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Now Microsoft injects Copilot AI into Dynamics 365

Bringing Embrace, Extend, Extinguish to a business workforce near you

Microsoft has dosed its Dynamics 365 business apps with "AI capabilities" to help human workers delegate tedious tasks to machines.

Redmond's automation tools come in a preview form in a release called Dynamics 365 Copilot, a nod to the success of its GitHub subsidiary's controversial Copilot assistive code service. Microsoft sees automated content creation and algorithmically-driven behavior as a way to help employees using customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems avoid rote work.

"Copilot brings the power of next-generation AI capabilities and natural language processing to Dynamics 365, working alongside business professionals to help them create ideas and content faster, complete time-consuming tasks, and get insights and next best actions – just by describing what’s needed," explained Emily He, corporate VP of business applications marketing at Microsoft, in a blog post.

He describes Dynamics 365 Copilot as a way to help sales organizations be more productive. So reps, instead of combing through a directory of boilerplate replies to common queries, can now engage with customers using communiqués composed of statistically likely text to convey their commitment and empathy. Or, you know, they could do it themselves for that honestly empathetic touch.

Dynamics 365 Sales and Viva Sales can now write email responses to customers with a few clicks and summarize Teams meetings in Outlook. According to Microsoft, sales folks spend 66 percent of their day checking and responding to email. So shifting this time sink over to smartish software capable of on-demand messaging looks like a potential productivity win.

It remains to be seen whether customers will welcome robo-communiqués – mechanical missives that can be detected most of the time. So it may not be long before message filters can block them as we do with normal spam. The automation of phone calls certainly hasn't endeared many people to marketers.

Customer service reps can use tools similar to those available to sales personnel Microsoft said. For Dynamics 365 Customer Service, Copilot supports drafting answers to queries – using both knowledge base content and conversation history data – in both email and chat.

Microsoft is also testing Boost conversations to help train Microsoft Power Virtual Agents (chatbots) so they're better informed about internal and external information. The software giant's custom model-building tool AI Builder, meanwhile, has been fitted with Azure OpenAI Service, which lets people create their own text generation applications, with functions like summarization, response, classification and translation.

Copilot in Dynamics 365 Customer Insights and in Dynamics 365 Marketing is claimed to offer similar efficiency, allowing for the creation of target customer segments – for analysis and advertising – using natural language queries.

There's also Dynamics 365 Business Central, which uses Copilot to simplify online product listings for ecommerce operations by generating "compelling product descriptions for online storefronts in seconds." And Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management incorporates Copilot for issuing predictive notifications about issues that may affect supply chains, like weather or financial reports.

Microsoft has bet big on infusing its software with algorithmic automation, in January committing to a "multi-year, multi-billion dollar" investment into OpenAI, maker of widely noted machine learning models like ChatGPT, DALL•E, and Whisper. In February, Redmond inserted AI goodies into Bing, Edge, and Skype, which hasn't gone as well as hoped.

Not all every corporate customer wants in, however. Several major financial firms – Bank of America, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo – have reportedly banned the use of ChatGPT and related software in the workplace, likely due to uncertainty about regulatory compliance.

The US Federal Trade Commission meanwhile warned companies last week to dial down their AI claims.

"Microsoft is committed to ensuring that AI systems are developed responsibly and in ways that warrant people’s trust," He said, urging people to learn about the company's declared AI principles.

Microsoft plans to hold an additional event focused on AI in its business software on March 16. ®

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