The Gig Werks Podcast

Into the Microsoft Dataverse with Microsoft 365 and Chat Bots

Podcast Description: Into the Microsoft Dataverse with Microsoft 365 and Chat Bots.

Join Gig Werks for an in-depth look at the Microsoft Dataverse, the platform that is revolutionizing the way we work with data. Our experts discuss the powerful features and capabilities of this technology, including data integration, data management, and automation. You’ll learn how the Dataverse can help you streamline your business processes, improve data accuracy, and build powerful applications to help your business. We’ll highlight a Chat Bot use case and the potential ROI that solution holds by being integrated into M365 and the Dataverse.

Ready to drive the full value of your M365 Investment & Deliver Powerful Solutions to the Business?

Featured On-Demand Microsoft 365 Resources

The Evolution of Microsoft 365 & How it Comes Together to Deliver Solutions to the Business

Best Practices for Delivering Reporting & Analytics with Power BI

Best Practices for Delivering the
Full Power of Microsoft Teams

Best Practices for Delivering Process Automation
with Power Automate

Podcast Transcript

Everybody thank you for joining us today for the what is part two of our podcast on the Dataverse and M365 with us today from Joe Giegerich and with me is Christian Holslin, the enterprise architect here at Gig Werks.

So last podcast we talked about the evolution of M365. It became this coherent stack and with it the constant extension of making it a really integrative platform to build business solutions.

And you know the thing that Microsoft has always excelled at is keeping their eye on the one reason why you want to use technology is for ROI, right, is to drive business objectives.

So Christian, two things I’d like to do today, if you don’t mind, one is if you just give a quick summary of some of the highlights.

Of the data verse again just in case anybody didn’t listen to our first podcast or just as a refresher and then I thought it would make a lot of sense is you know so the data versus great we’ve discussed it.

What’s the practical application, what can you do with it that would have like real ROI and maybe a use case or two that you could describe just to put everything in context. So, with that give a brief recap.

Perfect. Thanks, Joe for the intro and uh, hello, everybody. Thanks for joining us on our podcast.

So the data verse is really a cloud data store, and that’s kind of a simple way of describing it.

But what it allows you to do is it’s if you’re familiar with on Prem data, you know you used to have to install a server and then you’d define tables and you’d have to create databases and worry about file structure and all this stuff.

And there was a lot more overhead to getting a database server up and running and all that stuff. So, what the DATAVERSE intends to do is.

To replace that whole data back-end experience and essentially. Make it a sort of a platform as a service now, so you have access to this data storage mechanism as a first class integration to everything that’s in the M365 stack, like for example there’s some.

You know you have power apps and power automate 2 of the you know main application building components and M365. Those have connectors that go right into the data verse so you can read and write data.

Into and from your application as a first class connection. And there was a lot more overhead.

So, the data verse abstracts all that out for you and it gives you a nice built-in designer so you can create tables and relationships and all kinds of different, you know, data types are available to you.

And it gives you the opportunity now to build that out, you know, without having to like set up your own server and things like that 

And that’s really what it’s what its core function is. It does it very well. It’s been out for a little while and it’s a quite stable.

So, with that, Christian in summary. Just for my own benefit. So, the ROI of the data verse generally like, not even with the specific use cases.

There’s always a reason in terms of the development of business solutions to connect data. And in olden times, if you will, that was pretty laborious. Contention 1 fair.

What to write a lot to map through. Right. You have to do all right mapping. You have to write your own data provider. You have to worry about the authentication and the security.

The service itself, right? There’s a lot of overhead. So, the data verse. So, the data verse then is essentially.

As you put it, you know it it’s its own platform connecting information out of the gate across the M365 application landscape, right, moving all that overhead exactly.

Yeah. So it gets rid of the overhead and also you know it operates as a as a first class integration, right. So it’s not you know, it’s not third party, it doesn’t require customizations, you can plug and play right away out of the gate.

You know that’s it’s big selling point and that’s the biggest ROI, you know the time to market.

Instantaneous there’s no startup cost or startup time. Um. And the other good thing about it is, is if you have team members or you work with consultants who know and understand data and SQL and things like that, there is little to no training time on top of that as well, right?

So they did a really good job of making it easy to adopt and quick too quick to bring online. Right. So that’s part of the value prop as well, right? ROI has many.

