December 19, 2023

Introducing Microsoft Copilot in Anthology Reach: AI-Assisted Student Success and Lifecycle Engagement

During the last edition of Microsoft’s Ignite conference, CEO Satya Nadella said "We [Microsoft] are the copilot company […] We believe in a future where there will be a copilot for everyone and everything you do." The name Copilot—not Autopilot—is on its own a stroke of genius from Microsoft, which signals how cognizant the Dynamics 365 company is about promoting human control over artificial intelligence to unlock productivity gains.

This point is especially relevant in the world of admissions, enrollment, and student success—where personal connection and personalized support are critical. Academic advisors are not merely the personification of the academic catalog, whose sole value is in how quickly they can curate nuanced academic policy or find an open course section. Nor are admission counselors simply a processor of applications. AI cannot replicate the heart of an advisor, nor the imagination of an admission counselor, both of whom help students navigate this new terrain, always mindful to not do this for the student, but rather with the student—much like a copilot!

But what exactly is Microsoft Copilot, and how can it revolutionize the way higher education institutions engage and support learners? If saving time and reducing manual work is something that resonates with you, you are in the right place.

In this article you will learn:

What is Copilot?

Earlier this year, Microsoft announced “the world’s first AI copilot in both CRM and ERP Dynamics 365, providing interactive, AI-powered assistance across business functions.” Copilot brings the power of next-generation AI capabilities and natural language processing to Dynamics 365, working alongside business professionals to help them create ideas and content faster, complete time-consuming tasks, and get insights and next best actions—just by describing what’s needed[1].

Put simply, Copilot is here to simplify how users interact with and take advantage of their Microsoft applications. This ubiquitous chat-based, AI-powered assistant is available throughout Dynamics 365 in the form of features supporting a broad range of use cases where you only need to type in what you want the system to do using everyday conversational language. Copilot will take care of everything from there.

How to enable Copilot in Anthology® Reach

Earlier this year, Microsoft started releasing Copilot features in Microsoft Dynamics 365. Anthology clients using Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Insights can now start taking advantage of Copilot in Anthology Reach at no additional cost. Microsoft has enabled it by default, so users of Anthology Reach have likely already started to see Copilot’s icon popping up on the screen. Enabling and disabling Copilot features is as easy as switching a toggle: look for the Feature Switches option in the Settings > Overview menu in Dynamics 365 for each Copilot use case.

Learn about Anthology Reach, the most comprehensive student success and lifecycle engagement CRM for higher education developed on top of Microsoft Dynamics 365.

How to use Copilot in Customer Insights to streamline work in marketing, admissions, and student advising

Now you are ready to take off with Copilot! Let’s see how this technology can help you simplify interactions with data and functionality in Anthology Reach and give you easy access to critical information so you can take timely action.

1. Target the right students using Copilot’s query assist

Perhaps you are an admission counselor who is looking to make the most out of a trip to visit students in a specific zip code, or maybe you want to share the homecoming schedule with those prospects who expressed an interest in your athletics programs. Simply describe the characteristics of the segment you want to reach using everyday conversational language and let Copilot in Anthology Reach generate the segment for you in just a few seconds.

Student advisors often handle multiple, sometimes a dozen or more, academic programs, making it an incredibly manual and time-consuming process to maintain records for which students are in which major, who recently switched majors, or whose GPA has dropped lately. Copilot can help you expeditiously access this information so you can, for instance, get a list of Biomedical Science students who are sophomores with a 3.0 GPA or higher in order to seamlessly support their application for upper division status without needing to have a detailed understanding of how that data is stored within the CRM.

You can review and edit the segments generated by Copilot at any time, meaning you are always in control of the contacts and the criteria used in the creation of every segment. Copilot can also help users understand the complex data structures defined in the system so they can be ultra-targeted using advanced segments for a more personalized engagement.

With Copilot in Anthology Reach, the barrier to entry into data querying has been lowered tremendously. Users can focus on engaging the right audience at the right time instead of being concerned with learning the logic of the data in the system or bothering your already overloaded CRM administrator for manual creation of segmented lists.

Copilot's query assist prompt box in Anthology Reach

2. Create engaging emails using Copilot’s content ideas

Perhaps you are an admission counselor who regularly receives some combination of the same five questions from prospective students, or a marketing specialist running email campaigns quite often. Having templated resources can be helpful, but those can also rapidly become impractical given the nuance of the answers and the need for personalized content.

If you are heavily involved in content creation and email marketing, you may already be using ChatGPT or other generative AI tools as an aid to help the creative juices flow when facing a blank sheet of paper. Even if you are not an everyday content creator, you can benefit from having suggestions on top of which you can put your own magic to make sure it sounds like you and resonates with your audience.

