Instead of logging into different systems and navigating through different databases to find the necessary information, Copilots can display it in response to natural language prompts.
This capability, made possible by generative AI, creates a new unified domain for the collection of information between systems, according to Futurum Research chief analyst Daniel Newman.
“What Microsoft is building with Copilot continues to be very compelling,” Newman said. “The historical problem has always been how do we get all the data in one place? How can we easily organize it? Microsoft wanted to create a natural human-machine interface that would naturally facilitate.”
By allowing teams to use Copilot to access databases from third-party applications such as Salesforce, ServiceNow and Zendesk, Microsoft is also expanding the use cases for Copilot and helping Microsoft to will co-opt other users of vendors, according to Joshua Greenbaum, analyst at Enterprise Applications Consulting.
“They’re trying to get their hands on their competitors’ customers. They want to be in that account,” Greenbaum said. “Even if it’s wall-to-wall Salesforce, if they get their Copilot in there, as an adjunct to Salesforce. That’s a Trojan horse kind of strategy to get yourself in the door.”
A new way of interacting with technology
Generative AI is changing the user experience for service and sales workflows because it overhauls how teams input and export information, according to Emily He, vice president of the Microsoft corporation in the marketing of business applications.
For a long time, the user experience consisted of logging in to a home screen that displayed a table-style form with various data links that users could click on to -access other forms. But Copilot has changed that interface, according to He.
“With Copilot, you no longer need to manually enter data into the system. You can use natural language to ask questions, and Copilot will take the right information and provide the answer,” He said.
Copilot training with feedback
The changing user experience is pushing sales and service teams to interact with their work tools in new ways, especially when searching for data within their system.
“Not only will we give our employees a more intuitive user experience through Copilot, but also fundamentally change the way they access data, they think about what questions to ask, and they’re thinking about how to incorporate technology,” he added.
The way for users to get the best output from Copilot is to be patient and change it to better understand what information is desired and the best way to deliver it to meet users’ expectations, according to He. He compares it to working with a smart intern who needs more feedback to develop a new job.
It is also a change in thinking from a query-only search method that dominates natural language interactions such as a simple database search or a Google search.
“As users, we spent years searching, we thought the answer was an answer. And we didn’t think about returning to Copilot to make the right answer,” he said.
AI as a key ingredient
The new Copilots supports Microsoft’s mission to make generative AI tools an intuitive, seamless and integral part of Microsoft’s various product offerings, according to analyst Dan Miller.
“I’m amazed, maybe fixated on what Microsoft is doing with OpenAI in Copilot. It makes Copilot ubiquitous, with a presence on every screen in Microsoft 365. I think there’s some downward pressure on its price, but it makes sense to extend the power of a flavor of GPT to support search and increase productivity as end users take advantage of their most popular software,” Miller said.
Mary Reines is a news writer covering customer experience and integrated communications for TechTarget Editorial. Prior to TechTarget, Reines was the arts editor at Marblehead Reporter.