Digital Transformation Today

How to Use Power Automate Part 2: 2023 Release Wave 1 and What’s New With Cloud Flows?

As you may know from my first blog, How to Use Power Automate, Power Automate is a series of different tools that allow you to automate repetitive, tedious, or time-consuming tasks that can help increase the productivity of your business and its employees. With April finally here, Microsoft has announced what Power Automate users can expect in the upcoming months all the way until September 2023. Power Automate flows come in two flavors: desktop flows and cloud flows which are the main automation capability of Power Automate and what we will be covering today.

Microsoft claims that in the next few months, they will invest in a few different areas regarding the entire Power Platform; “Driving organization-wide low code adoption, achieving experience excellence and enabling flagship solutions with high scale”. For Power Automate specifically, they plan to make building and sharing automations easier to help organizations drive adoption. We will be covering these new features today, but for the full list of planned releases, check out this website for more information: New and planned features for Power Automate, 2023 release wave 1 | Microsoft Learn. It is also important to remember that these release dates are subject to change to make sure to keep up with all of Microsoft’s announcements and updates, so you do not miss out.

Let’s cover these new updates in the order of their upcoming scheduled release. First, we will talk about generating expressions from examples (which is a feature already available in public preview as of this past October 2022) with planned general availability this upcoming May 2023. This feature allows you to easily access the necessary logical expression by showing Power Automate an example of both the value and the desired output which Power Automate can use to suggest the correct logical expression to easily format your data. This is great for new users or those not familiar with coding and bolsters Microsoft’s commitment to low/no code development.

Microsoft also has one planned Power Automate cloud flow update entering the public preview this April with general availability in August 2023 – the ability to connect to other environments from the Microsoft Dataverse connector. Currently, makers must use the Microsoft Dataverse (Legacy) connector to connect external environments, but this feature will allow makers to easily connect and trigger flows from other environments. The new update will also allow admins to implement endpoint filtering to restrict these cross-environment connections as they deem necessary.

Next, let’s cover the updates scheduled for public preview or general release this upcoming May 2023. In just a few weeks, Microsoft will release the ability for makers to use natural language to create flows via AI models by describing the type of automation they need. This feature entered public preview after the Ignite 2022 event, and they are working to enhance its support for connectors and actions, availability in other countries, and parameter filing. Additionally, in May, Microsoft will further elaborate on how one can describe a flow in text and have Power Automate create a fully-fledged automation for its full launch. Microsoft is also working to allow Power Automate flows to be more complex, with the ability to define sequential approvals in Power Automate. This will allow makers to incorporate multiple levels in an approval flow, whether that be through Microsoft Teams or Power Automate itself. The next update planned for May is the use of native integration for flows in Excel. This feature brings Power Automate integration into Microsoft Excel to allow for quick, seamless integration of the two applications to easily manage your flows. The final update for this May is explanations and suggestions when you create a flow with natural language. This feature allows Power Automate to provide suggestions to makers beginning to create a flow using natural language description in an attempt to precisely build the flow to the maker’s specifications.

Microsoft also has three updates planned to enter public preview this upcoming June 2023. First out of the gate is a push cloud flow ability to execute data into application insights to allow administrators to use advanced monitoring and alerting scenarios on automations in a given environment. The next June update is the ability to make changes in draft mode for solution cloud flows. Currently, Power Automate does not allow you to save a workflow that is in progress if the flow checkers believe there to be any error; this latest update changes that and allows you to save your work in progress even if there are errors. The last update planned to enter public preview this June is the ability to use versioning for solution cloud flows. This will allow makers to view and even revert their work to a previously saved version of a flow. All of these June features help improve the accessibility of Power Automate. Previous versions are stored using Dataverse-backed versioning support with plans to incorporate this into other solution components in the future.

Last but certainly not least are the planned updates for this upcoming September 2023. The first update planned to enter public preview is the ability to monitor performance for cloud and desktop flow activities. This update will essentially provide a one-stop shop to see how both your cloud and desktop flows are performing. It even allows you to configure some corrective actions for specific errors. The final Power Automate update for cloud flows is the ability to store cloud flow execution history in Microsoft Dataverse. This will allow makers to use Dataverse to store execution data of your flows, allowing you to create reports about your flow’s ROI, monitoring, etc., and the ability to keep and store this data for more than 30 days (the current limit).

With all these planned changes concerning new updates, it is hard for flow makers not to be excited about the bright future of Power Automate and the Power Platform as a whole! Microsoft keeps improving how to use Power Automate to build on the steps to create a cohesive set of tools for both new and experienced developers to create robust automations and transform their businesses.

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