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Copilot for Microsoft 365: How to prepare yourself


In Part 3 of our Copilot for Microsoft 365 spotlight series, Cloud Security Architect Neil du Plessis outlines the steps to take to prepare yourself for AI-powered productivity.

By Neil du Plessis | Cloud Security Architect, BUI

Copilot for Microsoft 365 is an innovative tool that can transform how you work with computers. However, as with any new technology, it requires some preparation and adaptation on your part to ensure the most beneficial results in the long run.

Jared Spataro, the Corporate Vice President of Modern Work and Business Applications at Microsoft, once said that “becoming an AI-powered organisation doesn’t happen with the flip of a switch”. And he was right: you have to understand Copilot’s features and functionality before you can harness its full potential. Here are three important steps in the preparation journey.

1. Learn how to use Copilot for Microsoft 365.

Copilot is a powerful AI assistant that can help you with numerous tasks and activities in your Microsoft 365 apps, but it’s not a magic solution to every problem. You will need to learn how to use Copilot effectively – by composing clear prompts, providing relevant details and parameters, and reviewing and refining outputs.

You’ll also need to explore the frameworks guiding and controlling Copilot so that you understand how data security policies, privacy policies, and responsible AI checks are applied. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources available online, from technical documentation to in-depth tutorials and walkthroughs. You can also watch these introductory videos to see how Copilot for Microsoft 365 works:

Carmen Zlateff, Microsoft Windows vice president, explains how Windows 11 and Copilot work together during her presentation on stage at the Microsoft Copilot event in New York City in September 2023. Image credit: Microsoft

2. Develop your prompt engineering and critical thinking skills.

Even though Copilot can help you augment your capabilities, it’s no substitute for your unique human intelligence. Remember that Copilot uses generative artificial intelligence to draft responses to your prompts, providing an output based on your input.

A well-structured, specific prompt with appropriate context will yield a more accurate result than a vague query. If you take the time to develop your prompt engineering skills and evaluate, analyse, and even interrogate Copilot’s output, you’ll be better prepared to use the tool properly.

It’s also essential to apply your professional judgement, ethical standards, and niche industry or domain knowledge to your tasks and projects with Copilot. After all, the tool doesn’t have the benefit of your personal experience, expertise, or emotion.

3. Keep practising – and find a community of Copilot for Microsoft 365 users.

Copilot is designed to be your digital assistant. Your AI sidekick. Your know-a-lot companion in Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, Teams, and Word. But there will be a learning curve at the beginning – for you and the tool.

Because Copilot learns from context and adapts over time, it may not generate perfect responses to your queries from the start. You’ll need to experiment with different prompts and fine-tune your inputs to get high-quality outputs, so keep practising.

It’s also a good idea to join an online forum or community group of fellow Copilot users in your industry to take advantage of their shared knowledge, resources, and tips for success. The Copilot for Microsoft 365 community on the Microsoft Tech Community website is filled with news updates, event details, and discussions related to Copilot for Microsoft 365.

Learning how to use Copilot effectively, developing your prompt engineering and critical thinking skills, and tapping into the knowledge of fellow Copilot users can help you prepare for a new world of work with this AI-powered helper by your side.

BUI Cloud Security Architect Neil du Plessis is a certified CISSP and Microsoft Cybersecurity Expert specialising in holistic, cloud-powered defences for modern workplaces.

Wondering if Copilot for Microsoft 365 is right for your organisation? Join the BUI team for an interactive workshop and we’ll assess your Copilot for Microsoft 365 readiness and define a road map for your adoption journey. The workshop is conducted virtually, and is suitable for senior business development managers, line-of-business leaders, managers, technical decision-makers, and end-users. Register your interest by completing this digital form and we’ll contact you directly.

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