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Microsoft Power Platform Summit

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Three intensive days of presentations, discussions and learnings took place at the Power Platform Summit 2019 at the RAI in Amsterdam. It was three days, where a broad variety of businesses shared their data journey; what they had learned and where they had miss stepped – both for companies who recently begun their transformation but also for mature data-driven companies – only to inspire and educate the participants. All the while, Microsoft and their talented employees stood tall and served as beacon of inspiration and opportunity as they taught and informed about both current and future possibilities within their platform. All in all, a buzzing event if you’re interested in utilizing data to create value within a company.

In this blogpost, I will dive into some of the more debated topics at this years Power Platform Summit, namely the integration of the Microsoft product catalogue, user adoption and machine learning.

Integration of products
Microsoft is more than ever aware of the potential value in synergy between their product-offerings, why emphasis has been put on the Power Platform as a whole, under which a great deal of possibilities exists. This means that Flow, Power BI and PowerApps will co-evolve, which is truly great news, however, still exist as separate programs within Microsoft. During the conference, there have been several examples on how especially PowerApps, Power BI and Flow, and the combination thereof, can reduce inefficiencies within a company but also enable a multitude of company processes. All with the purpose of aiding companies in achieving their full potential; from automation of ad-hoc tasks and scenario-testing of machine learning models to interactive pairing of kindergarten pupils, the possibilities are many!

The potential in scalability through Microsoft’s product integration should not be taken for granted. The synergy value between the different solutions is already palpable and is only expected an exponential growth from here on out.

Importance of users
In the midst of the technological revolution, the proportion of failed business intelligence initiatives still serves as a friendly reminder of the softer, darker side of the moon. Luckily, users are getting more and more prioritized from both the supply and the demand side of the equation. This means that Microsoft is focusing on the nocode aspects of Power BI, PowerApps and Flow. The evolvement of nocode technology empower more and more users to both build and use complex solutions. Domain knowledge is thus becoming more and more the point of parity, whereas programming skills previously have been known for setting the bar.

Hereto, the user experience, or the consuming experience, has been getting a lot of traction from both Microsoft, industry professionals and businesses. A common question often posed by these groups is: how can user adoption be ensured?

Or in other words, how do you make sure that solutions create the business value you set out to create. As a visualization- and cognitive enthusiast, this is great news, because, in most cases, the human aspect is ultimately what drives business value. There are plenty of “workarounds” to the human aspect such as incorporating visual theory into guided analytics, automation of ad-hoc processes and technological empowerment of users, but to assume that technology itself drives value is naive. Corporate processes and habits don’t change easily.

Artificial intelligence, machine learning, advanced analytics
No talk about data without a talk about artificial intelligence, machine learning, advanced analytics. A dear child bears many names. Microsoft is acknowledging that programming skills together with statistical prowess are scarce resources, hence there has been an extensive focus on the empowerment of users with domain, or business, knowledge. As a result, the value proposition offered by Power BI has been strengthened through the availability of automated machine learning for Dataflows in preview for Power BI, not to mention the effort put into the Modern Platform by Microsoft.

This marks a great effort to accommodate the demand for machine learning through its palpable value proposition, that is the democratization of machine learning, to users of Power BI. A proper response to both Tableau and Qlik’s partnership with DataRobot, a company renowned as a Visionary by Gartner in 2019 for their automated machine learning software.

This year’s Power Platform Summit taught us that Microsoft is both listening to the market but is also very influential in creating a direction for advanced analytics. Meanwhile, we saw a strong acknowledgement from the market when it came to user adoption and the softer side of advanced analytics: currently, technology - in itself - cannot succeed.

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