The next 500 Million Apps
“500 million apps are going to get created in the next five years.” Think about that. That’s more apps than the last 40 years.
The challenge of 500 million applications is that we are just not going to have professional developers to build these applications – we need citizen developers.
Power Platform is built to empower citizen developers. It’s great to see the momentum, whether it’s on Power BI, whether it’s Flow or PowerApps.
All of these are coming together to drive the domain-specific development by citizen developers.
It builds on Azure services; it has this common data model; it has connectivity back to Dynamics 365 and Microsoft 365. So, you can think of all the applications inside of Microsoft and Dynamics 365 as microservices and data that are available for any PowerApps developer.
You have connectors to all the popular apps – SAP, Adobe, Workday, Salesforce. Any application you want, you again can consume data and launch it from there.
And you, of course, can do the same with your applications. Perhaps this is the best composition from Azure to citizen developers.
There can be a workflow between professional developers working on Azure who can then create a microservice and expose it to a PowerApps developer. That’s the type of developer activity that we see.
We have a new addition to the PowerApps family – it’s the AI Builder. “It takes all those magical AI cognitive services capabilities and brings it to any application that you may want to build” – Satya Nadella (Inspire 2019) Source CRN.
When I first read the above, I look forward to what the next five years hold for all those involved in the Power Platform.
Microsoft is very committed to this future of empowering this next generation of subject matter experts into becoming the developers of applications which opens a vast Blue Ocean of opportunity for Microsoft Partners.
Blue Ocean Strategy by W.Chan Kim is a fabulous book on the need for businesses to target markets and opportunities that are not overcrowded and build intellectual property and relevance in that space.
PI want to apply that concept to the way we as Microsoft Partners build our internal teams. The way we treat staff as we grow capacity to meet the demand for app developers in this new world of the Power Platform.
Is it time to Hit Refresh?
The old way of resourcing for project delivery is to find the most skilled people possible and then bill them for maximum return on investment with little care on individuals’ mental health, ongoing skills development and general wellbeing.
I think a successful partner of the future will need to hit refresh on how they identify, onboard and develop the next generation of app developers.
Individual as a whole must be the focus and not what can be sold in the from of labour.
It is time to consider mapping the journey of how an individual goes from being an outsider to becoming a fully engaged contributor until their exit from your business.
We also have to consider all parts of people engagement. These days in most practices, the only way to get a jump in income for an individual is to leave the company.
The way an individual can improve the value they bring is to establish their personal brand by continually learning new technology and evangelizing that technology by helping others.
I want to pull apart some of the ideas we have held as Microsoft Partners in how we treat the people that are involved in the delivery of projects and app development.
I want to start with grad programs. As a Microsoft Partner, do you have a formal grad program in place to build talent for the future?
A program that allows you to onboard people that have the attitude to learn-it-all but may not at this point know the technology we work with.
I have seen success in two types of grad programs. Those that target individuals that will graduate soon and those that target individuals that will never attend university.
If implemented well, both can produce amazing results and create loyalty often not seen in other employees.
There is a reason that companies such as KPMG, Deloitte and McKinsey have run graduate programs for many years.
Not building the Future.
Are you a Microsoft Partner that builds for the future as well as keep the business profitable today?
Partners can build the future by implementing a grad program, but they should also consider a few other overlooked categories of individuals:
I know that is a un-PC term to use, but there is a category of people that have a wealth of experience in life and deep subject matter expertise from their past career.
With the right framework, they could be trained on the Power Platform and add value to any Microsoft Partner.
If they have a great attitude, practical knowledge of using desktop applications with a desire to learn-it-all, they can become excellent contributors to app development and project delivery.
Mothers returning to work
Mothers that have a desire to return to work, but may not have recent experience is another great opportunity for Microsoft Partners.
They represent an opportunity to tap into a wealth of expertise, and if given half the chance and some training on the technology could become outstanding employees.
Another group of people that are a rich source of subject matter expertise is people that want to switch careers, but who may not consider themselves ‘technologists’.
But, once again, with a great attitude, and a desire to learn-it-all could become valuable employees. They potentially bring insights from the industries they come from but also potential connections into those industries.
As an example, people with experience in healthcare may want to change career but stay in healthcare. Technology is once way they could do this.
The next area to look at is what your Human Resources (HR) and Hiring Managers are putting in their shopping list for the ideal candidate when they advertise a role.
HR is asking the wrong questions.
I have seen many examples of recruiters asking the wrong questions when looking for a candidate.
“Academic qualifications will still be taken into account and indeed remain an important consideration when assessing candidates as a whole, but will no longer act as a barrier to getting a foot in the door.” – Maggie Stillwell, Managing Partner for Talent at EY
As a Microsoft Partner, it is time to focus on the right things when we advertise roles.
Here are some examples of requirements we see listed in most job ads:
- Seven years of Dynamics 365 suite architecture and on-premise IT infrastructure
- Seven years’ experience with Azure cloud architecture and migrations
- Five years of proven experience with SQL, SharePoint and .NET
- Five years’ experience with integrations to Dynamics 365
- 3+ years of working with the Power Platform
But I think there are other things partners should be looking for when it comes to hiring.
Learn it all Attitude
There needs to be a focus on the attitude of the individual.
Are they hungry to learn and add value and work hard to make up for any experience gaps? Will they invest heavily in the first six to 12 months in their own time to develop their technology skills?
If a potential candidate does not fundamentally know their way around a computer and be confident working with Excel, Word, PowerPoint and Email, this could be a problem.
It would lead to an extremely high learning curve for them to get up to speed on the fundamentals, even before they try to learn the technology of the Power Platform.
Desire for Meaning.
Nobody wants to be a cog in someone else’s machine. I think there needs to be more emphasis on creating meaning for staff.
Some projects are dead boring and can run on for months on end.
What is HR proactively doing to keep individuals inspired? How are they making the individual feel connected to the broader team and community? What does HR do to make sure this need of the individual is being monitored and addressed?
Skills required for job ads are ridiculous.
For the industry to grow, we need to stop looking for unicorns in the industry that know everything and have been doing it for the past seven to ten years.
Make it easier for people to see how they could take a role with your company and be successful in adding value to your practice and customers.
Check your job listing and ask yourself, “Does this reflect what we are looking? Or is it just a copy/paste requirements that set unrealistic expectations or create barriers to entry?”
Imposter Syndrome is a challenge that many regularly face, me included, and can stop us from putting ourselves forward.
When hiring managers set perceived hurdles too high, they are potentially missing out on quality candidates.
The Fallacy of Experience
Finally, in this section, I think HR and hiring managers need to check the expectations they have for experience.
James Philips publicly used the term Power Platform for the first time at the Business Application Summit in 2018. Many of the products that make up the business applications suite are brand new, and it will take months to get to a skilled level not years.
It is time to stop measuring experience with time and instead look at the outcomes.
Recently I was watching a video of Gus Gonzalez and Seth Bacon talking about How Do You Become a Solution Architect? and Gus talks about becoming one in less than a year in his case. Why? He had an attitude of learn-it-all and applied it at the Microsoft Partner he was working.
What other ways of working do we need to hit refresh on in a modern Microsoft Power Platform Practice?