AI for Workplace Efficiency and Security Enhancement

Artificial intelligence (AI) is rapidly transforming workplaces around the world. From routine administrative tasks to complex decision-making, AI has already automated and enhanced many business operations for those who have been savvy enough to implement it into their structure.

For many, however, introducing AI to their tech stack requires careful planning to maximise benefits and minimise risks. AI is now used by organisations to make smarter and more data-driven decisions, and the benefits of AI in the workplace are clear. One powerful solution, announced in 2023, is Copilot for Microsoft 365, which merges the power of Generative AI (Gen AI) into your Microsoft 365 apps to create an AI assistant for your everyday work. Together with the data in your M365 tenant it offers an intelligent, secure solution aimed at improving efficiency and productivity.

It’s clear that AI has a host of benefits to offer the modern workplace. However, the question still remains how businesses can draw out the ultimate potential from their AI investment.

AI – Beyond simply an assistant

We all wish we had a personal assistant. Traditionally this was something that came with seniority and success, but AI now makes that more achievable for most of us than it ever was before. Microsoft’s Copilot stands out as a comprehensive embodiment of Gen AI seamlessly integrated into the workplace, acting as your constant and personal support. Unlike a standalone product, Copilot functions as an embedded assistant—a contemporary version of the familiar Clippy from Windows 98, albeit with unimagined power compared to it’s 90’s counterpart.

There are many Copilots across the range of Microsoft technologies, addressing diverse aspects of how we work and leveraging the data that we and our colleagues generate. This nuanced approach, tailoring AI to specific requirements, amplifies the value of its integration into our daily lives and work. However, the successful optimisation of AI in the workplace hinges on various elements, with one significant factor being employee engagement with the technology: if you are paying for an AI assistant on a per-user-per-month basis, each user needs to regularly make valuable use of that assistance, otherwise there is no business case for investment.

We all need to overturn career-long muscle memory of how we work to exploit the capabilities of Copilot, but if we can truly adapt, Copilot can unleash our creativity, unlock our productivity and up-skill us to perform tasks that we were previously unqualified for. At a senior level, AI digests business plans and strategies, providing valuable insights and suggesting objectives to enhance business decisions and foster growth. At a more grass-roots level, AI can help every one of us to get our daily tasks done quicker, and to a higher standard.

Transforming IT from within

Integrating AI into the workplace goes beyond improving operational efficiency; it significantly enhances the employee experience by automating time-consuming IT maintenance tasks, such as CRM and ERP administration that often deplete user time and engagement. By delegating these responsibilities to AI, employees can redirect their focus towards innovation and more creative and valuable endeavours. The advantages extend beyond mere employee satisfaction: AI implementation yields real time savings in critical business processes. This including efficiently helping respond to client emails and delivering post-meeting analysis and summary work that can create tangible benefits for the business case for investment.

What makes this implementation even more appealing is that it doesn’t demand intricate expert knowledge. Organisations can leverage natural language AI and Copilot to construct customised automation flows that seamlessly integrate into enterprise-wide processes. This aligns precisely with specific business needs without any need for code or analysis beyond that which the end-user can provide.

Eagerness with caution

AI in general and AI assistants like Copilot in particular have the potential to change the way that we work and to deliver significant value to our organisations. At the same time, it is prudent to be mindful of what data our users have access to, even if it has not previously reared its head as a concern. We also need to carefully consider the implications for data security and data privacy laws when embracing the power of AI.

The good news is that Copilot for Microsoft 365 has some excellent built-in guardrails: ask the question “What is the CEO’s salary?” and its answer will be “I won’t tell you that!” not “I can’t find that information.”

Most of us look after data and document landscapes that have grown legs over time. They all likely contain something that has been accidentally over-shared, or sensitive documents that users have not previously realised they have access to. It’s a good idea to perform an audit of your documents and data before organisation-wide implementation, but don’t let this stop you from experimenting with the value of Copilot or similar tools: organisations that are successfully leveraging AI and AI assistants start by exploring its value with a discrete set of users while simultaneously auditing their document permissions. Often these users sign an additional NDA explaining their need to report any sensitive information that they find, and not to share it.

The important thing is not to quell eagerness with caution, but to encourage the eagerness of individuals and the organisation whilst better preparing and understanding any risk involved.

AI: Your Cutting-Edge Cyber Sentry

AI helps workplaces to improve their security systems against advanced threats. It offers a new way to enhance organisational security. By using natural language inputs, AI creates tailored responses based on insights from internal and external data. This allows organisations to deal quickly and accurately with current incidents, detect new threats, and prevent future risks.

For example, developers working with Microsoft Defender for Endpoint to detect and respond to security dangers can benefit from Copilot’s ability to create code to automate and streamline security workflows Similarly, users of Azure Security Centre can deploy Copilot to generate code snippets which expedite the automated deployment of security controls. The efficiency gains are substantial – Copilot enables organisations to defend against threats at machine speed, achieving in minutes that which may have previously taken hours to accomplish. In a constantly evolving security landscape, AI-driven solutions such as Security Copilot are now indispensable assets, reinforcing the resilience of workplaces against ever-evolving risks.

And – unpalatable though it may be to consider – threat actors are also increasingly leveraging the power of AI to assist them in their activities. It is incumbent on those of us who wish to keep our organisations, people and data secure from such forces that we allow our defences and security solutions to evolve at the same rate. Security Copilot answers this need.

AI: beyond a simple tool

AI is reshaping workplaces globally, providing a range of benefits from streamlined operations to enhanced decision-making. Beyond being a simple tool, AI emerges as a personalised assistant for every employee, seamlessly integrated into daily workflows.

However, this enthusiasm warrants caution. Organisations must assess readiness, define clear objectives, and optimise cloud technologies before embarking on ambitious AI transformation. The realisation of AI’s potential hinges on thoughtful planning, enthusiastic yet continuous adaptation and a commitment to leveraging its capabilities for sustainable growth and innovation in the long-term.

Dan Coleby, Director of Client Technology Value at Advania.

AI Readiness - Harnessing the Power of Data and AI


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