As I explained in my introduction to Microsoft 365 Copilot, the integration set to have the biggest impact is Copilot in Teams. This introduction to the technology will answer the burning questions. How will it help you in meetings? When can you get your hands on it? How the heck does it work?

First, though, I’ll explain how Copilot in Teams differs from what’s already available. You can jump to each section using the links below:

The AI already in Microsoft Teams Premium

Microsoft has already introduced intelligent recap in Microsoft Teams Premium. This is a $7-per-month add-on that brings a host of benefits, including live translation during meetings, extra branding opportunities and manual approval of registrants to webinars.

Here, we’ll focus on the AI difference compared to plain Microsoft Teams. Today, long before Copilot lands, it automatically creates intelligent summaries and action items of meetings. Teams Premium also saves you time via tools that navigate meeting recordings in a visually rich way — for example, you can jump to see what certain people say via their personal audio tracks (see the video above).

Teams Premium also creates critical highlights and takeaways. These are shared across all users, who see the same summary, rather than being personalised.

Copilot in Teams: AI on steroids

To say Copilot in Teams builds upon the AI features in Teams Premium is a huge understatement. And its power comes in two forms. First, the level of integration it has with your business data, and therefore the level of understanding about what your meeting is about. And second, its ability to act as a helper — your own expert personal assistant — in meetings.

For example, Copilot in Teams can create on-demand insights when you ask for them, and they are tailored to your unique prompts. Going far beyond what we find in Teams Premium, Copilot can execute the actions and proactively make suggestions based on what meetings or conversations have occurred. Copilot for Teams delves into the contextual details to find out why and how decisions were made, even helping you see the rationalisations behind them.

Then there’s the time-saving factor. If you are like me, meetings can consume your working day; sometimes I find myself multitasking across three simultaneous conversations.

The first piece of good news is that Copilot can keep us on topic: we can ask Copilot to automatically recap discussions and decisions made. It can proactively suggest agenda items, points to stay on topic, questions to ask, and even identify project and time conflicts.

Copilot auto-generated summaries in Teams

What happens if we were not ready for the meeting in the first place? I overslept, my dog ate my Word document, I was helping my neighbour change his tyre before the meeting. Fear not! Here, you can ask Copilot in Teams to generate summaries of the discussions that have already taken place.

You can also use Copilot within meetings to enhance your input. Use it to brainstorm ideas on top of our own, to build tables and create diagrams, and to synthesise and format information in a way that helps you see what on earth is happening.

It’s worth emphasising here that Copilot can do what humans often struggle with: delivering meaning from huge amounts of diverse data.

What happens if we spend hours watching meeting recordings, asking colleagues for input, and then scrolling through thousands of chats to understand why a decision was made? Not only will we miss things, but we have lost all that time.

Instead, we can build off the Teams Premium feature of auto-generated summaries to gain a more profound knowledge of meetings, chats and channel conversations.

At that point, we can create context-based questions inside Copilot. This helps us understand in greater detail how decisions were made, what questions remained unresolved, and different perspectives from the group.

Copilot in Teams Chat

It’s important to realise that Teams isn’t just there for meetings. Most businesses also use it as a Slack-style chat application, and within that chatter sits minefields of information. Copilot in Teams Chat is designed to extract the gold and ignore the rest of the background noise.

The short video above provides one example of that. A team has been discussing a social media campaign in Teams Chat, with numerous dead-ends and repetitions. You can use Copilot in Teams to summarise the day’s discussion, and then follow it up with your own questions.

In the example above, that was to create a table summarising the people in the chat and their role in the campaign. But it could be anything.

Copilot in Teams Phone

At Microsoft’s recent Inspire 2023 conference, it quietly announced that Copilot in Teams would extend to legacy phone systems. So, even if someone joins a meeting via a PSTN landline or VoIP (rather than the app on the phone or computer) you still get real-time summaries and insights.

When can you get Copilot in Teams?

And now to perhaps the biggest question of all: when can you get your hands on Copilot in Teams? Right now, it’s only available to the 600 companies taking part in the Early Access programme. We expect general availability (Microsoft calls it GA) in January 2024, but companies on Microsoft 365 Enterprise licences will probably get Microsoft 365 Copilot first.

Everyone else may well have to wait until later in 2024. Or Microsoft may surprise us and release it in late 2023. Much will depend on how well the product tests and evolves in real-world use over the next few months.

With additional reporting by Tim Danton

Additional Microsoft Copilot 365 coverage

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Jason Wynn

Microsoft is hard-wired into Jason’s DNA. He is a Microsoft MVP and Microsoft Certified Trainer, with nearly two decades of experience across everything from Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams to Office 365. His day job is Presales Specialist at Carillion.