New Capabilities in Microsoft Copilot Studio Unveiled at Build 2024

Exciting advancements were unveiled at Microsoft Build 2024, particularly the powerful new capabilities in Microsoft Copilot Studio. As specialists in implementing Microsoft products, we see these updates as transformative for our clients, enabling them to create their own custom copilots or extend Microsoft Copilot experiences with enterprise data and scenarios.

One of the standout features is the ability for copilots to act as independent agents—triggered by events and not just conversations. These copilots can now autonomously automate and orchestrate complex, long-running business processes with minimal human intervention.

For instance, imagine a copilot that can react when an email arrives, lookup the sender’s details, review their previous communications, and use generative AI to initiate the appropriate actions. From understanding the intent of the email, to checking the sender’s details and account, reviewing past communications, checking inventory, responding to the sender to ask for their preferences, and then taking the necessary actions to close a ticket—this copilot can manage and orchestrate the entire process over several days.

These capabilities signify a shift in how copilots operate: from tools that assist users to agents that work independently for them. They can be tailored to handle specific roles or functions such as IT, marketing, sales, customer success, and finance across various industries, including travel, retail, and financial services.

Here are some examples of the kinds of copilots our customers can build with these new capabilities:

  • IT Help Desk: IT support is complex, involving tickets, order numbers, approvals, and stock levels. Opening and closing a ticket can be a long-running task spanning days. A copilot can now handle this process, interfacing with IT service management applications, resolving IT tickets with context and memory, creating purchase orders for device refreshes, and reaching out for managerial approvals—all independently.
  • Employee Onboarding: Onboarding new employees is often expensive and slow. Now, imagine you’re a new hire. A copilot greets you, reasons over HR data, and answers your questions. It introduces you to your buddy, provides training and deadlines, assists with forms, and sets up your first week of meetings. Throughout all of this, the copilot remains in touch, guiding you through the weeks-long onboarding and account setup processes.
  • Personal Concierge for Sales and Service: Balancing exceptional customer experience while meeting ambitious revenue goals can be challenging. When a copilot serves guests, it can use the memory of previous conversations to remember their preferences, make reservations, handle complaints, and answer questions related to products and services. The copilot learns from its interactions and proposes new ways of handling customer scenarios, thereby increasing upsell and attachment rates, driving revenue for the business, while enhancing guest experience, satisfaction rates, and repeat business.

Let’s delve deeper into a few of the underlying capabilities that make all this possible:

  • Asynchronous Orchestration of Complex Tasks: This involves the use of generative AI-powered planning and reasoning to manage complex, multistep, long-running tasks. For example, reacting to a new order involves verifying inventory, triggering payment processes, pinging a supervisor for approval if the amount exceeds a certain threshold, and replying with a confirmation. Many of these events can take hours—or even days—to complete, but the copilot manages them, maintaining the necessary state and context.
  • Memory and Context: One of the most frustrating aspects of support has traditionally been having to repeat information: who you are, what your policy number is, what your address is. There is no continuity of conversation. Copilots will now learn from previous conversations and use this knowledge to personalise interactions continuously. A copilot may not need to ask for your laptop model or address when you call again for the same issue. Conversations will thus become long-running, contextual, and deeply personalised.
  • Monitor, Learn, and Improve: Copilots can now learn and adapt, offering monitoring and teaching capabilities to enhance their interactions. Each copilot records a comprehensive history of its activities, providing transparency into its performance, including user interactions, actions taken, and feedback received. You can see what decisions it made—and correct and teach it—with just a few clicks.
  • Delegation with Confidence and Guardrails: When developing copilots with agent capabilities, establishing clear boundaries is paramount. Copilots operate strictly within the confines of maker-defined instructions, knowledge, and actions. The data sources linked to the copilot adhere to stringent security measures and controls, managed through the unified admin centre of Copilot Studio. This includes data loss prevention, robust authentication protocols, and more.

These advanced new capabilities in Copilot Studio are currently accessible to customers participating in a limited private preview. Organisations such as Centro de la Familia are eager to explore agent capabilities that support teachers and caseworkers, allowing them to spend less time on administrative tasks and more time working with children, ultimately leading to better child outcomes. Based on feedback from programme participants, Microsoft will continue to iterate and refine these capabilities for broader access in a preview planned for later this year.

Additional Innovations with Copilot Studio

There’s a lot more to share at Microsoft Build with Copilot Studio, and we’ll touch on just a few of the new capabilities here. To learn more, simply sign up and try it out for yourself.

Creating copilots is now easier than ever. With Copilot Studio, creating and testing copilots is incredibly simple. You can create your copilot with a brand-new conversationally driven experience—simply describe what you want it to do, and what knowledge you want it to have, and Copilot Studio will create your very own copilot. You can then immediately test it out, add additional capabilities, such as your own actions, APIs, and enterprise knowledge—and then publish it live with a few clicks.

Connect All Your Enterprise Data with Copilot Connectors: Customers want copilots connected with data from their own enterprise business systems and apps. Copilot connectors enable anyone to ground their copilot in business and collaboration data. This makes it possible for copilots to use various data sources, including public websites, SharePoint, OneDrive, Microsoft Dataverse tables, Microsoft Fabric OneLake (coming this calendar year), Microsoft Graph, as well as leading third-party apps. You can even create your own custom generative prompts to configure how a copilot handles a response from an API or connector.

Here are a few examples of how Copilot connectors can transform copilot experiences for specific personas or functions:

Legal and Compliance: Navigate complex legal landscapes with a Copilot extension that queries specific legal datasets, ensuring controlled and compliant responses without overwhelming users with extraneous information.

  • HR Helper: Assist employees with accessing essential resources for benefits and PTO policies, and even book time off directly through Copilot.
  • Incident Report Coordinator: Workers can locate the right documentation, report incidents, and track them efficiently, all within the context of the chat.
  • Starting in June 2024, developers can access the preview for Copilot connectors and stay informed on updates.

Conversational Analytics (Private Preview): One of the most common requests from customers has been the need for deeper insight into what their copilot is doing, how generative AI is responding, when it was unable to provide the right answers and why—and recommendations on what to do to improve it.

Our new conversational AI analytics and insights will help to deepen makers’ understanding of their users’ satisfaction, provide insights into the kinds of questions users are asking, which generative answers are helpful and which are not—and where adding new and updated knowledge sources or creating custom topics can help.

Templates: If simply describing your copilot to build it wasn’t easy enough, Copilot Studio will now also include a variety of pre-built copilot samples for departments and industries. Some templates—such as Safe Travels for comprehensive travel support, Organisation Navigator for organisational clarity, Kudos Copilot for fostering recognition, Wellness for employee health insights—are available now, with many more releasing in the coming months.

Enhanced Security and Controls (Public Preview): Administrators can now configure advanced settings beyond the default security measures and controls. With Microsoft Purview, Copilot Studio administrators gain access to more detailed governance tools, including audit logs, inventory capabilities, and sensitivity labels. They will be able to review comprehensive audit logs that cover tenant-wide usage, inventory (with API support), and tenant hygiene (such as data loss prevention violations and inactive copilots), enabling them to effectively monitor business impact. Both creators and end-users will be able to view sensitivity labels when responses are generated using AI-powered answers based on SharePoint documents.

With all these incredible innovations, numerous organisations are using Copilot Studio to build transformative generative AI-powered solutions.

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