Copilot is here to simplify that process a bit, so you can have a GPT-like creative sidekick available in the email editor in Anthology Reach. By providing a few key pointers, Copilot will come up with fully fledged emails matching your personality and tone, ready to be used in your campaigns. The tool can also generate ideas by learning from previous emails to keep consistency in communications while further streamlining your email creation workflow.

Keep in mind that these content ideas are only suggestions that you can always edit to mirror your style and voice, ensuring your emails meet institutional guidelines regarding tone and intent as well as other brand identity elements, like themes and color palettes, that can also be customized. Copilot can even fetch your institution’s visual style from the website!

Content ideas generated by Copilot in Anthology Reach

3. Simplify the creation of journeys with Copilot

After segmenting the population for targeted outreach and creating the emails needed to engage your audience, Copilot’s AI-assisted journey creation in Anthology Reach connects the pieces together. This feature empowers anyone to use every day conversational language to create marketing journeys without requiring deep knowledge about the product. With a few key phrases, you can set up a chain of events and automated responses to quickly nudge students towards critical action. Imagine a group of students who have not logged in to their online course in the first week of school. A Copilot-enabled journey could prompt the first outreach via email, helping ease re-engagement with their course. Because you recognize students won’t always open and read each email, the second step of the journey could be an SMS inviting said student to an advising appointment.

This same approach applies to your applicants, enabling admission counselors to craft a tailored journey for applicants who are non-responsive. That journey could start with an email, then a follow-up email, pivot to an SMS message, and bring it home with a task for you to make a phone call. With Copilot in Anthology Reach, you can spend less time building steps in a process and more time building up the aspirations of your prospective students.

Copilot significantly reduces the clicks and steps involved in the creation of a journey, providing multi-step marketing journeys in just a few seconds. You can always skip Copilot’s journey builder and create your own journey from scratch, or tweak Copilot’s generated journey to meet your specific needs. Here’s where Anthology Reach’s no-code user interface and drag-and-drop tools come in handy, helping users create and curate engaging journeys easily.

Copilot's customer journey builder in Anthology Reach

Each of these Copilot features is quite impressive on its own, but put together they work in conjunction to tell a cohesive story about a streamlined workflow to engage students at every step of their journey with the help of generative AI. Keep in mind that you can always review and edit Copilot’s outputs (or even disable the features altogether with a simple toggle switch), meaning that you stay in control of everything the tool is doing and have the ultimate decision at every step. We believe this technology is here to assist you and help you work faster and more efficiently; not to take over the critical mission only individuals with a true understanding of the factors influencing student success can accomplish.

Reimagining higher education with AI

Anthology and Microsoft’s strategic alliance is unlocking AI-led innovation right across the learner lifecycle. Last July at Anthology Together 2023, we announced Blackboard® Learn’s AI Design Assistant and made a commitment to extend our collaboration with Microsoft to bring AI into other Anthology solutions. The launch of the AI Design Assistant in September made Blackboard Learn Ultra the first major learning management system (LMS) to empower instructors with AI-generated inspiration for course structure, tests, and rubrics. The response from instructors has been overwhelming, with over 95% saying they would recommend this functionality to their peers.

“Using the AI Design Assistant, I created nearly a hundred quiz questions and multiple learning modules with pictures and descriptions, finishing the task in a fraction of the time I had budgeted. This efficiency is invaluable, especially for faculty engaged in extensive research responsibilities.”

Simona Narubin Durbin
Associate Director of Assessment and Education
University of Illinois Chicago
Read the full interview

And this is just the beginning. From December, the AI Design Assistant will expand to include suggestions from authentic assessment tasks, which take on heightened importance for academic integrity in the era of AI. The availability of Copilot in Anthology Reach represents a new opportunity for our clients to leverage Microsoft’s leading AI technology seamlessly within their Anthology solutions to unlock new ways of working across the institution, always in alignment with Anthology’s Trustworthy AI Framework.

Watch our on-demand webinar packed with information about Copilot and other innovations, and learn how Anthology Reach can help teams and users throughout the student lifecycle work faster and more effectively.

Connect with an Anthologist today to learn more about how Anthology’s AI-powered solutions can help your institution improve the student experience and achieve operational excellence.

Request a Demo


Microsoft Blog (2023). Introducing the world’s first AI copilot in both CRM and ERP.

Juan Lopez headshot

Juan Lopez

Product Marketing Manager

Juan López is a passionate product marketer who enjoys engaging in techie conversations with product teams and takes every opportunity to interact with clients to understand their needs. Most days, you will find him trying to come up with ways to create and demonstrate value for the global higher education community through his support for Anthology’s lifecycle engagement and analytics solutions.

Juan has a bachelor's degree in economics and international business administration and a master's degree in IT management, with almost a decade of experience acting as a product marketing manager for global startups and mature IT companies serving many industries, including higher education, utilities, telecommunications, and procurement management.