In today’s episode of #O365 Hours, we’re joined by Microsoft MVP Paul Soliman to discuss what Power Platform’s AI Builder is, how to get the most out of the technology, and the role citizen developers play vs. more traditional developers. Watch our discussion below or read the full transcript at your convenience!
Guest: Paul Soliman, Founder & CEO of Hacktiv Colab Inc, Chairmain & CTO of BayaniChain, and Co-founder & CTO of Raven Global Ventures (visit his LinkedIn here)
- What is your perspective on “citizen development” and what is the role of the citizen developer versus the formal development or engineering role?
- What is the AI Builder and how do people get started with it?
- What are some of the more common business solutions for which people are using AI Builder? How are you working with clients with the technology?
Christian Buckley: Hello, and welcome to another office 365 hours. My name is Christian Buckley. I’m the Microsoft Go-To-Market Director at AvePoint and Microsoft MVP and Regional Director. I am joined today by Paul Solomon at business applications, MVP in Metro Manila, Philippines, the founder and CEO of Hectic Collab, Inc chairman and CTO of bionic chain and co-founder and CTO of Raven Cloud Global Ventures. Good morning, Paul.
Paul Soliman: Good morning.
CB: It’s great to have you first time actually meeting you, see senior name senior face, seeing some of the videos and things that are out there, but it’s great to actually connect.
PS: Yeah, cool. Same thing. I mean, MVPs, you know, the MV people, communities like that, right?
CB: Yeah. Well, it’s been, it feels like it’s been forever since we’ve seen each other in person, but maybe next year. So today we’re discussing a great topic of the topic of democratized AI using power platforms, AI builder. So folks that haven’t been able to go take a look and explore and play with AI builder. We’re I’m excited to get into learn more about it. So why don’t we kick things off with question one? So what is your perspective on citizen development? We’re talking about AI builder, we’re talking about power platform. You have to talk about the role of citizen developer. And what is your, your, your thoughts on the role of the citizen developer versus the formal engineering developer role?
PS: Sure, sure. You know, Christian, since I think Brea pandemic, it costs around 27, 20 18. I was really in though cook by, by this terminology, you know, doing the research that blogging about it. If you go to my link patients, you will see a lot of, in terms of the citizen development. Right. So for me, it’s, it’s one thing it’s really the future of work yet. Right. So we know for a fact that, you know, I want to say, I don’t want to sugar coat, but we know for a fact that AI will really disrupt jobs. Right. It’s, it’s inevitable. I mean, it’s there you know, U S and China and other countries are eating capitalizing on that. And you know, so normal person, right, as a normal person, how can I not, I will not be disrupted by this, you know, revolution about new technology.
PS: So, for me the good thing about, say, Microsoft, is they really invest in terms of democratizing these tools, not only a builder, but also this power ups, this power BI chapter for the non-tech to be able to cope up or whatever will happen soon. Right. And, you know, in terms of in terms of I see if this in development versus the pro development or the, what we know the traditional development, it’s really like this democratize tools, or is it the same development tools are bridging the gap between tech and non-tech, but for the tech guys or the pro developers, I think they need to really, you know, put that effort on you know, an, a complex task, like building AI, machine learning, model, quantum computing, blockchain technology, et cetera, instead of, you know building e-commerce site, building web application on building application for, for the organization, like COVID response, et cetera. So in a way we’re solving and we’re accelerating the growth of digital transformation. If we have synergy between the both, you know, sit at the stand and pro developers,
CB: Well, you think, I mean, there’s a couple of things that come to mind. I mean, a few years back there was a lot of talk is Microsoft started pushing towards their vision of the cloud, and they talked about a lot of these jobs going away or roles changing. And it wasn’t that jobs go away. Hey, there are no more jobs. It was that there’s an evolution underway of the types of, or roles. So there was all the, the discussion at that point, we weren’t using the, the term citizen developer but it was all about the it pro role. And, and at the same time you were getting more and more educated like business users, users that were learning more about it instead of me as a business user, having to go and try to get time on the schedule of the engineering team to go and build a quick business solution, a workflow or something like that. I could just go learn and do it myself. I, I could then, just to your point, I could go and you know, press on the engineering team when it was a big, hairy, scary, you know, problem where I needed that deeper expertise, but it didn’t require me to go and have a masters in, you know, in analytics to be able to, you know, build a power BI dashboard, for example.
