Familiarity with Copilot helping users accept AI

Research from channel player Avanade indicates that those who have experienced Microsoft’s Copilot software are more accepting of artificial intelligence technology

Microsoft partner Avanade has been charting customer reaction to artificial intelligence (AI), regularly sharing research to explore where customers are with the technology.

In October 2023, the firm revealed that the fear of AI sparking mass redundancies was not translating to user attitudes, with many more likely to use the technology in 2024.

Following that up, the firm has now provided more insights that underline the willingness from users to adopt and use AI tools.

What appears to have helped is the greater use by many customers of Microsoft’s Copilot, which has helped increase familiarity and comfort with the concept of AI.

Avanade found that the tool’s transparency and accountability were seen as positive attributes that calmed some of the fears the technology was working in the background to drive people out of their jobs.

The firm found that after using Copilot, which can help with creative tasks and problem solving, 85% of respondents said they felt a sense of accomplishment from their work, and a similar percentage indicated they were able to stay engaged with tasks by integrating the technology into their daily routines.

There were signs that AI could also encourage the development of more technical skills and had not produced a detrimental impact on collaboration across customer organisations.

Skills front

Avanade found that although the vast majority of customers recognise the benefits of using AI, that ambition has not been matched on the skills front, with investments in programmes to improve staff understanding of Copilot not at the same level.

“The evidence shows that the vast majority of employees see the value of Copilot for M365 for communication purposes, despite initial caution,” said Veit Siegenheim, global future of work lead at Avanade. “It can also support the articulation and execution of new ideas and free up time for more strategic thinking through the automation of administrative tasks.”

From a channel perspective, there were still educational opportunities to guide customers through the technology, and areas where high levels of support would still be required to make sure automation was delivered smoothly to avoid potential problems of reducing original thinking.

“Whilst employees acknowledged the respectfulness and fairness of the system’s suggestions, they have concerns around its oversight and accountability long-term,” said Siegenheim. “Ultimately, Copilot for M365 is not a ‘flip the switch’ technology, but holds huge potential for improving communication and creativity when implemented. By understanding these challenges, we can better support our clients in navigating the adoption process and maximising the tool’s value.”

Customer support

One channel source said the promotion of Copilot by Microsoft had seen a surge of interest in AI and helped provide the channel with a pitch, but acknowledged that the channel still needed to support customers.

“The promise of AI is that it will free people up to do more analytical things, but they need to be given the space and tools to do that,” he said.

Siegenheim agreed there was a danger AI could negatively impact an organisation if not delivered properly.

“This study demonstrates that finding the balance between augmenting work life without compromising the quality of employee engagement and support networks is crucial for a workplace culture in which generative AI supports the pursuit of professional growth and satisfaction,” he said.

“This will be even more important in the next phase of AI deployment, where we see value being unlocked by companies strategically integrating generative AI into broader transformation initiatives across all functions, fundamentally transforming how the entire enterprise operates.”

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