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Driving New Partner Revenue Streams with Microsoft Copilot

by MSDW Reporter
Editorial Team,

Since early 2023, Microsoft Copilot offerings have emerged as a significant part of the solutions portfolio that partners can offer customer. Covering supply chain management, finance, sales, service, and beyond, Microsoft has moved quickly to bring a broad range of generative AI and analytical tools to market. 

And as fast as copilots have rolled out, Microsoft has looked to their partner channel to accelerate the way they shape the deployment of these tools for curious customers.

Scott May, Director of Channel Development for Microsoft CSP Stratos Cloud Alliance and his colleague Daryl Moll, the company’s Director of Emerging Technology and Principal Cloud Architect, led a recent MSDW webcast discussing the emerging copilot opportunity for Microsoft partners.

Driving new revenue streams with Microsoft Copilot in 2024

“We support copilots across the entire Microsoft platform. [Their presence is becoming] deeper and broader [as they interact with more enterprise solutions]” May told the partner audience.

The presenters noted recent surveys that suggest that as soon as 2026, 80 percent of digital experiences could involve AI chatbots. Moll foresees more “blurred lines” going forward with an increasing crossover of copilots. 

“What I’m most excited about is the momentum we’re seeing in the Dynamics 365 realm of Copilot,” said Moll, noting that copilot capabilities for Dynamics 365 Sales, both within the app and through Copilot for Sales, are perhaps the most advanced so far, though Microsoft continues to add AI-based capabilities across the product suite. Moll described how he has come to rely on Copilot for Sales as a way to create response emails in Outlook, keep notes on the side, generate summaries, and track upcoming meetings.

When Microsoft announced Copilot for Microsoft 365 in January, it created a stir throughout the channel. Initially, the company limited the offering to customers with 300 or more seats, but that minimum is already gone. Moll and May said they expect to see customers turning to their partner as a trusted adviser in the shift. 

Stratos is using an AI Labs approach to manage copilots for customers. “AI Labs gives you the ability to [have] one stop shop generative AI for M365 and D365 Copilot,” said May, adding that the team’s approach also makes them available to their partners in the channel for support and collaboration as projects evolve. “You might need data from Dataverse or [you may want to] combine functionality from CE with Microsoft Graph data. Going out and customizing copilot functionality and bringing in third party resources, you can create full functionality,” May said.

Moll sees lots of customers looking to “push the boundaries.” Partners who want to support customers on their AI initiatives will often choose to build up an internal center of excellence, centered on a few in-house specialists or a partner. 

Many clients are planning for generative AI scenarios, and Moll stressed the importance partners must place on the protection of IP and other sensitive internal data. Microsoft’s Copilot offerings offer certain guarantees of data segregation and privacy that partners will need to help clients evaluate. “[It’s] more important now than ever that content stays in organizations and is properly labeled. Limit accidental or malicious release of client data. Conditional access policies, DLP policies, sensitivity labels are also important as well as the ability to go to Business Premium or E5 to bolster capabilities you have to guard-rail content,” Moll said. 

Fortunately, according to Moll, Microsoft takes its Responsible AI approach very seriously. He advised customers and partners alike to set expectations carefully. For instance, Microsoft has promoted the ability to follow meetings with Copilot, getting summaries or tracking mention of a person’s name. However, this feature doesn’t come out until June. “Under promise and overdeliver,” he advised. “Know what’s out there today with the asterisk” and be able to advise on the realities of what is available, he said.

“Take advantage of excitement that everybody has and [address] fear as a way to educate people and change it to excitement…There’s so much opportunity out there. Talking with clients about what’s possible is really, really important,” he added.

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