Microsoft Power Apps and generative AI helps citizen maker upskill and transform career
Miyu Takai from Tokyo, Japan, began her career with zero IT experience and is now in a technical specialist role that she never imagined possible for herself, thanks to the Power Platform and the power of AI. Miyu leveraged her existing Excel skills and used the GPT-powered Power Apps Ideas capabilities to easily generate Power Fx formulas and wire together logic for her Power Apps solutions. She is now exploring the recently announced Copilot capabilities to continue building impactful solutions and enabling others in her community to do the same.
This story explores Miyu’s career transition – from processing fax orders to building apps and automation, her passion for technology, and how Power Apps with generative AI has aided her rapid upskilling and success.
“With Power Apps, all I needed to do was give examples. I knew what I wanted to do, and I didn’t need to explain in detail on what I wanted to achieve. It was just magical.”
In 2015 Miyu started her career in Tokyo, at an office branch of a food container manufacturing company. She was responsible for entering the sales orders received via fax machines into the ordering system. After several roles in the same company, she landed in the marketing department and gathered data using Excel for marketing activities in Tokyo, and then expanded to Osaka and other sales regions. “This was my first time I started to gain interest in optimizing processes with automation. I learned some basic Excel equations and some basic macros,” says Miyu.
When the global pandemic hit in 2020, her company accelerated the move to the cloud. Since Power Platform was available through Microsoft 365, that started her low code journey.
“I was always curious to try out new things. I immediately started trying out Power Automate and SharePoint, trying out things like deadline reminders. I was using it to an extent that one of the folks from IT asked if I could help by making some how-to videos for them.”
Pivotal career moment
In 2021, Miyu connected with the RPA community in Japan. “I randomly found a post on Twitter, and it was the Japan RPA (robotics process automation) community – where they were talking about their virtual RPA Advent Calendar.” Miyu contributed a blog post to the series and shortly after, presented to the RPA community. This ignited her passion for the Power Platform and opened the possibility that she could pursue a career in IT.
“I was interested to be involved in IT, but I never felt I could land a job in IT. I had very little IT skills, but at the same time I was really interested in Power Platform,” she explained.
Eight months later, she came across the consulting company, Sentreseau. They had a Citizen Development Department that hires talent for Power Platform roles, who can help empower their customers with citizen development by providing training courses, facilitating hackathons and more. Miyu had doubts she would be accepted, given her minimal programming experience, and was delighted when she was accepted. In her role today as a technical support specialist, she helps customers with their Power Platform journeys. She builds solutions, provides Power Platform related training, and supports companies to build their own in-house communities.
Rapid upskilling with Power Apps AI capabilities
Prior to being hands-on with Power Apps, Miyu relied on books, blogs, and Microsoft Learn to upskill in Microsoft 365 and Power Platform. To help kickstart her learning, Miyu turned to the AI-powered Ideas feature built directly into Power Apps Studio. She could describe in natural language what she wanted to do, and the necessary Power Fx formulas were automatically generated. This helped her quickly build apps and more easily learn advanced concepts in the process.
“In order for me to build apps, I needed to know what functions to use, but often I didn’t know what they were. Some of the blogs and articles were too technical for me or had assumptions that required background knowledge with Power Fx. With Power Apps Ideas, all I needed to do was give examples. I knew what I wanted, and I didn’t need to explain in detail what I wanted to achieve. It was just magical. I learned Power Fx this way much faster.”
Some examples of how Miyu used Power Apps Ideas:
- Extract the first three numbers of a phone number.
- Develop an event planning and management app that displays the Event Name, Start Time, End Time, and registered attendees as a gallery.
- Transform the data in the event app, such as by splitting the first name out of the registrant’s full name.
“If I did not have Power Apps Ideas, I would have had to go look up the Power Fx reference in Microsoft Learn from the top, and that would have taken a lot of time for me. Because of Power Apps Ideas, I could work on it very quickly.”
Power Apps Ideas helped accelerate Miyu’s ability to build apps with Power Apps. She is now looking towards how Copilot across Power Platform can simplify the development process even more.
“The nice thing about Copilot is that it gets things done really quickly. It will automatically create and suggest designs, so it comes up with ideas I wouldn’t have imagined myself.”
Power Virtual Agents
Miyu used Copilot in Power Virtual Agents to develop a bot that retrieves information from a website. She found the bot building experience much quicker due to the ability to design and modify bot topics using natural language.
“The hardest part of creating a bot was figuring out what to expect when creating a topic, so I think it’s great that Copilot makes that easier.”
With Copilot in Power Automate, Miyu automated simple processes such as notifying the team when an email arrives in an Inbox. She also used Copilot to assist her in adding branching to a flow for conditional logic. She tested the resulting cloud flows to verify that the AI-assisted automation worked and tweaked the flows where relevant. By watching what the Copilot was doing, Miyu gained a better understanding of how to create the flows and make them run. Additionally, Miyu’s upskilling with Power Automate has been aided by Copilot, because she learned of more connectors and corresponding actions that she previously wasn’t aware of.
Miyu is keen to try Copilot in Power Apps when it becomes available in the Japan region, to create solutions with Dataverse and Power Apps using natural language. She was inspired by the upcoming capabilities demonstrated at this year’s Microsoft Build, where a Power Apps app was created using data from Excel.
“The layout of the app is one of the hardest things to grasp when building apps. I’m not a design expert. I think it’s amazing that soon we can use Excel data and have Power Apps automatically generate an app. I look forward to this AI-powered capability with Power Apps.”
As makers across the globe start to use generative AI capabilities and copilots in Power Platform to begin their app and automation development journey, Miyu’s story serves as valuable example of the power of these capabilities to transform business processes and careers.
Share your story with us!
Do you have a story or experience to share? We are excited to learn more about how individuals and organizations are using Power Platform with generative AI and Copilot capabilities! Submit your story at https://aka.ms/ShareAIStory