PS: Right. Right.
CB: Well, it’s a lot of the shift there. I know, and, and right away, Microsoft started pushing with, with teams like how easy it was to go and build a bot, how easy it was to go. And as it started opening up the API is to leverage and pull data out of it. So, you know, w what is that, that kind of, that, I guess the next question is, you know, like talking specifically around AI builder, can, what, what is it, first of all?
PS: Yep. So AI builder is number one at democratize tools and power platform that focuses on, you know number one, building your own model, right? So we know for a fact, but building your own, you know, machine learning model is really tough, right? You need to do Python, you need to do how to code are they chatter and the scripting kind of things. I mean, if, if, if you were not an engineer or even a data scientist, you can’t really do that. Right. But nowadays, because of this democratized tools, I mean for the lack of better, a better term, you can do drag and drop in terms of building, building your own model, like uploading pictures of your, let’s say, for example, I want to do object detection for my television, whatever size it is. So I just need to upload those, you know, picture of the elevation.
PS: Then I can already have my main model then later on use that model in terms of for example, someone’s someone sent me an email about a picture of what the elevation I can now able to detect what brand it’s without even, you know, coding or without scripting my machine learning model. So that’s a builder. Yeah. I mean, it w Microsoft has you know, had a very good job in terms of number one, creating the user interface for non-tech right. And simply, you know, creating a model for around, well, max spend two minutes, it doesn’t even take you, you know, an hour to build your own AA model depends on, you know, what model they want to build. And number two, AI builder is you know, completely packaged with, with this our platform application. Let’s say, for example, I’m a citizen developer, then I have a power ups, right?
PS: So technically that’s very famous now, you know, everyone is creating their app. Like, for example, it COVID response, right? Meaning this COVID protocol here in the Philippines, you know, there’s a lot of fresh store that you know, what’s being mandated. They, the government to really create their own, our registration, right. Then you a restaurant, you need to register your name for contact pacing. So in a way, if I’m a sit this in developer and or, or I don’t have a tech because small businesses like restaurant doesn’t have any tech person, right. That’s the owner of ready. Then they run their operations with their restaurant manager chatter. So our restaurant manager, or even a chef cannot create an app for their COVID profitable, right. And now infusing an EIB of their, their save. It really saves time in terms of, instead of, you know, booting match information a builder can just scan the item and then get the information out of that, something that, so there’s a lot of use cases already.
PS: That’s being done in day. If I’m a small organization, if I don’t have the money to spend in terms of my infrastructure and even my team to, you know, build my AIT, I don’t need that anymore since EIB. And there is there. So, you know, if I have my Microsoft piece expire $5, this is essential if I may use that term and then just, you know, invest on—I think it’s about $500 for a model then—I can already have my AI capability.
CB: Well, so what are, how do people get started? Is it just that simple that they already have a Microsoft 365 license for their business and that they can go and just download and start using that? Or are there additional, like, what are the steps to get started?
