Getting AI power across business management with Business Central and Copilot

Getting AI power across business management with Business Central and Copilot

By Duncan Kerr, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Pre-Sales Architect at Infinity Group, www.infinitygroup.co.uk, [email protected]

With the explosion of AI in recent years, Microsoft are now embedding Copilot – their AI-powered assistant – across their solutions. This includes Dynamics 365 Business Central – Microsoft’s flagship finance and ERP platform for small, medium and lower enterprise organizations.

We explore the practical implications of these innovations and how it benefits businesses management.

Reclaim time with conversational chat

One of the most significant features within Copilot is the ability to ask the AI natural language questions and get responses. At the time of writing, this is only available within the US environment of Business Central (BC).

Users can now ask natural questions of their data – in real time – within the Business Central App. There’s no longer any need for data to be extracted, transformed and loaded. You may also ask further questions of the data returned – effectively drilling down into the results. It gives answers to the user’s question and links to prove it.

The other benefit is 24/7 guidance. Users can now ask how to complete a task, without leaving the app. Ask questions like “how do I close year end” and immediate advice is provided, plus a link to the specific Microsoft Learn page.

Stop writer’s block with text suggestions

Another beneficial use case of Copilot is the generation of narrative text, which the user can then edit until it achieves their goal.

In Business Central, users often wish to write a suitable ‘blurb’ – a marketing description of a product. This can be challenging for the non-marketers around. Copilot will generate a block of text suitable for marketing. Users can choose the tone of voice – from formal to creative. Copilot then uses the Item Attributes to generate the text.

It saves valuable time lost to creative blocks.

Automated bank reconciliation

For many finance team members, bank reconciliation is one of the most complex and mind-numbing tasks they deal with. Industries which have high volume, small value transactions will have dedicated resources reconciling bank entries on a daily basis.

For some time, Business Central has had the ability to import a bank statement and match automatically. The system allows users to enter a date range but often the system would miss many obvious matches. In particular, if multiple bank ledger entries correspond to a single bank entry, this would be missed.

But no more. Copilot will now try and match more transactions. This additional help will be welcomed by those finance users having to undergo challenging reconciliation.

E-invoice matching

In Europe, e-invoicing is mandatory. Whilst this hasn’t yet been imposed in the UK, there is clear government guidance and companies should expect this to be required in the future.

As an evergreen SaaS platform, built for worldwide requirements, companies using Business Central do not need to worry.

Whilst this isn’t the same as OCR (such as Continia’s Document Capture) which transforms PDF or scanned documents into an electronic format, Business Central will assist with matching vendor e-invoices to purchase orders. We know that invoices can often differ (price and quantity) from the original order – and Microsoft Copilot is there to assist when this happens.

Ultimately, the proof will be in the adoption (mandatory or otherwise) of e-invoicing. Hopefully, unlike the SEPA Standard for banks in Europe which has largely been ignored by UK banks, e-invoicing will introduce standards to make the purchase invoicing process much more efficient.

Our summary

Copilot, Microsoft’s tool for the future is here – and it’s in Business Central. Together, they are transforming the finance and ERP user experience.

Different users will benefit from the different options – but there’s plenty available to help them save time, drive accuracy and reduce the tiresome work that drains resource.

The other thing to note is this is only the first Wave to release Copilot. Microsoft are just starting, and we’re extremely excited to see what they will do in the future.