What is Microsoft Power Platform?


Microsoft Power Platform

Microsoft Power Platform is a line of business intelligence, app development, and app connectivity software applications. It incorporates inclusive and highly accessible technologies for everyday business use, allowing users to create new end-to-end business solutions that deliver value to stakeholders and accelerate business growth. Microsoft developed the Power Fx low-code programming language for expressing logic across the Power Platform. It also provides integrations with GitHub and Microsoft Teams among other apps.

The platform includes four popular applications:

Components can be used individually or together to boost innovation and create efficient and flexible solutions for business use. When used together, the tools use the platform’s built-in security, management, and compliance capabilities.

Power Automate

Power Automate

 

Microsoft Power Automate, previously known as Microsoft Flow until November 2019, is a SaaS platform by Microsoft for optimizing and automating workflows and business processes. It is part of the Microsoft Power Platform line of products, which include Power Apps, Power BI, Power Virtual Agent, and Power Pages.

Power Automate is used to automate repetitive business processes. Beyond simple workflows, Power Automate can send reminders on past due tasks, move business data between systems on a schedule, talk to more than 900 data sources or any publicly available API, and can even automate tasks on your local computer like computing data in Excel. All of this can be done by all skill levels, from typical business users to IT using Power Platform.

Common scenarios and capabilities of Power Automate:

  • Automating repetitive tasks such as moving data from one system to another.
  • Guiding a user through a process so they can complete the different stages. For example, a sales organization might want to guide sellers through the process of selling products to customers.
  • Automating desktop based and website processes with robotic process automation (RPA) capabilities. For example, a user working at a bank needs to update the exchange rates daily. That user would utilize RPA to log in to the website from which they get the rates, save the exchange rates to their desktop, and then update them in a company spread sheet.

Microsoft Power Automate works by creating flows. These flows are then used to do things such as interacting with different systems, guiding users through a process, or making users more productive by automating daily tasks.

There are three primary types of Power Automate flows:

  • Cloud flows: These are the most used flows. Cloud flows begin with a trigger such as receiving an email from a specific person, or a mention of your company in social media. Once triggered, they also generally include one or more actions such as creating a record in a different system or sending an approval request to someone.
  • Business process flows: These flows are used in model-driven apps to help people get work done. They provide a streamlined user experience that leads people through the processes their organization has defined for interactions that need to be advanced to a conclusion of some kind.
  • Desktop flows: These robotic process automation (RPA) flows allow you to record yourself performing actions on your desktop or within a web browser. You can then trigger a flow to perform that process for you. You can also pass data in or get data out of the process, letting you automate even “manual” business processes.

Power BI

Power BI 

Microsoft Power BI is an interactive data visualization software product developed by Microsoft with a primary focus on business intelligence. It is part of the Microsoft Power Platform. Power BI is a collection of software services, apps, and connectors that work together to turn various sources of data into static and interactive data visualizations. Data may be input by reading directly from a database, webpage, PDF, or structured files such as spreadsheets, CSV, XML, JSON, XLSX, and SharePoint.

Power BI consists of several components, each designed to facilitate different aspects of business intelligence:

  • Power BI Desktop is a free application installed on a personal computer that allows data analysts to create complex data models, sophisticated visualizations, and detailed reports.
  • Power BI Service is a cloud-based service that enhances collaboration by allowing users to share insights, dashboards, and reports with others in their organization.

Power BI Mobile Apps ensure that these insights are accessible anywhere, on any device, providing real-time access to dashboards and reports.

These three elements: Power BI Desktop, the service, and the mobile apps are designed to let you create, share, and consume business insights in the way that serves you and your role most effectively.

Beyond those three, Power BI also features two other elements:

  • Power BI Report Builder, for creating paginated reports to share in the Power BI service.
  • Power BI Report Server, an on-premises report server where you can publish your Power BI reports, after creating them in Power BI Desktop.

Power Apps

Power Apps

 

Power Apps is a suite of apps, services, and connectors, as well as a data platform, that provides a rapid development environment to build custom apps for your business needs. Using Power Apps, you can quickly build custom business apps that connect to your data stored either in the underlying data platform (Microsoft Dataverse) or in various online and on-premises data sources (such as SharePoint, Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, SQL Server, and so on).

Apps built using Power Apps provide rich business logic and workflow capabilities to transform your manual business operations into digital, automated processes. What’s more, apps built using Power Apps have a responsive design and can run seamlessly in browser and on mobile devices (phone or tablet). Power Apps “democratizes” the business-app-building experience by enabling users to create feature-rich, custom business apps without writing code.

Power Apps is a high-productivity development platform for business apps, and has four major components:

  • Canvas apps
  • Model-driven apps
  • Cards (preview)
  • Microsoft Dataverse

Power Pages

Power Pages

 

Microsoft 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 empowers you to rapidly design, configure, and publish websites that work across web browsers and devices.

Power Pages provides rich, customizable templates, a fluid visual experience through the design studio, and an integrated learning hub to quickly build sites for your unique business needs.

Power Pages is 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 organization.

AI builder

AI Builder is a Microsoft Power Platform capability you can use to bring the power of Microsoft AI to your organization, without the need for coding or data science skills. With AI Builder, a Microsoft Power Platform feature, you can create and use AI models that optimize your business processes. You can either use a prebuilt model that is ready for many common business scenarios or create a custom model that meets your needs. AI Builder helps your business to automate processes and gain insights from your data in Power Apps and Power Automate.