PS: Sure, sure. So that me, you can just start your, I mean, Microsoft has expired Congress, essentially because that’s the pennant, right? That’s the domain that we need to use. So regardless if you have office 365 license, that says, okay, since you know, Microsoft sorry. Yeah. Microsoft 365, even with a business basic, it can already create your power platform. The tape power apps are automated because it’s free in the office 365 business basic. Now if you want to go further and explore AI builder, you just need to go to the website and click there, start your free trial. So when you start your Italia, it will be automatic and go through your Barb platform admin. It will be enabling that. And you just need to go to the bar plot for a bar platform site that where you go, if you create the power plant power apps, then you will see like an icon there that says AA builder, click there. Then it has a super-efficient guide, right? Meaning if, even if you don’t know, or even if you did not be searched yet about AA builder, it has a guide just pick the guide and you can pay your own model instantly. In fact, there, there is like a testing, right? In terms of model, meaning you can create the model there without even having a plan just for you. But that’s it,
CB: That’s where I know that there’s been over the years for Microsoft and a lot of feedback at how difficult it was to kind of get up and running with some of their new releases. I know that Microsoft one major change that they’ve made is that they’ve, they’ve really employed the use of, of community in getting feedback into these solutions. And the power platform is, is that way. I mean, SharePoint’s evolved into that and, you know, team certainly has those, those aspects, but power platform is really strong in that you have community members that dedicate time that are part of you know, panels that, that provide feedback you know, officially to Microsoft. And so I know so much of that guidance comes out of the feedback from the community. So that’s, that’s also, I, I like to say this every once in a while, you know, with any Microsoft product, but certainly anything around power platform is that if you have suggestions, if you see gaps, areas that are lacking, provide the feedback back to Microsoft, because they do look at it, they do respond back to it. And so they, they welcome that, that feedback. And you might see if you have features that are missing and you really need for whatever your scenario you’re trying to build for you know, you might see movement very quickly based off of that. So well, so what are some of the common scenarios, some of the things that people are using it to build for, for their businesses?
PS: Yeah. Yeah. I just want also add to that kitchen, you know, the, you know, MVP’s and other, you know, even that MVP that contributing and the, that from community, the user group that we mentioned you can just go to YouTube and see a lot, you know see a lot of videos. In fact, we’re calling, we’re calling it the YouTube university, right? So you can just put the
CB: What’s on every topic. If your car breaks down, there’s something going wrong with your dishwasher, whatever it is, you go to YouTube first, find out how to fix them.
CB: But there is something to be said about, about the, again, the community, the aspect of it. And, and this is also something I know this is kind of a side topic here, but don’t be shy about reaching out to MVPs and, and experts within the community. You know, that is going to be probably your fastest way. Now, let me, let me say to, to find an answer, to get ideas for things, you can abuse that by things like going to Mbps repeatedly, for things that you really should pay a consultant to get help with. But you know, most MDPs, you’ll love the outrage, but just be self-aware of the volume of questions and what you’re asking, but don’t be shy and making those connections and asking questions.
PS: Yeah, that’s true. And I was encouraging them to attend a community event instead of, of asking questions. Meaning we can answer a question, but as you said, you know, we’re not the consultant in a way that they’ll solve your every business problem, right?
CB: Yeah. Nope. Well, I mean, that’s so many things, future problems will be solved by having community connections. So be being connected, you, you have a better understanding of who can I go to, will know the answer to this that can, you know, like, am I crazy? Am I thinking about this wrong or what is wrong with my approach, provide that kind of guidance on what to go and do next. So as far as what to go and do next, so what are some of the common solutions that people are building?
PS: Sure, sure. So, I think maybe one year ago they had a blog post written about a common scenario, like a document management system in SharePoint. It’s super straightforward and very easy to do, and you can apply that practically. I mean, it’s a very pragmatic approach that you can apply that already in the deeper data. So, number one, if I’m in the architecture architectural firm, so many people send me plans, right? Send me the specific for example, the specific design of the house, right. And they want to, I want to get the metadata of that particular PDF file or even scanned file. Right. So what I did is I created they, of course, number one, a SharePoint library, like a SharePoint document I will upload I will upload social, technically I have a back end, other 80, right?
PS: Using SharePoint and even SharePoint lists, for example, to really upload something there, then get metadata. Now, what I did is I just simplified the flow. Like I created the flow that will every email that I will receive, that we’ll be having the document that say a plan, a blueprint. And because blueprint is exactly the same for every, I mean, the format first, not the design, but the form of the blueprint. I get the company that does the blueprint. I get the architecture name, the architect name. I get the date when it was, when it was created and the budget each other. So technically there’s one blueprint, a template for everyone. So what I did is first number one, created the backend in SharePoint to get those metadata, then create a flow that when I receive a particular blueprint, it will, in my email, it will process the AA builder process.
