Chris Huntingford on The MVP Show

Chris Huntingford on The MVP Show

Chris Huntingford
Microsoft Business Applications MVP


  • Introduction to Chris Huntingford's background as the Low Code Leader at ANS. 
  • Talks about Chris’ passion for using digital building blocks to create innovative solutions and his dedication to solving real problems through this process. 
  • Recap of Chris’ thoughts on the importance of good content and community engagement. Emphasize his commitment to creating quality content and building strong relationships with his audience. 
  • Discussion about Chris’ experience participating in hackathons, including any notable projects or successes he has had.  
  • Chris talks about the challenges he has faced and how he has overcome them. 
  • Overview of Canvas Apps and Model Driven Apps, two types of low code platforms offered by Microsoft.  
  • Chris explains the key differences between Canvas Apps and Model Driven Apps and how they can be used in software development. 
  • The importance of hackathons for the tech community and the value of bringing together diverse perspectives and skill sets to tackle complex problems and generate new ideas. 

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Thanks for listening 🚀 - Mark Smith


[mark]: today's guest is all the way from the united kingdom he is the low code leader at ans he was first awarder his MVP in twenty eighteen but lost it and went to work for microsoft came back and he's now on mvp again shows his quality content engagement of the community is a terrific thinker of passionate problems of a and a magical he loves to explore the huge mountain of digital building bricks provided by microsoft to create amazing solutions and solve real problems check out his link to his bio social media feeds etcetera in the show notes for this episode welcome to the show chris

[chris_h]: mark what's up thank you for having me

[mark]: you sound like you're a bit under weather i know you've just returned from from another big event

[chris_h]: yeah it's been a weird one man like going so i did i think it was i did florida france sweden and then pen n the u k went up just into manchester and then came all the way back down into southampton and i did that in about two and a half weeks

[mark]: wow

[chris_h]: so yeah it's been a bit of nuts man but it's been good but you know with cruising around you can pick up a bit of a leg here and there so hoping the mune system will it will set me up

[mark]: and you would think right with the amount of alcohol consumed that you disinfect your body to some degree

[chris_h]: h man i would think but you know i think i probably just made it worse yeah you know it is i go

[mark]: you think i'd make a good protection barrier wouldn't wouldn't you you know

[chris_h]: i think i think my kidneys are just crying out to me an they just seem to me he you know what know more like we have so much more to deal with in than all of this so yeah i do have i do have the immune i'm a rattlesnake most of the time but i think at this point i just need i just need to break

[mark]: fair enough fair enough tell us about i love that your title is low code lead um because i feel it's very similar to what my daily life is all about funny because both of us would have come from a more dynamic space background but really now fully embrace low code in the power platform what does what does low code mean for you when you're engaging these he's in the market what are the kind of conversations that are typical that you're having yeah

[chris_h]: so i'm going to compare it right i think it's easier to do that so when i was doing dynamics what would typically happen is somebody would say hey you know we want to do this thing and solve this problem and a lot of the time the problem was a known problem so you know now nobody went to the market in dynamics and said you know we don't really know what we want to do but we want this stuff was very rare which is interesting right and my friend paul comes he was telling me about this concept of wicked problems and i love the idea man i think the dude is such a legend and my mind set was always around her soul the problems you know i think in low code it's different right so low code you're not looking at always solving the problems you know but you're looking for the wicked problem you're looking to solve the problems you don't know and other people don't know and actually unearth thing is generating efficiencies using tech as a base line is actually really important so the example i'll give you is i don't i on't go into a company looking to build an ap i mean i think it's power platform not power app form so we're going to a business looking to solve operational efficiencies and and save money and time and using the power platform as a fundamental base but it doesn't always mean tech it means enabling people as well so my job is not just focused on hey we've got some really good tech use it to solve a problem it's like hey how do we how do we enable your work force to solve problems using technology and then dry and that efficiency and it's as i said technology is just one of the base lines it's about people enablements and also driving process so that's what i found an it's a whole new way of thinking around how the fits together actually which is really cool i think

