As technology evolves, small and midsize businesses need tools that will enable them to autonomously tackle challenges that have historically required high-level software development training and skills. Employees need to be able to act as “citizen developers” who solve routine business challenges without relying on centralized IT and developers for every need.
The Microsoft Power Platform fills that need by providing enterprise-class business technology accessible to non-developers, thereby, freeing developers to focus on more complex challenges. The low-to-no code set of development tools are aimed at end users, power users, and techno-functionals users.
What is the Power Platform?
The Power Platform is a suite of products offered as part of the Microsoft 365 cloud services, which include:
- Microsoft Azure–used for enterprise infrastructure
- Microsoft Office 365–desktop applications
- Microsoft Dynamics 365–used as a resource for marketing, sales, order management, inventory, and accounting
- Microsoft Power Platform–used for data analysis, app development, and robotic process automation
All three components of the Power Platform–Power BI, Power Apps, and Power Automate–work across all applications within the Azure, Office 365, and Dynamics 365 enterprise applications to provide data analysis and visualization, custom apps, and power workflow automation.
Each component of the Power Platform comes with hundreds of connectors to applications outside of the Microsoft suite, as well as provides opportunities for small and midsize businesses to select the best solution from any provider or platform that supports Open Data Protocol (Odata) and other common integration methods.
Why Utilize Power Platform as a Small or Midsize Business?
The Microsoft Power Platform consists of three products:
Working together, the Power Platform is built to enable small and midsize businesses to analyze, act, and automate.
Power BI provides the tools needed to visualize and analyze data. Power Apps offers development tools that create desktop and mobile apps to act upon and interact with business data. Power Automate provides workflow and process automation tools that carry out robotic process automation.
The low-to-no code approach of the Power Platform allows end users to develop enterprise class analytics, apps, and workflows without help from skilled developers.
The Power Platform: A Use Case for Small and Midsize Businesses
The Power Platform provides many uses for small and midsize businesses. Consider how the Power Platform could benefit your small or midsize business through this use case:
Wendy manages a team of field services technicians who perform preventative maintenance and repairs on ATMs. Her company uses Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central for field service workers to manage work orders. In addition, Business Central is used as their accounting and inventory management system.
Each of Wendy’s technicians drives a company van that is configured as a mobile warehouse. The van stocks standard parts and supplies needed within a typical work week. The company uses the Dynamics 365 Field Services Mobile app to receive and report time and parts usage against work orders.
On the job, technicians occasionally run out of a part needed to complete the job at hand. The part needed may be in the main warehouse, on another truck, out of stock but already on order, or completely out of stock and not on order.
While the technicians manage their work order reporting from the Dynamics 365 Field Services app, purchasing and parts inventory are managed from Business Central. Technicians would prefer to be able to see all on-hand balances on work trucks, submit transfer requests, and submit purchase requisitions without having to switch between two systems.
- Analyze Data for Business Decision Support with Power BI
Wendy discovers that the capabilities of the Power Platform can solve the challenge the technicians face. While Wendy is not a developer, she knows that Power Platforms’ low-to-no code capabilities can empower her with self-service development opportunities.
Wendy develops a no-code Power BI view from the inventory data in Business Central that enables a technician to select a part and then see a column chart showing the quantity available on each truck. The technician can then drill down to see how many parts are committed to open work orders being serviced by that truck and how many are available. Wendy embeds the visualization that contains data from Business Central into the Dynamics 365 Field Service Mobile app.
- Act Upon Data Using Power Apps
Wendy then creates a Power App that allows technicians to act upon the data provided by Power BI to request a transfer from another truck or create a new purchase requisition for the required part.
Using Power Apps, Wendy creates a form that is called by right clicking in the Power BI visualization. The form recognizes the technician using the app and marks their truck as transfer or delivery to the location, the item number of the part the technician was viewing, and fields to fill in the quantity required as well as the requested delivery date.
- Automate Complex Workflows Between Applications with Power Automate
Finally, Wendy embeds a Post button within the Power App that invokes Power Automate without the need for code to create an Item Transfer or an Item Requisition in Business Central. The Power BI visualization, the Power App, and the Power Automate workflow initiate from Dynamics 365 Field Services but result in transactions performed in Business Central.
Is the Power Platform Right for Your SMB?
The Power Platform offers significant advantages to small and midsize businesses through its low-to-no code features. And for many businesses, access to the Power Platform is already available.
Basic licensing for Power BI, Power Apps, and Power Automate is included with all the Microsoft Dynamics 365 products including:
- Dynamics 365 for Sales
- Dynamics 365 for Marketing
- Dynamics 365 for Field Services
- Dynamics 365 Business Central
- Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply Chain
Additionally, the Power Platform is included in the Microsoft 365 Enterprise Licensing bundles.
As a Microsoft Partner, our team can provide Pro and Enterprise licenses that offer additional functionality and support tiered transaction volumes.
Can the Power Platform benefit your small or midsize business? Contact our team to discover how best to utilize the features and functionality to serve your business.