The result is an eclectic community where members of all skill levels bring out the best in each other. Business Applications MVP and founder Sebastian Zolg says the group is unique in the sense that it unites Microsoft's Business Apps and Power Platform with Microsoft's Cognitive Services and Bot Framework.
Despite launching a few years ago, Sebastian says the group has grown exponentially since the rise of the low-code and easy-to-access Power Platform. Its democratization of access has led to a wider variety of members and, as a result, ideas.
“Especially with the appearance of Power Virtual Agents and its deep integration in Microsoft Teams, the reach of our community efforts have grown considerably. Instead of pure tech experts, the community has evolved towards more business-oriented people and an evergrowing number of citizen developers,” Sebastian says.
“In that sense, my community role has transformed from tech expert to tech teacher, helping people in various job roles to understand how they can incorporate those technologies to solve their business problems.”
“For me, the community is all about learning new things and getting inspired — not just from the experts but also from people asking excellent questions on real-life usage of those technologies.”
The group hosts regular online meetups — complete with demonstrations and discussions — on an array of topics, including low-code chatbot solutions and supercomputers. Sebastian says the group follows a demo-first approach to illustrate ideas and concepts, with follow-up content available on Microsoft Learn.
“A well-structured demo removes the hesitation some people have when they are new to the technology,” Sebastian says. “Of course, showing the big picture helps people gain a good overview quickly and start a more streamlined journey on Microsoft Learn.
“I always try to remember that navigation through this vast Microsoft cosmos isn't as easy as it seems to the experts — and that's why a good demo also includes showing people around on Microsoft Learn because it's the perfect follow-up!”
As the community grows from strength to strength, Sebastian says he is proud to be able to unite tech enthusiasts from all over the country.
“While we started our community efforts in the area of Bern, it has quickly spread to other regions, even covering the different language areas, such as the German- and French-speaking parts of Switzerland,” he says.
“Personally, working with the community pushes me out of my comfort zone. Networking is not in my DNA per se, but working with the community has helped me develop in this area and be more open and less hesitant.”