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Four things we've learnt from our Microsoft 365 Copilot roll-out

Posted 28th March 2024

Whether your organisation is an SME operating from a single site or a multinational with a footprint in many markets, the challenges of rolling out new technology are often the same. How can you ensure all licensed users trial the tools at their disposal – and how will you know whether it’s making a positive impact on your business?

These are questions BCN has also faced over the past few months. We were quick to adopt Microsoft 365 Copilot. In fact, our first licence holders started using it on the day Copilot went on general release in Autumn 2023.

Since then, we’ve stress-tested the software and systematically extended it to a much wider group of users across our business. The learnings from our pilot phase are instructive, because partnering customers who want to use the technology is now a key part of our service. We’re eager to share our experiences with them to help mitigate teething problems.

This blog turns the spotlight on BCN’s Copilot pilot strategy with the aim of helping you to plan a successful roll-out in your organisation.

Four considerations for your Copilot pilot

Planning is everything. Elsewhere, we’ve shared our advice on how to review your business processes so that you can be ready to get the most from your Copilot implementation – from reviewing permissions to scrutinising your security settings.

Alongside this, it’s vital to lay the foundations of a successful pilot phase well before it begins. Here are four ways we’ve helped our first Copilot users create a pathway for the rest of BCN:

1) Start with a small group – It makes sense to commence with a close-knit group of users. They are the vanguard, the people who will explore and examine the features of Copilot that your organisation might use the most, and others which will add further value. This group will likely include some of your tech experts who’ll need to solve early problems: three of our software experts took our first licences. But also involving stakeholders from other disciplines like marketing, sales and HR is key because you will quickly be able to see its potential and achieve buy-in across the organisation.

2) Follow the adoption curve – Extending Copilot beyond your narrow group of initial users is the next phase of the launch. To do this, you’ll need to use analytics within the platform to determine which features are frequently used by those spearheading the trial, and which other individuals or teams would benefit from accessing them. Copilot isn’t a trivial investment. But remember that there are big potential gains to be made when users redirect the time they save on automated tasks into higher-value work. That will be a boost for both your productivity and your profits.

3) Create a feedback loop – It’s imperative to give your growing user group the chance to comment on your Copilot adoption programme, suggest gaps and improvements, and generally discuss how this early stage is going. Allow them to contribute in dedicated spaces such as a centralised forum or support hub, perhaps within your firm’s intranet. This will foster a feedback culture and the sense that you’re building a Copilot community. Shared user experiences, tips and concerns will be vital to boosting adoption across your business, as well as optimising your workforce’s use of Copilot.

4) Plan training opportunities – With user experience growing and feedback at your fingertips the team managing your initial Copilot implementation can draw up plans for training that will support employees who go on to use the software. For example, to improve results from Copilot’s chat function you could teach prompt engineering: the best way to ask questions that deliver optimal results. A BCN expert shared his success using the prompt: “Explain this document to me like I’m five years old.” This singular prompt summarises complex text into an easy-to-understand overview.

Of course, keeping all of these plates spinning may require extra resource. External experts such as BCN can give independent, strategic advice on how your organisation can get the most out of Copilot, setting goals and navigating the pilot phase.

Our thoughts on Copilot adoption at BCN

You may have already identified the key features of Copilot that your teams will regularly tap into as they seek to make their roles easier and their days more productive. Or perhaps you’re unsure where to start.

To help, here are some pointers from three BCN experts who recently discussed their experiences of the pilot phase on a podcast, which you can listen to here.

Mark Rotheram, CTO, says: “The scope of Copilot is vast. Put simply, the platform allows you to do everything you did before but better. It can provide a summary of several documents to gain a perspective you hadn’t previously considered, or quickly create a PowerPoint presentation that might have taken you days. The most exciting thing is realising what’s possible.”

 

Harry Busby, Head of Automation and Efficiency, comments: “Copilot has made an instant impact. I quickly discovered there’s no need to worry if I can’t make a customer meeting or call. Integrated with Teams, Copilot summarises them so you can catch up quickly, and you can link files to Tasks and Planner. It’s been interesting to see how the whole ecosystem comes together.”

 

Tom Furber, Senior Product Manager, adds: “Before Copilot existed it was hard work running customer meetings (in Teams), trying to listen, note down key points and think of the next intelligent question. With the level of automation on offer you just feel more present and that helps you to make the most of every customer interaction.”

Don’t just take our tech experts’ word for it though. After using the platform for a short time one team member proclaimed: “I’m willing to take a pay cut to keep my Copilot licence.”

What could you use Copilot for next?

 So, it has been a pretty positive bedding in period for BCN. Of course, this doesn’t mean everything will always run smoothly from the word go. With any tech adoption there are bumps in the road; users who struggle with testing out or trusting new platforms; and the challenge of managing so many features. It’s not just a case of switching on Copilot and hoping for the best.

When the initial phase goes well, though, you can start to consider what else Copilot can do for your business. For instance, we’re looking forward to developing our training programme to help users leverage the platform to its full potential; discover ways to easily surface data without needing to manually scour corners of our server; as well as keeping up with new Copilot features as they’re rolled out.

What will you do next?

Get in touch today

To get the ball rolling on your Copilot implementation, or to chat about the scope of the platform’s services and how BCN can support you.

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