[mark]: i like it i like it i'm already going to take a sound bite out of what you said and use it which is it's not an apt form it's a platform and and yeah so much you know it's tackled just from the power ends rather than the more broader five other apse in that landscape and and you're there to solve problems at the end of the day

[chris_h]: early

[mark]: and create as you say organization a fish says i like it like it tell me about what's going on in the community you've just done a big hackathonhow have hackathons like i remember doing a hakathon with you in london heck at twenty eighteen might have been

[chris_h]: yeah your team came second actually you that really top quality student that the blood bank the blood bank solution

[mark]: that's right that's right blood bank solution and then you know we've done them together in atlanta in the US but you know you've just come off the back of running another hecathon tell us about how has it changed since twenty eighteen and running hacks then to what you're doing now is it fundamentally what what kind of lessons learned what's changed what are you doing differently

[chris_h]: get better food genuinely yeah we've gone through some lessons so first of all i'm super lucky to be to have what somebody like will dorrington to work with to do this things in kyle hill when he can but basically in in the beginning we used to kind of shed ourselves a little bit more when doing these things because we overprepped and over planned and we kind of didn't really let people do that think we kind of we were very ring fenced about the solution that were trying to solve and i think as we've done them more and more we've realized that people need to have guidance but not over too much governance when doing this right so the one we did now it was crazy we had about a hundred and thirty people in the hall which is really good we had twenty seven teams obviously the usual mahim on the day was merging teams and things but yeah man what we found is that people are hungry right and they're hungry to be taught and hungry to be enabled and the community folks the folks that are more experienced or hunger to teach and hungry to enable and i also think that hackathorns allowed people to explore things that they wouldn't normally do on their day today and i'll give you an example one in one of our pals ani soyanik is one of the one of the b p s i think he i'm not sure what country he's from but he's part of louise and michael roth and that crowd and i was chatting to him during the session and he's like hey man you know we didn't we didn't necessarily make the greatest thing but i found they found the gotches with all the new cards functionality

[mark]: got ya

[chris_h]: i was like hey man that's actually very valuable so he can go back to his customers now and say here's what we learned right and normally that would be quite a difficult thing for him to do on a day to day so it does drive exploration of a new product but so what i call hivemindedablement amongst people

[mark]: that's cool

[chris_h]: yeah

[mark]: tell me so what are the parameters now you're setting when you're saying you're not putting the governance on you know in the past year normally have a we're doing you a hack for good or you know when we did it for the that was the atlanta one which was around it was not for profits right that we did was around hacking for a solution for that are you do you still have a kind of here's our guiding light and our north star you're aiming to solve when you run these events

[chris_h]: yeah we do so we tried both versions so we tried the over governance version where we did wonderful roadside assist and that was the first one and that was too much like we didn't give people know room to be invented and then we tried one without giving the brelliroom and people are just like a man what are we actually doing here so we've tried both ends of the spectrum and we've found a happy medium where what we do is we give them a theme so this thing we did now was called keep it moving and they had to build solutions to for for the niches effectively in the united kingdom national health services and that was around you know helping doctors and porters and things managed bedside assistem that so we gave them

[mark]: nice

[chris_h]: some examples of use cases but also we said to them look if you don't want to do this you have much more room to build out whatever you want and actually one of the solutions was around the london marathon so we do set some god rails and some governance but not not nearly what we were doing before and also we're not as loose about it as we were in a few of them like the one you did the hack for good one that was sort of where it started to come together from a use case perspective where we were like hey you know what we need to give four or five examples so people don't have to think but if they do want to think then we can you know let them do whatever they want

[mark]: yeah that's that's that's that's interesting are you are you constraining or recommending the technology they use is it still like core power platform or bizapsto sets oh

[chris_h]: we say microsopht um and the reason we do right is look we don't mind if people explore stuff like amazon and sales force and then we actually recommend if you want to go and build a power platform solution that can to that that's even cooler right because we're leveraging data that you wouldn't normally use but we're try and we're trying to get people to use the digital sorry the digital bricks available in the plain the power platform and microsopht cloud right so if you've got an three six five person that comes along and they're kicks really greater teams go right ahead use teams build it all in there yeah but you know we're trying to get people to use the microsopdigital building bricks before they use w s and stuff but okay again you know surrounds totally fine like go ahead and use that data


yeah yeah i remember on that first event that we did one of the guys on the team was from google actually doing the hack and so you know he integrated google maps and things like that which was like awesome tell me about what assets you providing teams up front are you giving them like a whole bunch of you know back in the day you used to script all your environment so they have an azure subscription six five that type of thing is that you still doing that type of model

