The ongoing pandemic has reinforced the notion that many businesses are not bound to an office, with the idea of remote working further strengthened as more and more organisations are enabling their employees to work from home.
Business applications (in most cases) sit at the heart of any organisation’s IT infrastructure, and these enable users to benefit from remote access to the features and processes they need to perform their day-to-day activities.
To cope with supporting the modern workplace and remote working, business applications need to be scalable, secure, accessible and intelligent – and that’s exactly what the Microsoft Power Platform offers.
With the lack of developers widely discussed in 2021, low-code platforms like the Power Platform can become a survival tool, if you will, for organisations facing challenges caused by that shortage in development skills.
By enabling organisations to build and manage enterprise-grade, low-code applications and solutions, Microsoft’s Power Platform quite literally places the power to build business applications in the hands of its users.
The Power Platform is made up of four components (explained below) that provide the tools needed to support rapid app development. Each component serves a specific purpose in solution building and can play a key role as a standalone technology, or when adopted in conjunction with other platform components.
With the Power Platform, app development is fast and effective, and its low-code/no-code nature eliminates the need to make decisions on which database to use as a basis and which coding language to use for interfaces.
Here, this diagram illustrates how each of the four Power Platform components can help organisations improve business processes, introduce automation and produce meaningful results.
With Microsoft keen to promote a culture that empowers citizen developers, the Power Platform does precisely that. Let’s take a look at the solutions that make up the platform…
Microsoft Power Apps is recognised as a leader in low-code application platforms (LCAP) by Gartner (2021). It leverages its inherent ability to connect to hundreds of data sources for events and actions, from Microsoft and other suppliers.
One of the main benefits of Power Apps is to reduce complexity and difficulty when introducing domain-specific business applications.
Power Apps supports the design and build of:
Power Automate can be used to automate individual or enterprise processes, offering quick modelling of business processes across applications and services. There are hundreds of ready-to-use triggers, actions and templates available to kickstart development. In addition to 250+ database connections, Power Automate can also connect built processes to custom databases using custom connectors/gateways. Developers can use enhanced and rich features such as conditional branching, leveraging Microsoft’s cognitive services for AI-powered decision-making and robotic process automation (RPA).
Power Business Intelligence (BI) transforms data into visuals, reports and dashboards that can be shared with users and departments across an entire organisation. Power BI supports data access from most modern data sources, including custom/on-premise databases. The tool offers huge flexibility to enable users to collaborate and share customised dashboards and interactive reports. Power BI also offers built-in governance and security, as well as the ability to embed dashboards in Dynamics 365 and Power Apps.
Power Virtual Agent can be used to create and maintain bots in various languages with a no-code interface. Personalised conversational bots can be created to handle daily or repetitive topics, questions or tasks, freeing up employees’ time to enable them to focus on more complex matters.
Power Virtual Agent is also available as software as a service (SaaS) from Microsoft; it leverages conversational AI and can easily integrate into databases through Power Automate and relevant connectors. Power Automate can also integrate with Microsoft Bot Framework to further expand conversational capabilities and overcome any native limitations.
Since its introduction, Microsoft continues to invest heavily in the Power Platform, which means a steady flow of updates and improvements that can help you team streamline your internal processes one step at a time.