Microsoft Power Platform

Microsoft Power Platform was born a year ago. It consists of a collection of applications, including PowerApps, Power BI and Microsoft Flow. By integrating these three core features, Microsoft Power Platform enables an organisation to accommodate innovation and rapid application development right where it is needed. Microsoft’s Power Platform is a powerful tool for enabling citizen development – software development without the need for professional software developers, in a fraction of the time and cost it would take with conventional software development processes.

Microsoft has invested heavily in building and promoting the Power Platform, so they must see a substantial opportunity in it. A recent blog by Steven Guggenheimer, Corporate Vice President – AI & ISV Engagement, Microsoft states “The Business Applications Total Addressable Market (TAM) is predicted to be at £102m by 2022, and 57 per cent of this will be driven by ISVs. Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform are an important area of investment for the company, and represent a significant growth opportunity for partners in this market.”

This article explores four potential directions for Power Platform – connectivity in Azure, Office 365, citizen development and professional development.

Microsoft Dynamics products being driven by Power Platform connectivity in Azure

Dynamics 365 products use the latest Azure cloud services. This means you can easily integrate various Dynamics products, such as Dynamics 365 for Talent with Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations. AI is also getting added to every product at Microsoft, and AI has also led to the development of new products like Sales Insights or Virtual Agent for Customer Service. It is the Azure platform side that will allow organisations to customise new apps and services to meet their real-life business requirements. The growth potential in the Dynamics products segment is amplified by the fact that PowerApps, Flow, Power BI and Common Data Service (CDS) give it the extension points needed for going beyond packaged SaaS apps. The growth in Dynamics 365 app portfolio is, therefore driven by the Power Platform connectivity with Azure.

Office 365 and Modern Workplace

While Dynamics 365 benefits from connecting with the Microsoft Power Platform, Office 365 is also another benefactor. Office 365 applications like SharePoint and OneDrive have been integrated with Power Platform tools.  According to Charles Lamanna, General Manager of the Application Platform at Microsoft, what’s been happening to PowerApps recently in terms of commercial success is “like SharePoint all over again”. Does this mean all roads lead to the Power Platform being the growth engine for Office 365 and Microsoft 365 to reach further into the customers’ information management needs?

Citizen development and organisational-wide Power Platform adoption

The rise of the citizen developers term can be attributed to Microsoft Power Platform. It has been an excellent strategy for initially gaining awareness about these brand new tools among those who want to do hands-on work to solve problems in their day-to-day jobs.

While citizen development empowers those, who feel the pain of manual, repetitive tasks to create apps to automate processes, just relying on the inspiration of enthused PowerApps fans may not be enough. Messaging from Microsoft has recently leaned towards supporting Power Platform adoption across the whole organisation.

The broader organisation needs to understand that there is an “app for that” to fill gaps in digital processes where a custom development project is too expensive or the commercial applications on offer are not the right fit. It is also important to get IT on board with app creation to encourage the subject matter experts in the business unit to take ownership of the Power Platform and roll it out.

Professional developers

At first glance, you would think that professional developers would be a non-target for Power Platform’s no-code/low-code offering. However, that is not the case. Azure offers all the hardcore app development, infrastructure, data, AI and other services and information and is targeted to this audience. However, professional developers also need to be exposed to Power Platform and its potential impact on the world around them, to help make the platform strategy work for Microsoft.

The application development experience built into Power Platform showcases how you start from a simple Office 365 app created by an information worker and gradually increase the complexity scale via PowerApps through Dynamics 365 and to custom application development in Azure. There is some real power in being able to work within the same cloud ecosystem as the needs of the app users grow.

It was also announced at MS Build that Microsoft is investing in professional developer features to build a platform for every developer.  Whatever direction the Power Platform takes, the combination of Power BI, PowerApps and Flow that each represents best-of-breed solutions in their individual categories, is a game-changer.

We look forward to the year ahead to see how Power Platform evolves and how our customers will embrace the value of using their data to drive business outcomes.

We have also created a guide on Power Platform, its components, and how it is being used to transform organisational processes.