The Microsoft Business Applications Summit kicked off this week in Seattle, Washington. The event, which focuses on creating a community around the new application platform, is the first of its kind for Microsoft, affirming their commitment to enabling power users to build an ecosystem of corporate applications. The Business Applications Platform consists of PowerApps, Flow, PowerBI and leverages the other Microsoft products suites such as office 365, Dynamics CRM and many other cloud services.
Microsoft has a long history of providing easy-to-use tools for Power Users and Citizen Developers, and this platform provides a very rich set of tools to enable these communities to continue to develop and deploy solutions which can have significant, positive impacts on businesses. By lowering the technical barriers to leverage the business data that we already have, as well as making it simple to deploy these apps (think: a single click!), Microsoft is empowering the citizen developer. Essentially, it's helping to put the right tools into the hands of the people who understand the requirements of the business.
Over the past year we have had customers start to ask us about PowerApps and Flow, mainly because the buttons have "just appeared" in their Office 365 sites. With these new capabilities appearing in most of the Office 365 Plans, tech savvy users have started to explore how they can use these new tools to build better business processes. PowerApps allows you to create and customise electronic forms. The forms can even be extended to Mobile Apps and Tablets. Microsoft Flow can handle the backend approvals and processing and PowerBI can create beautiful reports that can enable process visibility and powerful insights. With these tools baked into your Office 365 subscription, the question quickly becomes; why aren't you using them already?
Some quick wins we have seen with customers include leveraging the ability to make their existing information available on mobile devices and gaining the ability to take a list from SharePoint, or customer contacts from CRM, with you. This has had a significant impact on the way we work with our existing data. These apps are working with live data, not copies, allowing us to see the latest versions of information, thus giving us the power to make decisions on the road without the need to wait. It's almost like having your office in your pocket.
I have to admit that I'm a little excited to attend the summit because there are numerous sessions that will demonstrate advanced techniques and focus on best practices for each of the applications. But the most exciting sessions that I intend to see are the road map sessions, which show us the vision that Microsoft has planned for the ensuing year.