EP 35: Microsoft Copilot will save you 10 Hours a Month

Exploring Real-World Productivity Gains from Copilot’s AI Integration

In this episode of Tech UNMUTED, George Schoenstein and Santi Cuellar discuss a groundbreaking study on Copilot, Microsoft 365's AI tool. They dissect survey data from 297 early users, revealing astonishing productivity improvements. From task completion speeds to email management, Copilot's AI demonstrates over 50% efficiency gains across various functions. The hosts share personal experiences, highlighting AI's transformative potential in the workplace and how it's shaping the future of work. Tune in for an insightful analysis of AI's real-world impact.

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INTRODUCTION VOICEOVER: This is Tech UNMUTED. The podcast of modern collaboration – where we tell the stories of how collaboration tools enable businesses to be more efficient and connected. With your hosts, George Schoenstein and Santi Cuellar. Welcome to Tech UNMUTED.

GEORGE: Welcome to the latest episode of Tech Unmuted. Today, we're going to take a look at some survey data. Part of this was driven out of what we saw at Microsoft Ignite a couple of weeks ago. We heard some stats that were thrown out on the stage.

SANTI: That's right.

GEORGE: Santi went out and researched, where did some of these stats come from? We've mapped back to a couple of things that we heard. We'll share some of the findings out of that. We'll give you a link to the study in the show notes, but there's a lot of interesting stuff about productivity enhancements and those kinds of things with Copilot. Santi, you want to give more detail on that, and then we can just jump in and look at some of the stats.

SANTI: Yes, for sure. Microsoft conducted a study. In that study, they took, it was-- what was it? 200-- Let me get you a exact number, it was 297. 297 folks were surveyed, who are users of Copilot for Microsoft 365, during the early access programs. Remember, they released this to a very small batch of customers first. Then they released it to the enterprise customer. That small batch, 297 users from that early access program, they surveyed and they asked productivity gains-type questions. How much productivity did you gain, and how were your tasks, and how were your day-to-day functions?

That's what we're going to dive into today. I got to tell you, George, before I even bring it up, I was blown away by the numbers. Here's why. Usually when you do these types of studies, you'll see a 30% increase here, a 20% increase there. Every now and then, you'll see something that's above 50%. This thing, everything on this study is well above 50% increases. I'm like, to me that speaks to what we've been saying and what we've been hearing. The power, and this is what people are still trying to wrap their head around. Because I get it. Artificial Intelligence, it's new, it's scary. How does it apply to me? I'm just an office worker. How do I use it?

I get that. People are still trying to find their way. They're trying to figure out, how does this apply to me? How do I change the way I think about work and do work with them? I get that. If there's anything that we can learn from this study that we're about to show you, is that the productivity gains are real, they're significant. These were gains that were done by people just like you and I, regular Microsoft 365 users who said, I'm just going to give this a try, and it changed their life forever. That's why the numbers are so high. They mean so much to me when I look at it, because I'm like, this is our future. This is what we're looking at. We're getting a glimpse of how we're going to do work really soon.

GEORGE: There's one of these, when you go through it, that really stood out to me. We went back into it yesterday when we looked at the data to figure out where they got it from, but there's one stat in there that's pretty significant that, again, a lot of what's in here really applies more to office workers or professionals. There are other use cases, AI enabled and around a zillion of other things that we're not going to dive into.

When we look specifically at that use case in that worker, which is the same bucket that Santi and I fall into, you're going to see some amazing numbers that we've captured out of the survey. Again, there's one in particular that stood out to me, and I'd done some math on it when we were sitting in the audience at Microsoft Ignite. Then we kept looking through the data, and I'm like, oh, that's where it is.

SANTI: That's where it is.

GEORGE: Do you want to share on screen, or how do you want to do this?

SANTI: No, I'll flip it over. Let me pull up the survey. This is the study. Again, it's a Microsoft study conducted by Microsoft. It's on the Microsoft website. It was done November 15 of 2023. The title is, What Can Copilot's Earliest Users Teach Us About Generative AI at Work? I love that title, and I love the concept. I'm not going to go into the great details here. We're not going to read through this entire study. We're going to provide a link to this study as part of this episode so you guys can always go back and visit the website. I'm going to scroll down to this productivity gain by Copilot, and I'm going to start here.

Again, it was 297 users that were surveyed. These are the stats that they claim. First one; 70% said, Copilot users said that they were more productive. That's a very broad statement. Great, but what exactly does that mean? 73% said that they could complete their tasks faster. Tasks are being done quicker because they're asking Copilot for help. Let me tell you, yesterday, I was working on an Excel spreadsheet. I'm very good at coming up with formulas and functions, specifically using VLOOKUPs and pivot tables, and stuff like that.