PS: Right. And it will detect every information inside the blueprint, and then it will automatically encode it on the back end, it’s just a SharePoint list or a ship serpent document. So pretty, you know, pretty practical example, not only with the blueprint, if, if, if you have repetitive or not repetitive, a standard form format, you can just create a model out of it, like PO purchase orders you know, receipts, each effort. So now there is like a good update now that again, as I mentioned, the modeling at the scene in a way you’re, you’re doing your, your, your machine learning model, but on the basic side, but, you know, Microsoft engineers had already created a template for you to just upload your model in a fast way.
PS: Like you can upload the Donald tree seats for example, and it will automatically detect whatever information you have there. You just need to, you just need to call that particular receipt service on the AA builder. And it will struck information on the receipt, in fact, without even building your own model, because it was built already. It’s just like calling the color model built in [inaudible] in there. So there’s a lot, there’s a lot even, you know, in coding on your ERP side connecting that to RPA. So there’s a lot of, you know, common use scenario in terms of using a builder.
CB: Well, excellent. Well, I know that it’s one of those, as you said, it’s democratizing, you know, the building out of AI. This is one of those things where, again, it’s not, it’s not that it’s taking away someone’s job. What it’s doing is that there’s, it’s evolving that, that job. And, and there’s so much of this where, you know, people that are in information, roles, analyst, roles, business analyst, roles, project management roles that are able to go and learn these tools and do much more without the need for the engineering resources. And the, the idea is that, you know, as an organization, you’re able to then do more focus on more instead of being. So, I mean, we used to, again, I go back to kind of my SharePoint roots, where so much of the discussion was around keeping servers up and running and we weren’t focusing on, well, the reason we have SharePoint on the servers in the first place is to do more of what we do for our business.
CB: Do things faster, deliver products, faster, get more efficient in our communications and our collaboration, all those kinds of things. We were spending so much time and keeping the light on the lights on and understanding to get to that point that we weren’t focusing on the business itself. And this is another example of tools that allow us to spend more time focusing on improving the business and leveraging the content, leveraging the data that we’re gathering and less time just moving paper files and then waiting for the engineering team or the it team to respond and to help us, I like anything, anything that is that, that inspires or, or, or support self-sufficiency I, I’m a huge fan of
PS: Yeah. Same thing.
CB: Yeah, yeah.
PS: Yeah. So, so the good thing about this era, the, you know, I’m reading this book called AI superpower. I don’t know if you mean that it’s super awesome book. My main takeaway there was you know, in this year of AI, where now from discovery to implementation and from expertise to data, there is a search where now we’re ready to implement it. Right. we’re now ready to capitalize on that again, as you mentioned, you’re a fan of this 3d cell doing subs, our sub sufficiency in terms of, in the, in the tech world cheddar, and, you know, because of, of, of these data, we don’t need to research anymore. Meaning there’s a lot of information already in the internet if I want the diagnose myself in terms of sorry, sorry.
PS: But, you know, we can see that if I have, for example, measles, I can just Google measles and get some recommendations about medication. As people we’re being more self-sufficient in terms of pulling up information on the internet and downloading the content to your brain. So, we’re on that and Microsoft is playing a huge role in terms of democratizing it. Since again, as I mentioned, I want to really implement AI myself, even if I’m not really, you know, a data scientist or a tech guy.
CB: Exactly. Well, Paul really appreciate your time today. Again, folks, please go out and take a look at and start experimenting, try out, try out the demo of the AI builder and start playing around with that today and, and see what you, what you can build and ask questions, reach out and connect with Paul. So, Paul, thanks again for joining me this morning. And again, thank you everybody who has watched this episode, please subscribe to the office 365 hours. You’ll get notifications of upcoming shows. We come to you on the first and third, Wednesday morning of every month at 11:00 AM Eastern. So thanks for watching and thanks, Paul. And we’ll talk to you soon. Thank you.