Comprehensive Guide to Microsoft Power Platform

Fitting its name, Microsoft Power Platform is a powerful service every business should be tapping into. In our guide, we’ll run through everything you need to know about Microsoft Power Platform – what it is, its benefits, how it works and why your business needs it.

What is Microsoft Power Platform?

Microsoft Power Platform is a collective term for Microsoft’s suite of business intelligence, app development and app connectivity services. Its main goal is to provide ways to allow users to easily manage, develop and automate business processes, data and applications to gain quality insight and improve productivity through low code development environments.

The suite consists of four core services:

  • Power BI: specializes in analyzing data, uncovering hidden insights,providing interactive data visualisations and connecting data sources. 
  • Power Automate (Flow): boosts productivity by streamlining workflows, automating organisational processes and enhancing workflows with artificial intelligence. 
  • PowerApps: enables quick and easy development of custom apps with little to no code expertise.
  • Power Virtual Agents: allows for easy development and management of chatbots

We will go into more detail of each service further below.

Why is Microsoft Power Platform so powerful?

Traditionally, it would take a complete IT team to conduct quality data analysis, build automations and create apps. Not only is this a cost-heavy process, it is also time consuming as it would require every team and/or department to submit requests outlining all their requirements, wait for proposal evaluation and then join the long-list of waitlisted projects for the team.

Microsoft Power Platform’s power is in data democratisation – it gives power into the hands of non-technical end users to build on their own – what they want, how they want, and when they want it. With its intrinsic low-to-no code interface, it allows users with little to no experience in programming, coding and artificial intelligence to build useful tools for their own teams. In fact, a Forrester report has recognized Microsoft PowerApps as a top leader in low code development platforms and rated it the strongest in terms of strategy. 

While it may not give the level of intricacy and flexibility achieved by custom coding, it provides an easy-to-use method for users to create, automate and analyse their data that was previously impossible for the average user. 

But don’t write off its worth just because of its simplicity. The power of Microsoft Power Platform is truly revealed when used within the greater Microsoft ecosystem and its extensive external data connectivity capabilities.

Key Benefits of Microsoft Power Platform

“ Microsoft Power Platform is an inclusive technology. Its ease-of-use creates a culture of innovation, helping you realize untapped value you couldn’t access before.” 

Nipa Chakravarti, General IT Manager at Inter Pipeline

There are a multitude of benefits Microsoft Power Platform can bring to your business that we’ve even written a whole post about them! Make sure to check it out for the complete list. 

We’ve put together a short list of the key benefits Microsoft Power Platform can bring your business:

Congregates all business activities onto a single platform

Nothing is worse than patchy connectivity and inaccurate data. In a time when speed is of the essence, Microsoft Power Platform’s end-to-end capabilities along with extensive integration with Office365 applications and hundreds of external data sources give you seamless management of enterprise data. Say good-bye to departmental silos and process bottlenecks. Say hello to full 360 visibility and control over your portfolio!

Easy-to-use interface allows for easy adoption

Its minimal to no-code approach makes it significantly easier for all team members, no matter their level of experience, to adopt and maximize the tools and services within Microsoft Power Platform. No more waiting for IT developments teams for a single application. Users can easily generate insights and develop new workflows through citizen development and deploy it straight within their teams or share it with the wider enterprise. 

Improves business productivity

With automation and chatbots, your teams can improve their productivity by doing away with manual updating, repetitive tasks and paper-based practices. This gives your teams the time and resources to focus on more value adding activities and give the overall business a boost in productivity!

Brings extensive cost savings

The savings don’t stop with just time and effort. Forrester reports revealed that PowerApps and Power Automate reduced app development cost by 70%. PowerApps also cuts down extra service subscription costs by as much as 50% in licensing fees. 

Improves business data security

Microsoft takes their security seriously. Firstly, Power Platform services run from Microsoft’s Azure data center that are IRAP certified. This means they have the highest level certification for cyber and data security. Additionally, PowerApps itself gives you complete control over data accessibility and data permits. All your custom-built apps are automatically linked to Microsoft’s active directory domain service (ADDS), which ensures all users and devices are properly authenticated and are subject to their respective security policies. 

Facilitates integration of artificial intelligence into business processes

You don’t have to hire fancy AI experts to tap into the exciting AI technologies in the project space. Microsoft Power Platform allows you to tap into the full potential of AI from predictive analysis with Power BI, smartbots with Power Virtual Assistant, and robotic process automation (RPA) with PowerAutomate. Get the power of AI on your side in the most cost-effective way!

How does Microsoft Power Platform work?

Though each service specializes in a specific function, the suite of services typically achieve their results through three key features: Common Data Service, data connectors, and AI builders.

Comprehensive Guide to Microsoft Power Platform

Common Data Service

The Common Data Service (CDS) is the heart of Microsoft Power Platform. CDS is a secure database hosted in Microsoft’s Azure Cloud and allows users to securely store, access and manage their business data. The CDS stores a set of entities, both standard and customizable, that both meet security compliance and gives room for specific requirements to be made according to the user’s needs. By functioning within this highly secure environment, Power Platform services gives users the semantic consistency and built-in connectivity to take their PPM activities to the next level.