I needed to do something very specific in a spreadsheet. Not too overcomplicated. I needed to look at a category name in one column, and connect that category to a dollar amount in a separate column. I could have done a VLOOKUP or some kind of an IF function. If this cell says this, then go ahead and give me the results for this. I could have done that. That would have taken me time, because in my head I'm also trying to work out what's the best formula to get the result I'm trying to get to? I'm like, hold on, before I go down this path, which I usually do, because that's just how my brain works.

I start diving in and half an hour later, I'm like, George, I figured it out. I went to Copilot, I said, Copilot, look, I'm trying to do the following. I gave a quick description of what I'm trying to accomplish. It gave me a formula that I never used before. It's called an IF/SUM. It's an IF/SUM statement. It does it automatically. You do the IF/SUM, you just select a column, type in inside of quotes what the category name is, and then select the other column and you're done. It took me literally 30 seconds to find a prompt and less than 2 minutes to do the entire spreadsheet. 73% said that they completed a task faster. I did, yesterday, 100%.

GEORGE: I think that just our own usage of the different AI tools, not Copilot specifically, but tools in general, we see a mix across professionals in the company. There are people who heavily use it. There are people who every once in a while use it. Then there are people who just, they don't want to put the effort into it. That 73%, I think, is actually higher than what we see in general right now.

SANTI: I think so.

GEORGE: It's because Copilot's embedded in and it's more inherent or built into the application, so I think you're going to get a different usage pattern off of it. I've done similar things, especially on the formulas. There are some things that you want to do that you know you can do and you've seen before in Excel as an example, and you just can't figure out how to get it done. The future is that thing's sitting right in Excel for many, many users a year from now, and they can immediately make an impact on what they do every day. How much time did you cut out? Instead of 30 minutes, it took you 3 minutes. That's a massive reduction in time.

SANTI: I love it. I agree with the study so far, based on just the experience I had yesterday, 64% said that Copilot helps them spend less time processing email. Do you know why, George?

GEORGE: Part of it, the ability to have it work through your emails, potentially prioritize them, build responses for you and your tone. We saw that at [crosstalk]

SANTI: Or give me a summary. Or tell me, show me the emails where I was mentioned, and not just copied. Or can you just get me caught up on what's happening? Or is there an email from my boss? Yes, we have less of that problem these days because we're really changing the culture of using collaborative platforms like Teams to communicate, and moving away from emails, so we have less of an email challenge these days. Still, email is email. To be able to just tell Copilot, just bring me up to date, get you all caught up on emails, what I need to focus on, and then move on, that's huge. I can see that. Of course, we have all witnessed this. Everybody who uses ChatGPT, can say that they've used ChatGPT, in this case, Copilot with ChatGPT, to generate that first draft. Because, man, if there's one thing that everybody in the marketing field suffers from at some point or another, is writer's block. That's a high number, 85%.

By the way, that could be anything. That could be an email. That could be a communication to a customer. That could be a response for a proposal. This is a big number. Of course, 87% said that it makes it easier to get started on that first draft. Then 84% also said it makes it easier to take action after a meeting. We see a little bit of that now with Teams Premium. Because in Teams Premium, you can have a meeting. Long as that meeting is recorded and transcribed, Copilot is able to summarize the meeting for you and generate what? Suggested follow-up tasks.

GEORGE: The ability as well to go back. This is less AI, but it's monitored where people spoke, when they spoke. If there's a specific action just that came from Santi-

SANTI: We can go right to it.

GEORGE: -and we know he only spoke in a three-minute period, you can go back and go right to that three-minute period.

SANTI: This one, I can absolutely relate to as well. You can relate to this as well. You and I, how many times have you not asked me, remember that thing I shared with you three months ago? Apparently, 75% of the people said that Copilot saves them time by finding what they need in their files. That's a huge time-saver because trying to figure out, man, what was that date or what was the file name? You can almost have Copilot just scan your data and bring up the results. A lot faster without having to sift through a gazillion different folders.

GEORGE: Parts of this, by the way, and we mentioned this in another video from Ignite, and you start to see it in the things that come below this, there's going to be a significantly increased ability to build Copilots that are customized to a task or a business, an industry, whatever it is. One of the ones we're building today to do that is we're building an RFP Copilot that will help people respond to RFP questions.

I have a combination of some data that we want certain things to be done every single time and written the same way, but other things that we wanted to grab from the aggregate data that we know is real data. Our data on SharePoint, our actual previous responses, those kinds of things. All of these numbers will float up when those customized Copilots are out there, when people put the time in to build them. It will float every single number up that's on this page because it'll be purpose-built.