Many facets, right? Exactly right. And not the least of which is time to value. That’s right, that’s a big one. A lot of people, you know, they want something done now. And you know, especially if you have, you know, executives or you have C Class level folks who are, you know, placing tight demands on an organization.

That tooling allows you to be very flexible and quick in your approach to building out applications. And so, it’s one of the tools in your toolbox that you want to make sure you take advantage of. When you’re building data-driven applications.

Right. And if you’re going to be bothered to build something. Speed to market is everything and that’s something I’ve just seen, you know, in my couple of decades or plus we’re working within the industry is.

Frequently it just takes too long to get out the door, and by the time it does, the requirements have changed. And, you know, you kind of never get anywhere. If you got to spend all day and all night setting up plumbing, you never get to take a bath.

I don’t know if that’s a good analogy, but I’ll stick with it. So. Alright, so now you have the Dataverse, and you have something that’s going to expedite.

Your ability to roll out a high value, high return on investment solution, can you give us a couple of use cases where you could see this applied and what the value might be? Yeah, one of our favorite use cases that we’d like to bring up that you know, we’re going to focus on for this podcast session today is the chat bot.

And the reason why we, you know, the reason why we’ve been talking about this use case for so long, you know, we discuss it with our clients and it comes up in conversation things like that is we see, you know it’s one of those things that has a very easy to calculate ROI and it’s one of the fastest things that you can turn around in your organization because all of the tooling that you need to build it is already accessible to you.

If you have an M365 tenant now you know there’s certain licensing involved in it which we can go into.

But if you have, you know, power automate and you have the data verse and you have teams, you can pretty much build the chat bot that can automate something for you.

That might currently take, you know, 15 minutes of your time. Right now it’s hard to, you know, how do you make that case for the ROI, right, because that’s what we’re talking about.

So if you’re a small organization, you have a few people you know, and you’re saving a little bit of time on something, you know, it might not be that cost effective. But when you’re a larger institution or if you have a few 100 people and you want to, you know, automate access to even something as simple as, like an, you know, an employee directory.

Where you just open up your teams chat bot, you type in somebody’s name and it just automatically sends you their contact information.

You know, if you have 5000 people in your organization and it takes everybody 5 minutes to find somebody’s contact info, right? It’s a very easy arrow calculation. And there are, you know, there’s a plethora of these different kinds of use cases. You know, there’s, you know scenarios where you might be creating boilerplate language for contracts, right?

And you have somebody who’s generating a document, they’re pulling from a template, and then they’re copying it into a SharePoint document library and all that stuff, and then they’re plugging in a client name.

So if you have that data, especially if you have like a CRM for example, you can pull that data you know into the data verse.

Or use the data verse if you have it in a data-driven application and then just type in a client’s name and say I need a sale for such and such. And you can use the chat bot to kick off a power automate flow that pulls you know requisite data in from the data verse and then generates a document with boilerplate contract template that has the name of a client in it, right?

And that can happen. Literally 30 seconds or less, right? So if it’s taking you 15 minutes to do that right now, it’s hard to imagine that being  even faster. But the chat bot is really the fastest way that you could automate literally any process in your organization.

And Joe, I’m sure you can think of some other types of scenarios where that could be applicable even to you. You, you know, you work on the sales side, you do a lot of contract stuff.

Pushing paperwork. Is one of those things where the chatbot is extremely useful because you get, you know, you can turn stuff.

Around and you know more or less instantaneous and you can trigger a workflow too, correct? So I just say, hey go because like in our other company we have a document generation capability a little bit if I understand correctly.

We go please you know look up this client, please create a contract for it and it will run the Wizard for us for instance, even though that’s already a few clicks, even a few less clicks and just on the quick math side because we are focused on ROI.

So I just took some quick metrics if you have a 15 minute task a day. You got 100 people doing it, that’s 1500 minutes, it’s 25 hours, 52 weeks 1300 and if their rate is like 75 bucks an hour, you’re spending about $97,000 on this 15 minute task across your organization.

If you got that down to five, you’re spending 32. So, you know you’re in the money in in four months and that is a very rapid R why in terms of efficiency and to the point you were making.

Well, you go, oh, what’s 15 minutes? It’s 15 minutes times 100 Employees.

You know, which is, you know, 60 minutes is 25 hours, 52 weeks, 1300. And you just do the math through and that’s when you really go, ah, it’s the little thing. You know, people do these 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minute jaunts across a day, across a week and that really adds up. And the notion that you’re doing things old school not in a good way is always put it the 90s have moved on.

