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Microsoft 365 Copilot – Sprawl and sharing challenges

Prepare your organization for Microsoft 365 Copilot's sprawl and sharing challenges. Leverage its capabilities for optimal business efficiency.

Before we get into the sprawl and sharing challenges your organization will face if you don’t prepare properly for Microsoft 365 Copilot, let’s get into the basics, answer the most common questions that have popped up, and see what Microsoft 365 Copilot brings to the table.

Since Microsoft announced Copilot, people have been trying to find out when exactly it will see the light of day, the pricing, and what licenses they need to use its many features.

When is the Microsoft 365 Copilot release date?

Copilot will be generally available from 1 November for certain business and enterprise users of the 365 suite.

What are the Microsoft 365 Copilot requirements and pricing?

The pricing for Microsoft 365 Copilot has been revealed at $30 per user per month for Microsoft 365 E3, E5, Business Standard, and Business Premium customers. The official announcement took place during Microsoft Inspire, and additional details about the release dates will be shared in the near future.

To get Copilot up and running, your organization has to meet certain tech criteria. You need a Microsoft 365 E3 or E5 license and an Azure Active Directory account. This allows access to various Microsoft 365 apps like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneDrive, Outlook, Loop, and more.

Microsoft 365 Business Standard or Premium are your go-to options for smaller and medium-sized businesses. You can add Copilot to either of these if you fall under a Small or Medium Business, which means having less than 500 employees or up to 250 devices.

The benefits of Microsoft 365 Copilot

Microsoft Copilot will significantly impact businesses in a good way. How couldn’t it? In a nutshell, everyone will have a personal assistant, which was previously thought impossible.

Copilot will use Microsoft Graph to surface data within your Microsoft 365 tenant and then assist you with the help of a large language model (LLM) in content creation and improvement in your everyday work. It will integrate with Microsoft 365 apps like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Teams.

These are just some of the ways Microsoft 365 Copilot will improve how we do business:

  • Reduced user effort – Copilot will empower users to carry out their ideas with less effort.
  • Unlocked organizational knowledge – Tapping into existing information and knowledge will be easier than ever, making it more accessible and usable.
  • Streamlined workspace creation – Whether it’s SharePoint or Teams, creating new workspaces will be much easier and smoother.
  • Enhanced productivity and decision-making – Microsoft 365 Copilot will assist in multiple scenarios, including content creation, data summarization, data visualization, trend analysis, and presentation building.
  • Save time – Summarizing content such as email, chat conversations, and documents is just the tip of the iceberg.

If you want to dig deeper into what Microsoft Copilot will bring to the table, we suggest you visit Microsoft’s Copilot microsite.

The challenges Microsoft 365 Copilot will bring

The internet is buzzing with how Copilot will be a game changer, and that’s all good, but what about the challenges it will bring?

We’re not talking about the Luddite fallacy here (disproven many times by the fact that new jobs are created after every technological breakthrough) or, even worse, the machines turning on us humans (we’re nowhere near that, yet). We’re talking about the real impacts on our workplaces and the challenges Copilot will bring.

Check out some of the things you will have to keep in mind before using Microsoft 365 Copilot:

  • Resistance – With Covid and multiple other changes such as work locations, employees have had a lot to deal with in the last several years. According to Gartner, only 38% of workers are willing to support organizational change, compared to 74% in 2016.
  • Complexity – AI-centered functionalities through Microsoft 365 Copilot may complicate the SharePoint interface for non-tech-savvy individuals and push them away from the platform.
  • Privacy – The thought of a system being able to scrutinize their activities to tailor personalized suggestions may upset some users.
  • Security – New functionalities always bring along potential security loopholes that malicious users could capitalize upon. And we’ll get to that in more detail in just a little bit when we explore the sharing challenges.
  • AI Dependence – Copilot might boost companies’ reliance on AI for managing and utilizing SharePoint. Any problems with the AI system could negatively affect your business’s efficiency.
  • Training – New tools require new skills and training. Copilot will require extensive training for non-IT employees to gain generative AI interaction skills. They will need to understand the limitations and potential of the technology for its optimal utilization, which translates into additional costs.
  • The unknown unknowns – We have to emphasize that there is great potential for new challenges none of us can predict. But, thankfully, this is a double-edged sword, as the same can be said for Copilot’s benefits.

