Those who have been in the corporate world a while should recognize the latest trend in business solutions: business and IT stakeholders are once again building their own. For those of you already using the Office365/Microsoft 365 platform, you probably know that Microsoft strongly believes the next generation of business apps will be developed directly by business and IT stakeholders (instead of buying off-the-shelf solutions). This should sound familiar; building your own solution used to be the only game in town (think apps built using Visual Basic and Microsoft Access). Incredibly, many businesses are still using those tried-and-true solutions. Regardless, Microsoft has gone all-in on this approach, and the Power Platform represents Microsoft’s preferred way of modernizing your business solutions: build a business app yourself.
What is the Power Platform exactly?
Several components of the platform allow you to build apps, automate processes, store and manage data, and even create advanced solutions using AI (think Chat Bots and other advanced interfaces to your content and data). The graphic below provides an overview of the Power Platform:
So, what does this mean to you and your business?
In a nutshell, the Power Platform provides a framework to create your own business solutions using Low-Code/No-Code workloads. Instead of buying yet another software tool, you can now literally build your own solution in the Cloud. In fact, because the Power Platform is Low-Code, non-developers can build truly functional solutions tailored to meet your individual needs. This is the modern equivalent of building solutions using VB and Access: you get what YOU want instead of buying yet another piece of software with the hope it meets most of your needs.
While this approach fits every business, large and small, it can be very powerful for small and medium-sized firms that don’t have large IT software budgets or don’t want to complicate their IT footprint with yet another business solution. However, while it may resemble the days of building your own custom solution using on-premises tools, the Power Platform is cloud-based, easy to use, and backed by an ever-growing community of users just like you. Gone are the days of working in the dark; you can now connect, learn, and share your knowledge with millions of other Power Platform users. If you already have Office/Microsoft 365, you may already have some of the workloads to get started. To better understand your subscription options, please see this excellent blog post by my colleague Daniel Cohen-Dumani.
So, what kind of solutions are people building with the Power Platform?
The platform allows you to automate manual processes, create purpose-built business solutions, analyze data, and much more. To help you understand what you can do, here are some actual examples of solutions built by our clients:
- Revenue Recognition Solution (allows finance and leadership to manage fixed-price contracts using the ASC 606 standard instead of managing the process via email).
- Performance Evaluation Solution (tailored solution instead of buying a large, complex Human Capital solution)
- Deal and Commission Solution (a solution to automatically pay dealers and brokers based on custom criteria instead of manually calculating payouts)
- Contract Management Solution (track and execute contracts instead of storing files across your file system and emailing documents around the business)
- Construction Project Estimation (replacing a manual, email-based process).
These are just a few examples of solutions created using the Power Platform. The possibilities are endless, but the direction is clear: building your own solution has never been easier or more cost-effective.
How do I get started?
So, how to build an app? You will probably need help if you are new to the Power Platform. But even before you focus on how to use the Power Platform, you need to make sure you understand and document your most pressing business needs. Withum can help you understand the Power Platform, define what needs are best solved with the Power Platform, and how to spin up your own capabilities. Our Digital and Technology Transformation Team normally co-builds your first solutions and then we focus on creating your own Power Platform Center of Excellence.