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March 6, 2023updated 17 Mar 2023 9:10am

Microsoft launches Dynamics 365 Copilot to bring AI to ERP and CRM

Having infused AI into its search engine, Microsoft now wants to bring more automation to enterprise software.

By Matthew Gooding

Microsoft is continuing its artificial intelligence push with the launch of Dynamics 365 Copilot, which will bring AI-powered enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) tools to its Dynamics 365 cloud platform. Having set about using AI to try to topple Google in search through its partnership with ChatGPT maker OpenAI, MSFT now has enterprise software giants such as Salesforce and SAP in its sights, too.

Microsoft has launched its Dynamics 365 Copilot AI tool. (Photo by OpturaDesign/Shutterstock)

Announced this afternoon, Dynamics 365 Copilot follows in the footsteps of Microsoft’s other AI tools – the original GitHub Copilot automated coding tool, and Copilot for web, which is how the company refers to its newly AI-infused Bing search portal.

“With Dynamics 365 Copilot, organisations empower their workers with AI tools built for sales, service, marketing, operations and supply chain roles,” a Microsoft statement said. “These AI capabilities allow everyone to spend more time on the best parts of their jobs and less time on mundane tasks.”

What’s included in Microsoft Dynamics 365 Copilot?

The new functions included in Microsoft Dynamics 365 Copilot cover tools to help with the sales process. The AI can help users write email responses to customers and create an email summary of a Teams meeting in Outlook. The meeting summary pulls in details from the seller’s CRM such as product and pricing information, as well as insights from the recorded Teams call, Microsoft says.

There are also functions to help with marketing and customer relationships, while the Copilot in Microsoft Supply Chain Center tool can be used to “flag external issues such as weather, financials and geography that may impact key supply chain processes”. These predictive insights then “surface impacted orders across materials, inventory, carrier, and distribution networks, and supply chain planners can then automatically draft an email generated by Dynamics 365 Copilot to alert impacted partners and mitigate potential disruptions before they happen”.

“The next era of business applications is being transformed by generative AI,” said Charles Lamanna, CVP, business applications and platform at Microsoft. “Users will increasingly expect their CRM and ERP applications to include AI-powered expertise. Dynamics 365 Copilot brings the latest AI breakthroughs to every line of business, improving customer experience, employee experience and operational efficiency.

“Essential to our approach as we bring these latest advancements to customers is our commitment to responsible AI by design – our framework for the safe deployment of AI technologies.”

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Microsoft bets big on AI through OpenAI partnership – should Salesforce and SAP be worried?

Dynamics 365 Copilot is the latest AI-powered tool to be released by Microsoft as it forges a closer relationship with OpenAI, the AI lab behind the GPT-3 large language model and the ChatGPT chatbot, which has soared in popularity since its release before Christmas.

Microsoft invested $1bn in OpenAI in 2019, and increased that investment in the company by several billion dollars earlier this year, betting that AI is ready to transform the way we live and work.

By offering these new options in Dynamics 365, it will be aiming to maintain its lead in the ERP market, where Dynamics 365 is the most popular product ahead of the tools produced by Germany’s SAP. And in the CRM space, it will be hoping that its use of AI will give it the edge over Salesforce, which currently enjoys a slightly larger share of the market, according to figures from TrustRadius.

Read more: This is how GPT-4 will be regulated

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