Sérgio Viana

samv

Partner and DX & UX Lead - Xpand IT

Generative Artificial Intelligence: digital solutions for organisations

5 SECONDS-SUMMARY:
  • Considered one of the ten pillars of the „4th Industrial Revolution“, Artificial Intelligence has the potential to contribute to growth and modernisation in a range of areas, which is why it should be considered as a possible answer to many different problems.
  • This article will explore the challenges and opportunities that Generative Artificial Intelligence presents to businesses.

According to Stanford University, private investment in Artificial Intelligence has doubled in one year. In fact, around 50% of organisations have already adopted digital solutions with AI integration in at least one business area.

In an era in which users are increasingly demanding, it is imperative that companies continually invest in these solutions, giving them a competitive edge.

Digital generative models

One such AI model is Generative ArtificiaI Intelligence, a technology with the specific capacity – within the broad range of AI offerings – to provide organised answers through learning developed by an algorithm and which allows organisations to generate personalised original data or content.

When it comes to this type of generative modelling, the GPT-4 (Generative Pretrained Transformer) – developed by the start-up OpenAI – is clearly the market benchmark.

It was born with a specific purpose: to empower its users with highly accurate content, but in an interactive, personalised, conversational way, so that it is barely noticeable that we are communicating with a robot.

There are different areas where we can apply this technology, such as:

  • Marketing: content creation and advertising campaign production.
  • E-commerce: development of personalised content based on the user’s profile.
  • Banking: implementation of a virtual assistant, available 24 hours a day, any day of the week, so that customers can ask questions.
  • Insurance: the use of generative models to create economic scenarios and predict values, thus boosting the development of new products.

As we realise the positive impact of this technology and its potential to deliver unique experiences with original, personalised content, we understand that there is room to continue expanding its application in other areas.

Integration of Azure and OpenAI GPT-4 in Customer Service optimisation

How many times have you received a complaint because you did not respond to a customer request? Or did you fail to follow up on several positive comments? This can have a negative impact on your business.

By considering the customised integration of Azure and OpenAI GPT-4 into a digital product and/or service, we are ensuring that our users will get faster, more efficient responses, allowing us to improve satisfaction rates and, consequently, brand reputation.

How do we apply this integration? The starting point is an account set up on Microsoft Azure with all the necessary resources. After configuring the Azure OpenAI Service, we can access the GPT-4 API (Application Programming Interface) to develop the integration interface using Azure, guaranteeing the privacy of the data and that it is not used to train the models.

After these first steps, we move on to building the solution and testing the tool, providing algorithms that will later enable the independent development of content creation in the digital sphere of a particular business.

Examples of where these integrations can be applied:

  • Ticketing systems.
  • Chatbots.
  • Digital channels.

Challenges with the applicability of Generative ArtificiaI Intelligence

As we intensify the use of these generative artificial intelligence models, we realise that some challenges need to be addressed, particularly in the areas of ethics, safety and efficacy.

If, on the one hand, we have a technology that is capable of creating structured content or assisting in the development of medical reports, on the other it is also capable of memorising sensitive data during learning levels or using plagiarised texts, making it mandatory to carry out the appropriate tests until we obtain the most reliable product.

For these reasons, it is necessary to ensure that there are some challenges mapped out beforehand, and then followed up in the exploitation phase, so that the organisation’s reputation is not damaged.

At Xpand IT, we believe in using Microsoft Azure OpenAI Service with GPT-4 as a technology focused on boosting business, always with two main objectives: to add value to the use of a digital product and to boost in-house innovation, differentiating ourselves from other competitors.

Contact us and boost your business to make it more efficient.

Sérgio VianaGenerative Artificial Intelligence: digital solutions for organisations
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Artificial Intelligence and ethics: the example of OpenAI

5 SECOND-SUMMARY:
  • Artificial Intelligence brings different benefits to the business: efficiency, time-saving, and reduce costs;
  • However, these solutions always require control and responsibility in their use;
  • In this article, we will explore the principles of ethics in ArtificiaI Intelligence and OpenAI as an ally for your business.

Many different types of companies are applying artificial intelligence (AI) to benefit their business, improve efficiency, save time and reduce costs, while trying to innovate through the potential of the technologies available.

According to a report by Precedence Research, the global AI market was valued at around 454.12 billion dollars in 2022, and is expected to reach a value of over 2,575.16 billion dollars by 2024. In addition, it revealed that 64 per cent of the companies surveyed believe that AI will help increase their overall productivity. This data reflects the growing confidence in AI’s potential to revolutionise business activities. As this technology continues to develop, ethical implications are beginning to emerge around how people and companies use it. The design and implementation of these systems must uphold and prioritise ethical values and principles, and organisations must structure themselves and their projects to guarantee this.

Artificial Intelligence and ethics: the principles

The relevance of ethical artificial intelligence is related to its ability to prevent negative consequences, such as discrimination and privacy violations. AI systems are increasingly integrated into society, which makes it increasingly important to understand how an ethical approach can help mitigate risks and ensure that it is effectively applied. In this sense, we believe that there are four principles to ensure that AI is developed and used in a fair, transparent, and responsible manner:

1. Equality: Developing AI systems that start from an equitable principle is challenging when they are developed by humans with different thoughts and backgrounds. Furthermore, the data used to train these systems reflects much of this bias. These solutions should be used equally for all people, regardless of race, gender or other characteristics, and those who develop them should keep this basic principle in mind. It is essential to test systems before using them in a real environment, in order to be able to identify situations that need to be addressed from an ethical point of view. This reduces the risk of AI tools exacerbating social disparities, democratic access to information or even discrimination.

