*We are re-publishing this blog with the most recent information – as a lot has changed since we originally published this in November of 2018.
What is the Microsoft Power Platform?
Power Platform combines the robust power of Power Apps, Power BI, Power Automate, and Power Virtual Agents into one powerful business application platform – providing quick and easy app building and data insights. Although those are the 4 primary applications, there are also many underlying technologies that all the applications can use – including the Common Data Service database and the Ai builder.
Powerful alone. Better together.
Each component of the Microsoft Power Platform is built on the Dataverse, commonly known as the Common Data Model. The Microsoft Power Platform is more than the sum of its parts. Each component is dynamic by itself, but brilliant and masterful when combined.
The Microsoft Power platform brings all your data together into Dataverse.
Learn more here about the features released in the 2022 Power Platform Release Wave 1. In addition to the new features being released, there are a number of enhancements to existing features. We will be seeing more and more integration with Microsoft Teams. Learn more about the Microsoft Power Platform and teams integration here. Microsoft has also released an e-book about the Power Platform and Teams integration. Read the Microsoft e-book here.
Microsoft’s goal is to make it easier for companies all over the world to make the Power Platform the development platform of choice for Low Code/No Code development.
One app platform for Office 365 and Dynamics 365.
According to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella “For the first time in fact, in our own Microsoft history, we have an extensibility model that is the same for Office 365 and Dynamics 365. This has been a dream of mine for, I don’t know, for 15 years probably. And we are finally here and we are executing super well.”
Data shows that the Microsoft Power Platform improves business outcomes.
In a study conducted by Forrester Consulting, the cost savings and benefits a company can expect over a three-year period include:
- 502% ROI increase
- USD $25.92 million in net present value (NPV)
- Investment payback in 11 months
The Microsoft Power Platform is used by many businesses – both big and small. The following image shows some of the businesses that have chosen to adopt the Microsoft Power Platform to accelerate their business.
The heart of the Microsoft Power Platform is Dataverse, formerly known as Common Data Service for Apps(CDS). CDS is a secure database hosted in Azure Cloud prebuilt with a standard set of entities and record types. These record types – for example, Accounts, Contacts, and various activity types are extensible – so you can add additional data fields. Developers can also add new entities to fit their business needs. Entities have relationships to each other, and Business Rules can be created to make fields required, to hide fields and to set default values.
Because the Power Platform is built on the Dataverse, users are provided with a semantic consistency and built-in connectivity. The Microsoft Dataverse allows organizations to do more with their data and expand their possibilities. The Dataverse allows organizations to:
- Deliver services with agility.
- Increase scale and efficiency
- Make their data work smarter
Data is at the center of everything a business does today and powers the insights that can drive what it should do in the future. To continue to thrive and grow, businesses need to capture, analyze, predict, present, and report data with a high level of agility.
Dataverse is designed to work with any type of data
Dataverse is designed to work with any type of data – including relational, non-relational, image, file, relative search, or data lake. There is no need to understand the type of data – as Dataverse exposes a set of data types that allow you to build up your model. To learn more, click here.
Power Automate (Formerly Microsoft Flow) enables users to automate routine workflows with an intuitive logic-based interface. These workflows can be used to integrate and update data, synchronize files, get notifications and more. There are over 200 apps and services, including Common Data Service for Apps, that work with Power Automate today and that number is always growing. Power Automate allows users to easily automate repetitive, time-consuming tasks, providing a “better way to get things done.” We now have more accessibility – users with a diverse set of coding abilities can easily utilize Power Automate.
Power Automate allows you to take care of what’s important and automate the rest. Streamline repetitive tasks and paperless processes with Microsoft Power Automate—so you can focus your attention where it’s needed most.
We now have more intelligent and powerful capabilities for Power Automate makers. There have been a number of productivity enhancements between Power Automate and Microsoft Teams. This results not only in better outcomes in alignment with digital transformation goals, but it also encourages early adoption of Microsoft Teams.
