How AI and natural language are revolutionizing the Data value chain.
Focus on Power Platform Copilot
We seem to be witnessing a new era in the world of computing. Gone are the days of code, replaced by natural language.
What if the developers of tomorrow were the ones who could best communicate with an AI, like explaining a great idea for a new application to a colleague?
At least, that's the direction Microsoft is taking with its new Power Platform offering: Copilot.
The Low-Code paradigm
The emergence of Low-Code development platforms has revolutionized the way applications are designed, by eliminating many of the technical prerequisites associated with code.
Using a simple, intuitive interface, access to application development has opened up a new paradigm. Through its Power Platform low-code offering, Microsoft provides a playground for non-technical users wishing to solve complex business problems.
Microsoft Power Platform & Copilot
The Power Platform is a suite of tools designed to facilitate application development, process automation and data analysis. Power Apps, Power Automate and Power BI enable users to create customized solutions with little or no code.
In this context, Microsoft announced the arrival of Power Platform Copilot on March 16, at the height of the popularity of OpenAI's ChatGPT and its new GPT-4 model.
In a nutshell, Copilot is an AI assistant based on GPT-4, and integrated with the Office 365 ecosystem, as well as with all Power Platform tools. The aim is simple: to enable users to create solutions, workflows and applications using natural language.
According to Charles Lamanna, Microsoft's VP for the Power Platform, all you have to do is write sentences like " Create an application to enable my HR teams to facilitate the onboarding of new employees ". The system will immediately generate an application. The key to the tool's performance will lie in the relevance of the application generated, and in any fine-tuning it may undergo.
The disappearance of code and the emergence of Citizen developers
This new paradigm has paved the way for a new population: Citizen developers. Historically, these profiles have been attached to business and support functions, and are now becoming the creators of their own solutions.
By lowering the barriers to adoption, the Power Platform and Copilot encourage the emergence of these Citizen developers, who no longer need programming skills to create applications.
This enables organizations to leverage the creativity and expertise of their entire workforce to solve business problems. By domino effect, the value created helps to reduce the pressure on traditional development teams, by taking over certain projects or parts of projects.
A paradigm to master
If the destination seems clear, beneficial and organized, the journey seems full of pitfalls.
In the words of one of Copilot's designers, Jared Spataro: " Copilot is not always correct. It can make mistakes from time to time ". It's vital to be aware of these limitations and questions, and to monitor production quality.
Beyond its margin of error, the speed with which these tools are deployed raises concerns about the reliability of the models, and their sustainability. In the interests of transparency, Microsoft's Chief Scientist Jamie Teevan declares that safeguards have already been put in place when the system makes approximations, errors or biases.
However, we do not know the nature and details of these safety measures.
What's more, mastering ChatGPT-type tools is complex. With performance in mind, a new profession is emerging: the Prompt Engineer. This is the person who communicates with the algorithm, minimizing the number of queries and maximizing results.
The end of code may one day be a reality, but it doesn't mean the disappearance of developers.
On the contrary, it could give rise to a new era of collaboration between IT professionals, prompt engineers and non-developers.
The evolution of project management could include greater involvement of end-users and Citizen developers in the development process, improving the relevance and effectiveness of the solutions created.
Nevertheless, many parameters are still unknown, and the adoption of various solutions must be made with full knowledge of the facts. It is essential that organizations put in place clear governance policies and oversight processes for their entire solution portfolio.
Editor: Benjamin Simonet - Business Applications Consultant Micropole