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The Copilot Era: How will Microsoft partners offer AI capabilities to customers?

by Eamon McCarthy Earls
Assistant Editor, MSCloudNews.com
June 15 2023

Since the start of the year, Microsoft has shifted gears to focus on AI copilots and services across its major business and productivity applications and cloud services, announcing a string of new tools for different services. The steady stream of AI announcements has helped buoy the company's share price, which is up more than 37 percent in the last year in spite of signs of slowing growth in the overall cloud.

The company's efforts to make AI capabilities omni-present appear to be working. Microsoft has expanded its partnership with OpenAI, incorporated ChatGPT into Azure, and added AI into Viva Sales, Power Platform, and Dynamics 365. Moreover, the company has issued key details about Copilot pricing, encouraged SMBs to add AI into ERP offerings, boosted the Industry Clouds with Copilot, and provided “build your own” options to the channel.

Whenever new technology bursts on the scene, professionals in the industry are left to wonder whether it will have a real impact or just become part of a marketing hype cycle. MSCloudNews turned to Microsoft partner executives to learn their views on how the Copilot moment is playing out in their ecosystems.

The beginning of a huge shift

Todd Johnston, managing director of Microsoft partner Nexer Group, already sees customer demand for Microsoft's copilots. Microsoft's announcements so far are the “beginning of a huge shift” in the way that companies use enterprise apps, he told MSCN, particularly at massive enterprises rather than nimble startups. He said:

Many of the AI capabilities will be part of the same customization, configuration, and integration work that partners do today. AI is going to be an integral part of the Dynamics product line, and the core project work will look quite similar.  For clients that want to go to the next level, there will be additional effort to ensure their specific AI instance is properly informed with the right data. That data integration work will look similar to what’s been done in the past to support analytics work.

John Peluso, Chief Product Officer for Microsoft gold partner AvePoint, says it only took an hour from the time that Microsoft announced Copilot for Microsoft 365 for the company to start receiving internal and external inquiries about it.

“There is early exploratory interest as organizations are figuring out what the technology can mean to their business in parallel with digging in on potential security and compliance requirements,” he said.

AvePoint is exploring how AI services and tools can help both internally and for their 17,000 customers, Peluso added.

For customers, we are excited to leverage this new technology, which can bring context to data at scale, to help customers both understand the “story” of the data they are using our solutions to manage in a more insightful and efficient way, and to then move from those insights to appropriate decisions and actions. The automation our solutions have provided for a long time now are only as effective as the decisions driving them, so better insights, driving quicker and more relevant actions, is truly a 1+1=3 value proposition.

AI for partners and their customers

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About Eamon McCarthy Earls

As the assistant editor at MSDynamicsWorld.com and MSCloudNews.com, Eamon helps to oversee editorial content on the site and supports site management and strategy. He can be reached at eearls@msdynamicsworld.com.

Before joining MSDynamicsWorld.com, Eamon was editor for SearchNetworking.com at TechTarget, where he covered networking technology, IoT, and cybersecurity. He is also the author of multiple books and previously contributed to publications such as the Boston Globe, Milford Daily News, and DefenceWeb.