[chris_h]: no we can't do it any more the reason is because the hacks have gotten so big i mean in the first one we had forty people said it was pretty easy to do that spitting up trial tenants and i've been in trial jail for years i just can't get out of it man so what we do is we we create what you call team leads

[mark]: what

[chris_h]: so we enable the team leads to run their teams and actually it's really good to do that because it takes pressure for will call and i but also we give them a set of rules were like hey team leads these are the five things you need to be doing and on the day they would have spun out their own tenant he would have made their own uses they can manage their team in the way that they want to and the and i quite like doing that is also because it starts you know giving people they wouldn't necessarily have the opportunity to lead that opportunity and you know

[mark]: love it

[chris_h]: you know we found man like were also starting to move people around the hack quite a lot so we'll find says an example i'm gonna use miche hotly because he's actually he's been with us from literally day one year so he was

[mark]: good example

[chris_h]: a team lead he's been a participant the guy's been a judge he's been a pre judge he's been a speaker um he's literally done everything you can possibly do so what we're going to start doing with him is getting it more involved and like helping organizing stuff because he knows the stuff so well so we're trying to shift people around and as an example mark you've been team ly twice and i think you've also judged

[mark]: judged

[chris_h]: can yeah yeah yeah so ultimately

[mark]: and prejudged because we did to two online events right as well

[chris_h]: yes yes yes yes yes so ultimately you've also moved around the stack with us quite a bit and it's quite cool to build the hack family out quite a lot that's what we find becoming quite fun

[mark]: have you heard that microscopes are doing them with clients

[chris_h]: yep i have

[mark]: have you been involved in one of those

[chris_h]: um when i was at microsopt i did a couple um

[mark]: were a different way different than

[chris_h]: yeah

[mark]: the community type

[chris_h]: yeah very much so man i find them more formal because there are a lot of g p rules that microsoft have to obey and things that they have to do and

[mark]: of course

[chris_h]: also remember there's an expectancy m gonna i'm going to use an example there's an expectancy when you walk into an organization that there's level of ex professional ism and actually what i found was that i was quite a lot more contained but then when we've done the community hacks it's our community you know we build this this is not a formal event people are because they volunteers not getting paid for it

[mark]: totally totally

[chris_h]: so we found those a lot more fun i mean i'm not saying the micro soft ones on fun they are but you know when we can we when we get to kind of you know throw paints at the wall and hit sticks a little bit more i found those a lot more creatively invigorating so to speak

[mark]: that's cool i like it i like it what and i don't you know you don't have to name names or anything what do you think has been the best um outcome of a heathen like all of them like is there one particular solution that you're like ship that is just next level

[chris_h]: okay

[mark]: or you know what kind of jumps to mind when i ask that

[chris_h]: i've seen i've seen some interesting things now my favorite one is probably the one that was delivered by elizabeth glacial pediatricigh foundation that was at that that that heckothon that we did in atlanta and that actually went live in africa to help woman of aids and all that type of stuff which is really interesting there've been incredible ones that have been built out so i know they're organizations that have taken ideas that they've come up with from the hacks and then you know used those applications altomations but the thing to me that is most important is building out that make community and what we're starting to see men and this is the point that i think is really interesting about the heck that we run is that we don't yes we let corporate teams join we're like hey you know what company x come come along join and do whatever and they do bring all the people but we find it more successful when we get to mung teams together so we take like karen from accounts you know bob from customer service all these random people that may have never hacked before and we bring them together with some other experts and those people build stuff because they are not thinking in this same way as a corporate culture would that's where you get the real success so for me it's not necessarily a company it's about bringing the people together

[mark]: so you'll smash a team together on the day they haven't come so there's no way they rebuilt anything they're actually just forming on the day

