M365 Copilot trials begin in Australia/NZ

Microsoft has  announced the first A/NZ customers to access Microsoft 365 Copilot as part of the invitation-only global Early Access Program (EAP). These include AGL, Data#3, Bupa, NAB, Powerlink Queensland, Rest Super and Suncorp in Australia and BNZ, Beca and Genesis Energy in New Zealand.

They will also benefit from the recently announced extensibility model, with developers able to integrate their apps and services into Microsoft 365 Copilot. This includes plugins from partners such as Atlassian, Adobe, Servicenow, Thomson Reuters, Moveworks and Mural.

“Business leaders within the Early Access Program see this as an opportunity to gain a first-mover advantage in their sectors, and enable greater productivity in a market that is navigating sustained economic pressure,” said Lucy Debono, Modern Work Business Group Director, Microsoft Australia and New Zealand.

“We really want these early adopters to work closely with Microsoft to use this technology, test it within their teams, help us to improve it further and drive great employee experiences. This is such an exciting opportunity to see how Australian companies will use this incredible new tool to fundamentally change how we work.”

Australia’s financial services sector is estimated to gain between $5 – $13 billion annually in economic value by 2030 as a result of generative AI adoption, according to a recent study by the Tech Council of Australia and Microsoft.

NAB is testing the technology for specific tasks and roles to see what impact generative AI could have in driving greater productivity and enabling their workforce to focus on higher value, more fulfilling tasks as part of their roles.

For Suncorp Group, building on years of experiencing in using AI in their business, their focus for Microsoft 365 Copilot is to continue to look at ways to save their people time and improve how they serve customers.

Suncorp Group’s Head of Data Science, AI & Insights, Craig Price said, “More broadly we see huge potential in expanding Gen AI solutions internally in a safe, secure and ethical way. As an insurer we are investigating many use cases, including how we help our customer-facing teams deliver exceptional service, including during the claims process.

“We see a great opportunity to improve how our people access relevant content, such as our insurance product disclosure statements, in a more intuitive way so they can support customers quickly when they need us most.”

Mark Pozdena, General Manager Business IT, Powerlink Queensland, said, “The first teams to access this are already reporting saving at least an hour a day on being able to manage meeting documentation, Microsoft Teams chats and emails more efficiently, so we are very excited to see the benefits Microsoft 365 Copilot could have more broadly in our workforce.“

Recent Capgemini research shows 33 per cent of utility and energy companies worldwide have begun to pilot generative AI. As a member of the Microsoft 365 Copilot Early Access Program, New Zealand’s Genesis Energy has deployed the technology to cohorts of users who found it improved productivity and creativity through simplification.  

“Genesis operates in a complex sector undergoing massive transformation,” says Ed Hyde, Genesis’ Chief Transformation and Technology Officer. “We see an opportunity for AI productivity tools like M365 Copilot to help our team simplify their workload so they can focus their creativity and energy on more productive tasks.” 

“For example, the technology provides excellent summaries and outlines of meetings and interactions between staff members, improving communication, collaboration, and efficiency of workflow.” 

Hyde said the Genesis cohort found unexpected ways to use M365 Copilot, such as in the design workshop activities. Team members reported the programme gave them more “strategic thinking time”, while reducing the pressure and stress of undertaking more mundane tasks. 

“The tools complement our existing skills and knowledge,” says Hyde. “We see the programme as a springboard for our broader AI transformation.”