Engaging with AI has typically been a one-on-one activity: you ask Copilot a question and it provides an answer; you instruct Copilot to perform a task and it follows your directions. But soon, Copilot will be able to act as a team member, participating and contributing alongside everyone in the group. And organizations will build custom copilots to do things like automate business process. These new capabilities will allow business leaders to reconfigure how their teams—and entire organizations—operate. 

In this episode of the WorkLab podcast, Charles Lamanna, Corporate Vice President of Business Apps and Platforms at Microsoft, explains how Copilot has evolved in the past year and what it can do now. He also talks about the low- to no-code tools he and his team are working on to open the aperture and let more people, regardless of their ability to write code, develop business products or processes to streamline their productivity.  

If you’ve ever used Dynamics 365 or Power Apps or any other Microsoft business application, there’s a good chance Lamanna has worked on it. He joined Microsoft right out of college as a software engineer before starting his own cloud monitoring company—later acquired by Microsoft. He rejoined in 2013 and has since led the charge on some of Microsoft’s most exciting products. 

Three big takeaways from the conversation: 

  1. Today, people interact with generative AI mostly on a one-to-one basis. But Lamanna explains how new capabilities in Microsoft Copilot move AI beyond being just a personal assistant to acting on behalf of a team, a department, or an entire company and automating business processes. One big benefit for business leaders is to liberate people and teams from monotonous tasks so they can focus on what humans are good at: “collaborating, creating ideas, long-term planning—AI will be able to take work that you give it and finish it for you, going the last mile in the background.”  

  2. One of the most important factors for successfully rolling out AI within a business is having “curated, high-quality content,” Lamanna says. That’s because AI pulls information from any internal documents and databases it has access to. If the information is old or inaccurate, the results will reflect that—garbage in, garbage out. As a potential solution to this, Lamanna is excited at the prospect of a new role or team within organizations called Content Ops: “Their job is to curate, prune, and improve the content that feeds into AI.” 

  3. “I love to write code,” Lamanna says. (He’s a software developer after all.) “But I recognize there’s 8 billion people on Earth and, like, 30 million people who write code with regularity. It’s unfortunate that there are so many great ideas out there, but they’re bottlenecked.” As he explains, low- and no-code tools are giving those billions of people with no programming experience the ability to bring their ideas to life and build great business products, streamline processes, and more. 

WorkLab is a place for experts to share their insights and opinions. As students of the future of work, Microsoft values inputs from a diverse set of voices. That said, the opinions and findings of the experts we interview are their own and do not reflect Microsoft’s own research or opinions. 

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Here’s a transcript of the conversation.

MOLLY WOOD: This is WorkLab, the podcast from Microsoft. I’m your host, Molly Wood. On WorkLab we hear from experts about the future of work, from how to use generative AI effectively to what it takes to thrive in our new world of work.  

CHARLES LAMANNA: We’re going to go from a world where, today, most desks and most workers don’t have a copilot to help them get their job done. But a few years from now, everyone will have a copilot to help them get their job done more efficiently and faster. And we’ll wonder, how did people ever work before they had an AI, kind of, copilot that could help them complete tasks more efficiently? Just like I now wonder, how in the heck could you run a large team without a computer, without email, without Teams?