[chris_h]: sometimes yeah i mean so we always have people that don't rock up which hisses me off no end because they're actually taking away

[mark]: of course

[chris_h]: from the hack and using trying to be nice but yeah what we'll do is we'll say we'll build the teams before knowing full well that these people have never made the other thing we do is we give the corporate teams the opportunity to split out so we said them listen

[mark]: nice

[chris_h]: do you want to be with your your your mates or can we split you out and actually a good amount of them say no we want to split out we want to learn from other

[mark]: nice

[chris_h]: people

[mark]: i love it i love it great great you know energies and things like i can imagine happening there have you built something to run your events with like as on the day

[chris_h]: oh bro this is such a sticking point man so we have

[mark]: i ask by the way because i'm currently building something

[chris_h]: are you

[mark]: yeah to run heckthonsum

[chris_h]: dude we we we did

[mark]: but

[chris_h]: no

[mark]: but the corporate hackathons i'm talking about

[chris_h]: i did it marcus oft so

[mark]: yeah

[chris_h]: i did build something there i couldn't take it with me i did build something there and we ran a lot of the the cortile hacks with the partners on that which is a combination data verse model driven up and then the palbireport randedon the front and we had people doing what you call drop ins i think because you remember the whole droppin thing that we did during the virtual hack yeah so we ultimated a fair amount of that and then people were alerted when they had a drop in right of somebody coming into the team and visiting and saying what they were doing will and i've probably built about four different versions of it and we've just never finished so hey man good on you for creating something because it's not easy

[mark]: so i just want to create something that would scale when you go and do it for a particular company because those are the use cases that i'm coming across so you know i can't mention name big brands

[chris_h]: of course

[mark]: that you come in and you have to run a global hack four and and you know there's like all this logistical stuff like um you know making accessible things like you know team rules how do the teams form how do you how what's the judging rate are so that because people can get really upset if the judging criteria is not clear i feel

[chris_h]: totally

[mark]: you know

[chris_h]: yeah totally

[mark]: if they feel it's like we would thought it was building this and we did that and then you went in ripped the rug from under the us and so

[chris_h]: she

[mark]: you know and then one of the functionality of building is the ability for everybody to vote so if you're involved in the hack you once again through the appy vote for the team you liked m yeah so those are kind of just some of the things i've got one of my grads working on building it out at the moment

[chris_h]: that's actually very cool i love i love the idea of voting because it puts the power in the in the hands of the people attending and the rule is you can't vote for your team but you can you know you can fire votes for anyone else

[mark]: yeah and in this way everybody feels like there's no bias ness coming from and so this removes the judging kind of piece but then there's going to be two tears there's going to be like you for the short list and then let's say that gives three teams and then the judge so you know we talked about pre judging and then judging so it's kind of like you let the people become the pre judges through a voting mechanism once all self contained in the episodes only around that event only if you're there can you do it can you engage you know

[chris_h]: i love that idea

[mark]: that type of thing and then on the day you know and you can still have your judging panel because i found in companies the judging panel often wants to be made up of people that may be going to fund the actual project getting taken into production

[chris_h]: totally

[mark]: after the hack

[chris_h]: yeah man absolutely

[mark]: and so

[chris_h]: absolutely

[mark]: they want have skin in the game and make that decision at that point

[chris_h]: i love that idea actually i think the the voting thing we've done before i don't know why we didn't do it again this time man we had ten pre judges of this sack they were wondering

[mark]: that's a lot

[chris_h]: yeah we master shift them so you know master she you've got like gordon made to walk around tasting everyone's food so that's what they did they tasted everyone's as or solutions and then they had to

[mark]: nice

[chris_h]: pick three each so we only had six presentations at the end of the day but worked pretty well i think it doesn't you know work you know

[mark]: yeah because that's that's the crazy thing to us when presentations like you have so many of them and getting a concise story and stuff that's cool man i love it i love it tell me

[chris_h]: thanks be

[mark]: you know you're shifting jobs and stuff how are you finding the the career landscape and you know newcomers coming into the whole bizet arena what's what's your perception of it all

[chris_h]: we have a very serious problem on our hands and what i think that problem is is that we have partners too busy nicking each other's stuff and then