This is where you really start to look at the opportunity of that coherent.

M365 Universe being driven by the data universe. Dataverse graph.

Right by the data verse. And this ties into the narrative that you know we’ve been pushing for so long is that the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. You know when you can bring in, you know chat bots are great and they can get you fast information but how do you get the data into, you know, the critical locations like a contract right?

Well you need the data verse, right and you need power automate to do the generation of the document and you need SharePoint to have the template and a document library. You bring all those components together.

Now you can generate, you know, a boilerplate statement of work from a chat bot in 30 seconds, right? And it’s all of those pieces working together in tandem that give you that you know that ROI.

Absolutely, and this is something we spoke about. Earlier podcasts, about a year or so ago. A mantra for me is people got to get their head out of thinking I’m going to write a workflow; I’m going to write a form.

They got to write a business solution, right? It’s not. I’m going to write a workflow. You’re going to write a solution which has all those parts. It’s going to have meeting and high ROI for the business. And I would argue also that the other thing about the data verse, what it lets you do, another thing that’s quarter of practice we excel at is executing things in an agile fashion and managing the budget if you can quickly spin together prototypes for instance.

So go back to your earlier thing, we are and all these other components you have to run, but by the time you have it written.

The scope might have changed, the use case might have changed. Being able to go well. Look, I have all that plumbing done. Let me go in and work it. Allow it. Does it not facilitate?

An agile approach to development of that business solution, but not having to worry about that plumbing. Well, and I’ve seen that in numerous occasions. I mean that that story repeats itself in in a lot of the projects we do, you know, we see, we see teams struggling with the data access on the back end.

And how do you wire it up or how do you get access to it or what’s the security model or all those things right the Integration of the M365 platform and having that all together means that.

That’s all handled for you automatically, right? So if you’re a licensed user and you have access to an app.

Then all you have to do is a developer of that app is then go in and say, well, this person should see these tables, right?

And that’s it, right? It’s that simple. You have to worry about the physical security of the server or any of that stuff. So you can turn those things around much more quickly and you’re focusing on learning.

You know, as an implementation resource, you’re focusing on learning the technical aspects of the platform and how to bring those to bear for your company rather than the overhead of the sort of lights on side of it, right? Which is why cloud computing is becoming so popular, right?

Because once you remove the need for your resources to need the skill sets for that lights on kind of stuff, right, they’re focusing their time and energy, you’re, you know, your money, your investment, you’re paying them, there’s their employees.

Right there. Focusing on the tech right, they’re focusing on the technology. They’re increasing the ROI to you just by virtue of you using the platform.

Right. And it allows another thing that we’re always very big on for institutions to start looking at the development of solutions as if they’re a company. In other words, really put it this way, it frees up time to get the use case right. It frees up the ability to, God forbid, do documentation, another thing that we do a very good job at and see time and time again for documentation by vendors or internal resources.

So, if you can. Get the time to get a tight use case and really document fully what that solution is that you built. That’s another value that you have a soft value, but really demonstrable one because you can’t scale going forward.

If everything is like you through all your work into just getting the baseline setup and all that plumbing set and then you’re in a rush. And that’s typically when people forget.

Um, to do the detail you know, don’t have the time for the detailed use case and blow off detailed documentation. Bit of a digression, but it’s a better use of time. Let’s just put it that way, right? Well, and it frees up your resources to.

To spend that time on that documentation. Yeah exactly. Yeah. Because now you’ve taken away the overhead of all the you know the platforms support. You’re like well we don’t have to worry about the server being down or we can’t log into it or whatever the case may be. Right. So you can use that time that you’ve recouped to enhance the quality of your business applications by keeping that documentation there you know and flushing out those use cases and really understanding you know what the business process is because that’s the most important thing to note is when you.

You know, everything is a business process. Everything is a use case from start to finish, right. You know, the way we used to think about it when we were all on Prem and you know, everything was basically a tool, an appliance like uh, you know, we had a thing for this, we had office plug in to do this thing and we had this or that, right.

Those days are starting to go away now, right, you know? You have a process. People have a role in your organization.

They do something and that process needs to be implemented in a way that facilitates them being able to do that in the most cost-effective manner. And chat bots, we really kind of see as the new frontier for that because they can apply to any discipline.

