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The AI-Powered Future of Work with Microsoft 365

Microsoft share a powerful vision for how AI embedded transparently into our office tools will transform how we work.

The central value of the Cloud has always been that it enables organizations of any size to tap into computing power on a shared basis that they couldn’t afford or have the skills to adopt directly in-house.

Ai represents the pinnacle of this. The ultimate evolution of massive, intelligent computing capability, made accessible to even the smallest of organizations via Cloud services like Microsoft 365.

A New World of Work

Jared Spataro, Head of Microsoft’s Modern Work team, sets the scene in this Harvard Business Review interview, which looks at the future of work and the technologies that will get us there.

Microsoft just finished their second annual Worker Trend Index, which analyzes a survey of 31,000 people in 31 countries as well as other data and trends, discovering that the people coming back to the office post-pandemic are very different from those who left it two years ago. But many leaders don’t fully understand just how different.

This interview is part of a series called “The New World of Work,” which explores how top-tier executives see the future and how their companies are trying to set themselves up for success.

At a media event in Redmond, Washington, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella laid out the companies vision for enabling and accelerating this transformation, showing off new advancements in artificial intelligence for its productivity tools, like Outlook and Teams.

In this WSJ interview he discusses how the company is expanding access to OpenAI tools and the growing capabilities of ChatGPT. Recently Meta and Microsoft announced a partnership for the Llama 2 family of large language models (LLMs) on Azure and Windows. Llama 2 is designed to enable developers and organizations to build generative AI-powered tools and experiences.

Researching the Future Work

This is underpinned by insights from Microsoft Research, detailed in this report: The New Future of Work, an initiative comprising Microsoft researchers, product leaders, and policy makers dedicated to creating solutions for a future of work that is meaningful, productive, and equitable.

They describe how Covid-19 forced a reevaluation of what work is, and where it is conducted, and the research has focused on two major trends of change in office working: Remote, hybrid working and Artificial Intelligence.

They identified that an organization’s culture is a key enabler for change (McKinsey & Company, 2021) and it must support virtual teams, where employees should be encouraged to work collaboratively, even when geographically dispersed. Collaboration trends in our digital experiences show that interactions with our close-knit network have strengthened, while our interactions with distant networks have diminished with the move to remote work.

Therefore to enable remote work, preventing digital fatigue and eliminating repetitive tasks by implementing digital automation is becoming critical.

To this end Microsoft focus on the second element: AI, in the form of the Copilots now being infused into their Office suite of tools like Teams and Sharepoint et al. Their research has analyzed and documented in fine detail how staff making use of ‘LLMs’ – Large Language Models, significantly boost their individual productivity through features that intelligently automate the multitude of micro tasks that these tools are used for.

Future Work Architecture

The team explores the details of the different foundations that constitute a whole Future Work Architecture in this series of videos:

  • Team Collaboration – Great collaboration requires thoughtful choices that improve (or eliminate) meetings. Discover how we can use technology like video and AR/VR more intentionally—reducing employee stress and security challenges.
  • Hybrid Workspaces – By one rule of thumb, workspace expenses equal 10% of wage costs, which means well-crafted workplaces that boost productivity can pay for themselves. Discover how blended spaces can optimize teamwork and efficiency.
  • Asynchronous collaboration – People spend 250% more time in meetings than before the remote work transition. Discover how asynchronous collaboration can help workers get what they need to stay productive—even when they choose to skip a meeting.
  • Individual Productivity and Well-Being – Many people feel more productive working remotely, but nearly as many prefer working onsite. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Discover how a hybrid approach can boost productivity.
  • Organizational Well-Being – People who feel valued at work are less likely to suffer burnout or quit. Discover how enthusiastic workers in a strong workplace culture can help an organization flourish.
  • AI-powered Social Platforms – AI-curated online communities can break down workplace siloes and improve knowledge sharing—leading to happier employees. Discover how enterprise social platforms can jumpstart innovation and boost the bottom line.

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