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Copilot for Microsoft 365: How to prepare yourself

In Part 3 of our Copilot for Microsoft 365 spotlight series, Cloud Security Architect Neil du Plessis outlines the steps to take to prepare yourself for AI-powered productivity.

By Neil du Plessis | Cloud Security Architect, BUI

Copilot for Microsoft 365 is an innovative tool that can transform how you work with computers. However, as with any new technology, it requires some preparation and adaptation on your part to ensure the most beneficial results in the long run.

Jared Spataro, the Corporate Vice President of Modern Work and Business Applications at Microsoft, once said that “becoming an AI-powered organisation doesn’t happen with the flip of a switch”. And he was right: you have to understand Copilot’s features and functionality before you can harness its full potential. Here are three important steps in the preparation journey.

1. Learn how to use Copilot for Microsoft 365.

Copilot is a powerful AI assistant that can help you with numerous tasks and activities in your Microsoft 365 apps, but it’s not a magic solution to every problem. You will need to learn how to use Copilot effectively – by composing clear prompts, providing relevant details and parameters, and reviewing and refining outputs.

You’ll also need to explore the frameworks guiding and controlling Copilot so that you understand how data security policies, privacy policies, and responsible AI checks are applied. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources available online, from technical documentation to in-depth tutorials and walkthroughs. You can also watch these introductory videos to see how Copilot for Microsoft 365 works:

Carmen Zlateff, Microsoft Windows vice president, explains how Windows 11 and Copilot work together during her presentation on stage at the Microsoft Copilot event in New York City in September 2023. Image credit: Microsoft

2. Develop your prompt engineering and critical thinking skills.

Even though Copilot can help you augment your capabilities, it’s no substitute for your unique human intelligence. Remember that Copilot uses generative artificial intelligence to draft responses to your prompts, providing an output based on your input.

A well-structured, specific prompt with appropriate context will yield a more accurate result than a vague query. If you take the time to develop your prompt engineering skills and evaluate, analyse, and even interrogate Copilot’s output, you’ll be better prepared to use the tool properly.

It’s also essential to apply your professional judgement, ethical standards, and niche industry or domain knowledge to your tasks and projects with Copilot. After all, the tool doesn’t have the benefit of your personal experience, expertise, or emotion.

3. Keep practising – and find a community of Copilot for Microsoft 365 users.

Copilot is designed to be your digital assistant. Your AI sidekick. Your know-a-lot companion in Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, Teams, and Word. But there will be a learning curve at the beginning – for you and the tool.

Because Copilot learns from context and adapts over time, it may not generate perfect responses to your queries from the start. You’ll need to experiment with different prompts and fine-tune your inputs to get high-quality outputs, so keep practising.

It’s also a good idea to join an online forum or community group of fellow Copilot users in your industry to take advantage of their shared knowledge, resources, and tips for success. The Copilot for Microsoft 365 community on the Microsoft Tech Community website is filled with news updates, event details, and discussions related to Copilot for Microsoft 365.

Learning how to use Copilot effectively, developing your prompt engineering and critical thinking skills, and tapping into the knowledge of fellow Copilot users can help you prepare for a new world of work with this AI-powered helper by your side.

BUI Cloud Security Architect Neil du Plessis is a certified CISSP and Microsoft Cybersecurity Expert specialising in holistic, cloud-powered defences for modern workplaces.

Wondering if Copilot for Microsoft 365 is right for your organisation? Join the BUI team for an interactive workshop and we’ll assess your Copilot for Microsoft 365 readiness and define a road map for your adoption journey. The workshop is conducted virtually, and is suitable for senior business development managers, line-of-business leaders, managers, technical decision-makers, and end-users. Register your interest by completing this digital form and we’ll contact you directly.

Copilot for Microsoft 365: AI to help you work smarter

In Part 2 of our Copilot for Microsoft 365 spotlight series, Cloud Security Architect Neil du Plessis reveals how this AI-powered assistant can help you be more creative and productive.

By Neil du Plessis | Cloud Security Architect, BUI

More than three-quarters of early users said that once they tried Copilot for Microsoft 365, they didn’t want to give it up. Why? Because having this AI-powered assistant as their workplace aide helped them to save time, unleash their creativity, enhance their skills, and unlock the full potential of their favourite Microsoft 365 apps.

In the Work Trend Index Special Report published by Microsoft last year, the same early users said that Copilot for Microsoft 365 empowered them to do more – and do it more efficiently than before. From creating presentations in PowerPoint to managing emails in Outlook, Copilot helped them achieve their goals.

But how exactly can Copilot for Microsoft 365 help you and your teams? How can you take advantage of this technology in your business right now? Let’s explore three everyday use cases for Copilot for Microsoft 365 in the modern workplace.