That’s the fun thing about them, right? You can apply them to employee directory, you can apply them to contract lifecycle management, right. When you’re generating boilerplate contracts, you could apply them to, you know, we were meeting with a company recently and they were telling us about a customer service use case that they had where they want to know, they want customer profile data in a pinch, right.

And what we’re hearing consistently across the board from all of our Customers and prospective customers who are interested in this technology is that it’s all about getting access to critical data faster.

And you know there’s. So, there’s two components to that critical data right. That’s where the data verse comes in right. Your critical data needs to be in a critical space where it’s secure and safe, easy to access.

And when you’re there your team who’s doing the development doesn’t, you know isn’t responsible for lights on support and understanding the complexities of you know, back end security. Right.

It’s this person needs access to this data table. Great. Done right. Simple, right that’s. Dataverse, right and then quickly, right?

That’s where the chat bot comes in. Chat bots are incredibly easy to set up once you know what you’re looking for. It’s simply a matter of typing in the keywords and the topics that people are going to ask you about, and then writing the responses to those right? And that can be in the form of chat message. It can be in the form of an e-mail.

It can be in the form of a document that gets generated with the power automate flow, and then you send it to them and their mailbox.

There are so many ways to make that information accessible. You can send them a hyperlink, right? You can send them an action card.

In teams where they click on a link to go to a site that has you know a profile on it, right. So you can leverage existing data points that you have and you can front end that with a chat bot and now you’re talking about, you know, business critical access to information in a pinch and that’s the Holy Grail right?

Because If everyone at your company is doing their jobs instantaneously, you’ve maximized your IR, you’re sorry, you’ve maximized your ROI across the board, right. And so that’s why we, that’s why we talk about this so much is this is where we see kind of the future of digital transformation is in this sort of automated, you know, chat workspace where you need something, you go to a bot for it, it sends it to you automatically and then you work with one of your colleagues to do that, you know?

The information, work around what that’s supposed to be right? Looking at assumptions and more qualitative analysis, things like that. But the stuff you know that, like administration stuff.

You know, that’s all going to be automated at some point. And they’ll be able to speak to it as well.

So, and actually I was thinking before we wrap up, Christian, I know that we’re going to be bringing to the Microsoft marketplace a ready to go solution for our clients that we think has value. Do you want to talk about that a little bit?

Sure, definitely. Let me talk about that a little bit. So what we’re, you know, what we’re bringing to the marketplace is essentially a turnkey chatbot solution which allows you to you know, kind of.

Dip your toes into the water a little bit without having to jump in all the way. But what it’s going to do is it’s, you know, very price competitive offering where we work with you to turn key a chat bot solution for a given work topic that is, you know, business critical to your organization.

We’ll work with you on getting the topics authored and making sure that you understand what the needs are to make that as most efficient as possible and then actually build it out For you in your production environment so that you can start using it, put it into UAT, have your, you know your team start working with it and get an idea of what the value is of a chat bot without having to jump in and do something that’s, you know, like a very large endeavor, right?

This is a nice sort of like small, you know, easy to get going on thing where you’ll see the value very quickly. We like to use the term low hanging fruit, but in this case, chat bots really are in this sense.

Because once you enable the feature in M365, it’s simply a matter of going in and telling it how to respond to certain key phrases, getting that information out of your organization and then sending it to the right people at the right time.

And that’s really what we want to do with this, with this offering and this solution also I think, tell me if you disagree. Just having something built end to end with obvious, you know, supporting documentation I think sets the stage for Clients and firms to go, oh OK so this is this is something working, this is how it works to help drive their own initiatives internally as to what’s possible and even as to what they can build on their own.

Exactly. And it’s hard to be an early adopter without having a precedent out there. Exactly right. So, what this will do is it will, it will give you something to bring to your leadership and say, hey, here’s, here’s, you know, this was a very modest cost implementation and look at the ROI that we got from this.

And that will help not only just you champion your own platform internally, but also it will set the standard going forward for what should you expect to see and do if you build out more of these or if you move into this technology realm. If you want to start adopting this more, what’s the right way to do it right?

It kind of sets that standard for you. All right. Well. Thank you, Christian. As always and folks, any questions and the like to follow up with us always has information on how to contact. I hope this was informative and hope to hear from you soon. Thank you as always for coming out to listen to our podcast. Take care.