Microsoft’s Power Platform is the collective term for five products; Power Apps, Power Automate (Flow), Power BI, Power Virtual Agents and Power Pages. It is an exciting development for Microsoft as this new technology is designed to help any organisation to better surface, automate, manipulate and ultimately analyse their data.
The Power Platform can be used seamlessly with other Microsoft solutions like Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365 and Azure, as well as hundreds of other apps; connecting them and enabling organisations to build end-to-end business solutions. The Power Platform has been specifically designed so that low and non-technical users can utilise the functionality quickly and easily. Microsoft talks about the Power Platform being for Citizen Developers, meaning that anybody should be able to pick it up and create an app.
At the heart of the Power Platform is the Microsoft Common Data Model (CDM). This is a secure database that sits in the Microsoft Cloud and is pre-built with a standard set of entities, which is essentially your organisation’s core system and fields, for example, your Accounts and Contacts. These are easily extensible by you or your solution provider and can be configured for your organisation. The CDM is the underlying data platform providing a unified database and simplified schema, but where applications can work together.
Power Apps are applications with services, connectors and a data platform. They are a low code/no code solution that are very responsive on mobile devices. Feature-rich custom apps can be built quickly and provide a simple user interface for users. There are over 500 connectors currently available which means that you can easily connect your data sources. In terms of the different types of Power Apps available, there are:
Power Automate allows you to create automated workflows between applications and services. Organisations can use it to trigger actions, approvals and notifications. For example, you can use it to automate business processes, send automatic reminders, move data between systems on a schedule, connect to more than 500 data sources, and much more. As with Power Apps, those with basic skills up to IT professionals can create automated processes using the no code/low code Power Automate platform.
Power BI is a business analytics service that delivers insights to enable fast, informed decisions. It gives your organisation the ability to surface data through graphs, pie charts and interactive visuals that can be shared on any device. It is also scalable with built-in governance and security.
Power Virtual Agents is a solution that lets you create powerful AI-powered chatbots for a range of requests—from providing simple answers to common questions to resolving issues requiring complex conversations. These chatbots allow you to engage with your customers and employees in multiple languages across your organisation’s websites, mobile apps, Facebook page, Microsoft Teams, or any channel supported by the Azure Bot Framework.
You don’t need to be an IT professional or developer to create a chatbot and Power Virtual Agents is available as both a standalone web app and as an app within Microsoft Teams. Some examples of how the chatbots have been used include the management of sales help and support issues, opening hours and store information, common questions for organisations and employee health and vacation benefits.
Power Pages is a secure, enterprise-grade, low-code software as a service (SaaS) platform for creating, hosting, and administering modern external-facing business websites. Whether you’re a low-code maker or a professional developer, Power Pages enables you to rapidly design, configure, and publish websites that seamlessly work across web browsers and devices. Power Pages provides you with rich, customisable templates, a fluid visual experience through a reimagined design studio, and a new, integrated learning hub to quickly build sites that suit your unique business needs.
As the newest member of the Microsoft Power Platform family, with Power Pages, you can build sites by using the same shared business data stored in Microsoft Dataverse that you use for building apps, workflows, intelligent virtual agents, reports, and analytics with other Microsoft Power Platform components in your organisation.
So why should your organisation decide to utilise some or all elements of the Power Platform?