Microsoft customers who leverage cloud based services are often already using individual Power Platform tools. They just might not realize how much they could benefit from approaching it as a low-code platform.
What is this "Power Platform" thing exactly?
Most users of applications don't really spend too much time thinking about platforms. On a high level, they will likely know "we use Microsoft services at work" or "my personal email is operated by Google". It's mainly about the company brand.
For software developers and IT professionals, the question of whether a specific workload run on AWS or Azure is surely important. But what about "is this solution built with low-code"? Not such a commonplace thing to ask today.
Information workers equipped with Microsoft 365 licenses will quickly jump between Teams and SharePoint and Power BI as part of their everyday tasks. How many of them stop to think about when they are interacting with Microsoft Power Platform services?
The idea with this introduction is to illustrate the fact that platforms are somewhat abstract by nature. Especially when you're already using the office tools from Microsoft, it can be impossible to determine when exactly you deployed Power Platform in your organization. Often it just sort of "happened".
As a result of all this, even the more technical people may be a bit confused about what is the Power Platform in practice. That's perfectly okay! We're here to help you get to the bottom of it.
The Power Platform product family
As a rule of thumb, anything from Microsoft that starts with "Power" AND is followed by a space is part of the Power Platform. Let's try this logic in action:
- Power Apps: yes
- PowerPoint: no
- Power BI: yes
- PowerShell: no
Easy! Now we have a way to understand the Microsoft product naming logic.
The core products that customers can purchase from the Power Platform today are: Power Apps, Power Automate, Power BI, Power Pages, Microsoft Copilot Studio. What is notably missing from the commercial offering is that there is no "Power Platform Plan" that you could buy to get the full suite. Unlike Microsoft 365, the products in Power Platform need to be individually licensed to unlock all the low-code capabilities.
The connecting fabric in the Microsoft cloud
The number of individual systems and apps that an information worker may interact with during the course of the day just keeps on growing. Microsoft acknowledges the challenges that come with this and has introduced Power Platform as a layer that can bring business data together across many systems. Furthermore, it can automate many steps of a process normally conducted by the user.
There are over a thousand readymade connectors available in Power Platform today. These naturally cover common MS office tools like Teams, Outlook, SharePoint, Excel, Forms and so on. All business applications from the Dynamics 365 suite of CRM & ERP apps are tightly integrated. Azure services, DevOps, Entra ID, Microsoft Search - you can expect to see all major products to have low-code solution support built in.
At the same time, the vast majority of the connectors are for non-Microsoft services. Salesforce, Jira, ServiceNow, SAP, Adobe - the connector ecosystem covers the major players in the enterprise software field. What about if the SaaS app you're using isn't listed? Custom Connectors can be easily configured to expose any modern REST API as a service that low-code app & automation makers can then leverage via the graphical UI.
What do people build on the Power Platform?
The quickest way to get started in building Power Platform apps and automations is by exploring the many templates and sample apps available in the Maker portals. Personal productivity solutions that aim to automate or simplify a recurring activity may simply be adapted from these. A mobile app to track issues observed while on-site. A workflow that captures incoming form submissions, asks for manager approval, then forwards the details to a service provider.
On the other end of the spectrum we have large line-of-business applications deployed across a global enterprise organization.
A platform for all makers
The early adopters of no-code/low-code tools are often the tech savvy business users who are looking to solve problems in their own work.