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Scottish Summit - A Review

The extra day a year only comes around every 4 years and it seemed appropriate that a lot of the Power Platform community came together to celebrate in Glasgow.

Scottish Summit 2020 was sponsored by Avanade and myself and several colleagues went along to enjoy the event, cement Avanade in the community, share our knowledge and learn from others.

With over 1000 people descending on the University of Strathclyde’s Technology and Innovation Centre, this event is one of the biggest, free, community organised events in Europe. Our hosts, Iain Connolly and Mark Christie have worked hard to promote the event and established it quickly as the place to be for D365 / Azure / Office users and partners to be.

First Day – Common Data Service Hack

My first day at the conference was participating in the CDS Hackathon. Chris Huntingford and Lucy Bourne from Microsoft introduced us to the requirements for the hack and 20 of us spent the day being creative in groups to resolve an environmental challenge. Our group decided to tackle our carbon footprint, highlighting how our day-to-day choices can have an impact on the environment.

Combining a Forms Pro questionnaire, a Power App for the collation of data by council employees, a Modal driven app to maintain the questions and Power BI to visualise it, we produced a solution that would be ready for use within 3 hours! This shows the power of the Low code capabilities of the Power Platform and teamwork!

Thanks to @LeeMBaker for the photo

On Friday evening I managed to catch up with a lot of the Microsoft team attending the event, discussing the partner landscape, challenges they are seeing and how we can work with them to overcome these challenges.

Scottish Summit Saturday

On Saturday, after an early start, we set out our stall. Avanade was showcasing our capabilities to the attendees with D365, across Customer Engagement and Finance and Operations. Mixed Reality has become a big topic within the community, and we were lucky to be able to showcase a HoloLens 2. This was a big crowd-pleaser, with a lot of attendees experiencing this technology for the first time.

Explaining how Mixed Reality can be used for training, 3rd line support or visualisations of products in your environments was an eyeopener to a lot of people and it was great to showcase Avanade’s capability and some customer successes.

Keynote – This is more than just technology…..

What a start! Jon Levesque, Senior Platform Evangelist for the Power Platform at Microsoft was piped into the main hall, with a kilt on to celebrate our location.


Photo courtesy of @MarijnSomers (corrected)

He started with his personal journey, starting from being a member of the team that supported Steve Ballmer when he was giving talks across the world to his role now, where he is paid to fly around the world and evangelise on the Power Platform.

Jon gave pertinent stories about how the Power Platform has changed people and businesses across the world, empowering people in their day jobs to think about creating solutions to benefit their role.

His enthusiasm for the community and how it impacts the lives of everyone was infectious. Everyone left with a sense of belonging and enthusiasm to develop themselves and their businesses to the next level

Throughout the day, there were various sessions that we attended to educate ourselves.

Session 1 - To Code or not to Code - That is the Question

My first session was given by Scott Durow and Sara Lagerquist, both Microsoft Valued Professionals and at the top of their game. Their talk was about the perceived battlegrounds that have been drawn between LowCode and Pro-Dev practitioners.

Sara argued that Low-code, via Power Apps, Power Automate and the other numerous members of the Power Platform are allowing for a more reactive and time frames for users to achieve the solutions they need in their businesses. She highlighted that coding can lead to technical debt, development bottlenecks and reduced user adoption.

Scott countered these arguments by highlighting that bad solutions can come from low-code or pro dev equally, and each has its place in bring solutions to live. Gone are the days when grumpy developers can hold BAs and functional consultants hostage with their use of technical terms

But the outcome of their presentation was showing that we need to remove the barriers. Technical and functional need to co-exist and work with each other to use the right technology for the problem. Low code has great use cases to empower individuals to expand their applications across data silos, but if you want a speedy integration would Power Automate fit the bill? Encouraging Functional and Technical consultants to have conversations early on in a project and recognising the diversity of their skill sets would lead to increased user adoption and improved solutions.

Session 2 - Mixed Reality - Extending D365 on the next frontier

Kyle Hill, one of Avanade’s MVP hosted a session on Mixed Reality. He used the session to show the capabilities of Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 and how it empowers everyone within a business. From architectural uses – walking through a floor plan to first-line service staff - providing visual clues to while they are resolving a problem on customer site.

He also walked through how a low-code approach can be taken to augment the view of a user and the tools Microsoft provides to create this content.

It was a great show of how this emerging technology will soon be as widespread as mobile phones, available to all at a price point to match. I love the fact that Avanade is at the front of this adoption and are bringing this technology to businesses of all scales to change their approach to solving problems and transforming their processes.

Session 3 - Top 20 Tips for Surviving Networking at Events

Not every session is a technical one, Lucy Bourne, another Microsoft employee delivered a great session on how individuals can address their anxieties to better involve them in our community. In any community, when you begin, it is a room of strangers and lots of people are anxious about reaching out and getting involved.

Photo courtesy of @D365Geek

Lucy gave a whistle-stop guide to her 20 tips to survive these moments, gain confidence in your interactions and get involved. She highlighted that everyone has the same fears, everyone thinks they are an imposter at times and every one is unique. If you be yourself, “celebrate your onlyness”, as she puts it, and be genuine, then you can address your fears and become part of the big family we have as a community.

Session 4 – PowerApps – A Thunderbolt of Functional Awesome

To round out my day, I went to see Chris Huntingford, a Microsoft Partner Technical Architect show his audience how quick and easy it is to create a production application using low-code techniques and the tools make available to us via the Power Platform.

He explained the benefits and fundamentals of the Power Platform and how we should be engaging with it as users, empowering businesses to democratise their data. He further made it clear that there is only a limited pool of developers, but if we encourage our business users to make edge apps with the data that is available to them, companies can save time and money.

Towards the end of the session, he built an application within minutes, truly showing the flexibility of the platform.

In conclusion

Scottish Summit was a great event, it highlighted the great community we have. With speakers coming from Australia, America and all over Europe, it is an event that has started to become a must for anyone involved in the Microsoft stack.

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