SANTI: It will. Yes. I believe that. Now, listen, all these numbers that I've called out, they're high. They're high numbers. We're talking about productivity gains. There's nothing so far that is in the 50s. Everything's 70s, 60s, 80s as far as the percentile goes. I'm going to recap this again. This was 297 users that were part of the Microsoft 365 Early Access Program. Remember that these were not the first users. Who were the first users?

The first users were developers from GitHub, because that's where Copilots started. We saw similar numbers when they asked the GitHub developers, are you developing faster? Are you are you getting to code quicker? There were crazy numbers. These are not developers. These are Microsoft 365 application users. This is Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Teams. These are the productivity gains that they're getting. This is crazy. This is outrageous.

GEORGE: Again, back to the custom Copilots and the way that model works, that model is going to continue to improve over time. It's going to learn. Am I giving a good answer or a bad answer? It's going to continue to improve those answers. That productivity is going to get better and better as time goes on.

SANTI: I do like the second half of the first part of the survey where it talks about how Copilot improves quality and creativity. You and I have spoken about this before. Today we have millennials who are in managerial positions, are old enough to be running companies and departments, and one on companies. Millennials and even and even Gen Zers, when they walk into an environment, it is expected that a company will have the tools and the technology to make them productive and successful. Otherwise, they're not going to come work for you.

A company who lacks that usually doesn't have a very positive culture to begin with. The technology and the innovation actually helps to build and drive culture. Here, Copilot is improving the quality and the creativity, 68% said, and improve the quality of their work. You want to retain good people, give them the right tools. If you're questioning in your mind, oh, is Copilot worth that $30 a month -- Look at the productivity gains. By the way, if you value that employee and they're actually one of your top performers, why would you lose them over $30? Give them the Copilot, make their needs-

GEORGE: Quality of life.

SANTI: -their quality of work even better.

GEORGE: If we look at everything in this bucket, these four that are in there, it's about jumpstarting creativity and generating ideas, and writing and doing all the elements that we do every day. If you asked anybody on our team these numbers are 100%, everybody on the team would agree with these statements. We've been doing this--

SANTI: Because we embrace it. We use it.

GEORGE: We're 12, 14 months into this, probably 14 months as a team. It's had an amazing impact over that period of time.

SANTI: George, perfect statement. Now imagine tomorrow you wake up as chief marketing officer and you make the decision to turn it all off.

GEORGE: It would be catastrophic.

SANTI: That's my point.

GEORGE: The productivity would go down and the team would be upset. Two things that you don't want to cause [crosstalk]

SANTI: Exactly. This is where I know it's hard for people who-- you and I can speak to this with confidence because we use it, we embrace it, we're in it, our teams are in it. I know for the audience that's listening to this, and they’re listening to Copilot, they're listening to all the hype and they're wondering if this is a hype curve, I'm telling you folks, Copilot will change your company. It will change your employees, it will change how you do work, it will change the perception that your customers have of you. It is an amazing shift in everything that we do. That's why I asked you the question. Imagine if you decided to just turn it off, it would be disastrous for us. It really would.

GEORGE: There are still organizations that have done that. There are organizations who don't allow these tools to be used.

SANTI: Because they haven't embraced it. They really haven't embraced it to begin with, because if they saw the productivity gains like we're seeing here and like we've seen, not just here in this report, but we've seen in our daily lives, they would absolutely never turn it off or block it. There is a shift happening. We said before, you're either part of it or you're going to be left behind. Now, there is this part of the study that-- we'll close with this. I just want to focus on this for a minute.

The study said, here's what it says, for those who are listening and not reading on the screen, Copilot is shifting how users spend their time. It says here that 67% said Copilot saved them time so they could focus on more important work. 67% said they were able to focus on other stuff. On average though, listen to this, on average, users reported a daily time savings of 14 minutes or 1.2 hours a week. However, the next bullet point I find even more interesting, 22% of people said they saved more than 30 minutes a day. George.

GEORGE: This is the one that stood out.

SANTI: Yes, this is the one.

GEORGE: There was a quoted number in one of the presentations at Ignite that it's 10 hours a month-

SANTI: 10 hours a month.

GEORGE: -which is roughly what this comes out to. If you do the math on this, the standard--

SANTI: I believe the CEO of Microsoft said it.

GEORGE: Yes. He did.

