People working from home need new tools to help manage what were often manual business processes. Excel always used to be the tool that business users would pick up to write code. Its formulae and cell structure made it easy to chain together results to build what ended up as complex applications, analysing data statistically and numerically. It wasn't only for numeric data, either, as it could quickly be used as a simple tabular database, with filters and queries to help extract information. It might not be SQL, but it did the job.
Microsoft's AI Builder artificial intelligence platform, now in preview, enables nonprogrammers -- as well as professional developers -- to easily add AI to the projects they are working on to create more intelligent applications. Microsoft's low-code, no-code Power Platform consists of PowerApps, Power BI and Flow. PowerApps enables developers to create mobile and web apps with low- or no-code. Power BI is for analyzing data, creating reports and creating dashboards with low or no code, and Flow helps devs automate tasks and workflows with low or no code. AI Builder is tightly integrated with PowerApps so that users can simply click on visual prompts to add AI-enabled controls to their mobile or web.
In the recent 20 years, the types of devices and technologies available to companies have soared. Subsequently, IT teams are done overseeing homogeneous stacks, yet different, complex environments. Also, as those environments have developed, so too has IT. The speed of the digital transformation previously fostered by the growth of the public cloud, demands definitely more services and applications at a speed a lot quicker than developers can write and code. These services should be versatile, scalable and secure and improve effectiveness and lessen reliance simply on developers.
Microsoft today announced the public preview of its Power Virtual Agents tool, a new no-code tool for building chatbots that's part of the company's Power Platform, which also includes Microsoft Flow automation tool, which is being renamed to Power Automate today, and Power BI. Built on top of Azure's existing AI smarts and tools for building bots, Power Virtual Agents promises to make building a chatbot almost as easy as writing a Word document. With this, anybody within an organization could build a bot that walks a new employee through the onboarding experience for example. "Power virtual agent is the newest addition to the Power Platform family," said Microsoft's Charles Lamanna in an interview ahead of today's announcement. "Power Virtual Agent is very much focused on the same type of low code, accessible to anybody, no matter whether they're a business user or business analyst or professional developer, to go build a conversational agent that's AI-driven and can actually solve problems for your employees, for your customers, for your partners, in a very natural way." Power Virtual Agents handles the full lifecycle of the bot building experience, from the creation of the dialog to making it available in chat systems that include Teams, Slack, Facebook Messenger and others.
At its Build developers conference, Microsoft unveiled its first features in a customer product powered by GPT-3, the powerful natural language model developed by OpenAI, which will help users build apps without needing to know how to write computer code or formulas. GPT-3 will be integrated in Microsoft Power Apps, the low code app development platform that helps everyone from people with little or no coding experience -- so-called "citizen developers" -- to professional developers with deep programming expertise build applications to improve business productivity or processes. This includes apps to review non-profit gift donations, manage travel during COVID-19 or reduce overtime required to maintain wind turbines. For instance, the new AI-powered features will allow an employee building an e-commerce app to describe a programming goal using conversational language like "find products where the name starts with'kids.'" A fine-tuned GPT-3 model then offers choices for transforming the command into a Microsoft Power Fx formula, the open source programming language of the Power Platform, such as "Filter('BC Orders' Left('Product Name',4) "Kids").