Advanced functionality and AI on Power Platform

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Another of our iTea breakfasts was held in December 2023. This time, our experts took a look at Power Platform and picked out the most important recommendations and tips for your teams to use.

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At the outset, Pavlína Uchytilová, the M365 team manager, emphasized the growing importance and availability of AI in the Microsoft environment. She focused mainly on the different types of Copilots in the MS world and what their added value could be. Copilot, which is now mentioned in many sources, is not the only one in the Microsoft environment. However, the right choice of tool will affect not only the relevance of the search, but also the security of shared queries and data, as well as licensing costs.

Copilot can be used by users both in the Bing browser environment as part of the basic M365 subscription, and as an enhanced functionality within M365 premium licenses. Users will then be able to query the AI not only on the basis of freely available data, but primarily over the organization’s data - whether at the level of documents stored in MS Teams, SharePoint Online, or in meeting, chat, or email communications.

In the next block, Martin Kováčik, Power Platform Architecture Lead, focused on AI capabilities directly on Power Platform. What functionalities will be available to the solution creators themselves? And what can they subsequently integrate into their solutions? In the last part, Martin Skuhrovec, M365 Consultant, introduced the participants to the progress of Power Platform in the available options for supporting collaboration over a single solution and overall solution life cycle management.

Make the most of AI

What are the new AI capabilities in Power Platform and which areas should you focus on? Let’s introduce three of them:

  • AI-assisted solution creation

    In recent years, low-code platforms have revolutionized the creation of solutions without the need for programming and have accelerated the process of IT democratization even among business users. This has created a whole new layer of so-called citizen developers. This evolution is still ongoing, and AI is bringing a second, and very significant, wave of low-code adoption even for those for whom Power Platform was still a challenge.

    The current low-code platforms focused mainly on experienced users of MS Excel, MS Access, or workflow engines. They had plenty of experience and their learning curve and solution creation over low-code was very steep. Other users may have been put off in early stage by the need to write Power Fx functions or understand data storage. But this limitation is completely eliminated by AI. For the future, it will bring the possibility of formulating requirements for future solutions in plain language, thus engaging more and more users in the process.

    Solution creators will be able to leverage Copilot at the Power Apps, Power Automate, Power Pages and Power BI levels. Imagine the freedom of defining, in Power BI, for example, what report you need and further refining it using simple sentences (prompts). We see vast potential here, especially in the area of prototyping – creating a solution for presentation will be a matter of minutes, as will  preparing test data.

[.infobox]You currently have all these features in preview mode and can be among the first to test and adopt them in the future.[.infobox]

  • Intelligent chatbots and searches directly in your solutions

    Microsoft has replaced the existing Virtual Agents with the Microsoft Copilot Studio platform, which allows users to create new or customize existing assistants for Microsoft 365. You can thus create a chatbot that will only respond within the perimeter of documents that you have stored in all or part of your organization. That means that the chatbot will be able to answer queries from your regulatory base if it is stored in SharePoint. You can do all this in a few actions with great added value for users. Copilot can provide you with the means not only for searching, but also for data processing. At the same time, you can link certain responses to appropriate actions: for example, when searching for a leave request, the user may immediately be prompted to start the request process, which will be implemented in Power Automate. In short, the possibilities are abundant.
  • AI Builder

    Speaking of AI, it would be a mistake to omit AI Builder, which may be somewhat overlooked in the new Copilot options, yet it still has plenty to offer and will be much more effective for certain cases. Here, you can use predefined AI models to help you with typical tasks such as business card extraction, invoice recognition (OCR), or tax models. If the predefined models do not suit you, you have the option of creating your own customized models.

The world of AI opens up a whole new door for automation and efficiency, and the sooner you incorporate it into your organization, the sooner you can benefit from it. But that doesn’t mean that AI comes without risks. Any tool (and it’s no different with AI) is only as good as the input data you give it. So always put enough effort into data purity and relevance to ensure that the provided results deliver the expected benefits. Another point is the security of your data. In the context of Microsoft 365, you are guaranteed that the data is your property and the LLM (Large Language Model) is trained only for your organization, and such data is not shared or exploited by other organizations or Microsoft itself. Please note that this may not be the case with preview versions, so always read their terms and conditions very carefully. In particular, where the data is stored and how it is handled.

AI is like fire - it’s an excellent servant, but it must not become the master, so don’t switch to autopilot, but always keep it as an excellent and beneficial copilot.

Martin Kováčik

Efficient and sustainable use of Power Platform

Many professional developers, architects or IT managers and decision-makers still see low-code platforms as a means to implement very simple solutions. Therefore, they often don’t even consider or know about the tools Power Platform offers for the professional development, testing, and management of solutions. Let’s introduce some of them.

Power Platform is not only evolving at the level of new functionalities for solution creators, but it is also changing in leaps and bounds at the level of comfort in creating and covering the solution life cycle (ALM). The days when it was possible to create solutions with only one creator are long gone. A full-fledged github source code repository is now available to developers, allowing for multi-creator co-authoring and other added value known from standard programming languages, such as version comparison and smart version merging.

Since 2022, Microsoft has also introduced expanded capabilities for Power Platform environment management. These so-called Managed Environments allow Power Platform administrators to enforce or disable internal policy at the level of all solutions implemented in the environment. Managed environments also allow you to take advantage of the Deployment Pipelines application. This tool is available for free and can be obtained through the Dynamics 365 apps found on the Power Platform Admin Portal. It allows you to easily manage and control the application life cycle of your solutions.

Thanks to co-authoring, Managed Environments, and Deployment Pipelines, we are now able to manage the development of Power Platform solutions almost as well as any standard business application development.

[.infobox]Power Platform is a low-code platform that is constantly evolving, and today it allows us to create ever more complex solutions. The involvement of artificial intelligence brings a further increase in efficiency and automation not only at the process level, but also in the creation of solutions as such.[.infobox]

Do you want to take full advantage of AI and Power Platform in your business? Do not hesitate to contact us and benefit from our extensive experience with Power Platform. We can help you with initial platform familiarization, preparing adoption programs, as well as advanced tasks such as governance, management, or setting up the right processes for low-code creators.

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