What to Know Before Installing Co-Pilot for Microsoft Word

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May 28, 2024

Imagine having an AI assistant that pulls from your notes, marries them to an existing document format, and writes a document for you. That’s the power of Copilot for Microsoft Word, which is planned for rollout in 2024 for those who buy the Copilot M365 license. Instead of spending hours reading over reference documents and putting together outlines, Copilot for Word can search your company databases, fetch the information you need, and write professional copy—and even programming code—that’s ready to use.

 

Copilot will weave AI capabilities into all your beloved M365 tools, making them work seamlessly in new and revolutionary ways. For the purposes of this blog, however, we’ll focus just on Copilot for Microsoft Word and the many things your organization will need to do to prepare for its addition to your platform.

 

But first, let’s talk about what makes Copilot for Microsoft Word so unique.

Copilot for Word

What Is Copilot for Microsoft Word?

 

Copilot for Microsoft Word is an AI-powered feature that enhances your writing experience within Microsoft Word. It helps you draft new content by generating text based on your input. You can also transform existing content, rewrite documents, and improve writing quality overall. Copilot is available to customers with a Copilot for Microsoft 365 or Copilot Pro license.

Specifically, Copilot for Microsoft Word can help you:

  • Draft documents based on your prompts
  • Rewrite, edit, and summarize your existing documents
  • Collaborate on your papers—brainstorm with an AI partner

Three Key Features in Copilot for Microsoft Word

Feature #1—Drafting Assistance to Accelerate Your Writing

Copilot for Microsoft Word isn’t just a tool—it’s a collaborative partner that never runs out of ideas. Imagine starting with a blank page and having Copilot generate content based on your prompts. Copilot helps you go from ideas to polished text in record time, whether it’s an email, a report, or a proposal. Here’s how:

  • Smart Suggestions: As you type, Copilot predicts what you might want to say next. For instance, if you’re drafting a proposal, Copilot might suggest sections you’ve used in other proposals or provide a likely ending for the sentence you’re drafting.
  • Transform Existing Content: Copilot doesn’t stop at new drafts. It can enhance your existing content, too. Say you’re revising a client presentation. Ask Copilot to “simplify the introduction” or “add a compelling case study.”
  • Interactive Collaboration: If you’restuck, click the “Inspire Me” button. Copilot will keep writing and adding points and information that keep the document going.
  • Customize Your Edits: Don’t like the direction of your document? Ask Copilot to “make this more concise” or “add some humor.”
Feature #2—Searching Across Existing M365 Documents

While Copilot is an excellent tool for generating brand-new text, it shines when it searches through existing text. Here’s an example. Imagine you’re responding to a request for a proposal. Your company uses a heavily templated document for its RFP responses. You can give Copilot the information for the new document, provide a link to a previously finished RFP, and ask it to put the latest information into the template used by the old file. In seconds, you can have the first draft of the proposal you need—complete with photos and illustrations, if you like.

Similarly, it can provide executive summaries of other documents, team meetings, or transcripts. Provide it with a SharePoint link to different folders, and it can search through them for the information you need.

Feature #3—Code Assistance from within your Microsoft Word Document

In the past, coding was done outside of Microsoft Word and pasted in later. With Copilot, you can write and edit code within your Word document. Whether it’s Python, JavaScript, or SQL, Copilot provides code snippets, explanations, and fixes.

Imagine drafting a technical blog post—Copilot suggests the correct syntax for that complex algorithm.

 

Why Use Copilot for Word?

 

Copilot doesn’t replace the human touch in the creativity process. However, the proper prompts can help you produce better, more insightful content in a fraction of the time. It can help you:

  • Boost efficiency with a co-author who can anticipate your needs. Finish your reports faster, make better use of templates, and more.
  • Improve quality—never worry about your copy again. Copilot can catch typos, suggest better phrasing, insert keywords, and more.
  • Expand Your Vocabulary—Copilot can teach new words, idiomatic expressions, and industry-specific terminology.

Does Copilot for Word Have Built-In Cybersecurity Safeguards?

 

Because Copilot is part of your M365 environment, certain safeguards come standard. These safeguards mitigate some, but not all, of the concerns inherent in working with Artificial intelligence. Here’s what to expect:

  • Data privacy—Copilot for Word adheres to privacy and compliance standards, including GDPR and EU Data Boundary regulations. Your data is not used to train its models, and your documents remain protected in your M365 Cloud environment.
  • Authentication and Compliance—Copilot for Word integrates with your existing Microsoft 365 Security features and two-factor/multifactor authentication programs
  • Data Boundaries—If you’ve set conditional access barriers on your files, Copilot for Word will respect those. It will not access or pull information from files you’ve deemed sensitive unless you have permission to access them.
  • Trustworthy searches—The likelihood of AI hallucinations is reduced because Copilot for Word pulls search information only from your organization’s documents.

Essential Safeguards Your Company Should Take—Before You Install M365 Copilot

 

Success with Copilot starts well before the capability is installed. Suppose you’re serious about adding these new capabilities. In that case, your IT leadership needs to sit down with your vendors, MSP, and possibly your HR/training departments to discuss AI safeguards for your company. Specifically, we recommend you start with these critical AI guardrails.

 

Creating Effective Conditional Access Policies

In many organizations, SharePoint systems tend to be relatively open, with only a few restricted areas for files. Typically, the teams working with the information manage version control and access daily. However, Copilot can change this dynamic by leveraging its comprehensive search capabilities. To ensure that only the correct data is accessed, consider enabling conditional access features to control who can view specific documents and when. Additionally, historical records or initial drafts should be either deleted or managed to prevent them from being searched.

Strengthening Endpoint Management and Multifactor Authentication

Guarding against unauthorized access is crucial. If an unauthorized actor gains entry to your systems, they can exploit the full power of AI-enabled search tools, quickly extracting critical information. Invest in robust endpoint management tools that continuously scan devices accessing your system to mitigate this risk. Implement a robust multifactor authentication system that considers identity, device, location, and network factors.

Integrating AI into Documentation and Training

When rolling out Copilot, it’s essential to go beyond simply demonstrating its new functions to employees. Foster a mindset shift regarding document security and accuracy. Teach users how to effectively utilize conditional access tools and make thoughtful document creation and storage decisions. Encourage departments to establish protocols for file sharing within their teams and across other departments.

 

Are You Interested in Getting Started with Copilot for Word?

 

If you’re interested in starting safely with the entire Copilot for the M365 platform, Integris can help. We can set you up with Responsible IT Architecture, manage your Cloud licenses, and do the security consulting you’ll need to work safely in the era of AI. As of this writing, in the spring of 2024, we’re signing up clients for Copilot previews/testing. Contact us now, and we’ll help you get on the list!

Susan Gosselin is a Senior Content Writer for Integris. A career communicator and business journalist, she's written extensively on IT topics and trends for IT service providers like Iconic IT and ProCoders Ukraine, as well as business publications such as Technologyadvice.com, Datamation.com, The Lane Report and many others. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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