Copilot in Business Applications

It is so easy to get out of the habit of blogging, but my days of learning and knowledge sharing have never stopped. We continue to do daily learning and there is so much awesome that is both continuing to mature and brand new.

In the world of Microsoft Business Applications, the word Copilot is the hottest topic. We now have an automated assistant who can quickly cut through the noise and help prioritize what is really critical. It also provides insights into long neglected focus areas like really looking at your Enterprise data and Executive Summaries. 

One of the GEMS from Microsoft is Microsoft Learn. A free learning resource on every technology that Microsoft provides. If you have not discovered Microsoft Learn, here is the Copilot motivation of the day Microsoft Copilot documentation and resources | Microsoft Learn

and for Microsoft Power Platform Customers tap into what is available and coming  

Microsoft Dynamics 365:

To really get started, understand the art of the possible and the differences between Open AI, Azure Open AI, Copilot, ChatGPT and other offerings. Once you wrap your head around the overlaps and the unique features it all starts to click together, and you will find your "AH HA" moment with why Copilot can or should be part of your entire stack of applications and technologies.

 


Microsoft Technologies leveraged on projects

One of the reasons I persist with the Microsoft Technology stack is that having a huge box of legos to build business applications with is just hard to beat. 

Microsoft tends to change names, debate branding and overall try to communicate what a consultant can bring to the table, but in most of my projects now we tap into numerous different offerings.

Take for instance my last project. In my last project we delivered an integrated model that included 

  • Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement (Model Driven Power App + Microsoft Canvas App)
  • Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations (Supply Chain Management focused)
  • Power Automate (Flow) (Approvals and Standard)
  • Power Portal (now called Power Pages)
  • Microsoft Dual Write (connecting DYN365FO + DYN365CE)
  • Microsoft Azure Synapse
  • Microsoft Azure Function Apps
  • Microsoft Azure Logic Apps
  • Microsoft Azure Service Bus 
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Microsoft Azure Blob Storage
  • and Microsoft Office 365 

We also coordinated the team and the application lifecycle management using Microsoft Azure DevOps, Microsoft Azure CLI, Microsoft Visual Studio, Microsoft RSAT (Regression Suite Automation Tool) and Microsoft Teams. 

Now you would think that you would need a HUGE team to deliver the above, but we actually delivered using a very reasonably sized team with a mix of resources. 

One of the beauties of the Microsoft stack of applications and offerings is that there is so much that you can do! The ability to use a platform that grows organically (SaaS) and through phased projects aligned to key business needs, keeps companies current with the latest and greatest technology offerings. 

The world moves so fast. It is great to have structures in place that allow teams to move at the same speed. 

 


Incredible Flexibility

I am working with some incredible technologies, and I am working with the Power Platform and so many cool things that can be done with this incredible engine of growth. 

Consider this: You have an incredible repository of many different data sources. You have an entire team of people who work on "DATA" (and AI and all the cool new in the data space), but you also use one or many of the Power Platform, Model Driven, Dynamics PowerApps (Sales, Field Service, Customer Service, Connected Field Service, Marketing, Talent, Custom and so many more)

Did you know that you can work with a Power BI team to create incredible reports off of your data "repositories" (pulling data from many different places) AND you can then embed these Power BI reports in a Power Platform, Power Portal. Why use a Power Portal over a custom web page or some other option? well there is that little gem of application and/or data access security. Yes, the templates are also incredibly nice, but where Microsoft shines is in the layers of awesome. 

One of the reasons that I continue to focus and grow within the Power Platform is the huge flexibility and pivoting of new technologies to meet the demanding business needs. These needs are met leveraging the same platform and the platform continues to grow and be supported. 

 


Knowledge Sharing Power Platform Vocabularly

One of my favorite ways to learn is to share knowledge. I find that all of the other perspectives I get from this exercise really help me shift and refine what I have learned. 

In the last two years I have been under the fire house learning. It is both exciting, amazing and daunting when we consider how much more there is always to learn. It is also a twist for those of us who have years of experience. The experience makes a huge difference, but it also always has to be continually refined.