2. Transparency: In order to guarantee user confidence and enable them to make decisions based on AI, systems must allow for a high level of transparency. Models that reach concrete conclusions but are difficult for humans to interpret may result in less application. Presenting reports describing their work can be a way of maintaining transparency in AI solutions, although a detailed level of understanding of the process used by the algorithms to arrive at a given result is not always possible. In these cases, a detailed analysis of the situation is necessary to ensure a degree of comfort with it and a risk assessment regarding its use.

3. Responsibility: Both creators and users of AI must be responsible for its creation and use, respectively. Whether in the initial testing and analysis phase, in the implementation phase or already in production environments, AI can produce negative consequences such as privacy leaks, bias and social disparities, among others. It is up to the human element to address, assume and resolve possible negative consequences, and you should consider blocking use cases that do not comply with the principles listed in this article.

4. Privacy: It is necessary to ensure the security of all users and their data. This principle is especially important in sectors such as finance or health, where sensitive personal information is often involved and whose disclosure can have serious consequences.

OpenAI and ethics

OpenAI is an artificial intelligence platform that offers tools and solutions for companies in various industries. As well as offering a wide range of services that are known and used worldwide, OpenAI’s core value is to guarantee the ethics of AI.

In general, OpenAI works with both Glass Box and Black Box models, depending on the problem you are trying to solve. The Glass Box AI model is based on Machine Learning, where a clear explanation of the reasoning behind decisions can be provided in a more transparent way, making it easier to interpret results. On the other hand, Black Box AI models are difficult for humans to interpret. Although the results these models produce may be accurate, the reasoning and decision-making process are opaque.

However, OpenAI’s commitment to ethics suggests that it values the development of transparent resources. As such, the organisation has published various research documents and technical reports describing its work.
OpenAI has developed tools that can mean business opportunities and should be exploited. With the right skills and knowledge, companies can take advantage of OpenAI’s options to develop innovative solutions that can improve customer experiences, increase efficiency and drive business growth. Some of the commonest examples are:

• Chatbots: Develop and implement chatbots that can interact with customers, answer questions and offer personalised recommendations 24/7.

• Fraud detection: Using machine learning models, OpenAI has developed tools that can identify patterns in data to detect suspicious activity. For example, it can detect when a user is logging into a system from an unknown device or location, or when an unusual amount of data is being transferred.

• Predictive analysis: OpenAI’s machine learning models can also be used to analyse customer data, trace patterns, predict trends and optimise business strategies accordingly.

• Customisation: OpenAI’s resources can be used to create personalised recommendation engines – from products to services and content – based on user preferences and behaviour.

How Xpand IT can help your business implement ethical AI

At Xpand IT, we help our clients understand how they can apply different technological solutions to address their business challenges – and AI is no exception.

Xpand IT works with a number of clients firstly to understand AI technologies, and then to implement solutions that make it possible to clearly understand the value that they can generate for organisations.

Through an iterative approach, it is possible to create a base project, which allows the technologies applied to each client’s reality to be tested, and then iterate to improve the results obtained and/or develop additional use cases – allowing you to get a concrete idea of applicability and costs, amongst other things.

Xpand IT is focused on helping our customers reach their full potential, based on innovative technologies. We are confident that organisations can harness the full potential of AI in an ethical and sustainable way. Are you interested in working together towards this goal? Contact us today!

Sérgio VianaArtificial Intelligence and ethics: the example of OpenAI
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The role of Power Pages in business ecosystems

5 SECONDS-SUMMARY:
  • Power Pages allows the creation of personalized interfaces, with the ability to integrate information from various sources and facilitate a unified and in-depth view of data.
  • Discover, in this article, all the benefits and the role of Power Pages in business ecosystems.

In the constantly evolving digital landscape, where technology plays a transformative role in business strategies, Power Platform tools have emerged as a catalyst for innovation, with increasing adoption. According to  Gartner, „by 2026, low-code development tools will account for 75 per cent of new applications developed“.

Power Platform allows companies to create personalised solutions, integrate data from various sources, automate processes and build applications that require no technical knowledge – through citizen developers.

Power Pages, as an integral part of the Power Platform, become more relevant in the creation of personalised interfaces, have the ability to integrate information from various sources and facilitate a unified and in-depth view of the data. These interfaces transcend the boundaries between technology and the user, allowing companies to make data-driven decisions and offer engaging experiences.

The main benefits of Power Pages

Power Pages stand out in the creation of websites and have several advantages over traditionally built web pages. Being no-code/low-code in nature, they make it possible to create interfaces without technical knowledge. In addition, they are integrated into the Microsoft Power Platform universe, allowing them to be connected to other Microsoft tools such as Dataverse, Power Apps or Power Automate.

However, the benefits of adopting Power Apps also extend to practical business needs:

  1. Create engaging experiences: Power Pages allow you to create interactive and personalised web pages. It has a wide selection of pre-built models and templates, but it is also possible to build a page completely from scratch and 100% personalised. They are also fully responsive, automatically adapting to different screen sizes and devices.
  2. Connect to your data: By integrating with Microsoft ecosystem platforms such as Microsoft Dataverse, SharePoint or Excel, Power Pages simplify access to and presentation of data from various sources. They can be easily connected to Power Apps to create personalised forms and workflows and to Power Automate to automate tasks and processes.
  3. Share and collaborate with ease: Power Pages can be shared with people within the same organisation, with clients or partners, allowing you to control who and what they can edit. When connected to Power BI, it is possible to add data analyses, while the integration of Power Virtual Agents makes it possible, for example, to include Artificial Intelligence chatbots.

