AI Security, Copilot, and More

On the show this week, Rich and I are joined by a guest who is leading AI at a multinational enterprise- Mike Wilson, Distinguished Engineer & AI Security Evangelist at Quest Software to talk first – what’s new and relevant to Microsoft 365 customers in the world of AI, especially after Microsoft Ignite a few weeks ago.

Don’t worry – we’re not chatting about boardroom drama from OpenAI – we delve into how technology advances from Microsoft on the hardware side might benefit you; we discuss how Microsoft 365 Copilot works under the hood and dispel a few myths – and we get the real deal on how to run AI hackathons; how to discover problems in the business that AI can solve and how to evaluate which to put your money & time behind.

Import in AI from Ignite 2023

First up, we discussed Microsoft Ignite and its focus on AI infrastructure, renewable energy sources, and specialized chips for specific jobs.

We discuss Microsoft’s new focus on AI and expanding their consumer base while maintaining their enterprise customers. We also discussed Microsoft’s hardware announcements, including their own silicon, hollow fiber, and renewable energy sources for efficient data centers.

We take particular interest in Maia 100, which is an AI accelerator chipset, that Microsoft will be using to power Azure OpenAI and Microsoft Copilot; but it’s joined by other improvements such as the Azure Cobalt ARM-based CPU which is said to be powering parts of Microsoft Teams even today.

AI at Ignite
Figure 1: New Cobalt CPU and Maia 100 chips announced at Ignite are set to benefit Microsoft 365 customers. (Image Credit: Microsoft)

At the moment, pricing is quite high for Microsoft 365 Copilot and that must be partly based upon demand – today it remains difficult to obtain deployments for Azure OpenAI services and GPU resource is expensive and limited; our hope & expectation is that Microsoft using specialist chipsets optimized for workloads such as LLM inference will allow costs to come down and availability to be more widespread. Only time will tell.

With a systems approach to chips, Microsoft aims to tailor everything ‘from silicon to service’ to meet AI demand – Source

Rich also wanted to point out something important from Ignite you may have missed: big changes are afoot with Microsoft Planner, which is bringing together Project for the Web, To-do, and Planner into one place:

The new Microsoft Planner: A unified experience bringing together to-dos, tasks, plans and projects – Microsoft Community Hub

We then discuss Microsoft 365 Copilot – and give you the 5-minute version of how it works; which at Ignite was particularly interesting to understand if you fancy a peek behind the curtain. Stay tuned for an article that goes into more depth than Microsoft’s Ignite session in a week’s time.

AI at a Large Enterprise Customer: Notes from the Field

Notes from the Field on Finding Use-Cases and Business Value from AI: The Practical 365 Podcast S4 E9
Figure 2: Mike Wilson, AI expert at Quest gives tips on getting AI to solve real problems in large organizations.

We discuss with Mike Wilson the outcomes of Quest’s initial AI hackathon, and the challenge of finding good use cases for AI and how to sort through them.

We talked about how AI can be used to improve customer experience and support, and how it can help organizations become more efficient; we also discussed the challenges and risks associated with adopting AI, such as litigation and regulation.

On the show, Mike explains that he recommended three categories of ideas that were sent out to architects among different products. They came back with a plethora of ideas, and the best ones were picked by talking to product managers and architects, and were then prioritized based on the importance of making their products more efficient and improving the customer experience.

Join us in Two Weeks for our Last Show of the Year with Paul Robichaux

Christmas is officially on the way and Rich is even growing out his slim-Santa beard; so join us in two weeks for the penultimate show of the year, where I’ll be joined by Paul Robichaux.

TEC Talk Series 2024

Check out these free, 60-minute live training webinars modeled after the acclaimed, in-person sessions that The Experts Conference (TEC) is known for – with practical, no-fluff insight led by the industry’s leading Microsoft 365 experts.

About the Author

Steve Goodman

Technology Writer and Chief Editor for AV Content at Practical 365, focused on Microsoft 365. A 12-time Microsoft MVP, author of several technology books and regular Microsoft conference speaker. Steve works at Advania in the UK as Field Chief Technology Officer, advising business and IT on the best way to get the most from Microsoft Cloud technology.

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