How we broke limits at the #BCAIHackathon

Crazy idea

Last week, Microsoft put together the BC AI Hackathon, a 3-day event aimed at letting Business Central partners dive into how AI and new tools can make Business Central and partner apps even better.

As I got ready for this event, a wild idea hit me… Was it possible? I wasn’t sure, but I knew if it worked, it should be a big deal for all AI features in Business Central, now and in the future. And “classic” BC features as well! And what better place to test out a game-changing idea than at a hackathon? Absolutely!

Meet the dream team

So, let’s introduce the team.

I’m Dmitry, the one who came up with this wild idea, made a proof of concept and took the lead.

Then there’s Stefano, the tech guru. He’s a pro with Azure and databases, making sure our project went from just a cool concept to something that actually works at scale.

And Jeremy, he’s the one who makes sure the final solution doesn’t just daydream but solves actual business puzzles.

What's the Big Deal?

So, I’ve noticed a big headache with AI assistants, requiring data access, and Business Central data search. Say you ask, “What furniture do you sell?” You’d think it’d be easy to get an answer, but if furniture isn’t in the item description, you’re out of luck. That’s because traditional searches are all about exact words, not what you’re really asking for.

Our Cool Solution

We introduced something called “Semantic Search.” Unlike the old-school search that just looks for specific keywords, our system gets what you mean, not just what you say.

So, if you ask for “furniture,” it knows you might be looking for tables and chairs, even if those words aren’t exactly there.

Under the Hood

Technically, we turned Business Central into its own little search genius (vector database), no need for any outside help.

Think of this like teaching Business Central new words so it can understand and find things better. We call these new words – embeddings.

Take “Wood table” as an example. We turn that into a bunch of numbers that AI can read. That bunch of numbers is what we call a vector.

Next, we use those vectors to find stuff.

And we managed to do this without synching data with any of the existing vector databases! It’s all inside of the Business Central, that’s very important.

We made two versions: one for showing off (AL implementation) and another for the heavy lifting (SQL for big data). The AL one is like a bicycle – great for short trips (small data). The SQL one is like a rocket ship – fast and ready for big jobs.

Semantic Search for Next Copilots

We even built a Sales Copilot that takes your request in plain language (ANY!) and turns it into a sales order. No more typing in codes or exact names. Just tell it what you want, and it figures out the rest.

But why stop there? We’re thinking big – like using your voice or even photos to tell Business Central what to do next. We’re on our way to making it as easy to use as chatting with a friend.

Copilot API

And here’s the cherry on top: we exposed the Sales Copilot as an API service.

This means you can now call it from other AI assistants, or even use any portal website, to order stuff using everyday language. This magic turns your words into a clear list of what’s in stock and even gets your sales orders ready to go.

It’s like having a super-smart friend who knows exactly what you need and takes care of it for you.

Wrapping Up

What we’ve shown you is just the start. It’s not just about making things easier today; it’s about setting up Business Central for a future where it’s smarter, faster, and even more helpful.

🙏

First off, a massive thank you to the Microsoft team for organizing this incredible event. You’ve not only set the stage but also inspired us to push beyond the boundaries of what we thought was possible with Business Central.

To my team, your belief in this wild idea and your ability to see its enormous potential has been nothing short of amazing. 

Last but definitely not least, thank you to the #msdyn365bc community for your support and encouragement. It’s your enthusiasm and feedback that fuel our passion and drive us to keep innovating.

Together, we’re not just making changes; we’re setting new standards and opening up a world of possibilities!

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About Me

DMITRY KATSON

A Microsoft MVP, Business Central architect and a project manager, blogger and a speaker, husband and a twice a father. With more than 15 years in business, I went from developer to company owner. Having a great team, still love to put my hands on code and create AI powered Business Central Apps that just works.

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