Experienced Copilot help is hard to find, warns Microsoft MVP
Almost nobody has used it, or knows it well, so beware of consultants bearing cred
If you want to implement Microsoft's Copilot AI assistants, many consultancies in the software giant's channel may not yet have enough hands-on experience to be very helpful – because they've scarcely had a chance to use it, never mind develop meaningful expertise in the tool. That's coming from Loryan Strant, product and innovation lead at Dutch Microsoft-centric consultancy Rapid Circle and a longtime holder of Redmond's Most Valuable Professional (MVP) accreditation.
In a post titled "How to Identify Copilot Bullsh*t," Strant opens with the observation that Microsoft has made it hard to understand which Copilot to consider. "Microsoft Copilot for Microsoft 365" is the product's official name, after Microsoft changed it from "Microsoft 365 Copilot," but also offers "Microsoft Copilot" – the new name for Bing Chat.
He then offers two other pieces of BS to consider, starting with actual hands-on experience with Microsoft Copilot for Microsoft 365. Strant points out that the product only recently became publicly available and before its official debut "was only available to a very small number of customers, and by extension a small [number] of Microsoft partners."
"Fortunately, with my work we had early access to it both by extension of one our customers who were in the Early Access Program, as well as in our own environment," he wrote. During his time hands-on with the product, Strant found it "has already changed and adjusted a number of times."
"Some things are clear and some things are still a dark art," he added.
“Therefore, it is most likely anyone who claims they've been using it for a while, has not. So if you're a Microsoft customer and talking to a partner about M365 Copilot – ask them how long they've actually had their hands on it."
Strant's point is that hands on experience grows knowledge of a technology.
He therefore suggests it's also worth asking consultancies if they're even allowed to get their hands on Copilot.
"The product is damn expensive and carries a minimum purchase quantity. We're talking a minimum of 300 licenses – which amounts to USD ~109k," he wrote. "Many Microsoft partners, IT professionals, and those calling themselves experts, do not work for organizations that meet the minimum seat count, nor are prepared to spend the hefty investment."
Strant therefore advises careful consideration of those offering Copilot services – and of the blog posts, webinars, conference sessions, and other content advertising Copilot readiness.
"Unfortunately for many, they are simply regurgitating Microsoft website content and not actually bringing anything unique to the table," he wrote, before adding that some consultants feel they "only need to be one page ahead of the customer."
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Strant is awake to the argument that he's spreading FUD, while offering himself as a source of wisdom.
"I want to be clear here: I'm not saying that only my employer can help customers because of our experience, access to, and knowledge of M365 Copilot. That would also be BS," he wrote.
"What I am saying, is that if you are looking for a partner or consultant to help you with M365 Copilot in your organization – challenge them to prove their knowledge and experience. Challenge them to show unique value that goes over and above what is publicly available with a basic web search."
Doing so is necessary because "Right now, the commoditization of 'AI' and M365 Copilot is a veritable gold rush. Just make sure that you're not being taken for a ride by someone who has read slightly further than you have." ®