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The first Australian customers to trial M365 Copilot
Mon, 18th Sep 2023

Microsoft has announced the first Australian customers to access Microsoft 365 (M365) Copilot as part of the invitation-only global Early Access Program.

AGL, Data#3, Bupa, NAB, Powerlink Queensland, Rest Super and Suncorp are among the first organisations in Australia to deploy M365 Copilot.

Copilot is a powerful generative AI service that combines the power of large language models (LLMs) with organisational data from Microsoft 365.

As part of the M365 Copilot Early Access Program, these businesses will access the latest generative AI technology to unlock new productivity levels across apps like Microsoft Teams, Word, PowerPoint and Excel.

The Early Access Program includes support from Microsoft Modern Work experts to enable organisations to drive maximum value from the technology. They will also benefit from the recently announced extensibility model, with developers able to integrate their apps and services into Microsoft 365 Copilot to reach millions of Australians where they work daily. This includes plugins from partners such as Atlassian, Adobe, Servicenow, Thomson Reuters, Moveworks and Mural.  

Lucy Debono, Modern Work Business Group Director, Australia and New Zealand, Microsoft, says: "Business leaders within the Early Access Program see this as an opportunity to gain a first-mover advantage in their sectors and enable greater productivity in a market that is navigating sustained economic pressure."

"We really want these early adopters to work closely with Microsoft to use this technology, test it within their teams, help us to improve it further and drive great employee experiences. This is an exciting opportunity to see how Australian companies will use this incredible new tool to change how we work fundamentally."

Laurence Baynham, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Data#3, says: "Our substantial investment in Microsoft's Copilot EAP underscores our commitment to fostering innovation and delivering unparalleled solutions for our customers."

"This investment doesn't just put us at the forefront of technology and the associated outcomes for our business but gives us the first-hand knowledge to help customers do the same. I'm excited to see the outcome of this program and the benefits delivered."  

Natalie Field, Chief Digital and Data Officer, Bupa, says: "We are currently exploring ways that AI and other technologies can help our people by giving them back time to focus on what matters most, our customers."

According to a recent study by the Tech Council of Australia and Microsoft, Australia's financial services sector is estimated to gain between AUD $5 billion to AUD $13 billion annually in economic value by 2030 due to generative AI adoption.

It has also been one of the fastest-moving industries, with NAB being one of the first organisations in Australia to deploy M365 Copilot. NAB is testing the technology for specific tasks and roles to see what impact generative AI could have in driving greater productivity and enabling its workforce to focus on higher-value, more fulfilling tasks as part of their roles.  

Suncorp Group's focus for the M365 Copilot trial is to continue looking at ways to save people time and improve how employees serve customers. 

Craig Price, Head of Data Science, AI & Insights, Suncorp Group, says: "More broadly we see huge potential in expanding Gen AI solutions internally in a safe, secure, and ethical way."

"As an insurer, we are investigating many use cases, including how we help our customer-facing teams deliver exceptional service, including during the claims process." 

"We see a great opportunity to improve how our people access relevant content, such as our insurance product disclosure statements, in a more intuitive way so they can support customers quickly when they need us most."  

Rest Super is adopting the technology as part of the company's technology-powered and people-centred transformation strategy. 

Jeremy Hubbard, Chief Technology and Data Officer at Rest Super, says: "AI continues to transform the way we work at an incredible pace; it has enormous potential to influence the future direction of Australian workplaces and the superannuation sector." 

"Our participation in the program allows Rest and its people to be part of this evolution, building our capability in this powerful technology and empowering us to explore its potential to help Rest deliver the best possible retirement outcomes to the nearly 2 million Australians that entrust us with their super." 

Recent Capgemini research shows that 33% of utility and energy companies worldwide have begun to pilot generative AI. Australia is no exception, with AGL and Powerlink being selected in the Microsoft 365 Copilot Early Access Program.

Findings from the Australian Government's Intergenerational Report 2023 suggest that sectors like energy, utilities and construction must look at technology to help automate routine tasks and improve worker capability to drive the productivity needed for the sectors.  

Australian energy company AGL has joined the Early Access Program as part of its priority to help its workforce become more productive while continuing to promote a culture of innovation.    

Grace Russo, Head of Employee Technology, AGL, says: "We are always considering new technologies that can help drive innovation within our business." 

"AGL was one of the first companies to go into Azure when it landed in Australia, to adopt Office 365 and Microsoft Teams, and today we become one of the first companies to bring AI productivity technology to our workforce."  

AGL's focus will initially be on users who are heavy content producers or leaders who typically have weeks filled with back-to-back and conflicting meetings. 

Russo continues: "We have embraced flexible work models over the past few years, which has been positive on multiple fronts. However, it has also meant that employees are spending more time managing chats, emails and meetings to stay connected." 

"We are excited by Microsoft 365 Copilot and the huge potential it offers in helping our employees to be more efficient and productive and liberate them from the mundane to focus on higher value tasks."

Given Australia's energy sector's rapid and significant transformation, Powerlink sees the opportunity for generative AI tools like M365 Copilot to help its workforce keep pace with the changes and enable greater productivity.  

Mark Pozdena, General Manager of Business IT, Powerlink Queensland, says: "Investing in our people with the technology to enable them to thrive in our dynamic sector has been core to Powerlink's transformation over the past several years as part of our strategic partnership with Microsoft."

"The first teams to access this are already reporting saving at least an hour a day on being able to manage meeting documentation, MS Teams chats and emails more efficiently, so we are very excited to see the benefits M365 Copilot could have more broadly in our workforce."   

Microsoft 365 Copilot is built on Microsoft's trusted and comprehensive approach to enterprise-grade security, privacy, identity, compliance and responsible AI. This means Copilot inherits the organisation's existing Microsoft 365 security, privacy, identity and compliance policies, while data is isolated and protected within the Microsoft 365 tenant.  

Lucy Debono says: "Microsoft is committed to supporting Australian enterprises, industry and government to realise the economic, transformative benefits of generative AI, and to do so responsibly."

"Microsoft 365 Copilot is built on our comprehensive approach to security, compliance and privacy so the customer is always in control of the data being used while maintaining access controls already in place."

"These are the foundations and guardrails needed to warrant people's trust, so organisations can confidently and securely embrace AI productivity tools across their workforce," says Debono.