The role of Power Pages in business ecosystems

Although Power Pages have obvious benefits to building web pages, they also serve as PaaS (Platform as a Service), as they facilitate collaboration between partners from the most diverse ecosystems. As they were created specifically for external users, they are a great solution for optimising operations, reading data, and gathering valuable insights.

For example, in a collaborative scenario where a bank is ready to offer tailored credit to a retailer’s customers and the retailer wants to provide financing options to its customers, Power Pages could be the ideal solution. As they have a robust security model, they allow the exchange of sensitive data and encourage safe and regulated collaboration.

In this scenario, the bank creates a Purchase Finance Portal for that particular retailer. In this portal, both parties interact, share data, and make decisions in real-time. Customers explore financing offers, make payment simulations and apply for credit approval if it makes sense.

Main benefits obtained:

  1. Secure data: Power Pages allow credit data to be shared securely. Regulations are respected.
  2. Easy collaboration: The portal enables real-time collaboration. The bank adapts offers, and the retailer approves orders instantly.
  3. Informed decisions: Power Pages show financing options clearly. Customers calculate payments and compare offers.
  4. Improved experience: The retailer’s customers obtain financing from the bank, simplifying the purchase.

In this particular case, Power Pages simplified and ensured collaboration between a bank and a retailer. However, its applicability can be extended to other industries and represent an asset in your specific business.

Feel free to contact us

At Xpand IT, we believe that Power Pages, and the Power Platform universe, can revolutionise how businesses operate and collaborate. By offering an integrated and personalised view of information, Power Pages help to make informed decisions and optimise operations. If you believe this technology could benefit your business, do not hesitate to contact us. Together we will explore what kind of solution we can implement to make your business more efficient.

Sérgio VianaThe role of Power Pages in business ecosystems
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The three key trends in cloud adoption

5 SECOND-SUMMARY:
  • We believe that modernisation using Microsoft’s cloud, Azure, is essential for your business to reach new efficiency, scalability and innovation levels.
  • In this article, we highlight the three key trends in cloud adoption that will be at the heart of application modernisation and business growth through the cloud.

At Xpand IT, we consider technology to be a critical factor enabling businesses to face uncertain times with success. In the current scenario, which is characterised by challenges such as desynchronisation between countries, financial issues and geopolitical conflicts, the world is also facing the after-effects of the pandemic and a breakdown in distribution chains, leading to rising inflation.

We have already discussed the main benefits of application modernisation with Azure. In the current climate, application modernisation with Azure is emerging as a key strategy for improving the resilience and competitiveness of organisations.

According to Gartner, worldwide end-user spending on public cloud services is expected to grow by 20.7% in 2023 to reach $591.8 billion, up from $490.3 billion in 2022. This growth in spending is attributed to inflationary pressures and current macroeconomic conditions. Sid Nag, Vice President Analyst at Gartner, emphasises that the cloud is a „bastion of security and innovation“, supporting growth in uncertain times due to its agile, flexible, scalable nature.

In fact, migrating workflows to the cloud offers organisations greater flexibility, allowing them to align IT investments with business needs and benefit from the economies of scale provided by the cloud. Adopting modern infrastructure and cloud capabilities also frees up IT staff to focus on the workflows and applications most relevant to their customers. This strategic approach helps organisations overcome challenges in uncertain times and drive innovation more efficiently.

As the economic landscape continues to evolve, we highlight the three key trends in cloud adoption that will be at the heart of application modernisation and business growth through the cloud going forward.

1. Optimising Cloud Spend

Flexera’s “State of the Cloud 2023 report” highlights that this year, for the first time, managing cloud spend has overtaken security as the top challenge facing businesses. This challenge highlights the fact that for the seventh year in a row, optimising cloud usage has been the top trend for businesses. The same report found that 72% of organisations already have a team dedicated to FinOps – the practice of managing finance in the cloud – while 14% plan to create one in the next 12 months.

Microsoft highlights eight resources that enable organisations to implement cost optimisation best practices in the cloud at their core.

2. Zero Trust Policies

Zero Trust is not a system, but a set of rules and guidelines for securing a corporate network. The concept is based on distrust of everything and everyone inside and outside the network perimeter.
By 2021, 54 per cent of respondents to Fortinet’s “Global Zero Trust” report said they were implementing Zero Trust strategies, rising to 66 per cent by 2023. Organisations are recognising that this strategy can make their business more resilient to cyberattacks.

As organisations integrate remote working and embrace the cloud as part of their digital transformation, they need to implement security strategies to manage access. Implementing Zero Trust in cloud policies is a security approach that aims to improve the protection of your infrastructure resources and data, regardless of where it is stored or processed.

Zero Trust in cloud principles provides a solid foundation for establishing and continuously improving security, while maintaining the flexibility needed to keep pace with the demands of the digital world. While network technology and the perimeter approach to security are still present in this type of model, access control takes centre stage, with identity as the primary control and network security as the key element.

Microsoft recommends the adoption of the Zero Trust security model, guided by the following principles:

1. Explicit verification: Authentication and authorisation based on all available information.
2. Minimal access: Restrict access with Just-In-Time and Just-Enough-Access, integrated policies and data protection.
3. Breach assumption: Mitigate the impact with segmentation, encryption and data analytics.

3. Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning

In today’s digital landscape, integrating Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) technologies with cloud operations has revolutionised how organisations manage their infrastructures. The powerful synergy between AI, Machine Learning and cloud operations has opened up new horizons of efficiency, performance and innovation. As organisations increasingly rely on cloud computing to meet their growing infrastructure needs, leveraging AI and ML in cloud operations has become essential to optimise resource management, improve security, enable intelligent automation, facilitate predictive analytics, optimise cost efficiency and drive innovation.

By harnessing the power of these technologies, organisations can unlock new levels of efficiency, performance and innovation, enabling them to stay at the forefront of the digital age.

