How prompts shape the success of your AI deployment 

It seems like every business is fully embracing the excitement and the potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI). However, amid the digital gold rush, it’s vital that these businesses work out the best ways to deploy AI and understand the areas where it can help them deliver real value, rather than just investing in AI without unlocking its true potential. 

The most popular area of investment in AI so far is Generative AI (GenAI): tools like ChatGPT that generate images, text, videos and other media, based on prompts and instructions that are fed into the tools by users. A Gartner survey in late 2023 found that 29% of business respondents have now deployed a GenAI solution of some form, more than any other form of AI.

GenAI has the potential to revolutionise daily work, and many businesses are already realising these benefits. Tools like Copilot for Microsoft 365 are significantly enhancing employee productivity and efficiency by providing helpful assistance across various Microsoft 365 applications. To capitalise on these benefits, employees need to discover how to maximise the tools’ potential, starting with adoption and training to understand how to craft effective prompts for optimal results.

Why good prompts are so important

A good way to think about prompts is to look at them as a recipe for dinner. If you want your meal to be a success, you need to put the right ingredients in at the right times and in the right amounts. Tools like Copilot for Microsoft 365 work similarly—the quality of the content they produce depends on the quality of the prompts the user provides.

However, many organisations have rushed into using Copilot for Microsoft 365 without considering the “cookbook” of prompt crafting. They expect gourmet results without providing their employees with the necessary training and expertise to develop effective prompts. Just as a chef needs to know how to follow a recipe to create a delicious meal, employees need to know how to craft the right prompts to get the best results from these tools.

This can be a severe inhibitor to realising enough – or even any – value from investment in  Copilot for Microsoft 365. If users can’t get what they want from the tool, they’ll stop using it, which limits their ability to drive productivity and collaboration improvements. Even worse, it can lead to a culture of scepticism around AI as a whole, which can hold back future adoption of other tools which may be critical for driving competitive advantage.

Failing to harness the full potential of Copilot for Microsoft 365 can significantly diminish the Return On Investment (ROI). If employees struggle to get the desired results from the tool, they may stop using it altogether, missing out on valuable productivity and collaboration enhancements. Worse still, this can breed scepticism toward AI, stalling the adoption of future tools that could be crucial for maintaining a competitive edge.

To overcome this scepticism, it’s essential to provide comprehensive training and continuous support. By equipping employees with the skills to craft effective prompts and fully utilise Copilot for Microsoft 365, organisations can foster confidence in AI technology. This not only maximises the current investment but also paves the way for the successful adoption of future AI-driven tools, ensuring sustained competitive advantage.

What does a good prompt look like?

Prompt training – also known as prompt engineering – is vital for designing and refining the right inputs for Copilot, and generating the right outputs. In practice, this means carefully crafting questions, commands and statements in such a way to maximise the effectiveness and accuracy of responses.

Microsoft recommends a four-stage approach to developing prompts for Copilot for Microsoft 365:

  • Goal: what is your intended outcome from using the AI tool, and what kind of response do you want?
  • Context: why do you need it and what purpose does it serve?
  • Source: where should the AI tool look for its content?
  • Expectations: what else should the tool consider to give you the most useful, valuable output?

While this sounds simple at first glance, the nature of Copilot for Microsoft 365 can not always appear to deliver results as expected. This dynamic environment offers users the opportunity to continuously learn and adapt, ensuring they can maximise the benefits of this powerful tool. Copilot’s responses have their own nuances, and it’s important to understand how the tool is likely to react when crafting prompts. And at the same time, Copilot for Microsoft 365’s capabilities are evolving so rapidly that the ingredients that make for a typical prompt now might not be the same in the months and years ahead.

The practical way to better prompts

Embedding prompt engineering into an organisation is already very important, and will only become more so in the near future as Copilot for Microsoft 365 plays an even bigger part in day-to-day business operations. It’s just as important from an employee’s perspective, too: they will increasingly be expected to be conversant with AI tools in order to remain competitive in the job market.

SCC recognises this importance, and it’s for that reason that we now provide a Digital Prompt Engineering Workshop that covers all the basics of prompt development for non-technical users. If you’re already using tools like Copilot for Microsoft 365 or other Large Language Models, then the workshop is ideal for experimenting and leveraging our expertise, so that you can maximise the value of your AI investment. The workshop can be tailored to your specific AI use cases, based on our data review and persona mapping, meaning we can deliver training that is influenced by real-world scenarios your employees will face on a regular basis. 

We can also provide a Copilot for Microsoft 365 Pathfinder to help you make the most of AI within your Microsoft 365 applications. The Pathfinder covers strategy and planning, and an assessment of your environment for Copilot for Microsoft 365 readiness. Following this, we then explore your potential use cases to build a plan to guide you towards a successful Copilot for Microsoft 365 roll-out.

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