Enable your employees with AI via Microsoft CoPilot? Not so fast.

Empowering employees with AI productivity tools is a low-hanging fruit for businesses venturing into AI adoption. Let’s face it, most employees are likely already experimenting with ChatGPT or similar applications. (A friendly reminder to add an AI Acceptable Use Policy to your employee handbook.)

In this realm, Microsoft CoPilot often emerges as a contender, promising significant productivity gains. Microsoft’s initial trials revealed users achieving a nearly 30% boost in routine tasks, with almost 70% reporting improved work quality.

However, deploying CoPilot isn’t as simple as it seems. A Microsoft colleague of mine confided,

Œ “Many of our customers mistakenly view CoPilot as just another software license, overlooking the importance of comprehensive planning…
It’s essential to conduct an AI readiness assessment and remediate accordingly, as well as perform due diligence to understand your data landscape before granting AI access.”

So, what does a CoPilot AI readiness assessment and due diligence entail?
It boils down to assessing the following:

ΠIs your environment secure? CoPilot operates within a Zero Trust security model. While you may not have a fully mature security program in place, a solid foundation is non-negotiable.

Œ Are your Microsoft Licenses (365) compatible with your CoPilot deployment goals? You’ll need a clear understanding of your starting point and desired outcome to grasp the costs and effort associated with deployment.

ΠHow diverse or homogeneous is your environment in terms of Microsoft and other branded tools? Unsurprisingly, Microsoft CoPilot is optimized for Microsoft applications. The more unified your environment, the greater the potential for efficiency gains. While complete homogeneity may be unrealistic, understanding the tradeoffs is crucial.

To bolster the readiness assessment, you’ll need a comprehensive software and data asset inventory. Additionally, if you haven’t already, apply sensitivity labeling in Exchange, SharePoint, and OneDrive to ensure confidentiality and privacy protections, which become even more critical in an AI-driven environment.

My Microsoft colleague shared another insightful anecdote:

Œ “If your organization has any ‘skeleton documents’ (hidden or sensitive files), AI WILL uncover them.”

While all this may seem overwhelming, many of these measures should already be addressed within your cybersecurity program. If not, you have some cyber work to do before even considering AI.

Of course, all AI use cases need ROI. How much is a 30% boost in employee productivity worth to your organization?