Microsoft Dynamics 365 Copilot ‘takes off’ ERP admin 

Microsoft says it is on a mission to bring next-generation AI to every line of business. That (presumably) means AI in sales, finance, procurement, supply chain management and everything in-between right down to admin and building premises security.

Perhaps more logically it also means AI in CRM and ERP.

In a week that has seen Salesforce launch Einstein AI for CRM, Microsoft is following suit and announcing AI product updates across its business applications portfolio, including the launch of the new Microsoft Dynamics 365 Copilot – a technology intended to provide interactive AI-powered assistance across business functions.

Dynamics 365 is of course Redmond’s core play into the CRM and ERP markets. Described as a portfolio of intelligent business applications, Microsoft Dynamics 365 features modular pre-built applications and connectivity to all of an organization’s pre-existing enterprise applications and data services estate or stack.

What is Microsoft Copilot?

A sort of sub-brand within a brand, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Copilot is an AI-powered assistance function to provide human workers with help to find resources that will help them work faster and automate time-consuming tasks. This iteration of Dynamics 365 Copilot is intended to give workers AI tools built for sales, service, marketing, operations and supply chain roles. 

Given this backdrop then, what (admin) automations is Microsoft bringing forward for CRM and ERP roles?

Burdensome alleviation

The company says it is targeting what it calls ‘frequently require burdensome tasks’ including manual data entry, content generation and notetaking. For clerical workers, Copilot AI helps write email responses to customers and can also create an email summary of a Teams meeting in Outlook. 

The meeting summary pulls in details from the seller’s CRM such as product and pricing information, as well as insights from the recorded Teams call. The company reminds us that salespeople might be spending as much as 66% of their day checking and responding to emails, so this product may be welcomed.

The generative AI generation

According to Emily He, CVP, Microsoft business applications and platform, the next era of business applications is being transformed by generative AI. The use of the term generative in this sense is a means of classifying statistical model behavior and (of course) stems from the G in GPT (Generative Pretrained Transformer) that we know from the ChatGPT chatbot built by the lab scientists at OpenAI. 

“Users will increasingly expect their CRM and ERP applications to include AI-powered expertise. Dynamics 365 Copilot brings the latest AI breakthroughs to every line of business, improving customer experience, employee experience and operational efficiency. Essential to our approach as we bring these latest advancements to customers is our commitment to responsible AI by design – our framework for the safe deployment of AI technologies,” notes He and team, in a technical product statement.

Contextual chat answers

Just how smart is this technology?

Dynamics 365 Copilot is capable of drafting contextual answers to queries in both chat and email, in addition to providing an interactive chat experience over knowledge bases and case history so this AI-powered expertise is always available to answer questions. 

“We’re also making it easier for customer service departments to build virtual agents in minutes with conversation boosters in Power Virtual Agents, which harnesses the power of Azure OpenAI Service and Bing to provide answers from company websites and internal knowledge bases that you choose,” detailed Microsoft, in a press statement. 

Using Copilot in Dynamics 365 Marketing, marketing staff can describe their customer segment in their own words to create a target segment with the query assist feature. Marketers can also use Dynamics 365 Copilot to get inspiration for fresh email campaign content based on a simple request. Copilot makes suggestions based on key topics entered by the marketer, the organization’s existing marketing emails, as well as from a range of Internet sources to increase the relevance of generated ideas.

Oh no, I’m talking to a bot

There’s a lot to take in here. 

On the face of it it appears that Copilot takes a worker’s previous most used phrases related to key topics and dovetails that intelligence with some additional web (usual suspect) information and then processes the combined cake mix of information through its AI engine to produce a sum that is greater than the whole of its parts. Is that smart enough to give us AI for CRM and ERP that doesn’t provoke the ‘Oh no, I’m talking to a bot’ reaction that many of us still experience when we are dealing with chat functions? Perhaps, maybe, sometimes, eventually… may be the most likely answer.

Microsoft probably called this Dynamics 365 service Copilot not Autopilot for a reason i.e. it wanted us to feel warm and fuzzy and know that it was a service to help humans and not replace them. 

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