SANTI: The CEO of Microsoft on his-- it was his keynote. It was his keynote speech, which by the way, there's a link on my LinkedIn profile, if anybody wants to go fetch it, of the entire keynote speech. I bet you we can find it and dig it up from there. It was 10 hours per month of productivity gains using Copilot. I think this is where it's coming from. I'm conflicted with the number because you have 67% say, it's helped me save time. Yes, that's a big number. On average, from that 67%, on average, that means that the majority or on average, they're saying 14%, but only 22% were saying they were saving 30 minutes or more. George, I can tell you, everyone on our team, if we were part of the study, if we were the ones being studied, we'd be that 22% because 100% of our team is absolutely saving more than 30 minutes a day. I gave you an example earlier. I find it odd. I think what it is is I think that people are still not, even though they're using it and they're saving time, they haven't figured out how to maximize Copilot. I think that's what it is.

GEORGE: I agree. Plus the product is still evolving. If you do the basic math on that 30 minutes a day, assume certain amount of time off, it still comes out to about a 6% impact, a 6% savings of time over the course of an entire year. That person's either 6% more productive with the same time, you could have 6% fewer people in that role or that type of role. You can make that choice as a business. I'd take the 6% of extra productivity because that's going to drive even more revenue for the business. It's massive. It's early. This isn't automation of other things that are in the environment that they're touching. It is only the use of Copilot effectively for personal productivity.

SANTI: That's right. Now, that 22% that said that they save more than 30 minutes a day, I guess Microsoft wanted to peel that back a little further. It says here, the next bullet says, if users reported saving more than 30 minutes a day, we asked them what they spent that saved time on. The top answer was focus work. 53% said they were able to focus work. Hardly anyone was spending it on administrative tasks such as data entry. Again, we keep saying it, you have to change how you think about work and how to do work. Anyway, let me just stop my share.

Listen, the study has a bunch of other data points. The stuff at the beginning was impressive. We wanted to just share that with everybody. Then when they peel back the specific time per day saved and everything else, we thought that was so important that we want to just bubble that up to the top as well. Don't worry, we'll provide a link to the study. This is a great study, honestly, for anybody who's part of a C-suite at a company, who's trying to determine, is Copilot or artificial intelligence something that I want to invest in? Is this something I want to introduce into my organization?

Is this something I want to empower my employees with? Is it worth the $30 a month per user? I think this study helps those types of executives get a glimpse as to what they're missing out on by not investing the $30 per user. Let's be honest. Microsoft was smart about how they did this. They took a small sampling and you saw the numbers. The numbers are in the study. There are significant increases. Like I said, usually you see 20% here, 30% there. No, we saw numbers in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. I think the lowest number I saw was a 57%.

GEORGE: Again, the thing to keep in mind is as you go out of that group, the 22% that did 30 minutes a day, if you float everybody up to 30 minutes, at the same time you train and enable and get everybody executing and getting that 30 minutes a day of extra productivity, that original 22% now is probably getting 60 minutes or 90 minutes, right?

SANTI: 100%, yes.

GEORGE: Now you go from a 6% impact on an organization to a 7%, 8%, 9%, 10% impact. If you look at it from a competitive standpoint, if you're in that group that's doing it and your competitors are not, you are going to win. You are going to get the better outcome versus them. You're going to have a greater impact and you're going to have an impact more quickly.

SANTI: Listen, we said it in previous episodes, Copilot is hot to trot. This is what Microsoft is betting their entire future on. We've done several episodes already on Copilot. We're going to have more. You know why? We have no choice. It is here to stay. It is how we, George and I, are currently doing business and looking at how we conduct our daily lives now. We want to be able to share that with you.

With that said though, we're going to bring this podcast to an end. Folks, this is a good time to remind you to subscribe to Tech Unmuted on your favorite podcast platform. You can do it on all the Audible platforms, or if you'd like to sit back and watch George and I have some friendly banter, you can do that on YouTube as well. Until next time, folks, remember this, stay curious, stay connected.

CLOSING VOICEOVER: Visit www.fusionconnect.com/techunmuted for show notes and more episodes. Thanks for listening.

Episode Credits:

Produced by: Fusion Connect


Micrsoft Work Trend Index Special Report: What Can Copilot’s Earliest Users Teach Us About Generative AI at Work?, November 15, 2023

2023 TMCnet Best Tech Podcast award winner

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Tech UNMUTED, the podcast of modern collaboration, where we tell the stories of how collaboration tools enable businesses to be more efficient and connected. Humans have collaborated since the beginning of time – we’re wired to work together to solve complex problems, brainstorm novel solutions and build a connected community. On Tech UNMUTED, we’ll cover the latest industry trends and dive into real-world examples of how technology is inspiring businesses and communities to be more efficient and connected. Tune in to learn how today's table-stakes technologies are fostering a collaborative culture, serving as the anchor for exceptional customer service.

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