In this blog, we’ll help you gain an understanding of Microsoft’s AI Builder tool and discuss common use cases and the available pre-built models you can start using right now.
Microsoft’s mission is to empower businesses and people with their products and services to drive efficiency, enhance processes, connect people, and leverage the power of data. Microsoft’s AI Builder makes artificial intelligence accessible to businesses and users, allowing you to be more efficient and insightful in operating your business.
The AI Builder is a new capability within the Power Platform that allows any user (with low-code or no-code) to optimize business processes through the power of AI. This article will provide you with a high-level overview of AI, detail the key functionalities of the Microsoft AI Builder and outline example use cases for business applications.
AI Builder seems great, but how can it help my business?
Microsoft created models for various business applications in AI Builder. Below are a few ways you can use the power of this technology in your business. With Microsoft constantly adding new solutions to the tool, driving productivity and efficiency will seem like magic.
For examples of the business scenarios that Microsoft supports through their AI Builder Model Types, check out this chart on Microsoft’s website. It shows how you can use AI models for activities like form processing or key phase extraction.
AI Builder is the perfect tool for those painful, manual jobs we wish we had a quicker way to complete – but aren’t exactly candidates for a complex solution. When we think of these common problems, it feels like someone should have figured out a better way, and now they have!
Here are a few example scenarios of what business problems AI Builder can help solve.
- Customer Application Processing – You run a business where you require customers to complete a physical form for submission.
- Usually, this means someone would have to then manually process a stack of papers, keying in every piece of data from each field into your systems.
- With form processing, you simply scan or take a photo of these forms, and AI Builder recognizes all the fields from the form and captures it in a digital format automatically.
- Automate Contact List – In your industry, it’s common to attend trade shows and conferences, which means you get to network and meet lots of exciting new people. What’s not so exciting is having to manually enter all the new contacts you gained into your system.
- With Business Card Reader (maybe even coupled with form processing, if you’re capturing contact information in several formats such as a sign-in sheet), you can use the Power Platform to quickly create a canvas app that allows you to capture images of all business cards and completed forms so following up with your leads can take less than a day instead of several weeks.
Now that we’ve covered basic functionality, let’s look at a more in-depth use case.
E-Commerce Business Case – ABC Retail
ABC Retail sells clothes online using an e-commerce site and social media. They find managing information coming in from several channels to be difficult. The table below breaks down their specific pain points and AI Builder solutions.
The above examples show you how you can get creative with AI Builder, sometimes by coupling several of the models for a tailored solution specific to your needs.
What are some of the prebuilt models I should know about?
We thought you would never ask. Here are some of our favorites!
The form processing model type currently has several prebuilt models using text recognition with Azure’s Form Recognizer that can change the game for your business. Here are a few you can use right away:
- W-2 Form Model
- Invoice Model
- Receipt Model
- ID Document Model
- Business Card Model
Microsoft pre-trained these models to identify key fields within these documents. For example, in the case of an invoice, the invoice model extracts the invoice id, due date and invoice amount.
For more complex scenarios, you can build a custom model using the form processing model type, which supports extracting and analyzing key fields and data from PDF, JPG and PNG files, as well as the ability to extract both printed and handwritten text.
I don’t even understand how AI works. How could I use AI Builder?
Lucky for you, this is exactly why Microsoft created AI Builder. The tool could not make it simpler to jump in and immediately start using AI in your apps and workflows. But before we provide a breakdown of the tool, let’s understand how artificial intelligence (AI) works.
As humans, we use our brains to learn by establishing and recognizing patterns based on experience. Similarly, AI accomplishes this through completing iterative processing and training based on models to complete tasks such as automation, making predictions and problem-solving. The benefit of AI is that it can run through processes at an extremely fast rate and learn patterns very quickly. The process of learning from these patterns is known as “training.” During this training cycle, the neural network or brain of our AI machine goes through several iterations of the task at hand – to arrive to the correct answers it breaks down the request and evaluates itself at each decision point to determine how accurate its conclusion is.
Now that we know how AI works let us share how easy it is to get started with AI Builder.
There are several fields within the AI world that contribute to AI Builder’s technology, such as machine learning, cognitive computing, natural language processing and computer vision. AI Builder leverages all these capabilities using Microsoft’s Azure AI services as the foundation in their pre-built AI models such as receipt processing, business card reader or text translation. It also provides you with the ability to customize your own models.
Access the AI Builder from either Power Apps or Power Automate and follow these steps:
1. Select the AI model type that fits your needs.
An AI model is simply a machine learning algorithm or program that has been trained on a specific data set to recognize patterns and make decisions. Above, we shared a few of the pre-built models you can start using right away.
2. Associate your data.
Based on the selected AI model, the in-app wizard will guide you throughout the setup process and share what data it will need to get started.
This is a snippet of the setup process for the Form Processing model of the AI Builder within PowerApps.
3. Train your AI model.
After you set up your model, upload training data and indicate the information you want to analyze – such as which text to extract from a document in the scenario of form processing – you’re ready to go!
Once training is complete, the tool allows you to perform a quick test before publishing your model, which is then ready to use in apps and automated workflows.
4. Create solutions across the Power Platform with your new AI Model.
You can use your AI model in apps or flows, such as to generate insights and create new tables or capture the information in pre-existing tables that you can review in dashboards or feed into downstream processes. The possibilities are endless!
The example below shows an action in a flow that uses a form processing AI model to extract data from email attachments.
You can read more about this tool and review a comprehensive breakdown of the steps above in Microsoft’s AI Builder documentation.
Technology is constantly evolving, making tools like AI more accessible for the general user. Microsoft’s AI Builder is your business’ next best-kept secret to drive success and efficiency in your processes.