When Microsoft PowerApps launched to much acclaim halfway through the year in 2018 the potential for businesses of all sizes was evident.
At Microsoft Business Application Summit 2018 it was demonstrated how the platform has been designed from the ground up to make app creation more cost-effective, rapid and intuitive than anything already existing in the market today.
Part of the appeal of PowerApps is that it benefits from the full weight of the Microsoft product range and integration options.There’s support for complementary systems such as Microsoft Azure and Dynamics 365 that are integral to making PowerApps so fast and capable.
Microsoft certainly believe in the potential of the new PowerApps platform. According to the company hierarchy PowerApps will help to optimise business operations, and transform product delivery. The benefit is also there for employees to work smarter and more efficiently.
PowerApps has been designed to be very user-friendly, despite the powerful data and infrastructure backing it up. This ensures it is an accessible program for inexperienced developers to launch successful apps. The data running behind the apps is also very useful in today’s sales landscape and can make the difference between success and failure.
There is a major shift in how businesses use data today. Data was once captured by humans and manually entered into data management systems.
Today things are very different. Data is collected and generated at hundreds of touchpoints automatically and analysed by the cloud and platforms like Flow.
From here it can be delivered out to users and be made to work for employees. With this type of data workers can make better sales, know when to make service calls, or butter understand where to allocate resources.
Now we know what Microsoft PowerApps is, let’s look more in detail at what it can do.
A platform that delivers business power
The heart of PowerApps is the ability to make it easy for developers to customise their apps. The type of apps that can be developed and managed with PowerApps includes in house apps for task management, or apps available to customers and the public.
Part of the package is Microsoft Flow and Power BI, which unifies data from many sources to create dashboards and reports that are useful and actionable.
Other integrations include Microsoft Dynamics 365, which is native to the PowerApps platform.
Working with Microsoft Dynamics 365
Microsoft Dynamics is a powerful dashboard, with enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) capabilities.
PowerApps data can be combined with that captured by Flow and BI and used in Dynamics to provide assessments that are valuable.
Dynamics can also be heavily customised to suit each company or user.A variety of business functions can benefit from the data including HR, sales, marketing and finance.
A good example is that of marketing. Dynamics can be used to deliver information on audience segments, engagement levels and deliver powerful customer relationship management throughout the customer sales journey.
What PowerApps can do
Collecting data at such scale is no easy feat. For many businesses it is a common struggle to manage data in a cost efficient manner.
There has been an exponential rise in the number of smart devices used in business operations including the likes of smartphones and tablets. This technology has grown up quickly and sometimes complex business apps have not been available, instead lagging behind the technology.
One of the reasons that apps have been slow to catch up with the potential is down to high development costs and long lead times. Creating highly customised apps that fit individual businesses has also been a big problem.
Of course another difficulty can arise when migrating data from existing systems into new apps or vice-versa which can cause frustration, data loss and affect the adoption rate. In addition there has also been some security concerns for independent apps in the past, including malware and hacking.
So part of the beauty of PowerApps is that it solves many of these issues in one elegant platform.
This is excellent news for developers. PowerApps has been designed to implement new apps and integrate them with existing systems in rapid timeframes.
Engineers only require an understanding of OData API, Open API or Rest API to develop their apps. More efficient speeds are achieved thanks to an innovative design framework.
With Canvas Apps developers can start with the user experience first and build a customised interface rather than building from the backend.
As you start with a blank canvas there is room for creativity and new innovation to be applied. Bespoke branding and unique user journeys can also be developed. Building the app itself can be made simple with a drag and drop style function.
An important factor is that apps developed can work across platforms including web, iOS, and mobile devices.
Apps can also be built from scratch rather than using the more basic options defined above.
Another option is to work with Model-driven apps. This format has significant differences from Canvas Apps.
Layouts and user interfaces are not designed first in this format as with Canvas Apps. Instead, the interface is influenced by the selection and formatting of data.
The interface and layout of the apps are influenced by the data selection and format rather than desired appearance and are automatically generated from your pool of Common Data Service data within Dynamics.
Like canvas apps these are still very user friendly and easy to navigate, and accessible from web browsers and mobile devices. For those who are already familiar with Microsoft Dynamics 365, Model-driven Apps will likely feel intuitive.
If connector applications are important within you app, then you’ll find lots of benefits in using Power Apps.
There’s well over 200 other applications that can be integrated including popular services such as Salesforce, Oracle, DropBox, Slack and SharePoint.
Connecting these popular apps is a simple plugin with no advanced coding required.
Obviously being Microsoft and having huge influence and connections in the software and business world helps here. Other rivals in the market can not offer the same number of quality partnerships available with PowerApps. Custom services you have built yourself are also available to connect.
Microsoft PowerApps is certainly powered to use in cloud-based environments, but it’s not limited to remote storage connections. If you have on-site servers then PowerApps can easily connect with them as well as draw on cloud-based data. The connection and flow of information is essentially seamless. Security protocols are navigated flawlessly to ensure data flow is secure between all locations. Using OneDrive will certainly make things a lot smoother, and some Excel data can only be accessed if it is stored on OneDrive, but onsite storage is still a valid source to draw from. PowerApps is more than capable of navigating various data sources.
The PowerApps platform offers countless benefits for your business. PowerApps can be used to capture and distribute live information for sales teams or other departments in the business.
Because of its easy to use nature and ability to integrate with other popular platforms PowerApps is very fast and cost-effective, when compared with traditional methods of developing apps. Development costs are significantly reduced including labour costs. Future business operations can also be heavily optimised as apps with data handling and integrations can remove the bulk of manual handling needed even in data-heavy industries.
One of the biggest benefits is the ease of customisation within the PowerApps environment which is something not easy to find elsewhere. The low code or even no code methods of building an app is very appealing too.
PowerApps is accessible in a few different ways, but packages can be purchased on a per user basis for a price point ranging between £5 and £30.
Microsoft is happy to tailor plans to suit your specific business needs, but it is always worth consulting with them to evaluate your own specific needs and identify solutions with your current IT support specialists before going ahead.
Microsoft PowerApps may be the solution you’re looking for if your business is struggling to deal with today’s data collection needs. There is huge potential to elevate the performance of your business, especially with apps like Flow, BI and Dynamics 365. Employees find PowerApps easy to use, clients love how much information is available, and IT support teams enjoy the intuitive working environment. Costs and speeds can be reduced substantially making this a powerful software that will positively impact on the way you do business.
About EC-MSP, your Microsoft PowerApps partner
EC-MSP are one of the most trusted IT support providers in London. If you would like more help advice and support with Microsoft PowerApps for your business, contact us today to see how we can help.