The Copilot Value Pyramid

2 min read

Apr 30, 2024

Copilot has very quickly begun to redefine the way we work. From enhancing the meeting experience in Teams, to reimagining how we search the web, to getting things done across M365. That said, you know what I don't love about using Copilot? I don’t love how a tool that in many ways has reshaped the way we work, still lazily floats beside the old ways of working. The delight I get using Copilot reduces dramatically when you consider the tool on the left has barely evolved since the last two decades. Copilot in the future will be very different from what we see across Microsoft surfaces today. But before we talk about the future, we need to understand why Copilot looks the way it does today.

To help understand why Copilot is in this weird Frankenstein’ed state today I’m going to use something I call the “Copilot Value Pyramid.” A model that helps assess our relationship with Copilot and describes that for any Copilot to be truly meaningful it has to do four things well.

First, it has to be able to seek and present actionable INFORMATION. This is the stuff we already use Copilot for today. Help writing an email, summarizing a PDF, catching up on conversations in Teams, or using it for regular search. The information already exists somewhere, whether that’s in the training data or within the enterprise cloud, and all Copilot is doing is articulating in a way that’s actionable.

Second, is Copilot’s ability to surface meaningful INSIGHTS that normally would take an expert several hours to extract. This could be things like putting a quarterly business report together, or for a clinical researcher to determine if “Variant C is responsible for phenotype Y”, or for a financial analyst to come up with a thesis for Tesla’s stock in the next two years.

Third, is Copilot’s ability to understand my goals through which it can draw reasonable IMPLICATIONS. Why am I trying to build the quarterly business report? Everybody has broader and more general goals, both implicit and explicit, and can extend over a period of time. So for a Marketing Specialist, the goal might be to increase eyeballs on a new product launch. For a provider it could be increasing the quality of life of their cancer patients.

Finally, IMPRESSION, the last layer of the pyramid that’s focused on Copilot’s ability to represent an individuals values and needs to others on their behalf. This goes beyond the simple custom preferences you store in Copilots today. So when Copilot writes an email on your behalf it should be in your tone. When Copilot responds to you, it understands the knowledge gaps you may have relative to others.

When you use this model to understand our relationship with Copilot today, we can see that we've barely crossed the Information layer. Simply put, a Copilot that can turn Information seeking into Insights, understand the Implication of your goals proactively, and partner with you in a truly personalized way creating an Impression on your behalf augmenting you as it works autonomously is the north star for this tool. When Copilot transcends the layers in this pyramid, the chances of us relying on the tools we do today will likely be disrupted, need rethinking, and might also potentially disappear.