Economic uncertainty should not slow down your business innovation!

The world has recently faced unprecedented challenges. In times like these, it is important to use all the valuable resources available to face adversity and drive business success. Now you know more about the three key trends in cloud adoption (optimising cloud spending, Zero Trust policies, and machine learning and AI), reach us so we can help you.

At Xpand IT, we believe that modernisation using Microsoft’s cloud, Azure, is essential for your business to reach new levels of efficiency, scalability and innovation. Contact us and discover all the potential it has to offer. We are ready to support you on this journey, using the latest best practices and services from Microsoft Azure.

Sérgio VianaThe three key trends in cloud adoption
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Use Case: Integrating Azure with OpenAI GPT-4 to optimise a helpdesk service

5 SECONDS-SUMMARY:
  • In this article, we will explore how integrating Azure with OpenAI GPT-4 represent a huge potential for customer support teams.
  • We will also explore how these types of integrations increase the competitiveness of companies by making service faster and more personalised, thus ensuring customer satisfaction.

As consumers increasingly demand speed and efficiency, it has become imperative for businesses to ensure 24/7 service availability and 100% personalised experiences. It is essential for businesses to deliver a hyper-personalised, omnichannel experience to their customers.

One solution to meet this growing demand is integrating Azure with OpenAI GPT-4, as it provides the robustness required to automate and improve customer service. To fully appreciate the benefits of these integrations, let’s consider a company in the hospitality industry where guests may require varied assistance at any time during their stay.

Challenge

Xpand IT was challenged by the customer support department of a company in the hotel industry to implement a solution that took advantage of Azure OpenAI Services LLM models. The goal was to overcome the limitations they had in providing a continuous and immediate response to their customers.

Initially, the business decided to implement an automated 24/7 chatbot system that, according to its knowledge base, could answer common questions, such as availability for reservations, general conditions, promotions and opening hours, and provide contact details for the relevant departments. A second aspect was normalising customer requests, i.e. if the chatbot could not solve the initial request, it was necessary to create a supporting flow to classify tickets opened by the customer. This facilitated the support agent’s work, as he already had access to the classification of the request and the customer booking details – room number and department.

The solution: Azure integration with GPT-4

At an early stage, Xpand IT instructed a chatbot model to respond clearly and accurately to customer requests. In addition to being available at all times and managing a large workflow, GPT-4 is able to understand and respond quickly and accurately to multiple complaints or requests for assistance, regardless of when and how they are made. To add value for customers, Azure Speech Services‘ speech-to-text and text-to-speech capabilities were implemented, too, allowing customers to send hands-free messages and the chatbot to respond similarly.

If the chatbot is unable to provide a satisfactory response, the customer is given the option to create a ticket. For this scenario, Xpand IT has developed workflows to automatically categorise the tickets created. The integration of Azure with GPT-4 enables the automation of several tasks related to a hotel’s helpdesk service. When a customer opens a new ticket, GPT-4 uses its semantic capabilities to classify the request into categories such as reservations, payments, room service or logistics, and by urgency – low, medium or high. This not only streamlines the workflow of the hotel’s customer service agents but also enables them to provide a more accurate and efficient solution.

By integrating Azure with OpenAI GPT-4, this hotel has achieved:

  • 24/7 availability: The hotel’s customer support is available in real-time, regardless of schedule, ensuring a seamless experience for guests;
  • Rapid response: Guests receive prompt responses, reducing waiting times and increasing guest satisfaction;
  • Operational efficiency: Automating support processes reduces agents‘ manual workload, allowing them to focus on higher-value tasks;
  • Data analytics: Azure integration enables the hotel to collect and analyse ticket data to identify trends, patterns and areas for improvement;
  • Cost reduction: Having modernised their customer support process, the hotel was able to reduce operational costs;
  • Increased competitiveness: Customers have a more agile, personalised, and efficient service than the rest of the competition.

Final Thoughts

Integrating Azure with OpenAI GPT-4 gave this hotel an effective response to scalability issues and managing customer expectations. It is now known for its innovative, fast, personalised, and efficient service. In addition, by collecting and analysing customer data, this hotel has a broad view of areas that need improvement, allowing it to continuously adapt the system to ensure customer loyalty and greater competitiveness in today’s hospitality market.

If you are interested in integrating Azure with GPT-4 in your organisation, please do not hesitate to contact us. We have a specialised and multidisciplinary team capable of assisting you at every stage, from definition to implementation and maintenance of the solution. Count on us to take your business to the next level.

Sérgio VianaUse Case: Integrating Azure with OpenAI GPT-4 to optimise a helpdesk service
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Simplify your business processes: Dataverse integration with Power Apps

5 SECONDS SUMMARY:
  • Power Apps modules and the Dataverse are two tools that stand out for allowing the creation of customised solutions and managing business data in one place;
  • These tools improve the efficiency and productivity of companies; discover how to benefit from the Dataverse integration with Power Apps.

With the exponential growth of data, companies are increasingly focused on finding solutions capable of transforming and managing them in order to extract valuable insights. According to IDC, by 2025, the volume of data will reach 175 zettabytes. Forbes predicts that 150 billion gigabytes of real-time data will require analysis by 2025.

It is undeniable that data collection and analysis are fundamental parts of businesses and companies. Through this analysis, organisations can identify growth opportunities, detect problems and failures in internal processes, improve operational efficiency, and reduce costs. In this context, Microsoft’s Power Platform has emerged as a tool capable of creating custom solutions and workflows easily and quickly.

