Meet Copilot for Finance, Microsoft’s latest AI chatbot – here’s how to preview it

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Meet Copilot for Finance, Microsoft’s latest AI chatbot – here’s how to preview it

As part of its ongoing campaign to integrate generative artificial intelligence into everything, Microsoft on Thursday announced the public preview of Copilot for Finance, a tool meant to help those in the finance office perform tasks such as analyzing variance in sales, speeding up collections, and tracking down missing invoices.
“Sixty-two percent of finance professionals say they are stuck in the drudgery of data entry and review cycles,” noted Charles Lamanna, Microsoft chief vice president of business applications and platforms, in a blog post announcing the software. “Copilot for Finance can help free up time for finance to play more of a strategic role in delivering counsel and insights to the business by streamlining financial tasks, automating workflows, and providing insights in the flow of work.”
Also: Microsoft launches two new Copilots, adding AI-guidance for Service and Sales
Copilot for Finance, noted the company, handles things such as variance analysis in sales. The program pops up a natural-language summary of where actual sales may fall short of projected sales, with an indication of the reason for the variance.
The program will “quickly conduct a variance analysis in Excel using natural language prompts to review data sets for anomalies, risks, and unmatched values,” according to the blog post. “This type of analysis helps finance provide strategic insights to business leaders about where it is meeting, exceeding, or falling short of planned financial outcomes and why.”
Using suggested prompts — such as “help me understand forecast to actuals variance data” — the program can be made to pull data directly from across ERP and financial system records and analyze the sources.
In a companion blog entry, Microsoft head of business applications marketing Emily He describes the program’s capabilities: “[Copilot for Finance can] streamline audits by pulling and reconciling data with a simple prompt, revolutionize collections by automating communication and payment plans, and accelerate financial reporting by detecting variances with ease.”
For example, a company’s accounts receivable specialist doesn’t need to first pull data from an ERP system and then put it into Excel, writes He, they can simply ask at the prompt and the Copilot pulls that data. That can speed up an audit of accounts receivable to find missing amounts.
The “potential time and cost savings are substantial” from such operations, writes He.
Also: Microsoft’s GitHub Copilot pursues the absolute ‘time to value’ of AI in programming
The Finance program is the latest installment in Microsoft’s proliferation of generative AI in the past year, including its Microsoft 365 Copilot for the productivity suite and Dynamics 365 Copilot for enterprise resource planning functions. The Finance Copilot is embedded in Microsoft 365 so that it can work with the productivity apps in the suite.
Microsoft is offering a Copilot for Finance demo here, and you can sign up for the public preview here.
In November, Microsoft unveiled two more Copilots, Copilot for Service and Copilot for Sales.
Microsoft has not disclosed the pricing of Copilot for Finance. “We will share the pricing for Copilot for Finance at GA later this year,” Microsoft told ZDNET in an email.