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Microsoft wants to supercharge financial applications with Copilot for Finance

In a nutshell: Microsoft has just introduced yet another feature for its Copilot service, an extension designed to provide “intelligent” advice and automations based on a company’s own financial data. Privacy and data security have been taken into account, the company vows.

Microsoft has been working on a new role-based Copilot extension known as Copilot for Finance that aims to revolutionize how corporate finance teams approach daily workflows. Currently available as a public preview for Microsoft 365 subscribers, Copilot for Finance can seemingly extract useful suggestions and ideas from an organization’s complex, raw financial dataset.

Copilot for Finance works with existing financial data sources within a company, including traditional Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 and SAP. The service promises to “supercharge” Excel, Outlook, and other Microsoft 365 applications, providing specific insights for financial professionals.

The current preview of Copilot for Finance can conduct a “quick” variance analysis in Excel using natural language prompts, Microsoft says, or simplify the reconciliation process in Excel with automated data comparison. The feature can also provide a complete summary or relevant customer account details in Outlook, or create “presentation-ready” visuals and reports from raw Excel data.

According to Emily He, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President of Business Applications Marketing, today’s most popular ERP software is Excel. The “humble” spreadsheet application is still used by financial teams in any organization, He said. Therefore, the company decided to develop Copilot for Finance as a way to provide additional, AI-infused capabilities in Excel for proper ERP tasks.

Charles Lamanna, another Microsoft VP, described the feature as a significant shift in how AI assistants are being built. Past Copilot versions couldn’t really “understand” specific jobs and roles, Lamanna said. However, Copilot for Finance and other role-based Copilot incarnations (Copilot for Sales, Copilot for Service) are seemingly capable of having some understanding of what they are designed for.

Microsoft is also providing unchecked assurances about privacy and security. The company has taken steps to address concerns expressed by corporations, offering specific data access permissions and avoiding direct AI model training on customer data.

General availability of Copilot for Finance is expected later this year, but plans could change based on feedback collected during the public preview phase.

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