Microsoft PowerApps for Good - Social Innovation Hack 2019
Microsoft hosted this year’s ‘PowerApps for Good – Social Innovation Hack 2019’ and HSO had a team of three who were lucky enough to be part of it. We spoke to the team after the event to see how they got on.
1. Tell us what the event was about and why it’s important.
On the 14th and 15th of March we were invited to participate in the first ever 2-day Microsoft Power Platform Social Innovation Hackathon. The Hack was open to anyone with a Microsoft Partner Status and there were a wide variety of partners from across the Microsoft ecosystem.
Upon arriving we were greeted and introduced to the chosen Charity, Make-A-Wish. Make-A-Wish create life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses going above and beyond to grant very special wishes to very special children; their wishes are made a reality at a time when they need it most. The charity presented 5 areas where they currently have challenges and the goal for each of the teams was to build a solution, using the Power Platform, to help them address these challenges and enable them to grant even more wishes each year.
At the end of the second day, all 19 teams had to present their solution to Make-A-Wish and a winner was chosen.
2. What challenge did you try to overcome?
Our first Challenge was to come up with an idea that was different, fresh and would help Make-A-Wish achieve their goals.
The Power Platform offers so many wonderful tools but with limited time to deliver a workable prototype we needed to ensure the scope didn’t grow.
We chose to focus on the community challenge and a way to better connect the families within the Make-A-Wish network.
3. What app idea did you come up with?
We came up with two ideas; one around the Make-A-Wish journey and one that would connect the Make-A-Wish network with each other.
Our idea focused on connecting families through events that either they or Make-A-Wish were hosting in their geographical area. Approved users within an area could host an event, such as a play-date or a carnival, and it would ping anyone in the area. If the event was sponsored by Make-A-Wish or had discount vouchers, the user could register their access and have the vouchers emailed to them automatically.
4. What challenges did you face?
Our biggest challenge was connecting and searching the events available on the wider internet. At first we had planned on data-mining Facebook, Twitter and relevant events, but that problem became too large. We focused instead on Eventbrite which provided a developer API. It proved to be more challenging than expected but our ‘tech whiz ‘ Luke was able to get it working at the 11th hour!
Another challenge we faced was self-belief. After the first day we felt lost with our app. We could see all the awesome teams using technologies such as HoloLens and the IOT and our app was quite focused on the user experience rather than technology. We were having trouble with the API and wanted something more tangible to offer. After getting together and brainstorming, with a motivation from a couple of drinks and slices of pizza, we were able to refocus and we produced something that looked more like a completed solution.
5. What did you learn from the experience?
One of the greatest lessons we learnt was not to question your original idea and that the Power Platform is much, much wider than Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations or PowerApps and Flow. Through the solutions presented by the other teams we saw that there are unlimited connectors and abilities within PowerApps and Cognitive Services, Automatic Translations, Video Sentiment Analysis, Voice to Text and many other cool features. It will be fun and fascinating to figure out how we can apply them for our clients!
It was a really, fun and exciting experience and all for such a worthy cause.