Within Power Platform, Power Apps and Dataverse modules are two tools that allow customised solutions to be created and business data to be managed in a single place, facilitating, for example, process automation, collaboration among team members, and access to insights and different real-time analyses. These tools can also be integrated with other Microsoft technologies, such as Microsoft Teams and Dynamics 365, to create comprehensive solutions that meet each organisation’s specific needs.

Dataverse integration with Power Apps

As previously discussed in other articles, Power Apps is a low-code solution that allows businesses to create personalised, agile, and intuitive applications, whose benefits are enhanced when integrated with connectors such as SharePoint, Power BI, Office 365 Outlook, and of course, Dataverse.

Dataverse, on the other hand, offers us the possibility of securely storing data in tables, is highly scalable, and can support large volumes of data and users simultaneously. In addition, these data can be used by all Microsoft Power Platform products, something that allows companies to improve collaboration and efficiency in their daily operations.

With Dataverse, we can quickly and easily create a data model. It allows us to work with relational, non-relational, image, file, or data lake data types. The storage type is optimised for the initially chosen data type. Thus, Dataverse can be easily moldable as requirements change.

Dynamics 365 Sales, Dynamics 365 Customer Service, and Dynamics 365 Talent applications can also be powered by Dataverse. Thereby, it is possible to create applications using Power Apps for integrations with business data already used in Dynamics 365. Through Dataverse, it is also possible to manage forms and charts that can be reflected in both Dynamics and Power Apps applications.

Power Apps integration with Dataverse can help organisations create custom applications that aim to manage and share data in real time. Efficiency, productivity, and collaboration will undoubtedly be optimised.

For example, in an onboarding process, it is necessary to give internal visibility to all the tasks needed when someone is about to arrive or is a newcomer to an organisation. Through Power Apps, a custom application that lists all these tasks can be created, allowing the involved employees to mark them as in progress or completed as they are performed, giving everyone visibility into the process status. If necessary, various information viewing profiles can be created, depending on the new employee’s manager and/or department. How can this process be accelerated with Dataverse? Dataverse is the connector that allows storing and centralising all the information, such as the tasks that need to be performed, their completion status, and the information of the new employee.

When implementing an onboarding process using Power Apps and Dataverse, we have the opportunity to improve various elements, such as:

  • Providing internal visibility on the onboarding process for new employees;
  • Accessing centralised information, making it easier to access and update;
  • Ensuring that no tasks are forgotten and that all are completed;
  • Personalising the application to the reality of each organisation;
  • Accessing information in real-time;
  • Using the information stored in Dataverse to continuously improve the onboarding process by identifying areas that require greater attention.

Build customised and efficient solutions

Dataverse integration with Power Apps can be the ideal solution for companies that want to improve their efficiency and productivity. By integrating Dataverse, which offers a robust data storage and management platform, with Power Apps, which allows fully customised applications creation, companies can acquire integrated solutions that enable process automation, error reduction, and improved collaboration between teams. In addition, this integration also allows the creation of customised reports and dashboards, offering a more complete and real-time view of company data. These and other advantages can significantly contribute to increasing a company’s effectiveness and competitiveness.

With the help of an experienced partner like Xpand IT, companies can make the most of Microsoft technologies to drive growth and innovation. In 2022, we received the Microsoft Partner of the Year Award for the second consecutive year, following our recognition as Power Apps & Data Analytics Partner of the Year in 2020.

Contact us to schedule a conversation and outline an efficiency plan for your company.

Sérgio VianaSimplify your business processes: Dataverse integration with Power Apps
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Power Platform integration with GPT: is it possible?

5 SECONDS SUMMARY:
  • OpenAI developed ChatGPT, which is a language model capable of generating written responses and conversations quite similar to humans.
  • Its potential is limitless and can now be integrated with several Microsoft products. Discover how to be successful in a Power Platform integration with GPT.

Occasionally new technologies appear that amaze the world with the level of innovation they represent, and recently we have all been surprised by ChatGPT and everything it has proven to be able to do. ChatGPT was developed by OpenAI and is a language model capable of generating written responses and conversations very like those of humans. You’ve probably tested this chatbot or at least know someone who has already done so. According to SimilarWeb, ChatGPT has become the fastest-growing app in the world, with a record 100 million registered users in just two months since its launch – and a new version with even more capabilities was recently released.

ChatGPT has already established itself as a beneficial tool for modernising businesses. Its functionality can be enhanced by integrating it with a variety of applications and platforms, such as other chatbots, customer support platforms, and content creation tools, and it can also be integrated with Microsoft’s Power Platform.

Microsoft offers a variety of products and services that can be integrated with OpenAI, including Power Virtual Agents, Power Apps, Power BI and Power Automate, to improve the user experience and potentially have a business impact. These integrations allow the creation of smarter chatbots (capable of answering complex questions), the automation of repetitive tasks and a constant acceleration of business productivity. In this article, we will focus on how to succeed in a Power Platform integration with GPT -3 and GPT-35-turbo3 models. Learn more about the use cases in Power Apps, Power Virtual Agents and Power Automate and their main business benefits.

ChatGPT integrated with Power Apps

Power Apps is a low-code platform that allows companies to create customised business applications. When integrated with the GPT-3 model, it results in even more agile, fast, and intuitive development. How? For example, by integrating GPT-3 with Microsoft Power Fx, you can create applications using natural language without the need to write code. Thus, a developer or even a citizen-developer can describe the tasks or requirements of an application and use those descriptions to create formulas in Power Fx. This results in an increase in the productivity of work teams and an acceleration of development.

