Microsoft announced AI-focused Power Platform products at its Microsoft Ignite 2021 conference, which kicked off in earnest today. Among the highlights is Power Automate Desktop for Windows 10 users, a robotic process automation service (RPA) that automates tasks within Windows across various apps. New Power Virtual Agents features were also unveiled. RPA -- technology that automates monotonous, repetitive chores traditionally performed by human workers -- is big business. Forrester estimates that RPA and other AI subfields created jobs for 40% of companies in 2019 and that a tenth of startups now employ more digital workers than human ones.
Usually, when Microsoft puts on one of its big technical conferences, it takes the opportunity to announce and roll out new features for Power BI. This year's Ignite conference, which kicks off as a virtual event today, is no exception. In fact, the list of new capabilities for Power BI being announced today is huge. Microsoft Corporate VP Arun Ulag was kind enough to brief me last week on the array of new capabilities. In this post, I'll cover some of the major announcements in detail, and do my best to at least enumerate the others.
Microsoft this week expanded into process capture and analytics with the release of Microsoft Process Advisor. This extends the reach of Microsoft Power Automate, the company's robotic process automation (RPA) and cloud integration platform. These updates will help Microsoft's Power Automate strategy scale beyond RPA into the broader hyperautomation market, which Gartner expects to grow from $481.6 billion in 2020 to $596 billion in 2022. "The idea of'automating automation' is core to our strategy," Microsoft Power Automate product manager Stephen Siciliano told VentureBeat. Process Advisor gives organizations the ability to capture processes for further analysis or as templates for creating more full-fledged automations, he added.
Today we're kicking off Connect(); 2017, one of my favorite annual Microsoft developer events, where over three days we get to host approximately 150 livestreamed and interactive sessions for developers everywhere -- no matter the tools they use or the platforms they prefer. Today at Connect(); 2017 I'm excited to share news that will help developers build for the intelligent cloud and the intelligent edge. It's never been a better time to be a developer, as developers are at the forefront of building the apps driving monumental change across organizations and entire industries. At Microsoft, we're laser-focused on delivering tools and services that make developers more productive, helping developers create in the open, and putting AI into the hands of every developer so they unleash the power of data and reimagine possibilities that will improve our world.
The year 2018 was a banner year for Azure AI as over a million Azure developers, customers, and partners engaged in the conversation on digital transformation. The next generation of AI capabilities are now infused across Microsoft products and services including AI capabilities for Power BI. With many exciting developments, why are these moments the highlight? Read on, as this blog begins to explain the importance of these moments. These services span pre-built AI capabilities such as Azure Cognitive Services and Cognitive Search, Conversational AI with Azure Bot Service, and custom AI development with Azure Machine Learning (AML).