The centerpiece of Microsoft's business in 2023 has been the unfolding of its Copilot software in many forms, most recently with Microsoft 365 Copilot for the productivity suite and Dynamics 365 Copilot for enterprise resource planning functions.
On Wednesday at Ignite, its annual developer conference, Microsoft unveiled two new Copilots -- Copilot for Service and Copilot for Sales.
The Copilot for Service application integrates with customer relationship management (CRM) applications, and contact or call center applications -- including Salesforce, ServiceNow, and Zendesk -- to provide "guidance," said Microsoft. The program can be trained to retrieve answers from a company's knowledge base and from the CRM and contact center application repositories.
The results, said Microsoft, are "AI-guided answers and resources personalized for each customer issue and conversation."
Further customization of functions is made possible by Copilot Studio, a development application also unveiled at Ignite.
The Service application, expected to be available "in early 2024," is priced at $50 per user per month.
The second application, Copilot for Sales, is an "evolution" of a program unveiled for Dynamics 365 this summer called Sales Copilot. Enhancements to the program include integration with Microsoft Word.
"Sellers can prompt Copilot to create a meeting preparation brief in Microsoft Word, automatically populated with customer information such as an account and opportunity summary, names and titles of meeting participants, open tasks, highlights from recent meetings and email threads, and more," said Microsoft.
Another integration is with Microsoft Teams, which "can surface action items and tasks, conversation key performance indicators (KPIs), and sales keywords."
Copilot for Sales has the same pricing and availability as Service.
Both the Service and Sales applications are included with Microsoft 365 Copilot.
In addition to Service and Sales, Microsoft announced additional features for Dynamics 365. For example, in Dynamics 365 Sales is gaining a feature for a salesperson to "use natural language or pre-built prompts to gain a quick understanding of customers, deals, meetings, forecast, and more," said Microsoft.
An extension of Dynamics 365 Customer Insights lets a salesperson employ generative AI to create an automatic "customer profile summary," that provides "demographic, transactional, behavioral, and analytics data," said Microsoft.
Microsoft is seeing big growth in the generative AI business including GitHub Copilot, CEO Satya Nadella told Wall Street last month. The number of customers paying for its GitHub Copilot software rose by 40% in the September quarter from the prior quarter.
"We have over 1 million paid Copilot users in more than 37,000 organizations that subscribe to Copilot for business," said Nadella, "with significant traction outside the United States."
The Copilot programs are part of the company's partnership with AI startup OpenAI, into which Microsoft has poured $11 billion in investment to secure exclusive rights to programs such as ChatGPT and GPT-4.
Also at Ignite, Microsoft emphasized new computing infrastructure for its Azure cloud service optimized for generative AI. The company unveiled its first custom chips to run AI, Azure Maia 100, and also its first-ever custom cloud microprocessor, Azure Cobalt 100.