What is Microsoft Power Automate?

A look at the RPA solution in the Power Platform toolbox

Microsoft Power Automate helps you streamline repetitive tasks with automated workflows between business applications and services. We’ll explore some of the key features and benefits of the platform here.

Microsoft Power Automate is a comprehensive, integrated automation platform with advanced digital process automation (DPA), robotic process automation (RPA), and process mining capabilities. With the power of low-code and AI, you are in the driver’s seat to securely automate your organization at scale.

Microsoft Power Automate boosts user productivity, allowing them to put intelligent workflows to use with minimal effort. Using pre-built connectors, users can build time-saving workflows that can do anything from individual tasks to large-scale systems with seamless integrations.

These secure workflows also include cloud-based functionality such as data loss prevention, identity, and access management services. With the ability to automate time-consuming manual tasks with built-in AI capabilities, there’s more time to focus on strategic, high-value opportunities in the business.
The main advantage of this platform is that it’s built for integration on a broader ecosystem of services that leverage automation, which in return gives your organization a head start on hyperautomation. It also offers low-code AI, enabling any user to leverage these capabilities within their automated solutions.

Microsoft Power Automate was created not only for citizen integrators and IT members, but it was also made for non-technical business users in mind. This puts automation tools in the hands of every employee, empowering people to create their own solutions within an easy-to-use platform.

As an advanced integration tool, Microsoft Power Automate connects to over 1,000 out-of-the-box data sources, such as Google Sheets, Twitter, Dynamics 365, SharePoint, Salesforce, and OneDrive.

How Does Microsoft Power Automate Work?

Automations are either started manually, scheduled, or triggered by an action. These automations, called Flows, can occur in the cloud (Cloud Flows) or locally to a device or VM (Desktop Flows). While Cloud Flows run in remote Microsoft datacenters (the same ones as Azure) and don’t require an interface, Desktop Flows are accomplished through a more traditional robotic process automation (RPA) capability. The cloud- and desktop-based solutions are built to work together and address the many diverse needs of organizations.

Here are the automation tools inside of Power Automate:

  • Cloud Flows:  Automations managed from your web browser that can be started manually, triggered, or scheduled. These are the best method to incorporate third-party cloud services, APIs, and AI Builder

What is Power Automate Cloud Flow Designer

Cloud Flow Designer

  • AI Builder:  A highly advanced, AI and machine-learning-based optical character and image recognition tool that can be incorporated into solutions to extract, categorize, and process files. Though this isn’t technically a piece of Power Automate, it is a feature unique to the Power Platform and can easily be incorporated into Flows.
What is Power Automate AI Builder Homepage

AI Builder Homepage

  • Desktop Flows:  With this flow, users can automate an interface on a desktop or VM by recording their screen, and the visual flow designer will automate mouse and keyboard clicks. Desktop Flows are dependent on the interface of the device or VM they are running on and are considered Power Platform’s “pure RPA” solution. Anything you can’t solve with Cloud Flows can be solved through Desktop Flows; some good examples include intricate data manipulation and legacy technology like green screens. Desktop Flows can be triggered or automated via Cloud Flows through their Unattended Add-On functionality.

What is Power Automate Desktop Designer

Desktop Designer

  • Business Process Flows:  A method to automate people processes. Display the required steps for a specific business scenario via a model-driven app to a user every time it occurs. Cloud flows can be incorporated into these steps as well. For example, when a user marks a stage of the Business Process flow “complete”, an automated email is sent to their manager for approval. This allows your users to focus more on the quality of their work and interactions and less on the nitty-gritty details.
  • Process Advisor:  Feed Power Automate and other process data into this tool to discover bottlenecks, efficiencies, and new automation opportunities you might not have thought of.

Automate Anytime and Anywhere

In addition to web and desktop, Microsoft Power Automate’s diverse solution suite allows you to expand your automation capabilities to Microsoft Teams and mobile devices.

Power Automate for Desktop

Create and manage desktop automations in Windows using the prebuilt drag-and-drop options or recording your own desktop interface.

Power Automate for Microsoft Teams

Create and manage automations within your Teams hub without leaving the app, from alerts and notifications to approval processes, and more.

Power Automate for Mobile

Create and manage all your cloud flows from anywhere with the Microsoft Power Automate mobile app, available for iOS and Android.

Power Automate for Web

Create and manage all of your automation aspects in one portal.

Automation Just Got Easier with AI

Power Automate released the Describe it to Design it feature, which allows users to create flows by describing them in natural language.

This feature makes it faster and easier to create flows, and flows created using this feature are more likely to be used.

In addition to Describe it to Design it, Power Automate is also adding two new features:

Copilot, an AI-powered assistant that helps users build and improve flows. Copilot is a natural language processing (NLP) model that can understand and respond to user queries. It can help users with tasks such as finding the right actions to use in a flow, troubleshooting errors, and suggesting improvements.

Create text with GPT, which is a new action that allows users to generate text using AI (GPT-3 language model). This can be used for various tasks, such as creating content, generating responses to customer feedback, and extracting information from documents.

These new features make Power Automate even more powerful and easy to use, and they help businesses automate more of their processes. They are available in preview now, and they will be generally available later this year.

Part of A Bigger Toolbox – The Power Platform

Power Automate is part of a larger low-code suite known as the Microsoft Power Platform; the Power Platform also offers Power BI, Power Apps, Power Virtual Agents, and most recently Power Pages. Power Automate is built on the Dataverse, formerly known as the Common Data Service. This is a SQL database with many functionalities built on top of it related to collaboration and data manipulation; all pieces of the Power Platform are built to use it. In addition to working well together, the pieces of the Power Platform are built to work well with the larger Microsoft ecosystem including Office 365, Dynamics 365, Azure, Microsoft Teams, and more.

What is Microsoft Power Automate - the full Power Platform suite

Is Microsoft Power Automate Right for You?

A systematic approach to manual tasks

With its seamless integration with robust technologies, Microsoft Power Automate makes it easy to automate manual tasks to help businesses reduce effort and errors.

Power Automate Platform Highlights:

  • Hundreds of pre-built actions and templates with a user-friendly interface
  • Ease-of-integration with AI Builder

  • Provides a solution for whatever technology you’re trying to automate
  • Native connection with Microsoft apps & tools

  • Over a thousand pre-built connectors and ease of custom connector creation
  • Scheduled, triggered, and manual automations

  • Integrated error handling

According to a Forrester’s Toal Economic Impact of Microsoft Power Automate study, Power Automate drives business transformation and has the results to show for it. Of the surveyed companies, Forrester saw a 199% ROI over the course of 3 years, which equated to $1.4 million in worker time savings.

Power Automate is a robust, enterprise-grade tool for your industry needs. The platform excels in many areas and that list continues to grow. Microsoft has proved Power Automate to be a well-designed, and accessible tool for automation solutions that can empower both technical and non-technical professionals to create automations.

This platform’s simple-to-complex automation capabilities securely streamline workflows across various departments, and all of this is managed through a single pane of glass. With the ability to automate repetitive, manual tasks, users can focus on the strategic aspect of their daily operations.

Let us know how we can help you implement and integrate Microsoft Power Automate into your technology ecosystem.

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