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3 Ways to Use Microsoft Copilot for Collaboration in M365

November 24, 2023
7 min read
3 Ways to Use Microsoft Copilot for Collaboration in M365
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Read Summary

  • Microsoft Copilot can help organize information and suggest what to do in what order.
  • Copilot provides personalized AI experiences to help users work more productively across files, projects, and spaces.
  • Copilot changes how users engage with traditional information architecture like templates and site design.
  • Copilot allows the creation of personalized folders and views of relevant files across projects.
  • Copilot enables productivity for transient project workers without disrupting formal information architecture.

Read Transcript

There are three exciting things I want to talk about with you today as they relate to Microsoft Copilot. The first one is how Microsoft Copilot can actually help us organize information and make sense of what we need to do in what order.

The second thing I want to do is I want to talk about how Microsoft Copilot is actually providing new rich capabilities where we can't just do traditional searches, but we could potentially do things that allow us to create really personalized experiences individually designed and supported by AI so that we can work more productively across files, projects and across traditionally organized spaces within the organization.

And the third one that I want to talk about is actually how this has big implications on information architecture. We've all heard information architecture and SharePoint site design and templates and designing teams. It's not as important with AI and search and so on and so forth, but we have never really seen it.

I do think it is a really good point in time to take note of these major changes to AI, how it changes user behavior. And yes, it actually diminishes the value of some of those traditional things that we've spent a lot of energy on regarding library science and organizational design. The first item that I mentioned, how AI can actually help us organize things.

This is useful in a few ways. One of the ways it can help is you can go to something like the OneDrive home experience and you would be able to see things like new files that have been shared with you, changes to files that you've shared, things like new comments, documents relevant for upcoming meetings and so on and so forth.

It's a very document-centric view, which is the whole point of OneDrive. It's showing me where my files are and how they're working. And AI is aggregating that information. So it's easy for me to consume and catch up. That experience isn't just limited to, say, OneDrive home in the browser.

It also works in things like the Outlook experience or inside of Microsoft Teams with the OneDrive app and other places as well. Not only that, but even Windows 11 on the desktop. And because we have those capabilities kind of enriched, what it means is that it's very accessible to understand what's been going on around myself, what's been going around my files, my content, the things that matter to me, what's been shared with me.

It's a very me-centric view. And that's a really important point for point number two. In most of these experiences around AI, what we haven't really addressed is not just how we create better content or how we run better meetings before, during, and after a meeting using AI, but actually how we organize our information.

Microsoft gave a great example of this. They said, show me all files that have been shared with me on Project Munson in the last week. So that example, show me all the files shared with me in Project Munson in the last week is a really important criteria because what it's doing is this Project Munson could have tens of thousands of files, it could have hundreds of files, it could have massive amount of content.

But what I'm doing is I'm narrowing into the content that matters for me. Maybe I'm not a permanent member of Project Munson. What I'm doing is I'm coming in because I want to support that project, but it's a very transitional role where I'm helping them for a little bit and then I'll rotate back out.

This happens a lot in business context. And so what's useful is AI will generate this view of those files, but then it will allow me to do things like create a folder from those files. Now this folder doesn't actually contain those files, it contains shortcuts to those files.

Regardless of where those files are stored, I now have a paradigm, a thing that I understand folders, my folder, and it has all of the files that matter to me in relation to this project. And what's more, AI can then help me further with the Copilot experience by saying, hey, these are other files that you might have missed or that might be relevant based on this folder that you've created, and so on and so forth. It's not like AI leaves me; I can still use it to continue managing my collection of files that matter.

Out of the hundreds or thousands or large collections of files that are organized in this shared design, I can now have my design of working with those files. That's really beneficial because it helps with productivity, it helps with people getting their work done, it helps with them maintaining visibility on the files that really matter to them without necessarily needing to subscribe or learn the folder structures or the metadata structures or other things that you might have had in that traditional team Microsoft team environment or SharePoint environment.

Why this is also important is that it changes the way we engage with information architecture. Historically, this is point number three. The way that we would work is we would work really hard to design effective project site templates. We would think about what's the right layout, what's the right structure.

We would come up with consistency around the naming of phases and those would be folders and they'd be structured this way. Then we'd represent that both in Microsoft Teams and SharePoint, maybe some of them as channels. So we'd really create this cohesion where people understand, and hopefully, it's relatively consistent pattern.

People know that this is kind of how we organize projects, this is how we organize the content related to it, and this is how we work within those constraints. And that leads to really great success, right? We know organizations that invest in templating, provisioning and disposition, and all the things around creating these amazing collaboration spaces like a Microsoft team or a SharePoint site, and those have a lot of value.

Where it gets really interesting is when you start to see the way people use these AI tools, because search has always been a little inaccessible, you could argue that before you could do a search and then you could save the search and reuse it.

Because of these combined experiences of being able to do semantic searches, which are far more accurate, effective, as well as being able to save things like your own little folders with shortcuts, it starts to create this model where we have two ways in which people can work those, and I do think this is the right approach.

Those who are going to work on a project longer term, they're going to subscribe to the information architecture model of that project and we're all going to benefit from those traditional investments of effective design, layout, information architecture, et cetera. But for other people who are more transitional or transient or supporting the project or external, for all of those types of people, they're really going to benefit from this AI-first information architecture experience.

We need to be aware that it's okay for them to come at it from this experience because it doesn't diminish what we've done, and security and protections and all those other things can be easily managed in both scenarios. But what ends up happening is this means that they can be more productive and they can have their own personalized experience when they're working with files, even in the context of, for example, a project. And that's an important distinction.

This idea of being able to have your own personalized AI-assisted experience is one that drives really great outcomes. If you didn't see the announcements, then be excited by the changes that Microsoft Copilot brings. It brings some really interesting ones, not just in improving your productivity, but creating new ways that you can kind of personalize how you work with files and with content.

Yes, it means there's a little bit more for us to think about on the other side when we orchestrate and help build these amazing collaboration environments for our customers or for our employees.

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