In the current digital age, we need to understand and harness the power of automation. With many heavily reliant on analysing and maintaining their data to enhance their business transformation, I’m here to answer some important questions such as; What is the Power Platform? Who can use the Power Platform? What can the Power Platform provide?
Firstly, what makes up the core base of the Power Platform? The Power Platform is made up of three different services; Power BI, Power Apps and Power Automate (previously recognised as Flow). These three platforms provide a service for a businesses IT department but also end users. Historically, app creations, automation and data analysis as been solely reliant on an IT/Development team, which is not the case with the Power Platform.
Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s dive into each of the three core platforms that make up the Power Platform;
- Power Apps: This particular platform provides the ability to be able to create ‘low-code approach’ applications, thus further allowing connections to your surface data from business applications, such as Office 365 and Dynamics 365. Power Apps strive to allow those who intend to use it to build applications quickly without any fundamental knowledge around development, which in essence can reduce pressure and workload on IT departments.
- Power BI: Is a data analytics tool which allows you to connect to your desired data (granted the data is retrievable) and create easily readable visuals which can then be shared across the wider business. Power BI provides the ability to collect data from all Microsoft services and some third-party services, as well as including some on-premise connectors. Overall, Power BI is a great platform to create a smart and clear vision of what your businesses data contains and how it can be used to your advantage.
- Power Automate: Which was previously known as Microsoft Flow, allows you to create automated workflows and processes between all Microsoft services and some third-party applications. Power Automate is integral for businesses that strive to reduce all manual tasks to a minimum standard, in an attempt to allow users to focus their attention to workload elsewhere. Workflows and processes can be setup for alerting, automated emails, push notifications and many more. If done correctly, Power Automate can greatly reduce manual effort and also the possibility of human error.
All three services mentioned above utilise something called the ‘Common Data Service’ (CDS), which is part of understanding the power of automation. The Common Data Service is a data storage service, similar to a database, which allows you to store required data in a table format, that is referred to as an ‘entity’. The CDS is primarily used within the Power Apps portal however is accessible via other services such as Dynamics 365. You can extract data from the CDS in multiple different ways, such as via a Power app, Power BI, data flows etc. An important note, is that the CDS is a free storage solution if you are utilising Power Apps licensing.
To summarise, the Power Platform can provide an endless amount of opportunities, both to a business internally but to external clients also. It is vital that a business can easily view and analyse their data as this creates unimaginable transformation opportunities. Microsoft have allowed the Power Platform to be easily deliverable and from an administration perspective, have created unified admin centers for the ease of administration. Microsoft are adamant that anybody has what it takes to be able to effectively utilise the Power Platform, and also launch day events, labs and an endless amount of education/training resources on their learning platform, which can be found here.