AI 101 – Options for using AI in the Power Platform

Here are my slides from the South Coast Summit on the options for using AI with the Power Platform.

AI 101 - Options for using AI in the Power Platform

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Hands-on labs in Microsoft Learn for Power Platform

There are two labs in Microsoft Learn modules that are now hands-on labs in a Virtual Machine that you can perform work without needing a Power Platform environment or license.


The labs can be found at

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South Coast Summit: AI 101 – Options for using AI in the Power Platform

I am speaking at 10:00 on Greenidge on Saturday 16th October at the South Coast Summit in Southampton UK.

I will be describing how you can use Azure Machine Learning, Azure Cognitive Services, and AI Builder with the Power Platform.

There are still tickets available at

Julian at South Coast Summit


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Empowering Organizations with Power Virtual Agents book review

Empowering Organizations with Power Virtual Agents: A practical guide to building intelligent chatbots with Microsoft Power Platform by Nicolae Tarla

Power Virtual Agents

I have created bots for customers and internal users for several years, mainly with the Azure Bot Framework which required deep coding skills. Power Virtual Agents allows you to create and deploy automated chatbots without requiring a developer, just a browser and Microsoft Power Platform. This book provides a great introduction to Power Virtual Agents written in a friendly and non-technical way.

I like that licensing is addressed in this book up front; there is a tendency to hide the license and cost implications and focus on the technology when talking about new and exciting software products.

This book explains the concepts used in chatbots such as topics, trigger phrases, entities, and conversations and how these are uses to build your chatbot. You are taken through creating a trial of Power Virtual Agents into building your first chatbot.

The book shows how to deploy a Power Virtual Agent to your organization’s website or to a Power Apps Portal. The book explains step-by-step how to configure your chatbot to authenticate both internal and external users, possibly one of the more technical aspects of building a chatbot.

Microsoft Teams has become so important within organizations as a central way to manage and access data. I see the future of Power Virtual Agents more in being deployed internally to support the organization internally rather than in the more tradition use of bots assisting external customers. I was therefore glad to see this book focus on the creation and deployment of bots within Microsoft Teams and also demonstrating how Power Virtual Agents can be used to access and leverage information held across internal systems.

Finally, I was especially pleased with chapters on best practices. There are some really good thoughts and suggestions in this book that you should consider when planning your chatbots.

You can purchase direct from Packt or from Amazon

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Dynamics 365 Sales MB-210 exam study group

I am starting a new online study group for the Dynamics 365 Sales MB-210 exam.

The group will start on Sunday 12th September and meet twice a week’; on Sundays at 08:00 BST and Thursdays at 20:00 BST. The group will take around 5 weeks. Each session will last an hour.

Although this group is about preparing for the exam, it is not exam prep.

The planned agenda is:

  • Session 1 12/09 – Introduction to Sales Functional Consultant, Exam Overview, Trial
  • Session 2 16/09 – Accounts, Contacts, Activities, Sales settings
  • Session 3 19/09 – Leads
  • Session 4 23/09 – Opportunities, Customisation of Sales
  • Session 5 26/09 – Goals, Forecasting, Playbooks
  • Session 6 30/09 – Product Catalog
  • Session 7 07/10 – Quotes, Orders, Invoices
  • Session 8 10/10 – LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Analytics
  • Session 9 14/10 – Sales Insights, Customer Insights

Complete this form to join the group Applications close at 12:00 BST on Saturday September 4th 2021.

Posted in Certification, Dynamics 365, Sales, Training | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Working with Microsoft Forms and Customer Voice book review

Working with Microsoft Forms and Customer Voice:
Efficiently gather and manage customer feedback, insights, and experiences by
Welly Lee


I have used Customer Voice and its predecessors Forms Pro and Voice of the Customer for a few years, and these are important tools to capture feedback from customer and well as understanding more broadly what customers think about my clients and their products.

Customer Voice is more than just about creating surveys, there are end-to-end orchestrations that you can perform with surveys as part of customer journeys. The goal should be to combine survey data with other transactional and profile data to build up a complete picture of your customers and then decide how to best interact with them.

The book is very much aimed at the business user, not the technologist. If you have never used Microsoft Forms or Customer Voice before, don’t worry and like many of the recent business products from Microsoft, you can create something quickly and easily. Welly takes you through the step-by-step process to create surveys and as you go through the book, he leads you through more of the features and capabilities of the tools.

The book starts off describing both Microsoft Forms and Dynamics 365 Customer Voice and shows the differences between these two similar products from Microsoft.
There is some really great advice on how to structure your surveys and how to choose the best question types. Welly has a concise description of Net Promoter Score (NPS), which I think I will reuse myself it is so good. I think we all have received surveys which we abandon after page 4 with no end in sight. You can create long surveys with Forms and Customer Voice, but you should really read the chapter on best practice as it applies not just to these products but all surveys in general. Welly also gives links to resources on building great questionnaires. I love the GitHub repository holding Power BI report templates for Customer Voice.

The first half of the book looks at Microsoft Forms and its capabilities. If you are a Microsoft watcher, you will have seen how important Microsoft Teams is and the book shows how you can use Microsoft Forms during and after Microsoft Teams meetings with polls and feedback.

As a trainer, I use both Microsoft Forms and Customer Voice to gather post course feedback. I have used many different tools over the years to create interaction with my students which is even more important in a virtual world. Welly shows how to use Microsoft Forms for quizzes.

