Microsoft Power Apps:

Platform Highlights and Value

One of our automation consultants dives deep into Microsoft Power Apps to showcase the platform’s capabilities, highlights, and value.

Ihave been an Automation Developer and Solutions Architect for over 20 years and have seen how Microsoft’s strategy evolved from SPS (SharePoint Portal Server) in 2001, to Workflow Foundation in 2007, to today’s Power Platform. Microsoft Power Apps is a component of the Power Platform, which allows anyone to automate and build applications that improve business processes in minutes, with no code or very little code. Anyone willing to learn, with or without coding skills, can take a concept to a fully-functional production-quality application faster because of the following benefits:

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Speed of App Creation

Power Apps speeds up the development process as users have multiple ways to start their project including SharePoint, Microsoft Forms, and pre-built templates, or you can start with a blank canvas in Power Apps.

The web interface is a low-code and no-code framework that offers toolboxes that streamline the design and development through its built-in Graphical User Interface (GUI). The designer allows for drag-and-drop functionality and makes the process more of a configuration activity versus writing code.

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Power Apps User Interface

Microsoft and Third-Party Service Integrations

Power Apps allows app creators and contributors the ability to connect to data sources, online services, and rest APIs with few, if any, development requirements. Integrations available include everything in the Microsoft stack including: Azure, Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, as well as most third-party services (Google, Salesforce, Adobe, Dropbox, etc.).

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Integrations available
microsoft power apps salesforce

Salesforce & Power Apps

Power Apps shines for integrating Salesforce with other core systems. For example, approve and submit won opportunities to NetSuite for invoicing. Conversely, push actual revenue back to opportunities in Salesforce for accurate customer reporting.

Since the COVID pandemic, Microsoft Teams integrations have become important to supporting a virtual workforce. Power Apps and Power Automate make it possible to create Teams Sites, Teams Meetings, and Teams Planner integrations into Power Apps and Power Automate workflows. Additionally, Power Apps allows integration with all other Power Platform components (i.e. Power BI dashboards can be incorporated into applications).

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Business Process Automation

Power Apps can access Power Automate (formerly Microsoft Flow). Power Automate process flows can be triggered from any Power Apps to enable organizations to start any number of business processes including the following:

  • Approvals

  • Notifications

  • Document Routing

  • User Task Management

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Power Automate flow with Power Apps
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AI Builder capabilities

AI Capabilities

AI Builder allows Power Apps developers to incorporate intelligence to business applications. This simplifies building out Machine Learning models. All the leading models (Google, IBM Watson, Microsoft) are already incorporated. Some of the AI capabilities included are:

  • Text recognition

  • Category classification

  • Language detection

  • Invoice / receipt processing

  • Sentiment analysis

  • Interactive chat bots (Power Virtual Agents)

Cross-Platform Access

Power Apps enables individuals, teams, and organizations to build and deploy apps to their designated catalog from the platform.  You can even be deployed to Apple’s App Store or Google’s Play store. (Apps must be approved and go through Apple’s or Google’s review process)

Users can access and share any app developed within Power Apps from a tablet, web interface, or mobile device. This eliminates unnecessary complexity seen with traditional cross-platform app development.

Low Cost of App Ownership

Power Automate (with AI Builder) is installed by default in Windows 11 and Power Apps for Windows is available in the Microsoft Store.

If your organization needs to connect to premium services, such as Dataverse, Microsoft offers the following paid plans:

  • Per-app plan
  • Per-user plan (unlimited apps)

Note: Microsoft announced that the plan costs will decrease by 50% on October 1st, 2022.

How Far App Development Has Come

I graduated in the mid-90’s with a Finance degree with a minor in Computer Science. After graduating from college, I became a Series 7 Licensed Trader for a large financial institution. My director at the time saw that I had a knack for coding, so I was given a rare opportunity to participate in a re-write of a DOS-based trading platform to the first Internet-based online trading web application. I started in the third year of the project which took five years to develop.

I recently had lunch with one of my colleagues from that time, and we were discussing how long it would have taken us to develop that application today. With all the rest APIs available to support trading platforms and the use of no-code and low-code platforms, we agreed that we could complete that same project with all the original functionality and team in less than a month using Microsoft Power Apps.

Today, I build apps for personal tasks as well as I currently develop Power Apps and AI-enabled bots to do everything including: paying my bills, investing in stocks, managing my budget, playing games, and any repetitive task that takes more than 10 minutes of my day.

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