Microsoft 365 Copilot and the sprawl challenge

Speaking of double-edged swords, the sprawl challenge with M365 Copilot is, in fact, twofold.

Most are aware of the first part of the challenge, the potential chaos that could happen when users start creating large amounts of new documents and even entire SharePoint sites and pages with the click of a button and a little help from Copilot.

Microsoft themselves have demonstrated how easy it will be to create an entire PowerPoint presentation from a Word file, and then even an entire SharePoint site from a single PowerPoint presentation:

When you stop and think about all the ways employees will be able to create new content, it boggles the mind. Creative and industrious employees, who have unlocked their AI skills, will start creating sites and pages to help their colleagues, but so will other employees.

A couple of weeks into the Copilot revolution, the huge amount of content will make any unprepared IT team crumble under pressure and leave other employees unable to navigate through the forest of new information, desperately wishing it was 2021 again.

The second part of the sprawl challenge is the current state of most organizations’ Microsoft environments. Something most people want to hide under the rug or aren’t even aware of. The ugly truth is that most M365 environments are unstructured and completely cluttered and have been like that since the rushed move to the cloud during the pandemic.

In short, organizations now have an unprecedented amount of duplicate, forgotten, unnecessary, and out-of-date data on their hands. All of this results in unusable search results and questionable information that could seriously disrupt the efficiency of Microsoft 365 Copilot.

And, to put it as bluntly as possible, if you do not take control of your current sprawl problem, you will have a garbage-in, garbage-out situation on your hands, and it won’t be Copilot’s fault.

The Microsoft 365 Copilot sharing challenges (problems)

You must set appropriate access policies for Microsoft 365 Copilot to work effectively. Copilot is designed to respect user-specific permissions for any content or information it retrieves. It will generate responses based only on the information that users have explicit permission to access.

When your users search for information, they should only have access to the information necessary for their work and nothing more.

Oversharing and M365 Copilot

Before rolling out M365 Copilot, it’s essential to curb oversharing as it could lead to unauthorized access to sensitive sites and files across your environment. An example of what could happen can be seen in an incident with Chat GPT-4 in early July 2023. The AI had to be blocked as users used it to get to content behind paywalls.

Now imagine employees accidentally retrieving pay information or other delicate information such as other employees’ personal information. If you want to learn how to prevent this from happening to you, check out our guide on how to stop oversharing in Microsoft 365.

External sharing

Content collaboration is at the core of almost any organization’s productivity and business growth, and it comes with challenges. Although open collaboration may enhance productivity and foster opportunities, it can inadvertently become the primary source of corporate data leakage, particularly during external collaborations.

Even Microsoft has stressed the importance of preventing oversharing, particularly with external users:

Having insight into what is being shared outside of your organization is vital, even without involving an AI tool.

The solution for the sprawl and sharing challenges is a click away

Syskit Point has everything you need to solve the challenges mentioned above easily.

Sprawl – It is great that Copilot will allow end users to create more engaging and beautiful sites with far less effort. But IT teams must ensure those workspaces are compliant with organizational policies. That’s why we introduced policy automation. With policy automation, Syskit Point will automatically apply policies to workspaces regardless of how they were created through our provisioning, Microsoft’s out-of-the-box solution, or even Copilot.

If you’re worried about sprawl, we have you covered. With our Workspace Center and Access Requests, end users can have a clear overview of existing workspaces and request access. There is no need to create a new workspace if one already exists, and if they can’t find an existing workspace that matches their needs, they can always request a new one through Syskit Point’s provisioning.

Sharing – Syskit Point gives you total visibility of your Microsoft 365 environment and empowers you to control external access and excessive sharing effortlessly.

With everything set up properly, Syskit Point will work in the background to see if something has sensitivity labels attached to it, apply your governance policies (such as regular access reviews, membership, orphaned resources, and more), and warn you if anything goes wrong during the AI revolution.

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