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Microsoft’s Nadella sees massive growth opportunity in AI

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella uses his keynote at the company’s Inspire partner conference to discuss the economic potential of artificial intelligence

Microsoft kicked off its annual partner conference, Inspire, with a keynote from CEO Satya Nadella discussing the immense opportunity that artificial intelligence (AI) offers the IT sector. He believes AI will be as transformative as the graphical user interface.

“We’re in the midst of a massive platform shift with the new generation of AI that’s going to transform pretty much every sector and every category of computing,” he said.

Citing economic forecasts, Nadella said AI represents 10% of gross domestic product (GDP), “so if you have an economy that’s around $100tn, we may have seven to 10 trillion more GDP growth driven by the next generation of AI technology”.

According to Nadella, the next logical leap in user interfaces is natural language-based, where AI is used to enable people to communicate with a computer in a similar way to how they would communicate with another person. This is an area Microsoft has been focusing on.

At the company’s recent Build 2023 developer conference, Microsoft unveiled a plethora of ChatGPT-based AI “copilots” embedded in Teams, Word and the Power platform. Microsoft also embedded ChatGPT into its Bing search engine. This has now been expanded with a new offering, Bing Chat Enterprise, which aims to deliver AI-powered chat for work.

Nadella said Microsoft has built out a Copilot stack covering IT infrastructure and data management. It includes Microsoft Fabric, the company’s data analytics product, which, according to Nadella, could be “very transformative” going forward. He also regards the orchestration layer in Copilot as an important aspect of the middle tier in the Copilot stack.

One organisation that has deployed Microsoft 365 Copilot is Virgin Money, whose chatbot addresses more than 195,000 customer interactions a month, helping service agents focus on more complex customer enquiries. Virgin Money has developed chatbots for customer service using Copilot in Power Virtual Agents.

During the Inspire event, Microsoft unveiled that it has been previewing Bing Chat Enterprise with 160 million people. According to Jared Spataro, corporate vice-president of modern work and business applications at Microsoft, Bing Chat Enterprise gives organisations AI-powered chat for work with commercial data protection.

Spataro said user and business data are protected, preventing data leakage outside the organisation. “What goes in – and comes out – remains protected. Chat data is not saved, and Microsoft has no eyes-on access – which means no one can view your data,” he wrote in a blog post. “Your data is not used to train the models. Whether researching industry insights, analysing data, or looking for inspiration, Bing Chat Enterprise gives people access to better answers, greater efficiency and new ways to be creative.”

Bing Chat Enterprise is included at no additional cost in Microsoft 365 E3, E5, Business Standard and Business Premium. In the future, Microsoft said it would be available as a standalone offering for $5 per user, per month. Spataro also unveiled pricing for Microsoft 365 Copilot, which will cost $30 per user, per month for Microsoft 365 E3, E5, Business Standard and Business Premium customers.

Read more about Microsoft Copilot

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