Soon it will be easier to duplicate actions in the Power Automate designer with the cut and paste functionality. There is also a library of connectors and Microsoft Dataverse that can connect your workflows to hundreds of data sources. Click here to explore the connector library and learn how you can gain a competitive advantage by linking all of your data.
Power BI is a business analytics service provided by Microsoft. Utilizing Power BI, users can develop rich data visualizations. Using data stored in CDS or other databases, users can build informative reports and dashboards to display important data about sales, customer service, and other business functions. These dashboards and reports can be published on websites, in SharePoint or Teams, and in Apps. Power BI allows organizations to make business decisions based on data and facts, not opinions.
A recent improvement here is visual personalization for end users. This feature enables the user to adjust a visual based on their needs and bookmark it for later.
Through the availability of the Power BI App in Teams, data insights are made easy for teams. Also, along with the availability of the Power BI App in Teams, Power BI can be easily included everywhere collaboration happens in Teams – in chats, meetings, or calendar invites. As part of general availability of the App, there are a host of enhancements and it is now easier to deploy broadly in an organization. These enhancements include:
- Notification dashboards: It’s now easier to stay up to date o by sharing notifications.
- Report Pins: With the new pin a report as a tab feature, data is quickly brought into Team channels – making it easier to find by teams.
- Project Goals: The new scorecard visual makes it easier to create and track key project goals.
Power Apps enable users to easily build custom apps – without any coding experience. build on the platform of CDS
Power Apps allows citizen developers to build easy to use applications for standard business needs. For example, you want to build an app for representatives to inspect your companies franchises. A Power App could be built and made available on the rep’s phone that surfaces your survey and inspection questions. The rep could visit the franchise and quickly fill out the data from their phone. This data is then stored in the CDS. Power Automate would trigger notifications of tasks identified to repair defects at the franchises. And Power BI dashboards would allow you to rank stores against each other.
We now see the ability for app developers to fully build custom and responsive experiences in their applications. We also now have the ability to create new app within one of your channels in Microsoft Teams. This can be done using data that you already have in your Microsoft Teams Sharepoint site.
Microsoft has moved the administration of the Power Platform out of Office 365 and to its own site, You can access the administration site here. You can also start free trials for all of these services at the same URL.
Power Apps makers can create and package apps as native mobile apps for Android and iOS. Learn more here about the ability to create mobile apps with Power Apps (currently in preview). The ability to sign up for this preview became available on Dec 1, 2021. Sign up here.
With this great feature, Power Apps is becoming a (MAD) Mobile Application Development platform, chock-full of new capabilities.
Click here to learn more about the Microsoft Power Apps pricing model and how it signifies a new era for low code application development.
Power Virtual Agents
In 2019 Microsoft launched Power Virtual Agents and added it as the fourth member of the Power Platform.
Power Virtual Agents enables organizations to create powerful chatbots with no or little coding knowledge. These chatbots can answer questions posed by your customers, other employees, or visitors to your website. These bots can be easily created without the need for developers. Some scenarios where you might use bots are for sales help or support issues, for your opening hours or general store information, or any other commonly asked questions asked by employees or customers/leads.
Power Virtual Agents is available as both a standalone web app. The two versions have similar functionalities. Depending on how you will be using Power Virtual Agents, you might choose one over the other.
Increase your proficiency with the Power Platform and learn more about the apps that interest you in the following learning paths:
- Create a model-driven application in Power Apps
- Consume data with Power BI
- Use best practices to secure and govern Power Automate environments
Learn new skills and discover the power of Microsoft products with step-by-step guidance by browsing all Business Application learning paths.
How can we help?
enCloud9 is a Power Platform certified recognized expert in helping organizations like yours to get the most out of their Power Apps and Dynamics 365 system. Contact us today to get started. We aim to provide you with the most current news, tips, and best practices in Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform. Visit our blog to learn about updates to the Power Platform. Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest info delivered to your inbox. If you need assistance enabling the newest features in your environment or if any questions arise, don’t hesitate to contact us.