Data Connectors

One of the biggest challenges faced by all organisations is data connectivity. With different teams using different types of applications, gathering all the data in one place accurately and seamlessly is a challenge. With their extensive list of external data connectors, Microsoft Power Platform is able to integrate functions, workflows and automations across many different data sources onto the CDS even when they are outside of the Microsoft ecosystem. This means that teams do not have to completely migrate all their data and practices onto a completely new platform and can leverage their pre-existing data.

AI Builders

Artificial Intelligence is set to bring massive changes and benefits to businesses that can properly tap into its potential. Microsoft has made it their mission to make these exciting artificial intelligence technologies as accessible as possible from the predictive analysis capabilities of Power BI to automated chatbots with Power Virtual Agents. The AI building capacity spans from enhancing process and apps, elevating data models, offering extensive customizability and enabling enterprise grade pro-development.

Power Platform Services

Microsoft Power BI

Power BI

Power BI is the business analytics service that specializes in connecting, visualizing and analysing enterprise data. The service is a collection of applications and connectors that allows users to build custom dashboards, connect multiple data sources, build detailed data models and create practical data visualizations. It is primarily used to take your businesses reporting and data analytics to the next level

The service is available in both desktop and mobile versions so all your reporting and data analytics can be accessible whenever and wherever you need it. 

Key benefits of Power BI

Power BI brings an extensive amount of benefits to your business. Its key benefits include:

  • Improving your data connectivity and integration
  • Streamlining your reporting activities
  • Bringing extensive cost savings
  • Supporting remote work through cloud-based data
  • Giving users the ability to turn data into actions easily

Read more: Top 9 Benefits of Power BI

Microsoft Power Automate

Power Automate

Power Automate, previously known as Microsoft Flow, specializes in streamlining processes, automating tasks and enhancing workflows with the help of artificial intelligence. It does this by applying an AP-based approach that exchanges data with legacy softwares and integrates AI models through a low-code easy-to-use interface.

It automates activities by working through five specific types of flows: 

  1. Automated flows: automate process flows to perform one or more tasks after an event has triggered it.
  2. Button flows: automate repetitive tasks at a tap of a button.
  3. Scheduled flows: automate tasks on a scheduled basis.
  4. Business process flows: automate more human-centric processes like project governance and compliance steps.
  5. UI flows: introduces RPA in workflows by automating repetitive tasks in both desktop and web applications.

Key benefits of Power Automate

  • Streamlines your daily business activities
  • Takes advantage of data integration and connectivity
  • Improves business productivity
  • Reduces cost and risks of human errors

Read more: Power Automate: How it works and why you need it.

Microsoft Power Apps

PowerApps

PowerApps enables users to easily build, develop and integrate custom apps within a low-code development environment to accommodate their business needs. It is recognized as a leader in low code development platforms and aims to empower non-professional ‘citizen’ developers to build their own apps with little to no experience in programming or coding.

With its easy drag-and-drop UI and various pre-formatted app templates, PowerApps makes the app creation process as simple, accessible and cost-effective as possible. Paired with its extensive integrative capacity with other Power Platform services, Microsoft 365 applications and endless external data sources, PowerApps is a powerful tool that elevates your workflows to the next level.

The service allows you to easily make three types of apps:

  1. Canvas apps: a blank canvas format that allows you to build apps from scratch
  2. Model-driven apps: automatically generated apps based on the nature of the connected data sets that can be modified and customized.
  3. Portal apps: external-facing web portals that help internal and external users access shared data  within the CDS securely.

Key benefits of PowerApps

  • Streamlines app development process
  • Upgrades business data security
  • Enhances business speed and productivity
  • Brings significant cost efficiency

Read more about the top 8 benefits of PowerApps

Microsoft Power Virtual Agents

Power Virtual Agent

Power Virtual Agent is the latest addition to Microsoft Power Platform’s suite of services and is focused on empowering users to easily develop and manage fully functional bots with no coding and artificial intelligence experience. It’s easy-to-use graphical interface not only makes it easy to navigate, but the service also provides pre-made templates to help users get started on building their very first chatbot effectively.

Additionally, like the other Power Platform apps it has extensive integration capabilities that allow your chatbots to be integrated into the majority of workflows and platforms with little to no barriers.

Read more about how it works with our Beginners Guide to Power Virtual Agent.

Key Benefits of Power Virtual Agent

  • Build, measure and improve chatbots with zero experience
  • Reduce costs of expensive IT teams and developers
  • Improve customer satisfaction with 24/7 service
  • Experience the benefits of automated bots across the entirety of the business

Get the power of business intelligence and automation on your side with pmo365

Want to tap into the power of Microsoft Power Platform but don’t know how to get started? Lucky for you, our team is filled with Power Platform Pros! Make sure to book in a chat with our PPM experts to see how you can make the most Microsoft Power Platform for your business. 

Bill Allars

Bill Allars

Bill is a Business Development Manager with 20+ of experience in Project and Portfolio Management, Project Administration, Risk Management and Process Redevelopment.

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