Power Apps sees updates from Microsoft, including tight team integration

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Intelligent process automation and robotic process automation (RPA) – technologies that automate repetitive tasks – are big, growing companies. In its recent trends in workflow automation report, Salesforce found that 95% of IT managers prioritize automating workflows, with 70% seeing the equivalent of more than four hours of savings per employee each week. Automation harmonizes with low-code development tools, which allow users to automate processes without deep programming knowledge. Gartner predicted that 65% of all apps will be built using low-code platforms by 2024.

In this context, Microsoft today announced at Ignite 2021 updates to Power Platform, the company’s line of low-code application, intelligence and application connectivity software. Power Platform now offers deeper integration with Microsoft Teams and improved process exploration, as well as a pay-as-you-go, per-license option through Azure. At the same time, new Power Apps mobile apps for iOS and Android are debuting, designed to help developers distribute Power Platform apps more easily.

“As the world continues to change, organizations are increasingly looking for ways to accelerate innovation so that they can move forward and stay ahead. This means the demand for tech professionals has never been higher and IT departments are lagging behind, ”said Alysa Taylor, vice president of industry, applications and data marketing at Microsoft in a blog post. “Power Platform gives all types of problem solvers the tools they need to create solutions, and at Ignite, we’re excited to announce updates across the Power Platform portfolio. “

Integration of teams

Power Automate, a component of Power Platform that creates automated service workflows, gets new integrations with existing Teams client applications. New Power Automate templates are available in the Teams app store, and Power Virtual Agents, a chatbot builder, will allow developers to share chatbots in Teams with users in the appropriate security groups. In preview, Power virtual agents can send proactive messages to Teams users. And soon, Power Virtual Agents developers will be able to add their chatbots directly to a team channel.

The Microsoft Power BI app in Teams is also now available to everyone, allowing users to create, discover, and share “rich” collaborative experiences. As a preview, users can monitor project progress with new dashboard visuals by opting for Power BI Goals in Teams, a set of productivity tracking features launched in May.

Process miner, AI Builder and Power Virtual Agents

Process Mining, part of Microsoft Power Automate and other workflow automation tools that apply data science to discover, validate, and improve workflows, is now available in preview. Process Mining through Power Automate produces process analytics and maps to glean insight on ways to optimize business processes, showing the most time-consuming activities and identifying commonalities – and bottlenecks. – in workflows using filtering from selected data attributes.

In related news, AI Builder – the low-code AI service that comes with Power Platform – now offers the ability to bring in bespoke AI models for use with Power Platform. It also integrates with Lobe, a service that allows developers to train custom machine learning models and send them to their applications. (Microsoft acquired the startup behind the eponymous Lobe in 2018.)

Power Virtual Agents has been enhanced, further, with the development of “fusion” robots, always-on service, and more. Chatbot makers can share ideas, concerns, and questions by leaving comments related to specific topics (preview), and chatbots can be connected to phone call interactions to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Service, answer calls using speech recognition and text-to-speech (usually available). Beyond that, Power Virtual Agents chatbots can now be used as skills in Microsoft Bot Framework, Microsoft’s chatbot development kit, which includes software, tools, templates, and related AI services to power chatbots (generally available).

automate power

Among other updates on the Power Automate side of Microsoft’s Power Platform suite, the Azure Virtual Desktop Starter Kit was previewed. It integrates with the existing Azure virtual desktop deployments and automatically activate virtual machines to scale RPA workloads faster, according to Microsoft. (Azure Virtual Desktop, a tool to scale Windows desktops to Azure with built-in security and compliance, became generally available in 2019 as Windows Virtual Desktop.)

Usability updates have been made with RPA in Power Automate for the desktop, including a simplified recorder and a desktop shortcut to the Power Automate desktop in the Windows 11 Start menu. And there is now support Governance over automation flows so administrators can define data loss prevention policies that alert decision makers when they create flows that may violate company standards.

Microsoft rolled out Power Automate for desktop in March, following the company’s acquisition of startup RPA Softomotive. It provides an assisted RPA solution for automating tasks in SharePoint, Excel, Outlook, OneNote, and third-party business applications, with web and desktop recorders that capture steps in an automation and a drag-and-drop visual designer that organizes tasks. flux.

Collaboration, Power Fx and mobile apps

Starting today in preview, Power App developers can now comment directly on apps, feeds, and chatbots, adding notes and comments with others, like in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. . For example, a user can add a comment on a screen in a Power Apps app to request help with a formula.

Elsewhere, as a preview, Power Fx has been extended to GitHub developer communities, allowing users to mine and distribute code to creators in their organization. Also in preview, developers can now connect a Microsoft Azure subscription to Power Apps and pay only for what they use. And the apps for the aforementioned Power Apps are available for iOS and Android.

Finally, Microsoft is releasing the latest update to its Power Apps-powered return to work solution, version 1.6, now previewing. This update responds to upcoming Occupational Safety and Health Administration immunization guidelines, according to Microsoft, which require organizations with more than 100 employees to self-identify and produce evidence of vaccinations and immunizations. test results for all employees.


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Rosemary C. Kearney