So, I am often asked about Power Automate.
To me, Power Automate is the hidden gem of the Power Platform. When we talk about Power Platform, we are either thinking about Dynamics 365 and Power Automation or we are thinking about engaging the customers from a Dynamics365 point of view and PowerApps. We have a sort of sexy front end, something to sort of fill in and its available on mobile devices. Or perhaps we are talking about Power Virtual Agents, where we are actively talking to an automated process. Again, very sexy, and very interesting.
Here sits Power Automate. This fantastic engine, this glue that holds everything together. To me, it is a bit of an unsung hero, so I want to have a chat about why we use it and what its ‘power’ is, so to speak.
So, you have got the front ends: Power Virtual Agents and Power Apps and those tools are easily split. This is where we are collecting the data so we can do some nice things to it, some good ‘if this then that’ scenarios. For example, when thinking about PowerApps, my team did the Pac Man app and I have seen the likes of Brian Dang and several others do some very cool things with the PowerApps front end. This front end can look great, especially if we look at some of the stuff that Alan Chai has done, you can see that it really stands out in an organization in terms of collecting data or giving updates on where you are at in the process. I am sure, from this, you have guessed that PowerApps are close to my heart, they are probably my favourite part of the Power Platform. This is partly due to them being ‘out there’ and therefore gaining lots of attention, as it is all about collecting and surfacing data.
So, on to Power Virtual Agents, our new toy. Well, I love it. This tool focuses on being able to discern where the user is going to go and then being able to give feedback. I talk a lot about getting to value faster and Power Virtual Agents shows its strength here because we can look at delivering self service in a much faster, more intuitive way rather than just static content on an intranet. Power Virtual Agents allows people to ask questions and then get to an answer quickly. Superb tool both internally and externally in an organisation.
However, both these tools would be nothing without the underlying layer. In the same way that in Office 365, SharePoint is now seen as the document layer, so to speak, and its front end is gradually disappearing as it becomes part of the fabric of the platform, so Power Automate or Flow as we used to call it, does too. Without that fundamental layer, the rest of it will stop functioning. Without that layer, we could not get from the PowerApps or Virtual Agent collecting the data to the Power BI dashboard, where that data is made ‘sexy’ on nice flash dashboards, showing us clearly all the insight collected. Whilst that power is in that insight or in that collection, it gets its resources to develop from that piece in the middle, that glue that holds it all together, where the magic really happens: The Power Platform and Power Automate.
So, like I say, Power Automate is a bit of an unsung hero. Another reason for this is that users will come to you with requirements that effectively relate to the PowerApps or the dashboard. Then your imagination can take hold. For example, we can look at sessions for presentations at conferences such as The Scottish Summit 2021 (I hope to see you there, well virtually anyway) where the presentations at those summits focus on, not only the bits that people want to see but also create tracks for developers to make sure that the business process is being escalated and thought about throughout.
In this way, Power Automate becomes part of the design decision, it becomes part of the process flow diagram, like I say outside of the ‘sexier stuff’. However, it still is a powerful instrument and one of those tools that if you understand the power of it and what it can do, then it can really leverage your organization.
When we talk about getting to value faster, it is the fact we can put on a front end, do various processing, and get that data out in a matter of hours or even a day, for some of the short requirements, that makes it so valuable. Here is where Power Automate proves itself again. We are looking to be able to get it on the back of apps we can put inside Teams. This means the new Data Verse for Teams will be able to hook into Power Automate which will propel it, yet again, to a whole new level.
So, the discussion was about this hidden gem and why is it then we forget that Power Automate exists? Well, simply put, it is just too useful. Think about the utilities in your house. You do not often think about the electricity or how it works, your just grateful that it does its job, same with the water supply. Power Automate is the utility of the Power Platform and therefore we should not forget about it, especially those of us that are developing apps and business processes for real businesses to use. We might be using PowerApps all day, every day but it disappears a little from the end user’s visibility.
Let us not forget about our unsung hero. Let us turn up to conferences like the Scottish Summit and learn more about it. Let us keep it front of mind when we are thinking about the Power Platform and realise that, although it works in the background, without it, where would we or our businesses be?
Thanks for listening – don’t forget to leave comments below or get in touch with me directly if you’d like to chat about the content posted here or anything to do with the Power Platform – I’m a Business Applications speaker and evangelist with a clear focus on delivering real business value from technology. I speak at least once a month so please find me at an event and #LetsGetCoffee