1. Copilot can help you write better and faster.

Whether you need to write a blog post, a newsletter, a proposal, or a summary, Copilot can help you with the creative process.

You can tell Copilot to draft an outline, a title, a hook, or a conclusion for your document based on your topic and purpose. You can get Copilot to check your grammar and spelling and edit, rewrite, or paraphrase your text to improve the tone, style, and clarity.

You can also direct Copilot to help you with formatting, referencing, and citing your sources so that your entire document is eye-catching, precise, and correctly attributed.

With Copilot as your co-creator, you can speed up the writing process and craft compelling content that meets your needs. Watch these videos for a closer look at what’s possible with Copilot in Word.

BUI_SA_M365_Copilot_Blog_2_Designer
With the Designer integration in Copilot in Word, it’s easy to bring your ideas to life with eye-catching visuals that match the text in your document. Image credit: Microsoft

2. Copilot can help you analyse and visualise data.

Whether you need to work with numbers, charts, tables, or graphs, Copilot can help you with data analysis and presentation.

You can get Copilot to perform calculations, apply formulas, filter data, or create pivot tables in Excel, based on your data set and goal.

You can ask Copilot to help you interpret and make sense of your data by providing summaries, trends, or insights in natural language.

You can also use Copilot to generate charts and graphs so that you can visualise your data, highlight relevant information, and vividly present your findings.

With Copilot by your side in Excel, you can enhance the way you work with and analyse data. Watch these videos to see how Copilot filters, formats, and reviews data.

3. Copilot can help you manage and organise tasks.

Whether you need to plan a project, schedule a meeting, or follow up on an email, Copilot can help you with task management and day-to-day organisation.

You can ask Copilot to create a project plan, a timeline, or a checklist in Word, Excel, or PowerPoint, based on your project scope and deliverables.

You can instruct Copilot to schedule a meeting, send an invitation to your chosen attendees, and create an agenda to match the meeting topic – all from within Outlook or Teams.

You can also get Copilot to help you respond to emails, create tasks, and set reminders in Outlook or Teams, based on your email content and priorities.

With Copilot as your digital assistant, you can stay on top of your tasks and organise your calendar more efficiently. Watch these videos for an overview of Copilot’s functionality in Outlook and Teams.

Real-time intelligent assistance from Copilot for Microsoft 365 enables people to work more creatively and productively. More than 80% of surveyed users said Copilot makes it easier to get started on a first draft; take action after a meeting; and catch up on what they missed. More than 70% said Copilot helped them complete work faster and save time on mundane tasks. And 68% said Copilot improved the quality of their work.

Going forward, those who embrace Copilot for Microsoft 365 as an ally at work and take the time to build new digital habits will benefit the most from this powerful technology.

BUI Cloud Security Architect Neil du Plessis is a certified CISSP and Microsoft Cybersecurity Expert specialising in holistic, cloud-powered defences for modern workplaces.

Wondering if Copilot for Microsoft 365 is right for your organisation? Join the BUI team for an interactive workshop and we’ll assess your Copilot for Microsoft 365 readiness and define a road map for your adoption journey. The workshop is conducted virtually, and is suitable for senior business development managers, line-of-business leaders, managers, technical decision-makers, and end-users. Register your interest by completing this digital form and we’ll contact you directly.

Copilot for Microsoft 365: Key news updates to know

In Part 1 of our Copilot for Microsoft 365 spotlight series, Cloud Security Architect Neil du Plessis unpacks the news you need to know about this AI-powered assistant for the modern workplace.

By Neil du Plessis | Cloud Security Architect, BUI

Copilot for Microsoft 365, the advanced AI assistant embedded in Microsoft 365 apps like PowerPoint and Word, made waves in workplaces worldwide after it was ANNOUNCED IN 2023.

The tool enables people to perform tasks and generate content using natural language commands and is ALREADY CONSIDERED A GAME-CHANGER for productivity and human-computer interaction, even as Microsoft continues to refine its capabilities and features.

So, what can we expect from this innovative technology going forward? Here are four important updates to know about Copilot for Microsoft 365.

1. Copilot for Microsoft 365 is now generally available to businesses of all sizes.

On 1 November last year, Microsoft made Copilot for Microsoft 365 available to Microsoft 365 customers on Enterprise plans. Since then, Microsoft has removed the Microsoft 365 prerequisite and minimum-purchase restrictions to expand its Copilot for Microsoft 365 licensing model to include enterprises using Office 365 E3/E5 and small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

As of 15 January 2024, Enterprise customers (Office 365 E3, Office 365 E5, Microsoft 365 E3 and Microsoft 365 E5) and Business customers (Microsoft 365 Business Standard and Microsoft 365 Business Premium) can purchase Copilot for Microsoft 365 as an add-on to an existing subscription for $30 per user per month.

