The Record - Issue 19: Winter 2020

40 www. t e c h n o l o g y r e c o r d . c om even more urgent. Organisations that were scep- tical of the cloud are now fully invested, and cus- tomers who were already on a path to the cloud have accelerated it significantly. “This is whereMicrosoft’s Power Platformcomes in. The Power Platform provides a single, unified, low-code platform that enables citizen developers and pro developers to build end-to-end solutions in days and weeks, instead of months.” The Power Platform is a suite of solutions, including Power BI, Power Apps, Power Automate and Power Virtual Agent. Power Apps enables an author to build an app and make it available on browsers, iOS and Android, while Power Automate provides a no-code experience that enables customers to build automated busi- ness processes. Power Virtual Agent is the new- est member of the suite and provides a no-code experience to build chatbots. The city of Kobe in Japan leveraged the power and flexibility of the Power Platform to support its citizens as they dealt with the Covid-19 pandemic. “As part of its crisis response, the Japanese government announced a Special Cash Payment Program that allowed every citizen to apply for a subsidy,” explains Ulagaratchagan. “The citizens could apply for the cash subsidy by mailing a paper application form or using the government website. “However, there was no system to track the application status once the citizen had submit- ted an application. As a result, city officials were facing a high volume of incoming phone calls – over 40,000 each day.” With a limited number of officers availa- ble, only a few thousand calls could be taken each day, causing further issues with repeat calls that continued to inundate officers. They urgently needed a system to monitor, manage and respond to applications and keep citizens informed of progress. In just four weeks, city officials were able to build and roll out an end-to-end system using the Power Platform. They used Power Virtual Agents to create a chatbot to respond to frequently asked questions. They used Power Apps Portals to build a website, where citizens can check the status of their application, and they developed a Covid-19 information dashboard using Power BI. Officers now had more time to focus on analysing data and working on other tasks. But Microsoft is not working alone in help- ing its customers. Its worldwide ecosystem of partners is playing an essential role in terms of ongoing product improvement and delivery of the Microsoft vision for the BI space. “From day one, partners have been critical to the success of Power BI,” says Ulagaratchagan. “In the Power BI team, we believe that by help- ing our partners be successful, we can in turn delight our customers. More than any other BI product in the industry, Power BI has focused on empowering our partner ecosystem.” Microsoft showcases its partners’ solutions on “We have over 300 solutions from partners showcased on our product web- site,” he says. “Not only can customers discover partner solutions from dozens of countries, by industry, and organised by function, they can also trial these solutions directly in the browser. No other product in the industry provides such a rich, expansive, platform for partners to show off their capabilities. “The Power BI engineering team also meets weekly with our partners to share our prod- uct roadmap, get feedback on planned features, and provide insights and best practices on how to leverage Power BI. This engagement provides a direct con- nection between the product team and our partner ecosystem. “As a result of the deep engagement between Power BI and partners, over 19,000 partners sold Power BI to customers in 2019, of which 6,900 were selling Power BI for the first time.” COV E R S TOR Y