Double AI Power: CentralQ & Copilot Chats

Two AIs, One Goal: Smarter Business Central

Yesterday, on April 3, 2024, Microsoft unveiled the 2024 Wave 1 release for Business Central, introducing the much-anticipated Copilot Chat feature.

This new addition led to a lot of questions in my inbox, especially about the future of CentralQ Chat in this new landscape. I’ll admit, I was a bit surprised by these questions.

While it’s true that CentralQ Chat and Copilot Chat share some functionality, they’re really more like partners in crime than rivals. They focus on different areas, complementing rather than competing with each other.

So, in this blog, I’m going to break down what they have in common, highlight their differences, and show you how using them together can supercharge your productivity. Let’s go!

Overview of CentralQ Chat

Back in January 2024, CentralQ Chat was published on AppSource, and it quickly caught the attention of Business Central users.

The mission was simple yet powerful: to answer the big question, “How does MY Business Central work?” easily for everyone.

CentralQ Chat stands out because it can use your own documents and the vast knowledge of the Business Central community (including official docs). This way, you don’t just get general answers; you get advice that’s specific to your setup and enriched by the experiences of others.

Overview of Copilot Chat

Now, let’s talk about Copilot Chat, which landed with the Business Central 2024 Wave 1 update.

Its superpower? The ability to look into your data and fetch answers directly. Wondering about the latest sales order or need a quick look at your inventory levels? Copilot Chat is your go-to.

And there’s more. Copilot Chat shines when it comes to explaining “how-to” processes, using the official Microsoft documentation. This is perfect if your Business Central setup is close to the standard, without customizations.

In short, Copilot Chat brings your data to life, making it easier to understand and act on. As for guidance perfect for those using a standard Business Central setup.

Use Cases

In yesterday’s Business Central Launch Event, we got a clear snapshot of what Copilot Chat can and can’t do.

The slide, which I’ve included right here in the blog, visually spells out the capabilities that Copilot Chat brings to the table. It can skillfully find records from standard and custom objects and navigate to your Business Central data efficiently. However, it’s important to note that it’s not possible to extend Copilot Chat, and it won’t pull answers from custom or add-on knowledge sources. This is where the CentralQ Chat comes into play.

Let’s dive into some use cases that highlight the unique strengths and collaborative power of CentralQ Chat and Copilot Chat. 

1. Pure Standard Setup

Using Microsoft Learn

Imagine you’re running a business on a completely standard Business Central setup. You’re looking to understand basic functionalities, like “How do I post a sales invoice?Copilot Chat is your friend here, pulling straight from the official Microsoft documentation to guide you through the process step-by-step.

CentralQ answer is correct as well, however it’s broader, explaining different ways available in Business Central to create and post sales invoices. You can also notice Streaming effect, used by CentralQ Chat, providing the answer as earlier as possible. 

Adding Community Knowledge

Let’s try another example: “How to see if realized loss was posted?

CentralQ Chat answer is more precise. The reason is simple. This process is not well described in the Microsoft Learn, so Copilot Chat shows a choice of nearest match links, instead of providing an ungrounded answer.

CentralQ uses Your first 20 hours with Business Central book, which Jeremy kindly contributed to the knowledgebase, where this process described in detail.

The knowledge base of CentralQ Chat includes 40,767 sources, with Microsoft Learn making up approximately 31% of that total.

Adding Private Knowledge

Now, let’s say you’ve got a standard setup, but you need to add a mandatory specific dimension to sales order lines, a practice unique to your business operations. After uploading a manual detailing this process to CentralQ Chat, it becomes personalized, step-by-step instructions tailored to your custom requirement, beyond the standard procedures Copilot Chat can provide.

2. Asking About Your Data

When you need insights based on your actual data – like checking the status of the latest sales order – Copilot Chat steps into the spotlight. It can sift through your company’s data in real-time, offering up-to-date information directly from your Business Central environment.

Hat off to the Microsoft team for their excellent work on this feature.

I’m convinced that third-party solutions just can’t compete in this area, as no one has access level to the data quite like Microsoft does.

3. Navigating Customizations

Let’s say your business loves to fly high, and you’ve installed a custom extension that shows flight schedules from the nearest airport – handy for planning business trips.

This is where CentralQ Chat shines. By uploading documentation or guides related to this specific extension, CentralQ can provide custom support, helping you make the most out of your unique Business Central enhancements.

Although it was announced that Copilot Chat could interact with extension data, I was unable to get this feature to work. I’ll ask Microsoft about this scenario and get back later. 

Bringing It All Together

The beauty of CentralQ Chat and Copilot Chat lies in their complementary capabilities.

CentralQ Chat is really good at giving you help that fits exactly how your business and its special setups work. This is super helpful for businesses that do things their own way.

Copilot Chat, though, is awesome for helping with the usual stuff Business Central does and for quickly pulling up the data you’re looking for.

Businesses that master these AI assistants can really take their operations to the next level in Business Central. Use CentralQ Chat for custom-tailored assistance that aligns with your unique business style, or turn to Copilot Chat to navigate everyday tasks and perform quick data analysis.

Together, these AI tools don’t just make work easier—they transform Business Central into a powerhouse of productivity and intelligence.

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About Me

DMITRY KATSON

A Microsoft MVP, Business Central architect and a project manager, blogger and a speaker, husband and a twice a father. With more than 15 years in business, I went from developer to company owner. Having a great team, still love to put my hands on code and create AI powered Business Central Apps that just works.

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