2. Copilot for Microsoft 365 will be supported in more languages and regions this year.

Initially, Copilot was only available in English for users based in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Today, it’s available in 36 regions across the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia, and Microsoft is working hard to expand both audience and market reach.

In addition to English, Copilot for Microsoft 365 is supported in Chinese (Simplified), French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, and Spanish. Microsoft plans to support several more languages over the first half of 2024, including Arabic, Chinese (Traditional), Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Hebrew, Hungarian, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Russian, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, and Ukrainian.

Satya Nadella, Microsoft chairman and chief executive officer, speaks on stage at Skylight at Essex Crossing in New York City during the Microsoft Copilot event in September 2023. Image credit: Microsoft

3. Copilot for Microsoft 365 is now integrated with more apps and services.

Microsoft is enhancing the workplace value of Copilot for Microsoft 365 by adding new features and integrating it with more apps and services – both inside and outside of the Microsoft 365 suite. For example, Copilot works seamlessly with Loop and SharePoint, and is coming soon in Planner, OneNote, and Stream to allow users to access and manage files and tasks through natural language prompts and queries.

Copilot can also connect with third-party apps and services, including Salesforce, Jira, Dynamics 365, Bing Web Search, ServiceNow, and Zendesk, enabling users to perform actions and gather external information without leaving their current app.

Copilot can also leverage the power of the Microsoft Graph and third-party integrated applications like SQL and Confluence to provide users with personalised, contextual suggestions and insights based on their preferences, history, and activity.

4. Copilot for Microsoft 365 is becoming more accurate and reliable by the day.

Microsoft is committed to improving Copilot for Microsoft 365 so that it consistently produces relevant, high-quality output for users based on their prompts and context. To achieve this, Microsoft has been refining Copilot’s processing and orchestration engine, updating its Large Language Models, and gathering public and partner feedback through early access programmes, preview programmes, and dedicated community forums like the Copilot Feedback Hub, where users can share their observations, suggestions, and experiences with the tool.

These efforts continue to yield results: Copilot’s accuracy and reliability have improved significantly since launch; 70% of early users have reported increased personal productivity; and 77% of early users have said that once they used Copilot, they didn’t want to give it up.

With its expanded licensing model, broader language support, increased integration with apps and services, and improved accuracy and reliability, Copilot for Microsoft 365 is set to become a critical tool for businesses of all sizes.

As Microsoft further refines Copilot’s capabilities and features, we can expect this AI-powered assistant to revolutionise organisations everywhere by empowering people to do more with their favourite Microsoft 365 apps every day.

BUI Cloud Security Architect Neil du Plessis is a certified CISSP and Microsoft Cybersecurity Expert specialising in holistic, cloud-powered defences for modern workplaces.

Wondering if Copilot for Microsoft 365 is right for your organisation? Join the BUI team for an interactive workshop and we’ll assess your Copilot for Microsoft 365 readiness and define a road map for your adoption journey. The workshop is conducted virtually, and is suitable for senior business development managers, line-of-business leaders, managers, technical decision-makers, and end-users. Register your interest by completing this digital form and we’ll contact you directly.

DFIR as a Service: Effective incident response when you need it

If cybercriminals breached your systems today, would you be ready to act? Zandre Janse van Vuuren explains why DFIR as a Service is such a compelling solution for businesses that don’t have their own Digital Forensics and Incident Response teams.

By Zandre Janse van Vuuren | Service Delivery Manager: Cyber DFIR, BUI

Cybercrime has become more sophisticated, more frequent, and more damaging than ever, with companies falling victim to data breaches, ransomware scams, and other types of cyberattacks that often result in substantial financial losses and reputational damage. In the aftermath, they’re turning to Digital Forensics and Incident Response specialists to find answers – and to help them strengthen their security posture and avoid a repeat incident.

What is Digital Forensics and Incident Response?

Digital Forensics and Incident Response (DFIR) is a niche field within cybersecurity that concentrates on identifying, preserving, analysing, and recovering digital information to investigate and respond to security incidents and cybercrimes.

DFIR specialists play a critical role in mitigating cyber threats and maintaining the integrity of connected digital systems. Their key focus areas typically include Incident Response, Digital Forensics, Analysis, Recovery, and Reporting.

Incident Response

DFIR specialists are responsible for quickly identifying and responding to security incidents like network intrusions, data breaches, malware infections, and cyberattacks. Their primary goal is to minimise the damage caused by the incident and prevent further unauthorised access by the perpetrator.