One of the first major learning tips is to get your head around the vocabulary quickly. It has served me well to think about the following.

Microsoft EcoSystem with Power Platform

The Power Platform, this is really an evolution to getting closer and closer to using the entire Microsoft Stack of awesome. The long loved deep integration to Office is now 100 times better AND there is also the deep integration to Azure and many of the new Azure functions. 

PowerApp
Microsoft Dynamics 365 "Apps"
are all Model Driven Power Apps on the Power Platform. 

Flow

Power Automate (Flow) The ability to automate, respond and receive responses and an alignment/replacement or stepping stone to both work flows and logic apps and you can learn more here.

Power BI with Name
Power BI Much loved and amazing reporting and business intelligence and analytics and you can learn more here

 

Power Virtual with Name

Power Virtual Bots, Not only bots, but Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and you can learn more here and here.


Understanding LinkedIn Integration to the Model Driven Sales Hub App in the Power Platform

Many people talk about the integration between Dynamics 365 Sales or The Power Platform Sales Hub Model Driven App and LinkedIn, but not everyone really understands all of the possible use cases.

Here is an extremely well crafted demonstration video on "Relationship Sales" 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KFTzL292JQE&pp=wgIECgIIAQ%3D%3D


Power Platform Resources and Documentation

The Microsoft DOCS team has been incredibly busy over the last numerous months. You will find that many (if not all) documentation found at Docs.Microsoft.com has been updated and has a 2020 associated date. If you are not sure where to get started take a look at this incredibly helpful LINKS list. 

https://powerapps.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/microsoft-powerapps-learning-resources/


One Why | Model Driven Apps | Configurable Role Based Entitlement Security | Who gets to access What

1) Business Unit Hierarchy | The ability to divide the data into isolated silos with bridges of controlled access aligned to the defined.(Security + Performance)

2) Out of the Box Entities | The configuration of entity permissions when the entity is doing backend functionality for the system and not something such as Account, Contact....

3) Management Hierarchy | The ability to give permissions to a manager based on the permissions and data and functions that their child team member has access to.

4) Field Level Security | The ability to mask, encrypt and control who can see a specific field within an entity

5) Entity Security | The ability to control who can Create, Update, Read, Delete, Append, Append to and Share specific out of the box entities or custom entities by Organization, Business Unit, Business Unit Hierarchy or User Ownership. 

6) Flow Context | The ability to control what permissions a flow runs under, either Contextual User or a Defined User such as a system account.

AND there is more so when considering "Building Your Own", consider if you want to recreate the concept of Role Based Entitlement 

  


In this world of many choices, some times some choices are slightly better than others. Needless to say releases continue to be released. 

In this world of many choices, some times some choices are slightly better than others. Needless to say releases continue to be released. 

Take for instance the difference between an Excel Workbook and a Power App. 

More than likely Excel will meet some of the needs. There have certainly been many companies that have used Excel to solve many problems, because it was the tool available. The same applies to cutting down a tree. You can cut down a tree with an Axe or a Saw, but if you have to cut trees every day then you might want a chainsaw. 

Learning to use that chainsaw might be harder than learning to use a saw, but it is worth it. 

Power Apps give more and there are different levels of learning and different levels of delivery. 

A "Canvas" Power App, potentially a lower learning curve, but a great fit for the person who might just use Excel to solve a problem. A Canvas App can even be an App using data in Excel.  

A "Model" Power  App, higher learning curve, but meets the needs that can take months and months of green field development. What custom developer wants to build Role Based Entitlement and Complex security? 

A "Portal" Power App, a model app PLUS portal offering both the complexity meeting needs that model delivers and the SEXY user interface that users crave. 

The key in the world of the Power Platform and the key to any technology is to understand what comes with the offering and what it was designed for and where the gaps are that the developers continue to refine. 

The Power Platform might be new to you, but it is not new. The offering includes a variety of maturity layers and is no longer just a sparkle. It is the new agile, it is the platform to deliver empowerment and solutions at the speed that is needed for today.