[mark]: correct

[chris_h]: over in ting salaries so like a junior consultant can get paid an exorbitant amount of money and then it ends up me being doing me doing the work or you're doing the work right so that's a problem and it's a big one and i think now this will never get fixed until partners actually figure out that nicking each other's stuff and over inflating salaries is not helping anyone here we have to do this together the other thing i've discovered is that people say they've got these grad programs and they say they want to bring grads on board but then they do and then do nothing with them i'm like guys you have got some of the most intelligent people in the world here just enable them and actually what i'm doing is i'm working with the mate now so you know i study on planetary sciences right so

[mark]: exactly

[chris_h]: yeah the dudes i'm working with his name is louis he's a dude from cyprus man he's so clever he's brilliant he smashed his levels out like in nine months or something

[mark]: wow

[chris_h]: ah he spoken to u in parliament when he was fifteen so he's eighteen years old now so i've started to take him i'm paying him from my own pocket and i'm running him through all of the courses that append a day stuff i've built my versions of that so he's doing all of that now and then i'm

[mark]: nice

[chris_h]: giving him what you call free builds so free builders i give him some data and i'm like mate come up with something kicks and so he's busy with that at the moment and what i want to do is i want to bring that through to other folks and not just necessarily graduates but other people so i'm taking on another guy called palo probably in the next couple of months i'm going to do the same

[mark]: nice

[chris_h]: thing with him and then yeah we want to bring that into the corporate world right so get people to understand

[mark]: i love it

[chris_h]: that dude get people ready give them stuff to do but then give them real project stop saying he we've got a grad and they're not doing anything with it because that man you can hear i think that actually irritates me more than anything in the world

[mark]: the crazy thing like i've taken five grades on this year

[chris_h]: yeah good

[mark]: and and and you know how i've done the nine today mentoring challenge for the last five years

[chris_h]: yeah

[mark]: actually delivered it for the last time this year that because now going back to corporate world and i did about eight hundred people threw that program over the five years and so i've now gone to a model of sorry i'm now you re invented for inside the corporate environment that

[chris_h]: got it

[mark]: in now and the crazy thing is these guys what they can produce is just mind blowing is in how how they can you know i take about clients site they listen to clients requirements in the afternoon returning solution that's just like can some you know and um and that's the thing is is that so then the other model i have i have them all teach within three months of joining they all start teaching in a day they will start teaching pa in a day they all start teaching virtual agents and dashboard in a day and it really gets them to butt up against real world challenges all the time you know because that's that means every two weeks they're teaching of course and so they are getting really good really quickly like phenomenal and that's that's the thing i know that there's no there's no sense in keeping attacking other taking talent from the partners and the other thing and this is probably an inspiration from jollinstrum that i've really taken on board i am increasingly concerned about model driven out developers that have come from only driven world in their ability to actually create in canvas and most epps that you're going to build for an organization when i say when you're when you're considering platform story platform play where you're going a go in and there's going to be a thousand as built on the platform

[chris_h]: mostly gonna be canvas

[mark]: and the thing is no matter how hard i try i can't seem to get model driven folks to go on the canvas journey but if i start people on canvas from day one like associates grads coming in it's a totally different game

[chris_h]: yeah because you know what i hate to say it man and i don't care what anyone says canvas is way more complex than model driven

[mark]: massively so as in because you have full control of the user experience which in mode riven it's all prescribed so you don't have to think about it and when you have to think about user experience on purpose and designing something it totally you can create some amazing stuff and you have a new respect for model driven absolutely because i'm not throwing the baby out with the bath water here

[chris_h]: of course not of course not

[mark]: you know but it just yeah it's pretty phenomenal when someone looks at your ap and it's been you know the front end has been designed by a graphic designer i expert or a user experience expert and then you look at a driven person who creates the exact same functionality and you're just like mad have the graphic designers version any day thank you you know

