Key Learnings from 150 Days of Microsoft Copilot in the SMB

AI is reshaping the SMB sector

Microsoft Copilot has been available to small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) for the past 150 days, providing valuable insights and learning opportunities for the channel community. During this period, feedback from both Partners and their end customers has highlighted three pivotal themes that stand out. These themes offer a deeper understanding of how artificial intelligence (AI) has been adopted and integrated into the SMB landscape, revealing its impact on business operations and strategic growth. Follow along as we explore key learnings from Copilot’s deployment and how AI is reshaping the SMB sector.

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3 key learnings from Copilot’s deployment

1. AI is here to stay

There is a deep excitement about AI, and innovation is happening daily. Many customers initially view AI as a novel and entertaining addition rather than a transformative tool. This misperception leads them to either underestimate its potential or adopt it hastily without fully grasping its benefits and risks. Jeff Rash, Senior Principal Consultant from Imperative Solutions indicates that customers generally fall into three categories: those with minimal understanding of AI, those who dive in without caution, and those who recognize the risks and restrict its use. Despite this spectrum of engagement, the overwhelming interest in AI shows the market is eager but needs clearer guidance on its practical applications.

2. AI is misunderstood in the SMB

Customers are widely uncertain about what AI like Microsoft Copilot can achieve. Many expect AI to perform all business functions autonomously, without appreciating that it serves more as an enhancement to existing processes rather than a replacement. This confusion often leads to unrealistic expectations and potential misuse.

One common source of misperception is the distinction between public AI, such as ChatGPT, and corporate AI solutions like Copilot. Although these models are accessible to everyone and can provide a wide range of information and conversational capabilities, each has specific circumstances for when they should be employed. For instance, public AI can be useful for general inquiries and brainstorming, while corporate AI solutions offer more precise and secure functionalities tailored to business environments. Understanding this difference is crucial to effectively utilize AI tools in business operations.

3. Corporate data is the heartbeat of AI effectiveness

SkyKick Partners noted that a lack of understanding can lead to significant security risks, highlighting the need for better education on AI’s opportunities and limitations. According to Chris Hales, Senior Cloud Consultant at Cubesys, the buzz around AI is steering many toward conversations around data fundamentals. “Customers need to understand the foundational role of data in maximizing AI’s capabilities, including the importance of data classification, governance, and protection, in doing so, businesses can avoid potential data leaks” he closed.

As we enter this space, there is an opportunity for you to guide customer responsibility through the AI adoption process. Emphasize the need to manage expectations and ensure that your customers are prepared for the implications of integrating AI into their workflows. This includes addressing security concerns and potential data risks that arise with the use of AI tools.

The critical role of backup in AI readiness

Corporate data is a fundamental building block for generative AI solutions providing effective output and data risk can prevent AI from producing the best possible responses. Therefore, safeguarding this intellectual property from risks is essential to maintaining a competitive advantage and underscores the critical importance of comprehensive coverage.

Like any other technology, these systems are not immune to data risks. A reliable backup strategy ensures that your customers’ data is recoverable in any case of mishap, minimizing downtime and potential data loss. SkyKick Cloud Backup offers robust capabilities tailored to this new era. Providing automatic and secure backups for critical business data, Cloud Backup is the ideal choice for businesses entering the AI space due to the comprehensive, compliant, and complete nature across Microsoft 365.

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Embracing the transformative potential of AI demands a commitment to ongoing education and adaptability. Keeping your customers informed empowers them to unlock new levels of efficiency and innovation. The path forward involves not just integrating AI; but doing so with careful consideration and strategic planning.

To dive deeper into how AI tools like Copilot can benefit your customers, we invite you to watch our webinar See It In Action! Microsoft 365 Copilot Readiness. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn key strategies to establish a customer readiness framework. Watch now!

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