Digital Forensics

DFIR teams use sophisticated tools and investigative techniques to gather and analyse digital evidence from various sources, including servers, computers, portable drives, smart devices, mobile phones, and network logs. They must follow strict collection procedures and maintain a chain of custody to preserve the integrity of digital evidence so that it is admissible in any legal proceedings related to the incident.

Analysis

DFIR teams thoroughly examine all digital evidence to uncover the scope of the incident and identify the perpetrator’s methods and motives. They also evaluate the extent of the damage caused to the victim’s connected environment by analysing logs, file systems, memory data, and network traffic, among other things.

Recovery

DFIR specialists have advanced technology and security skills and can work to recover data, systems, or services lost or compromised due to the incident. This process may involve restoring backups, removing malware, and implementing new, more comprehensive security measures to reduce the victim’s attack surface in the future.

Reporting

DFIR specialists are responsible for documenting their findings and preparing detailed technical and forensic reports suitable for legal purposes, regulatory compliance, or internal investigations. They can also appear in court as expert witnesses.

DFIR as a Service

Last year, the average cost of a data breach was $4.45-million. Researchers estimate that cyberattacks will cost the global economy $10.5-trillion by the end of 2024. And by 2025, lack of skill or human failure will be responsible for more than half of significant security incidents.

It’s clear that cybercriminals are taking advantage of a perfect storm: our hyperconnected digital world, the global shortage of security professionals, readily available hacking tools, and the relative ease of operating anonymously on the web. In this volatile climate, you have to go beyond protecting and defending your IT environment and plan for when disaster strikes.

If you do not have an in-house team of DFIR experts to identify and contain threats, mitigate the impact of security incidents, and conduct in-depth investigations, then you should consider opting for a DFIR-as-a-Service solution. This will enable you to leverage the expertise of a trusted security partner and enjoy the five main benefits of DFIR-as-a-Service.

1. Access to experienced security pros

DFIR-as-a-Service partners usually have a team (or teams) of security professionals specialising in incident response and digital forensic investigation. These experts have cutting-edge skills and a wealth of experience gained from working on DFIR cases involving business and enterprise organisations in diverse industries. As a customer, you can tap into a much broader knowledge base than your company’s own and take advantage of the insights and lessons learned by these pros.

2. Rapid response when it matters most

Every second counts when you’re dealing with a security incident. DFIR-as-a-Service partners are prepared to respond quickly when called upon. They have established procedures and playbooks to deal with the incident, and defined service-level agreements governing their engagements with you. As a result, you can expect swift incident analysis and containment, proper incident management, and dedicated support from DFIR experts – all crucial elements for minimising the impact of the incident.

3. Specialised tools and technologies

DFIR-as-a-Service partners invest in cutting-edge tools to give their teams advanced incident response and digital forensic analysis capabilities. They also harness their relationships with technology peers, think tanks, and research institutions to gain deeper insights into the evolving threat landscape. As a customer, you can benefit from specialised technologies and sophisticated industry research without ever having to source these independently.

4. Reduced legal and regulatory risks

DFIR-as-a-Service partners are external parties who provide objective assistance and an outsider’s perspective on your security posture and any incidents. As DFIR experts, they are equipped to ensure that all digital forensic investigations are conducted thoroughly and impartially in compliance with legal and regulatory requirements. You can rest assured every incident will be handled responsibly, professionally, and with complete transparency.

5. Cost efficiency

Creating and managing an in-house DFIR team is a costly and time-consuming process. It involves finding and training DFIR professionals and procuring state-of-the-art hardware and software – all of which can strain your budget. On the other hand, when you hire a DFIR-as-a-Service partner, you instantly broaden your organisation’s DFIR capabilities without having to bear the overhead costs associated with maintaining a full-time internal team.

As cybercrime continues to evolve at an unprecedented pace, the importance of Digital Forensics and Incident Response cannot be overstated. If you’re serious about holistic protection for your organisation, then a robust DFIR strategy is not just advisable – it’s imperative.

A DFIR-as-a-Service solution customised for your company is a proactive investment in security that will give you the peace of mind that comes with knowing you have a team of specialists on standby to help you safeguard your assets, protect your reputation, and preserve business continuity in challenging times.

BUI Cyber DFIR Service Delivery Manager Zandre Janse van Vuuren is a certified computer, digital and mobile forensics specialist and incident handler with a background in security operations.

Call in our security and digital forensics experts when it matters most. From lone attackers to ransomware groups, cyberspace is filled with adversaries. Solid preparation is essential. Our Cyber DFIR team can provide all the support you need in times of crisis. Learn more about our Digital Forensics and Incident Response retainer service, available now.