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Microsoft is continuing to expand its AI efforts, announcing a series of new initiatives at its Microsoft Inspire conference that kicks off today.
Throughout 2023, Microsoft has been pushing the idea that there is a need for AI copilots across the enterprise application landscape. The basic goal of a copilot is to bring the power of generative AI, and in Microsoft’s case the Azure OpenAI service, to applications to help answer questions, provide recommendations, perform sentiment analysis and generate content.
In March, Microsoft rolled out a series of copilots designed specifically for its Dynamics enterprise software suite for customer relationship management (CRM) as well as enterprise resource planning (ERP).
At Microsoft Inspire, the copilot effort for Dynamics is being expanded with the launch of Microsoft Sales Copilot. Additionally, Microsoft is adding new AI features to its Dynamics 365 customer insights platform to further help enterprises with customer engagement and sales.
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The overall goal of the Microsoft update is to help employees get their jobs done in a more optimized approach.
“Our customers tell us that their employees are really struggling to keep up with the market demand and meet customer expectations because they’re overwhelmed with the amount of data coming at them,” Emily He, CVP for Microsoft Business Applications and Platform told VentureBeat. “And they’re also frustrated with the number of tools they need to navigate across just to get any work done.”
How Microsoft hopes to drive sales
Microsoft Sales Copilot is an AI-powered digital assistant for salespeople. The new tool can suggest ideas, generate content, recap meetings, reduce administrative tasks and help sellers close more deals, according to Microsoft.
The Sales Copilot can be accessed from Microsoft 365, Outlook Teams or Dynamics 365. The copilot can learn and benefit from data that an organization has in a Microsoft based system, which isn’t a surprise. What is somewhat more noteworthy is the fact that Sales Copilot can also be used alongside a CRM that an organization has in a non-Microsoft platform, like Salesforce.
Salesforce has its own AI powered assistant launched last month with Sales GPT that Microsoft’s effort will now compete against in some respects.
With Sales Copilot, He explained that before a salesperson goes into a customer meeting, an auto generated opportunity summary including status progress and key changes for the account can be created. Additionally, while in a customer meeting using Teams the salesperson can access accounting and CRM information. She added that the Sales Copilot can also provide sentiment analysis to let the salesperson know how the conversation is going and recommend competitive insights.
Dynamics 365 Customer Insights gets more dynamic
With the Dynamics 365 Customer Insights update, Microsoft is bringing together capabilities that had previously only been available as two separate services.
The Dynamics 365 Marketing offering is now converged into Dynamics 365 Customer Insights. The combined product now includes insights, real time marketing and customer journey orchestration all in one. Additionally, it now also has embedded copilot capabilities. As such, enterprise users can use natural language to do various tasks such as customer segmentation. as well as asking the system to recommend content for campaigns.
“It’s kind of a marketing marketer’s dream coming true with an assistant helping you every step of the way,” said He.
AI is a driver for cloud migration
Alongside the product updates, Microsoft is also launching a new initiative to help move its on-premises CRM users. The new program provides incentives to encourage on-premises users to move to the cloud, with a key driver being the ability to use more AI.
“If you’re an on prem customer, the AI copilot capabilities are not going to be embedded in your on prem solution,” said He. “So for them to really leverage AI capabilities, they need to move to the cloud and this is re-invigorating the conversation about moving to the cloud.”