 

Power Platform AI Builder

 

Integration with Power Apps and Power Automate makes using AI easy.

To add intelligence to your business:

  • Choose an AI model type: Select the model type that suits your business needs. Choose from a growing set of AI solutions. Refer to the no code AI cheat sheet for guidance.
  • Connect data: Select your business-specific data from the available options.
  • Tailor your AI model: You can adjust custom models to enhance your AI’s performance.
  • Train your AI model: Training is an automatic process. It teaches your AI model how to resolve your business problem (for example, how to recognize your products on an image) based on your business data and tailoring. When trained, your AI model can generate insights such as the result of a prediction, or the list and number of objects detected in an image.
  • Use insights from your AI model: Use the results from your AI model across Power Platform to create solutions that meet your business needs, even if you have no coding skills. For example, you can create a flow that automates document processing in Power Automate or an app in Power Apps that predicts whether a supplier will be out of compliance.

Connectors

A Power Platform connector allows the underlying service to talk to Microsoft Power Automate, Microsoft Power Apps, and Azure Logic Apps. It provides a way for users to connect their accounts and leverage a set of prebuilt actions and triggers to build their apps and workflows.

Microsoft offers a wide variety of ready-made (prebuilt) connectors, but sometimes you might want to call APIs, services, and systems that aren’t available as prebuilt connectors. To accommodate different needs, you can choose your connector type.

There are two types of connectors:

  • Prebuilt: Predefined connectors that can be used without you making modifications. They address automating commonly used business process scenarios.
  • Custom: Function-based connectors that you build to support your tailored scenarios.

Dataverse

Dataverse lets you securely store and manage data that’s used by business applications. Data within Dataverse is stored within a set of tables. A table is a set of rows (formerly referred to as records) and columns (formerly referred to as fields/attributes). Each column in the table is designed to store a certain type of data, for example, name, age, salary, and so on. Dataverse includes a base set of standard tables that cover typical scenarios, but you can also create custom tables specific to your organization and populate them with data by using Power Query. App makers can then use Power Apps to build rich applications that use this data.

Power Fx

Power Fx is the low-code language that will be used across Microsoft Power Platform. It’s a general-purpose, strong-typed, declarative, and functional programming language.

Power Fx is expressed in human-friendly text. It’s a low-code language that makers can work with directly in an Excel-like formula bar or Visual Studio Code text window. The “low” in low code is due to the concise and simple nature of the language, making common programming tasks easy for both makers and developers. It enables the full spectrum of development from no-code for those who have never programmed before to “pro-code” for the seasoned professional, with no learning or rewriting cliffs in between, enabling diverse teams to collaborate and save time and expense.

Power Fx binds objects together with declarative spreadsheet-like formulas. For example, think of the Visible property of a UI control as a cell in an Excel worksheet, with an associated formula that calculates its value based on the properties of other controls. The formula logic recalculates the value automatically, similar to how a spreadsheet does, which affects the visibility of the control.

Power Platform Center of Excellence (CoE)

A Center of Excellence (CoE) in an organization drives innovation and improvement and brings together like-minded people with similar business goals to share knowledge and success, while at the same time providing standards, consistency, and governance to the organization.

A CoE is designed to drive innovation and improvement, and as a central function it can break down geographic and organizational silos. A CoE can be a powerful way for an organization to align around business goals rather than individual department metrics.

The Microsoft Power Platform CoE Starter Kit is a collection of components and tools that are designed to help you get started with developing a strategy for adopting and supporting Microsoft Power Platform. The CoE Starter Kit is a reference implementation, and the templates within it might not match every organization’s requirement, so we recommend that you extend the solution to fit your organization’s requirements as defined by your CoE.

 

CoE Starter Kit

 

The kit doesn’t represent the entire CoE, because managing a CoE requires more than tools alone; the CoE also requires people, communication, and defined requirements and processes. The tools provided here are just a means to get to the end goal, but the CoE itself must be thoughtfully designed by each organization based on their needs and preferences.

The kit provides some automation and tooling to help teams build monitoring and automation necessary to support a CoE. The foundation of the kit is a Microsoft Dataverse data model and workflows to collect resource information across the environments in the tenant. The kit includes multiple apps and Power BI analytics to view and interact with the data you collect. The kit also provides several templates and suggested patterns and practices for implementing CoE efforts.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Microsoft Power Platform stands out as a pivotal tool in the realm of digital transformation, offering a low-code, highly versatile platform for developing comprehensive business solutions. It empowers organizations across the spectrum from those with minimal coding expertise to professional developers – to create custom applications, automate workflows, analyze data, all within a unified ecosystem powered by Microsoft Dataverse.

Power Platform’s low-code environment democratizes application development, making it accessible to a wider audience within organizations. This inclusivity fosters innovation and accelerates the digital transformation process by enabling more individuals to contribute to solution development.

In essence, Microsoft Power Platform is more than just a set of tools; it’s a catalyst for change, enabling businesses to harness the power of digital innovation to solve real-world problems, improve efficiency, and drive growth. As organizations look to the future, embracing the capabilities offered by Power Platform will be key to unlocking new opportunities and achieving sustained success in an increasingly digital world.

We hope that you find this article meaningful for you. If you still have questions about Power Platform do not hesitate to contact us, we have more than 10 years of experience in Microsoft 365 services and are one of the best engineers in our crew. We will analyze your business needs and offer you the best solution for your organization.

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