What is the Microsoft Power Platform?

28 October 2021

Microsoft is perhaps the biggest name in the technology landscape for most buyers. Associated with everything from cloud computing to office productivity, Microsoft empowers teams across the globe. 

One of the many solutions the company offers for today’s innovators is the “Microsoft Power Platform”. This selection of carefully chosen services is bundled to provide users with the opportunity to analyse data, build automations, and even create virtual agents.

The Power Platform ecosystem works to make companies more efficient, insightful, and profitable, with analysts like Forrester noting the tech could pay for itself within three months, thanks to an extremely high ROI. It’s no wonder, then, that Microsoft announced an incredible 11 million people are using the Power Platform as of February 2021. That’s a growth of 95% YoY (year over year).

So, what exactly is the Microsoft Power Platform, and what can it do?

Defining the Microsoft Power Platform

The Power Platform is a synergistic combination of different Microsoft products, working together to deliver excellent results. The idea behind the creation was to give companies more value, by connecting the solutions they’d typically use in tandem for analysing data and improving business performance. Particularly, Power Platform enhances the performance of your Microsoft Teams solution as the central environment for communication and collaboration.

The components of the Power Platform include:

  • Power BI
  • Power Apps
  • Power Automate
  • Power Virtual Agents

Let’s take a closer look at each Power Platform element.

Make Better Business Decisions with Power BI

Power BI is a portfolio of apps, services, and connectors built to align disparate data and turn streams of information into actionable insights. Currently rated with the highest scores in the current offering and strategy categories for the Forrester Wave report, Microsoft BI supports companies in creating a data-driven culture where everyone can access the benefits of data.

Imagine how much easier it would be to understand your processes and track workflow performance if you could pull together all the disjointed on-premises and cloud-based data points in your company. Power BI enables this, helping you to connect to your ideal data source, visualise solutions and discover how to transform your business. 

With Power BI, you get:

  • Self-service analytics at scale to reduce the added cost and complexity of data insights with an analytics platform that scales to suit any company.
  • Smart tools for intelligent results, with built-in AI capabilities, excellent Excel integration and custom data connectors. 
  • Protection for your data, with industry-leading capabilities including end-to-end encryption, sensitivity labelling and access monitoring.

By aligning all the facts at your fingertips when you need them most, Power BI allows companies to take an informed, intelligent approach to growth. You can see what’s happening in the present, learn from what happened in the past, and predict possibilities in the future, thanks to machine learning.

Currently, Power BI is available as a desktop application, SaaS system delivered over the cloud, or a mobile application, so you can access your data anywhere.

Empower Creativity with Power Apps

As of 2021, the average organisation is using around 110 software applications. We’re constantly turning to apps to make businesses more profitable, efficient, and powerful. However, building those apps isn’t always easy. That’s where Power Apps comes in.

Power Apps is a suite of services, connectors, apps, mixed with a data platform to allow users to build the custom apps they need. With live data access, you can use your apps as you work, collecting immediate feedback for more intuitive user experiences. The Power Apps you build can also integrate seamlessly into your Microsoft Teams environment.

Power Apps is the key to creating custom apps without compromise and without the need for excessive developer skills. You can empower your entire team to start building and launching apps instantly using pre-built templates and drag-and-drop tools. 

You can also create apps to connect to the business data you want to access from various on-premises data sources, like Dynamics 365 and Office 365. A unified admin centre provides strong security and enterprise governance across third-party, first-party and custom apps too.

Reduce Repetition with Power Automate

Throughout the digitally transforming business landscape, countless experts agree that automation is the key to greater efficiency and performance. The challenge for business leaders is determining where they should begin with automation. 

Power Automate is the Microsoft Tool designed to streamline repetitive and monotonous tasks, you can focus your attention where it’s most needed. The convenient cloud-based tool was named a leader in the Robotic Process Automation Forrester Wave report 2021. With Power Automate, you can easily sync files, set up notifications or alerts, and instigate workflows. 

Power Automate empowers everyone in your business (not just the developers and data scientists) to build processes with deep, immersive flows. Drag-and-drop, low-cost tools with hundreds of prebuilt connectors change the way teams operate. There’s even the option to record and visualise end-to-end processes with the “process advisor” service, which recommends workflow creation options for you.

Whether using a template or making your own unique solution, you’ll have complete access to enhanced workflow opportunities with the Microsoft AI builder, which pulls more intelligence into your ecosystem. Today, the Power Automate service is available for web, mobile, desktop, and even directly for Microsoft Teams. 

Reduce Workloads with Power Virtual Agents

The final pillar of Microsoft’s Power Platform is the “Virtual Agents” solution, which allows users to respond rapidly to customer and employee needs with intelligent, scalable chatbots. You can design any kind of chatbot you like, capable of communicating across environments like Microsoft Teams, Emails, and Facebook Messenger. 

As with most things in the Power Platform, there’s no need for any extensive coding knowledge to create your own chatbots, thanks to a simple graphical interface. You can also integrate your chatbots with the tools you have every day, access intelligent search, personalised conversations, and even set up handover rules for when someone needs to speak to a human agent.

