Like any of Microsoft’s platforms, its Power Platform consists of suites that work independently but are even more potent when used in combination to serve a common purpose. The purpose here is to make formidable data-driven processes easy to access and use, allowing businesses of all kinds (even those lacking in technical expertise) to enhance their business operations.
Drawing from the Power Platform, companies can achieve broad data-led improvements without needing to delve into any coding. This allows everyone to get involved, regardless of their background or interests, thus opening up cloud-powered enhancement in a very appealing way.
What does the Microsoft Power Platform include?
The Power Platform currently consists of four suites under the Power umbrella: Power BI, Power Apps, Power Automate, and Power Virtual Agents, released in that order.
Power BI was launched in 2014, with Power Apps introduced at the tail end of 2015. Power Automate launched as Flow in late 2016, but was renamed near the end of 2019 at the same time as the launch of the most recent of the four: Power Virtual Agents.
Let’s run through each of these suites, in turn, noting what they bring to the table:
Analytics are mission-critical for all ambitious businesses, because it’s all but impossible to consistently implement improvements without suitably assessing and understanding prior performance. Repeat what works and cut what doesn’t: that’s how to get better.
Gathering performance data is just the start, though. The gleaned information then needs to be parsed and presented to the appropriate people, whether they’re internal managers or high-value clients. Power BI works as a powerful and versatile foundation for the entire process.
Connecting to various sources of analytics data (enabled by myriad integrations), it allows users to sort, select and format the useful data. It also provides extensive reporting functionality: using templates and preset configurations, users can easily build custom reports.
Every business can benefit from the development of purpose-built apps. However, with the process of app development typically being long and expensive, it isn’t often economical to attempt the creation of apps (other than conventional customer-facing mobile apps).
Power Apps was created to change how businesses viewed apps. It serves as an intuitive tool for quickly and logically assembling apps, providing a drag-and-drop interface that allows users to combine pre-built functions drawn from a massive range of templates.
By attaching those functions to data drawn from integrations with other Microsoft services and empowering them with Azure processing, it makes it possible for beginners to rapidly design, iterate and roll out practical apps to solve numerous procedural issues.
Planned and executed well, automation can be a business game-changer, massively driving up operational efficiency and freeing up valuable human resources to be put towards more challenging projects. The difficulty lies in the design and implementation: before it can assist you, the manual effort must be built into suitable processes to be carried out.
Power Automate is a platform that codifies business automation, breaking it down into a broad set of templates, data connectors, and expected prompts and actions. The user doesn’t need any understanding of automation languages. They need only choose a type of ‘flow’ (for ‘workflow’) and follow the system from there.
Is it sufficiently intuitive that a beginner can get somewhere? No, it isn’t: there’s still a learning curve to be overcome. But the point is that it’s a learning curve anyone can eventually get to grips with, regardless of their background or area or expertise — opening automation up.
Power Virtual Agents
Whether implemented to field customer queries or used internally by large businesses with multiple departments, chatbots can be supremely efficient and cost-effective, and this is reflected in their rate of growth. It wasn’t long ago that they were considered trivial.
Building a good chatbot isn’t easy, though. While there are generic chatbot frameworks that can be found and used for free, those are largely hollow shells to be filled with the required calls and responses — and figuring out how everything is going to fit in sequence is a real challenge.
Power Virtual Agents follows the same no-code design principle of the other Power Platform tools, guiding users through the process of chatbot content design, and the key element is the level of integration: chatbot functionality demands integration, and being able to easily hook into actions and data from the entire Microsoft ecosystem is a tremendous boon.
How it can help your clients
To summarise the Power Platform’s components, let’s say they offer code-free and cohesive business enhancement. They’re best used together, for the most part, because of said cohesion. Users can design apps, create chatbots to support them, automate their interactions, and analyse the results — all without leaving Microsoft’s consistent interface design.
This can prove enormously useful to your clients, particularly those already invested in suites like Office 365 or the broader Microsoft 365. Things like app design or chatbot creation are often outsourced at significant cost, but that can be avoided through the Power Platform: given enough time and freedom to become familiar with its options, a business can become far more self-sufficient (and thus more profitable).
Wrapping up, if you need any assistance with selling Power Platform, you can, of course, come to intY. We can steer you through presenting it optimally and handling the deployment.