Technological innovations in artificial intelligence (AI) are rapidly redefining how many industries operate. With the release of platforms like DALL-E, Stable Diffusion, and ChatGPT, 2022 saw cutting-edge AI technologies made accessible to the general public.
Earlier this year, Microsoft announced the impending release of the company’s new generative AI-enabled assistant, Microsoft Copilot, which can be utilized in all the commonly used Microsoft 365 apps once released.
Upon its public launch, Copilot will include Microsoft Business Chat, a chatbot in Microsoft Teams for one-to-one interaction with Copilot, enabling users to perform thousands of different tasks.
What is Microsoft Business Chat?
Microsoft intends for Business Chat to level up communication within the corporate space, greatly extending the capabilities of Microsoft Teams and other Microsoft 365 apps. Business Chat facilitates swift, secure, and effective communication in an intuitive chat interface, allowing users to access data, receive insights on your Microsoft data, and streamline client communication.
Like already familiar AI tools such as Siri and Alexa, Business Chat employs natural language processing (NLP) to provide users with valuable assistance through natural language interactions. The application breaks new ground by incorporating users’ data — calendars, emails, chats, documents, meetings, and contacts. Business Chat users can automate administrative tasks like gathering reports, providing team updates, or recalling conversations with specific clients.
What is the difference between Microsoft Business Chat and Microsoft 365 Copilot?
Microsoft 365 Copilot and Business Chat are essentially the same, with the main distinction being that Business Chat serves as a designated space within Teams to use Copilot as an intermediary resource. This allows Copilot to pull information from multiple M365 apps simultaneously and send it to you through Business Chat. Think of it as a personalized digital space where your AI assistant (Copilot) lives and collaborates with you.
Uses Cases of Microsoft Business Chat in the Accounting Industry
Here are some potential use cases for Microsoft Business Chat in the accounting industry.
1. Information Gathering through Natural Language Prompts
Accountants can streamline report gathering and data analysis by allowing Microsoft Business Chat to gather and summarize data for you. For instance, accountants can prompt Business Chat with requests expressed in natural language, requiring no more technical proficiency than assigning tasks to an assistant.
Users can quickly access a wide variety of client data from the relevant Microsoft 365 applications with basic prompts such as:
- “Provide me with all the documents relating to client’s name.”
- “What was discussed in our previous meeting with client’s name?”
- “Send me all the relevant documents client’s name has sent me in the last month.”
Since Copilot will exist throughout the M365 ecosystem, it can retrieve emails, files, calendar events, and other information directly related to a specific client.
With NLP minimizing the technical entrance barrier for using the system effectively, accountants should expect Business Chat to dramatically reduce the time spent on manual data retrieval and allow them to focus on analysis and decision-making.
2. Streamlined Client Communications
As long as your client interactions occur within the Microsoft 365 ecosystem, you can have Business Chat perform thousands of client-related tasks for you. Accountants can use Business Chat to schedule meetings, share financial updates, or automate answers to client queries in the user’s tone and style.
And given that Copilot resides within Teams, it monitors all your Teams meetings and transcribes the conversations. This allows you to ask Business Chat about past conversations and receive comprehensive summaries of what was discussed in the previous meeting.
3. Assistance with Routine Accounting Tasks
Microsoft Business Chat can manage numerous routine accounting tasks. Tasks that Business Chat can effectively automate include:
- Maintaining compliance and audit trails: Accountants can configure Business Chat to monitor compliance checklists and log client audit trail data.
- Tracking business metrics: Business Chat can aggregate client data in a single dashboard, providing easy access to up-to-date metrics like cash flow and expected seasonal trends for specific clients.
- Summarizing bulk data and text: It can be challenging for accountants to stay on top of specific client information. Business chat can help accountants better prepare for client meetings and write more detailed communications by summarizing large quantities of data from meeting transcripts, recent emails with customers, and calendar entries.
4. Brainstorming for Financial Strategies
In Business Chat, accountants can hold brainstorming sessions on the risks identified in a project or strategy and request a list of potential mitigations. This AI-assisted brainstorming provides different perspectives and frequently uncovers unanticipated risk factors, leading to more well-informed decisions. You can even create a SWOT analysis on specific data and have Copilot provide a written examination. Additionally, the tool’s ability to provide real-time insights can help accountants make timely recommendations and adjust the client’s financial strategies at frequent intervals without taking too much time.
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