Over the years our world has become increasingly digital, with a range of transformative inventions coming into play. While AI has been around for some time, we are witnessing something of a renaissance in this area, with new capabilities and use cases emerging every day! Alongside traditional uses of AI such as automation, the latest generation of AI is giving businesses a competitive edge against their peers, with this trend set to continue.
For businesses using Microsoft 365, there are a number of AI-powered features on the platform that are helping them to achieve more in less time. They may also not be using Power Automate to its full potential. In this piece, we explore some AI-powered features on Microsoft 365 that your team may not be using, and introduce you to the Power Automate tool.
What is AI in Microsoft 365?
Microsoft 365’s AI is a suite of intelligent services that learn how you work to boost productivity and efficiency. These tools don’t just automate basic tasks such as flagging up spelling errors, they can actively augment your team’s work.
Microsoft 365 uses technology such as machine learning and data analytics to do this dynamically for each user and context, while also offering other tools that enable businesses to automate their processes more broadly. Firstly, let’s look at some built-in AI features in 365, before moving onto exploring some more powerful AI-powered tools.
AI-Powered Features You Should Be Using
1. Editor and Ideas in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint
The AI-powered Editor feature in Word is more than just a spellchecker, it’s your personal writing assistant, offering advanced grammar, style, and clarity suggestions.
It learns your writing style over time and helps you to produce crisp, clear, and professional documents. Similarly, ‘ideas’ in Excel and ‘designer’ in PowerPoint are able to offer smart recommendations. In Excel this is done by recognising patterns in your data and offering suggestions for formatting it, while in PowerPoint it creates appealing design and layout suggestions based on the content you are creating.
2. Outlook Insights
Outlook’s Insights uses AI to help manage your time more effectively. It helps you focus on what matters by finding time for you to focus on deep work, reminding you to follow up on important emails, and suggesting that you book meetings at times that suit everyone’s schedule.
3. Intelligent Search
AI enhances search functionality across SharePoint, OneDrive, and Microsoft Teams. It understands natural language queries and brings forward the most relevant documents and information for your search.
4. Microsoft Teams AI Features
Microsoft Teams is equipped with AI that enhances collaboration. Features like live captions and transcription make meetings more accessible and inclusive. The AI analyses meeting patterns and suggests focus time to ensure you’re working as efficiently as possible.
5. Cortana Email Briefings
Microsoft’s AI-powered assistant offers email briefings that are designed to help users to make the most of their working day. These include reminders of outstanding commitments, requests, and follow ups with other collaborates, documents related to the day’s meetings, and a suggested focus time that can be scheduled to get more independent work done.
Discover How AI Can Benefit Your Business: Talk To BCNS Today
Curious to see how AI can be used to help your business to achieve its goals? We can help. Book a meeting with us today, we’ll be glad to meet you, listen, ask questions, and show you some of the exciting possibilities available for your business.
Leveraging Microsoft Power Automate, Syntex And DLP
The features given above are integrated into each business’s Microsoft 365 tenant by default, but when it comes to some of Microsoft 365’s more comprehensive tools, some legwork is needed as these will require setup and configuration in your business.
We’ve chosen Power Automate, Syntex, and Microsoft DLP to illustrate what is possible for your business using AI, spanning use cases across service delivery, content management, cyber security, compliance, and more.
Power Automate is a service provided by Microsoft to help businesses automate workflows and tasks across multiple applications and services without needing a deep knowledge of programming. It allows users to create automated processes using pre-built templates or from scratch, using a visual designer.
Power Automate Use Cases:
- Automating repetitive tasks: For instance, saving email attachments automatically to a designated folder.
- Data collection and reporting: Automatically collecting data from various sources and compiling it into a single report.
- Synchronising files: Keeping files synced across different services like OneDrive, Dropbox, or SharePoint.
- Approvals and workflows: Automating approval processes for documents or budgets, sending them to the right people for validation.