ChatGPT integrated with Power Automate

Power Automate is a platform that automates workflows, enabling their customisation and connection with different applications and services. The integration of Power Automate with GPT-3 automates repetitive tasks, freeing up your employees for higher-value tasks. For example, a company that sells products online might use GPT-3 to create product descriptions and connect GPT-3 APIs to automate this process. The brand can connect Power Automate to a Social Media sentiment analysis platform or even make a direct integration with a social network, such as LinkedIn and use the words most used by your audience as reference keywords in building descriptions for the product. This workflow can run automatically whenever a new product is added to the company catalogue, saving time and reducing the manual labour required to create product descriptions. In addition, GPT-3 integration can ensure that product descriptions are created consistently and accurately, improving the quality of your catalogue content.

ChatGPT integrated with Power Virtual Agents

Power Virtual Agents is a low-code platform for creating chatbots. Its integration with GPT-35-turbo3 can help businesses build smarter chatbots to respond to complex user requests. These types of integrations are an asset for different industries, such as insurance or banking. In Portugal, for example, the Ministry of Justice introduced the GPT-35-turbo3 to facilitate access to information by citizens. GPJ – Practical Guide to Justice, is a chatbot that currently answers questions about marriage and divorce, which will be extended to other areas identified as better researched in Justice, as in the example of nationality issues.

In each of these use cases, GPT models are used to enhance the capabilities of Power Platform products, providing smarter and more engaging user experiences for customers while increasing efficiency and reducing workloads for businesses. By leveraging the unique capabilities of GPT models, companies can create powerful, effective applications and workflows that will potentially allow them to save time and money.

Can these integrations help your business?

Azure, Microsoft’s cloud, is the trusted infrastructure that gives OpenAI the resources it needs for its success. Implementing projects that take advantage of Azure services is one of the specialities of Xpand IT, which has been named Microsoft Partner of the Year for the second consecutive year. We help our clients understand how they can apply different technologies to address their business challenges – and GPT models, as well as other AI technologies, are no exception. Contact us to schedule a conversation or, alternatively, fill in the Power Platform Assessment, which we have prepared for you.

Sérgio VianaPower Platform integration with GPT: is it possible?
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App modernisation with Azure: the journey to the cloud

5 SECOND SUMMARY:
  • An application factory model allows Cloud migration to be made in a structured way and brings enormous advantages;
  • In the financial sector, the architecture migration to Microsoft Azure can be done in four phases: Assessment; Planning and Preparation; Test phase;  Migration.

We live in a digital age where the Cloud is a constant presence, and the need for application modernisation is no longer a novelty. With technology constantly evolving and the growing need to ensure robustness, flexibility and security, among other concerns, business architecture should be composed of scalable solutions, customised and adapted to specific challenges. Therefore, it is essential that companies modernise their infrastructure and architecture so that they can continue to innovate the features they provide to their customers. In previous articles, we have already mentioned that the Cloud migration process does not need to be something complex – it is enough to be developed according to a concrete action strategy – and in this article, we give exactly that example.

The application factory model

An application factory model allows Cloud migration to be accomplished in a structured way, starting with defining an approach to what the basis of work will be and then defining the next steps for the migration of different applications – ensuring the right processes and the involvement of suitable teams while enhancing the autonomy of the team focused on application modernisation. It is an approach that allows, after an initial phase, acceleration of the migration of the various applications to the Cloud, thus contributing to the modernisation of the customer infrastructure and, consequently, increasing their capacity to respond to business challenges; for which technology can be a fundamental tool.

App modernisation in the Financial Services Industry

Over the last few years, Xpand IT has been working with companies in the financial sector, providing the modernisation of applications to support their businesses. These businesses were faced with a set of legacy applications hosted on private servers, which operated in a very outdated environment. Cloud migration was therefore required. Given the existing partnership with Microsoft, and as a result of total trust in Azure, our Cloud solutions are presented and run exclusively on this platform. Xpand IT offers concrete, actionable proposals for Azure migration based on a microservices application architecture style. Once the proposals have been accepted, the approach used to migrate Lusitania architecture to Azure is an application factory model divided into four phases:

1. Assessment – the study of the current infrastructure. This step is very important in defining the best Azure migration approach. Initially, an evaluation should be made of the architecture of the solutions, covering existing applications and deciding which applications should be prioritised.
2. Planning and preparation – Knowing your architecture and applications, it is time to define a roadmap and set up the framework for cloud migration. At this stage, alignment must be ensured between all teams. This period should only end when all stakeholders are fully aware of the role they will be playing during the migration process.
3. Test phase – Before starting an Azure migration, it is essential to perform tests to ensure the reliability of the approach and to cover any potential doubts brought up by some hypothetical scenarios. After aligning these different scenarios with the tested architecture, it is time to migrate applications.
4. Migration – Once the test phase has been completed and a concrete roadmap defined, the official migration process begins. At this stage, it is still likely you will identify some issues or necessary adjustments which should be considered. Once the migration has been completed, the architecture should be protected from external threats and performed properly. It should also have maintenance, backup and disaster recovery tasks implemented.

The cloud migration process is potentially a long project, depending on the set of applications to migrate, but operation using an application factory model becomes a customer asset. At this point, all stakeholders have a well-defined roadmap and all teams are aware of their responsibilities, mostly autonomous, which results in high productivity and speed for the customer. A migration application factory for Azure applies standards, which accelerate the work to be done and the final result. It has, in essence, teams, tools and processes that work together in unison to attain a single goal – to ensure that migration takes place in a simple, systematic, optimised way.

To ensure the success of an application factory assembly model, we have selected three key principles that should be considered when developing a modernisation strategy:

1. Ensure clear stages and a collaborative environment for the working teams.;
2. All phases shall be worked on with the purpose of transforming the company infrastructure into a scalable, secure, efficient architecture capable of providing rich, personalised experiences;
3. Finally, align the development process with practical business needs.

