Microsoft Power Platform Overview

Have you ever heard of Microsoft Power Apps? Maybe Power Automate or Power BI come to mind? What’s the difference and who are they for? Great questions! Let’s start with a high level overview of the Microsoft (MS) Power Platform family. 

The MS Power Platform is a collection of low-code and no-code tools that enable business leaders to automate business processes, create custom applications, and gain insight from data to make better decisions. The Power Platform includes Power Apps (application development), Power BI (business analytics), Power Automate (process automation), Power Virtual Agents, and Power Pages (external-facing websites). The products can be used independently based on the unique needs or leveraged collectively to build a holistic, interconnected platform accessible across all business functions. 

Photo source

Here’s a quick review of a few core Power Platform products. 

Power Apps provides a low-code approach enabling users to quickly create custom applications to automate repetitive, time consuming and manually intensive tasks. 

Developers and non-technical users can build applications without having extensive coding knowledge. Power Apps utilizes a drag-and-drop interface, allowing users to create custom applications by simply dragging and dropping components. You can create apps for various mobile platforms (iOS, Android), run in a browser, or on the desktop. 

Companies have started to leverage Power Apps to build custom mobile and web apps to simplify repetitive tasks, reducing inconsistent data entry, improving data quality, and enabling user access across multiple platforms. 

Examples of low-code Power Apps:

  • Inventory Management System: Track inventory, reorder products, and manage supply chain.
  • Client Intake Forms: Standardize process of onboarding new customers. 
  • Ticketing System/Help Desk: Submit requests and track status of tickets. 

Power BI is a data visualization tool that allows users to connect to various data sources, create sophisticated reports, and share interactive dashboards to team members across your organization. Similar to Power Apps, you can access Power BI across multiple platforms including desktop, cloud, and mobile. 

Connect to Data: With Power BI Desktop, you can connect to many different types of data including basic data sources such as a Microsoft Excel file. You can connect to online services that contain all sorts of data, such as Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, Azure Blob Storage, and many more. 

Stat on companies still using Excel: “More than 731,000 companies in the US alone still continue to use Excel for data collection and management.” 2022

Got Excel?! Excel is still one of the most widely used and trusted tools for data analytics, project management, and other day-to-day operations of businesses. And Power BI makes it easy to select your tried and true Excel file, load the data, and begin to create dashboards and share them with your team.  

In the Get Data window shown below, you can choose from the many different data sources to which Power BI Desktop can connect. 

Photo source

Power Automate (formerly known as Microsoft Flow)

Power Automate allows employees to create and automate workflows and tasks across multiple applications and services without help from developers. Automated workflows are called flows. Once a flow is built, it can be managed on the desktop or through an app on a mobile device. Power Automate integrates with various Microsoft services and apps, including Power BI, PowerApps, Dynamics 365 and Microsoft 365

Power Automate automates everything from simple push notifications and content management to complex business processes with defined steps and stages. Below, explore the primary uses of Power Automate. 

Here are a couple examples of how Power Automate can be used:

  • Triggers notifications: This is one of the most commonly used automated workflows in PowerAutomate. For example, an automated workflow can send sales representatives an email or text message on lead details.

  • Copy files: An automated workflow instantly posts a file copy to SharePoint from Dropbox or OneDrive for Business. 

If you’d like more information about the additional MS Power Platform products such as Virtual Agents and Power Pages, please visit MS Power Platform. Microsoft also has excellent training and learning content on its Microsoft Learn

On my next Power Platform blog, I’ll review in detail the supporting capabilities built into the Power Platform solutions including AI Builder, Connectors and Dataverse. 

Fivestar* is excited to offer MS Power Platform solutions. Our team will work with you to understand your needs and how Power Apps could be the solution for your organization. Once we conduct a full audit, we will provide a proposed solution to solve your challenges. 

If you are interested in learning more, we will be hosting a webinar to take a deeper dive into how the MS Power Platform can help you accelerate your business. Join us for a high-level overview of how Microsoft’s Power Platform drives growth and efficiency in your operation. Our technical team will demonstrate how to quickly get started building low-code applications in Power Apps, Power Automate, and Power BI solutions. Learn how each can be used individually or together to modernize legacy systems, accelerate data analytics, and simplify complex processes. Click HERE to register and learn more.