[chris_h]: proper and proper the other thing is that i don't know this may sound a random but so when i used to write code in with bolland so i used to use to delphi five right and it was all a against the object like proper object driven programming like it was all against you know writing forms of base solution so it looked kicks and i'm not kidding me when i opened up canvas saps nd i started writing up again the object again and like events driven stuff i actually really loved it but look i'm still i'm still never going to give up the data verse side for me that's that's he that's where it's out as canvas and data is with model driven as an edmond support solution and what i call mite operations dude think about the amount of opportunity in this okay so this is what i was saying to somebody the other day in model driven you had to think a certain way so you're driven to think around like relate all data structures and process and relational data structures and process so you actually start losing that kind of creative edge in your brain where you're you're pushed to think about us so as much as i do love model driven as and i do man i'm building one literally as we speak the thing that i can't i can't wrap my mind around is that in model driven shore i've got my forms on my u x i'm led there but actually in canvas that's where i think that it's like a perfect symphony between logic and creativity

[mark]: totally

[chris_h]: but no one person can build a canvas ap that's the thing

[mark]: that's it's a team it's a village it's a fusion team right and and here's the other ting i find very interesting going into customers that have i built their first big app and it's been amazing and you know i'm talking about like over twenty thousand seats deployed in an organization and then they decide they're going to build an ap cattle sorry that backlog you know and and they're going to scale yet they won't touch citizen developers

[chris_h]: other word

[mark]: or you know and and the crazy thing is the first ape that they produced were proud by citizen developers you know that was massively successful that's what blows my mind they want

[chris_h]: okay

[mark]: to go now we need to hire some with ten years experience

[chris_h]: why

[mark]: and blood just like oh my gosh you're missing the point like got all this internal talent that if you guided if you took on a journey you would open up amazing you know capabilities because these people are at the coal face every day of your organization

[chris_h]: it's the fear though man it's the fear that everyone's my favorite saying i learned this in an astrobology lecture recently right like i will bring it back to this but in power platform people are going to make i like you actually cannot turn it off or when you do it's very hard to turn it off it's not something that even if you don't have a license you can still make a canvas ap right that's the crazy part you can anyone anyone can go to make the pap dot com get access to default and building up right and i said organizations absence of evidence is not the same thing as evidence of absence right so the problem is that what organization free art about is the fact that they can't see what's happening and a lot of the time they can't man so what i figured out and enabling the citizen dave drive is actually to show them eliminate the fear by practically giving them real world examples of what happens when you do productively not lock the stuff down but set up the right god rails and i mean it starts of sales like they lost prevention just just

[mark]: totally totally

[chris_h]: if you don't have access to data who cares how many epps you make nobody gives a damn so that's what we do man it's the whole i don't like the word governance but in the scenario will use it as the concept of the governance piece and giving people that safe space and unfortunately we have to prove to it that we're not you now say fire to everything

[mark]: man you just started a topic that i want to drill into but we're well over time

[chris_h]: dad i'm sorry

[mark]: so so we'll wrap it up there but i think that we might need to do some and i'll move podcast over to the power platform show

[chris_h]: cool

[mark]: because i feel like in the next twelve months i really want to spend on the power platform show unpacking scaling the platform inside organizations so getting folks on that have done it that have built their teams of makers o um and really unpack that and it's interesting what you say about governance and why you don't like it but you know even unpacking that because the amount of customers you go into that think they've done governance and it's just shambles you know

[chris_h]: oh bro

[mark]: it's a shambles

[chris_h]: everywhere everywhere

[mark]: it's like i installed the co started it so i'm sorted

[chris_h]: no body

[mark]: you're not really

[chris_h]: not even one percent there give them

[mark]: that's a top for another day anyway man good talking to you thanks for coming on the show and good to see you back as an MVP

[chris_h]: thanks buddy i appreciate you man onto cause some trouble oh

Chris HuntingfordProfile Photo

Chris Huntingford

Chris Huntingford is a geek and is proud to admit it! He is also a rather large, talkative South African who plays the drums, wears horrendous Hawaiian shirts, and has an affinity for engaging in as many social gatherings as humanly possible because, well… Chris wants to experience as much as possible and connect with as many different people as he can! He is, unapologetically, himself! His zest for interaction and collaboration has led to a fixation on community and an understanding that ANYTHING can be achieved by bringing people together in the right environment.