Does your business need to move towards the Cloud?

Each application modernisation journey for Microsoft Azure is unique, and while there are recommended strategies, it is essential that your business architecture is analysed by a partner company and expert in application modernisation with Azure. Xpand IT is, for the second consecutive year, the Microsoft ‚Partner of the Year Portugal‚. At Xpand IT, we help our customers grow and become competitive by leveraging the latest Microsoft Azure best practices and services.

Still got some questions?

We would love to hear from you. Fill out the form, and let us know how can we help.

Sérgio VianaApp modernisation with Azure: the journey to the cloud
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The user benefits of digital ecosystems in the financial sector

5 SECOND-SUMMARY:
  • Discover the importance of technology in the future of the financial industry;
  • See the case of Revolut as a pioneer in this area.

Digital ecosystems in the financial sector are created through partnerships that take advantage of technology to create new value propositions and innovative experiences for consumers. They are not a recent topic, but they are the present and future of the financial sector. There are several benefits for the user, but what challenges do digital ecosystems bring to the financial industry?

The importance of technology for digital ecosystems in the financial sector

Technology plays an increasingly strong role in many industries, and the financial sector is no exception. Digital ecosystems bring their own challenges, and this was one of the themes addressed during Building the Future, Portugal’s leading digital transformation event. The number of interbank systems has doubled in recent years after booming on the back of the emergence of the cloud and other new technologies in 2014. Nearly two hundred ecosystems are now in place. Initially, these ecosystems were singularly focused on payments and financial management, but nowadays, we can see many other domains being addressed, such as credit, compliance, open banking and identity management. We also note that in addition to collaborative ecosystems in the financial sector – banks and insurers – other stakeholder sectors are now emerging. From a perspective of exploring and adding value to the financial sector, there are several emerging functional and technological areas that will be key to creating a new wave of user experiences.

sergio viana building the future

Sérgio Viana, on the panel „Together To Go Further: Cooperation and Ecosystems“, talking about the challenges of the financial industry. (Building The Future 2023)

When Neobanks and Fintechs emerged, some believed that banks would cease to exist altogether. Although the role of banks has changed over recent years, the truth is that they have been, and continue to be, fundamental since their emergence in Roman times: they are the trusted custodians of our funds, recognised and certified for this purpose.

However, as new players enter the financial sector, the role of banks has started to contract in the light of new financial services offerings that add value in ways that traditional banks do not. Nevertheless, there has been some kickback from the financial sector. Increased competition has brought on the development of higher-end financial products and forced major financial institutions to develop better digital products and customer experiences, matched by lower fees.

New experiences, designed to suit the customer and create value, are what push the financial sector forward. But they often end up having somehow to be affected by specific legislation. A concrete example of this is the European PSD2 directive. While in countries such as the UK, US and France, where services such as Microsoft Money enabled users to manage their own finances since the 2000s, this was not the case in Europe. Portugal was no exception, and banks faced many difficulties in initiating a collaboration process. It was only with the emergence of PSD2 that a way was created in the market for banks to collaborate with each other, as well as with third parties, provided there was consent from customers. This vision created the basis for taking advantage of the information held by banks and integrating some financial operations in ways that customers value. There is, however, still much to be done and many opportunities to be explored – both within the financial sector and also in conjunction with other industries.

Revolut case

A good practical example is the case of Revolut, which has changed my relationship with money. From the moment I was able to use it, it was no longer necessary to withdraw foreign currency subject to high fees in the UK. It is now possible to stand in a payment queue and get my money in the currency I want within seconds. If we look harder at Revolut’s positioning, we can see an entire ecosystem working towards solving user problems. For example, when I travel to another country, Revolut not only knows this but allows me to create insurance for myself and my household from the app, which will be in force for the duration of the trip. Over time, the app has also grown to allow me to subscribe to insurance for electronic devices or even buy access to a Lounge on my next trip, not to mention the whole cryptocurrency component.

What makes the user experience valuable is, precisely, platforms that address user challenges and present solutions to problems and, from this viewpoint, there is still a lot that can be done, in Portugal as elsewhere. It would be nice for users to see more banks occupying spaces other than banking, where relevant. Travel insurance in a banking app, device insurance and even credits in retailer apps are just a few examples where banks can add value for each of us in different ways. From the financial sector perspective, by expanding ecosystems to other sectors, firms can create revenue streams, increase their relevance to their customers and take advantage of new technologies. this is how banks can assume a place of relevance in the daily lives of their users, whatever the context.

Sérgio VianaThe user benefits of digital ecosystems in the financial sector
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What is gamification and how it can help your business

5 SECOND SUMMARY:
  • Gamification involves the use of gaming techniques to increase participation, engage and/or generate loyalty of a person in a particular action;
  • In this article, you will find how gamification can be present in various business areas such as Fitness, Health, the Financial sector, Education, and even the corporate context.

What is gamification?

When we think about gamification, it is most likely that we have recovered, from the innermost recesses of our memory, images of McDonald’s Monopoly, or we remember in shock that we haven’t taken today’s Duolingo class. But when did the term gamification actually come into being? Well, the first official gamification definition, by Nick Pelling, which describes the process of using game concepts and interfaces applied to everyday contexts, dates back to 2012. As recently as 2014, Gartner released its first official definition of gamification – the “use of game mechanics and experience design to engage and motivate people to achieve their goals digitally”. However, Richard Bartle, writer and investigator, believes that the term was previously used by game designers.

Gamification is the use of gaming techniques to increase participation and engagement in and/or generate loyalty towards a particular action.