With Power Automate, you’ll have no trouble creating a range of custom workflows and complex scenarios for your bots. Microsoft provides helpful suggestions on what kind of bots you build, and what sort of topics you should cover when enabling your chat technology. The solution has already had a huge impact on numerous brands.

The Miami Dolphins used Microsoft bots to improve the guest experience at games, while healthcare companies have used the same technology for tracking information about pandemic infection rates. You can easily view metrics gathered by your bots for better insights too. 

Data Connectors: Stronger Together

Although all of the pillars of the Microsoft Platform are available as standalone products, they work best when combined together, and nurtured by the same stream of data. There are around 275 connectors available on the Power Platform, to help you connect various actions and data into convenient, efficient workflows. 

What’s more, as the Microsoft Power Platform environment continues to grow, new features continue to appear, such as the AI builder for adding intelligent capabilities into Power App creation and automation. 

With Power BI, Power Apps, Power Automate, and Virtual Agents all linked in the same environment, you unlock the benefits of the “Common Data Service”, or CDS from Microsoft, which allows companies to securely store and manage the lifeblood of their company – their data. When all of your tools run on the same data stream, you unlock better opportunities, backed by facts.

The concept of Power Apps was particularly appealing during the pandemic when companies were forced to suddenly change the entire structure of their business operations almost overnight. Here at Resonate, we have helped countless companies to develop the customised business applications and essential tools they needed to champion Microsoft Teams as the heart of their collaboration and communication strategy. 

Enhancing Teams with the Power Platform

Boasting around 250 million monthly active users as of July 2021, Teams has quickly emerged as the central hub of today’s digitally evolving teams. It only makes sense, then, that Microsoft’s Power Platform would be tailor-made to enhance the Teams environment.

Power App creators can publish apps directly to their own app library in Teams, helping to empower workers wherever they are with the same tools. Power Apps also has a dedicated Teams Connector, which enables the development of apps that use data from the Teams environment. 

Power Automate allows companies to develop time-saving workflows and processes within the Teams environment. This brings crucial information to the attention of the people who need it most, enabling better interactions on a daily basis. You can even use bots to run flows within Teams based on triggers, like asking staff for feedback at the end of each meeting.

Even Power BI has a role to play in the evolution of the Teams landscape. Part of leveraging data in the digitally transforming landscape is making sure everyone has access to the right insights. Power BI reports allow for the delivery of vital data throughout the team, through the Teams environment. You can instantly facilitate team discussions around crucial insights and data points and share information with team members. 

Finally, with Power Virtual Agents, your IT administrators, domain specialists, business analysts, and app developers can all create intuitive, practical virtual apps for Microsoft Teams, without the need for an expensive and complicated development environment. 

All you need to do is enable the option to upload apps in Teams, and you’ll be able to access your chatbots from the Teams App Studio straight away. You can even share your bot by asking admins to make it available within the tenant app catalogue, or by sending a link to your app package to colleagues.

Empowering Companies with Microsoft Power Platform

Microsoft has been identified as a leader for 14 years in a row by Gartner’s Analytics and Business Intelligence Platforms report. The vendor has also earned a top spot among industry reports for its approach to low-code development and application tools. 

Based on the Forrester Total Economic Impact report for 2021, investing in Microsoft Power Platforms has more of a significant impact on business impact than most people might think. Within three years, you can earn a 502% Return on Investment for your new technology. 

It’s easy to see why the Power Platform is taking the world by storm. The comprehensive ecosystem is ideal for weaving together various business collaboration, communication, and data analytics tools in one convenient package. The mobile-ready offering even comes with Office 365 and third-party integration built-in, so you can build on the technology stack investments you already have. 

As the world grows increasingly competitive, and companies struggle to differentiate themselves from other brands, the demand for amazing customer experience is higher than ever. Microsoft Power Platform provides users with a cost-effective way to upgrade CX by enhancing overall business performance, efficiency, and operations.

What’s Next for the Power Platform?

Microsoft is already planning new updates for the Power Platform, promising things like multi-cloud to edge connections, so teams can run next-generation apps capable of operating securely in any environment. 

The future of Power Platform will centre around security, with end-to-end privacy and compliance in every data strategy you build with Microsoft. At the same time, you can expect an increase in the intelligence of the Power Platform, and its ability to guide companies through growth. 

If you want to get ahead of the curve in time for the next major Power Platform update, or you’re keen to discover what you can accomplish with the right platform, Resonate can help. Experts in Microsoft Teams and Power Platform technology, we can assist with every step of your roadmap. From developing Power BI dashboards for quick metric tracking to building custom applications, we help all kinds of companies achieve their goals. 

Our assistance with the Power Platform and Microsoft Teams means we can provide next-level guidance for all digitally transformational businesses. Contact us on +44 (0)207 8989958 or at info@resonate-ucc.com to learn more today.

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