Powerlink Queensland isn’t giving M365 Copilot to all staff at once

Powerlink Queensland is offering staff access to M365 Copilot upon request and then on a ‘use it or lose it’ basis to ensure the company is getting value from the software licences being purchased.

<div>Powerlink Queensland isn't giving M365 Copilot to all staff at once</div>

Powerlink Queensland is offering staff access to M365 Copilot upon request and then on a ‘use it or lose it’ basis to ensure the company is getting value from the software licences being purchased.

Powerlink Queensland isn't giving M365 Copilot to all staff at once

General manager for business IT Mark Pozdena told last month’s Microsoft AI Summit in Melbourne that the government-owned high voltage electricity transmission network operator has been using Copilot for about six months.

“We were very lucky to be on the early access program [for Copilot],” Pozdena said.

“The take-up was quite unique, and I haven’t seen anything like it since the iPhone. We’re now … almost six months in using Copilot, and we’ve seen not only a wonderful take-up initially, but also that we’ve been able to maintain that with a number of ‘bursts’ of new information sessions.

“The product itself has also evolved, so there’s almost something new to see every day. 

“It is our top demand [business IT] product.”

Powerlink is no stranger to AI, having utilised the technology “as part of a number of strategies for a number of years”.

Pozdena said that didn’t necessarily give the company a “head-start” on adopting Copilot.

Several factors did help encourage Copilot use, however. 

Copilot became available at the tail-end of a period of widespread experimentation with ChatGPT.

“We were encouraging [ChatGPT experimentation] at our company, not because we necessarily wanted our data everywhere, but our end users were going to do it anyway. If we were going to block it on their laptops, they were going to do it on their phones,” Pozdena said.

“We introduced a number of policies and procedures that encouraged them to use it but in a way that can be safe. That kind of gave us a step forward when Copilot came along.”

Powerlink also seeded Copilot with a group of internal “champions” from different functional areas – including in communications, legal, field design, and with the personal assistants (PAs) for executives.

Champions were excited to learn the ropes, and to share their findings via the company’s Viva Engage platform (formerly Yammer). They also became change agents within their functional areas.

Pozdena said that the decision to offer Copilot to PAs was both purposeful and successful in gaining executive buy-in.

“We chose a couple of little sneaky options so [Copilot] would get a lot of buy-in across the company. One was we gave it to the PAs of every executive and trained them in some of the early prompts, particularly around meetings, reports, and report consolidation. 

“Who speaks the most to executivess? The PAs. And so within about a week, suddenly all the executives wanted Copilot as well.”

Pozdena said a number of use cases for Copilot had emerged, from helping people to polish or refine email tone and language, to helping write the first draft of documents such as position descriptions for a recruitment drive.

“We recently coached [HR] on using Copilot to write 30 role descriptions, and it wrote probably about three-quarters of them and then our HR expert was able to go in and tweak them. It’s not perfect but it’s a copilot,” he said.

Pozdena said he used Copilot to summarise lengthy documents before meetings, as well as to get to the first draft of regular reports faster.

“It initially started to get about 50 percent of them right. That’s a great start – better than a blank page,” he said.

“As I’ve gotten used to it and added extra context, they’ve gotten better, to the point where they’re 75-to-95 percent accurate, and then I can spend more time making sure the messaging of the report is right, as opposed to how I filled out every last bit. 

“I have to write one [report] at least every couple of days at the moment so that is a lot of time saved I can spend with my team.”

Pozdena added that Powerlink had contemplated rolling out M365 Copilot to all staff, based on the success and take-up that ensued from early experiments, before deciding on a slightly different approach.

“We did consider rolling it out to the whole company because we were seeing a return on investment that justified it. But we’re also a government corporation, and we’ve got to make sure we’re investing wisely,” he said.

“We’ve set up an approach that anyone can ask for it – you don’t need to justify it, if you want Copilot you ask for it. It comes with a caveat that if you don’t use it after a set period of time, we’re just going to take it off you. If you want to keep using it, you have to keep using it.

“That’s working. It means we’re getting the best out of the licensing we’ve got. 

“We’re probably right at the top [of our licensing limit] again and that probably does mean we’ll probably buy another licensing burst, but at least we’re sure we’re getting the most out of it.”

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