  • Challenges, achievements and missions. Probably, this is the most important element of gamification, and completing missions and winning challenges is what motivates players to participate voluntarily.
  • Rewards, progression and instant feedback. Badges and coins that can be exchanged for prizes or for experiences and the ability to compete with the best players are just a couple of examples of mechanics that should be adopted in gamification dynamics. It is crucial that the user receives instant feedback to stimulate engagement in the activity.
  • Gamification uses the natural human tendency to be competitive to achieve excellence in its performance. Neurophysiologically, gamification activates the production of hormones in the brain such as dopamine, endorphins and serotonin – responsible for happiness and pleasure – which, in turn, trigger a sense of achievement.

Gamification benefits in business

Gamification is now part of our daily lives, always in different contexts. Gartner reports that over 70% of the companies on the Global 2000 list of companies use it in their business. Why? Four obvious advantages can be applied to both your customers and your employees:

  • Generates loyalty. Gamification is an excellent way to create an engaging bond fuelled by continuous interactions between your business and your customers and employees. In 2010, McDonald’s increased sales by 5.6% in the USA, using Gamification concepts derived from the classic Monopoly game.
  • Offers a broader view. The lack of instant feedback is a problem that affects businesses, currently. Knowing gamification as a solution, Worten created the platform Worten Winners. It is a feedback and organisational recognition platform focused on customer satisfaction, which allows all its employees to see sales status, stores and sales personnel rankings. In addition to giving access to individual and team rankings, it also has gamification elements, such as badges for the best salesperson and information about missions to be completed. The result? In 42 pilot stores, 60% of employees said they felt more involved in their day-to-day work.
  • Allows a personalised experience. Starbucks is known for its engagement initiatives and loyalty programmes. Still, initiatives like cup personalisation and My Starbucks Rewards are examples that not just borrow from customer loyalty but also from personalised experiences. For example, drinks and foods that adapt to every user’s palate. With personalised offers and rewards for every purchase, the customer becomes engaged with the brand and feels motivated at every purchase. Starbucks attributes 40% of its total sales to My Starbucks Rewards, which had 16 million active members in March 2019.
  • Creates brand recognition. Every business aspires to be top of mind for its target, and gamification can be a great help in achieving this. M&M’s Eye-Spy Pretzel is a good case study of a simple digital marketing campaign with a powerful impact. While promoting their pretzel products, the brand published a Facebook post that encouraged users to find the pretzel hidden in an image full of M&M’s. This puzzle resulted in 25,000 new Facebook page likes, 10,000 comments and around 6,000 shares.

By contradicting stale and boring processes behind acquiring new customers and motivating employees, Gamification can be a breath of fresh air for your business needs. There are already several industries that have started their journey into gamification very successfully.

Gamification use cases

Gamification in a Fitness context

Gamifying fitness programmes make exercise more fun, especially if you’re part of a community and rely on leaderboards to instantly celebrate your progress. Fitness apps like Nike+ Run Club, My Fitness Pal or Zombies, Run! are recurring top searches on Google Play and the App Store.

Run Away GIF

Gamification in Health

Gamification in the health apps market is estimated to grow from $3,072.5M in 2019 to $35,982.7M in 2027, according to Statista.

Gamification opportunities in the healthcare app market are vast. We can find apps to help us manage diabetes, and our mental health or even solutions for intermittent fasting fans. mySugr, Happify and Fastic are some examples that spring to mind, apps focused on user personalisation, with activity logs, goals to achieve and tasks to complete. There are encouragements, challenges and leaderboards to help us stay focused.

Season 20 Health GIF By The Simpsons

Gamification in the Financial sector

You may remember the well-known SmartyPig, an online bank where we can add money to a created savings goal and see the target percentage increasing in real-time. SmartyPig also has gamification elements that aren’t as obvious, such as a mascot, which helps users to stay engaged with the bank.

Many successful cases are using gamification in the finance sector. According to Total Retail and Mordor Intelligence, Extraco bank had an interesting case of successful initiation into the gamification process. Through financial literacy classes, highlighting the offers that they had available, they increased their conversion rate from 2% to 14% and new customer acquisition by 700%.

Paying No Money GIF By Noam Sussman

Gamification in Education

According to Intuition, 67% of students report that gamified learning is more engaging than traditional courses. Tools such as Duolingo, Kahoot! and Minecraft have been a worldwide educational success thanks to their use of basic game elements such as badges, competition between teams, progress tracking and even goal setting.

Party Eurovision GIF By Duolingo

Gamification in a Corporate context

Suppose 67% of students claim to be more engaged with gamification than with traditional teaching methods. In that case, TalentLMS tells us that 83% of employees who undergo gamified training say they are more motivated in their day-to-day tasks. If engaging employees with your company is one of your goals, know that plenty of offerings are available. Apps like Todoist, which rewards users with karma points as they complete tasks, platforms such as Trailhead, which makes learning a lighter and more enjoyable process, or Microsoft Dynamics 365, which gives prizes and status as rewards, are some examples of gamification that have been incorporated into the daily lives of teams worldwide.

Would you like to incorporate Gamification in your company?

As we hopefully made clear, there are several approaches to take when adopting gamification – in both internal and external teams. From an internal point of view, motivating teams in a context where digital interactions are prioritised have certainly been one of the challenges for your business. Gamification is a powerful tool for sustaining agile, effective communication with your customers and employees. Implementing and designing engaging, user-focused experiences implies specific know-how and proficiency. From an external point of view, gamification is an extremely interesting tool for creating a closer and more loyal relationship with your customers, regardless of what sector you operate in. Whatever area your company is in, contact us. Our team of User Experience and Digital Xperience experts have the required expertise to help you understand how to gain real benefits from this trend, providing the experience you want your consumers to enjoy.

Sérgio VianaWhat is gamification and how it can help your business
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