Arla Foods: Insights from testing Copilot for Microsoft 365

Kit Ingwersen

Kit Ingwersen

Go-To-Market Lead - Modern Work

Læsetid, 4 min.

Arla Foods, a leading international dairy company, worked with Microsoft on Copilot for Microsoft 365 to explore potential gains in productivity, quality, and well-being among its workforce. Digital Change Lead, Anna Kristensen, and Transformation Management Officer, Kasper Fænø Bay Noer, share their insights into the test process, challenges, and the strategic approach in integrating Copilot for M365 within Arla Foods’ operations.

An incubator for future solutions

Arla Foods was driven by a continuous search for innovative technologies that could benefit its employees. “We, in Digital Transformation Office, act as an incubator for future digital solutions – that means, we are continuously scouting for new, value-adding solutions,” Anna Kristensen emphasizes, highlighting the alignment of Copilot for M365 with Arla Foods’ corporate AI vision and the development of ArlaGPT: “We wanted to investigate whether Copilot for M365 could be a supplement to our own solutions, or if they would cannibalize on each other,” she says.

Arla Foods has, similar to a range of other global corporations, been part of the Early Access Program, meaning that the company through a fee has had the opportunity to explore and test Copilot for M365 since September 2023. Kasper Fænø Bay Noer says: “We tested Copilot on three parameters: productivity, quality, and well-being. The last one, in particular, is not often measured quantitatively in relation to new technologies, but we believe that these new AI tools can support more satisfying ways of working, and we wanted to include that aspect as well.”

Motivation as the driver

”Monthly surveys were put in place to ensure that the team had quantitative data to evaluate Copilot for M365”, Anna Kristensen explains and continues: “Instead of making complicated data analysis to come up with the most representative group of users we quickly found out that it was better creating a public sign-up across the company to give the license to the most motivated people – because they will actually use it. We have been quite pragmatic through all this,” she says.

We need a pragmatic approach because it’s a rapidly evolving product. We have put a lot of effort into getting the structures in place to get the right data that we need to evaluate.

Kasper Fænø Bay Noer, Transformation Management Officer, Arla Foods

Nudging as part of the process

Other initiatives to further nudge the organization to use Copilot for M365 included weekly morning sessions on Microsoft Teams with an open mic and weekly email including small tasks that the test group could try out to further deepen their understanding on how to use Copilot for M365 in their everyday work. “We came a long way with these nudging initiatives”, Anna Kristensen says and continues: “Actually, our goal was that 75% of the recipients opened the email – however 85% did and we’re quite happy about that – it shows a genuine interest in learning new things among our Early Access Program participants.”

Arla Foods is furthermore running function-specific workshops with teams such as Legal, Finance, Communication, or HR to find out which features in Copilot for M365 are especially relevant for them and to share best practices and experiences.

 

The Importance of Onboarding and Adoption in Maximizing Copilot’s Value

In the beginning, Arla Foods found that Copilot for M365 and the ArlaGPT were somewhat cannibalizing on each other, but as Copilot became more mature and integrated more apps and as the language models improved, Anna Kristensen and Kasper Fænø Bay Noer agree that Copilot is starting to show its value. However, Anna Kristensen stresses: “You really need to make sure that you set aside time for getting the organization onboard. It’s not about the cost of the licenses – it’s more about the resources that will help users understand the tool. That task is not to be underestimated,” she says.

Copilot for Microsoft 365 can release you from mundane tasks and the stress from an empty piece of paper. You get a head start.

Anna Kristensen, Digital Change Lead, Arla Foods

 

Key results

Kasper Fænø Bay Noer highlights the key results from the test phase: “Two out of three reported time savings using Copilot for M365, which shows significant productivity gains. In terms of quality, more than half of our test group believe that Copilot for M365 helps them to improve the quality of their work, especially when creating texts,” says Kasper Fænø Bay Noer. He then addresses the last parameter: “The well-being parameter is important. We found that almost 70% agree or strongly agree that they spend less mental effort on some tasks, and almost 60% say they can focus on more meaningful work. That’s interesting and something we definitely want to explore further” he concludes.

Arla Foods has now completed the initial test phase and has expanded Copilot for M365 to 1.000 users.

 

 

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