- Customer notifications: Sending out customised emails or messages to customers based on specific triggers or actions.
- Employee onboarding and offboarding: Streamlining the process of adding new employees to systems or revoking access when they leave.
SharePoint Syntex is part of Microsoft’s broader AI initiative for the Microsoft 365 ecosystem. It uses advanced AI and machine teaching to empower human knowledge workers, automate content processing, and efficiently transform content into actionable knowledge. In a nutshell, it is a service that leverages the power of AI across your content, enabling you to understand, process, and categorise it more effectively.
Syntex Use Cases:
- Content classification and management: Automatically identifying and tagging content types, making it easier to search and manage documents.
- Data extraction: Extracting specific information from documents, such as dates, amounts, or specific terms, for use in databases or workflows.
- Regulatory compliance: Ensuring content adheres to regulatory requirements by identifying and classifying sensitive or confidential information.
- Knowledge discovery: Making it easier for employees to find and use information stored across various documents by summarising and highlighting the key details.
- Process automation: Automating the processing of documents like invoices, contracts, or customer feedback into structured data.
Data Loss Prevention is a tool designed to help detect and prevent the accidental sharing of sensitive information, working across various Microsoft 365 services like Teams, OneDrive, and SharePoint Online to do this.
DLP policies can identify, monitor, and automatically protect sensitive information through deep content analysis, preventing the non-compliant and unauthorised use of data in your organisation.
Microsoft DLP Use Cases:
- Protecting sensitive information: Preventing the accidental sharing of sensitive data, such as credit card numbers, social security numbers, or health records.
- Compliance requirements: DLP empowers organisations to comply with legal and regulatory policies by defining their sensitive information across their Microsoft 365 estate and enforcing how it is to be held and processed.
- Monitoring and reporting: Providing oversight into how sensitive information is being used and shared, with detailed reporting for auditing purposes.
- Email protection: Controlling what information is being shared externally through emails and preventing users from sending sensitive information to unauthorised recipients.
- Educating users: Alerting users in real-time when they are about to share sensitive information, helping to instil good data handling practices.
A Revolution for the Workplace: Microsoft CoPilot for 365
Microsoft CoPilot for 365 was recently released by Microsoft and is set to transform how many businesses and organisations across the world work.
We will be releasing a blog shortly that details the scope of big features and benefits that CoPilot will offer. In a nutshell, it is a highly intelligent virtual personal assistant that enables businesses to apply ChatGPT-esque abilities across their Microsoft 365 estate and tailor them to provide the best experience for each user.
Users will be able to use CoPilot to retrieve information from SharePoint and OneDrive, follow up on meetings, draft emails and documents, apply data analytics to spreadsheets, and much more, saving time, while enriching the value of work that teams create. It offers an accessible but powerful AI-driven tool for businesses using Microsoft 365 and will likely be widely adopted as it matures and becomes more available.
So How Do I Get Started with Using AI In Microsoft 365?
Using AI is easier than most business owners think, but like most things, the art of putting AI to use in a business is easy to learn but hard to master.
However, any business that takes the steps to find where AI can benefit their business, detail the steps to bring these benefits to life, and then investment the time and effort into implementing AI successfully will be much better placed to outpace, outsmart and outdeliver their competitors.
We advise starting small, finding ways to create quick wins using AI. Although each business is different, as a starting point Power Automate could serve as a powerful tool, and if your business has an enterprise license or wishes to get it as an add-on, Microsoft CoPilot for 365 can also serve as a powerful tool for driving increases in productivity across the board.
The wealth of AI-powered tools that are available in Microsoft 365, offers a great way for businesses to get ahead of the competition. As AI usage inside and outside of the platform continues to take off, taking the steps to make the most of AI will prepare your business to grow, deliver for its customers, and sharpen its competitive edge.
Stay tuned for our next blog on Microsoft CoPilot and the revolutionary impact it is set to make for businesses across the world.
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