The book then looks at a couple of other use cases for Customer Voice in more detail, employee, and customer feedback. It looks surveys, templates, how to send surveys, and  how to analyse and report on the responses. Welly also looks at how to use Customer Voice surveys with web applications, chatbots, and other technologies. I found this section particularly insightful.

The next chapter of the book looks at automation. Once you start capturing feedback, you need to automate the handling of responses including storing the responses in a way that you and others can access them such as SharePoint. This is where the Power Platform with Power Automate combines with Microsoft Forms and Customer Voice. There are connectors that trigger a cloud flow. This is something I use. For community events I run, I use Customer Voice as the sign-up form, which triggers a Power Automate cloud flow. The cloud flow adds the data to an Excel sheet in OneDrive for Business shared with other event team members, send a notification email to the respondent, and adds them to the Microsoft Team that I have created for the event. This has saved me hours of effort and the experience for the attendee is very professional.

The final section of the book concerns administration and licensing. It includes a necessary review of the settings to implement company policy and security.

Summary, if you are involved in marketing, product development, or support and need to gather customer feedback then you should read this book even if not a user of Customer Voice or Microsoft Forms as it will give you some great tips on starting on the customer listening journey.

You can purchase direct from Packt or from Amazon

Posted in Forms, Marketing | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

DA-100 Data Analyst Exam prep

I gave a presentation  at the Power BI Bootcamp last weekend titled DA-100 Certification Overview.

This was an run through of the content of the DA-100 Data Analyst exam for Power BI.


Hopefully the recording will be made available on the event YouTube channel but in the meantime here are all the links from my talk


Certification path

Microsoft Learn

Blogs and videos
Gregory Petrossian
Nikola Ilic
Hasham Niaz
Sam Smith
Rishi Sapra
Naji El Kotob

Tutorials and Labs


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Microsoft Dynamics 365 Project Operations book review

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Project Operations: Deliver profitable projects with effective project planning and productive operational workflows by Robert Houdeshell


Dynamics 365 Project Operations is a very complex business application. Books written about Dynamics 365 tend to be written for the technical specialist around the tasks to implement and customize the app, this book is very much aimed at the people who will use Dynamics 365 Project Operations, the practice manager, the salesperson, the project manager, the resource manager, and individual project contributors. The style of writing reflects the intended audience for the book.

This book is very much a how to properly make use the Dynamics 365 Project Operations app to get the most out of the app for your organization. Although Dynamics 365 Project Operations can use used by many different types of project orientated organizations, it does tend to focus on professional services organizations rather than on engineering and constructions projects.

The book starts with a general introduction to projects and Project Operations functionality, what is involved in selling and running projects, and the challenges faced coordinating projects within organizations across different systems.

The book then provides an understanding how Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, and the Power Platform fit together to allow users to collaborate in an end-to-end solution for managing projects.

There is a lot involved in setting up Dynamics 365 Project Operations, and the book explains the different deployment models, and the steps involved.

The book then switches to explain how project sales are made with opportunities, quotes, and contracts. It explains the how you can include both project-based lines and product-based lines on opportunities and quotes. I think I would have liked more explanation on different contract types, and when the bills are generated as this is quite a complex area but what is provided is a good introduction to this topic.

We then explore how project managers use the Dynamics 365 Projects Operations app. This is probably the most valuable chapters in the book as they explain how projects are resourced and revenues forecasted. It shows how the resource manager allocates resources to multiple projects balancing across all project resource requests. This is where Dynamics 365 Projects Operations can really make a difference for organizations that run multiple parallel projects.

Capturing time and expenses on projects are essential for managing projects. The book shows how project team members can record their time and expenses against project items. The book then shows how approvals turn into actuals that are applied and billed against the project.

I like there is a link to a series of short videos that demonstrate some of the functionality as it takes a lot to setup Project Operations for yourself to be able to see how the applications actually works. So, if you are interested in adopting Dynamics 365 Project Operations within your organization this is a good resource to help you understand what is involved and what it might look like.

The book finishes off with using the billing functionality in Dynamics 365 Project Operations and then producing reports and analysis of project profitability.

One bit of advice if you are starting with Project Operations is to read this book from start to finish before starting your deployment. There are lots of little nuggets of information spread around the chapters and if you simply follow the book as you are creating and managing your project, then, for instance, when you get to the final chapter on billing you will realize there are some settings you should have probably set on your project contract beforehand.

This book is a good reference for setting and managing projects using Dynamics 365 Project Operations and provides much needed guidance for users with the key roles on projects.

You can purchase direct from Packt or from Amazon

Posted in Dynamics 365, Projects | Tagged , | 1 Comment

PL-100 Study Group June 2021

I am organizing an online community group learning program for people wanting to take the Power Platform App Maker PL-100 exam.

To apply for a place on the study group complete the form at

Although this group is about preparing for the exam, it is not exam prep.

The course will run one evening a week, Thursday 8pm,  with another session at the weekend on Sunday morning at 8am and will take around 6 weeks starting June 6th 2021. Each session will be an hour.

I am based in the UK so all times will be in UK Timezone (BST) and  Microsoft Teams will be used for all sessions.

Applications close at 12:00 BST on Saturday June 5th 2021.

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Power Platform Starter Days Resources

Here are the slides with links to resources from my session today for Power Platform Starter Days


Posted in Community, Fundamentals, Power Apps, Power Platform | Tagged | 1 Comment