During Microsoft Ignite 2019, key changes were announced. One of the biggest revelations was that Microsoft Flow had been renamed to Power Automate. Microsoft explained that the reasoning behind this update is because they want the software’s title to better align with the overall Power Platform. Aside from the unexpected name change, several major updates for the Power Platform were announced as well, unlocking new possibilities for users. Here are the five features we find blog–worthy:
1. Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
Hands down, one of the greatest challenges that companies face today is scaling as well as process automation. Robotic Process Automation, or RPA, has been created by Microsoft to solve everyday problems that the modern business copes with. It is a key technology in Power Automate that is demonstrated through UI flows. By creating UI flows, professionals can automate manual processes across their cloud apps and services with point-and-click simplicity. There is absolutely no coding required, and users can easily turn manual tasks into workflows. The combination of UI flow capabilities mixed with Power Automate’s pre–built connectors for more than 275 apps, allow for business processes to be completely transformed.
2. Power Virtual Agents
Last week, Microsoft announced the public preview of its Public Virtual Agents tool. It’s a new no-code tool for building chatbots within the Power Platform, including Power Automate and Power BI. The virtual agent can answer customer service questions and other types of internal or external inquiries so that company representatives can focus on more important matters. The feature is built on top of Azure and is known to be as easy as creating a Microsoft Word document. To get started, no code or AI expertise is required, and setup typically takes a few minutes. The Power Virtual Agents are integrated within the Power Platform, and users can use hundreds of pre–built connectors so they can talk to one’s backend systems with just a few clicks. However, if a user does want to add code for more complex capabilities, that is possible through Azure Cognitive Services and Microsoft Bot Framework. Those who are interested can sign up for the preview, here.
3. Power BI Security Enhancements
Embracing data-driven insights can empower an organization’s employees and provide an incredible amount of value. Power BI enables a company’s team to draw insights from data with data visualizations and analytics to guide business decisions. That being said, it is critical to ensure that the data they are entering is protected.
Microsoft announced four new capabilities within Power BI data protection:
1. Label sensitive data using the Microsoft Information Protection sensitivity labels used in Office
2. When Power BI content is exported to Excel, PowerPoint, or a PDF, users can enforce governance policies to ensure that the data will be protected once it leaves Power BI
3. Protect user activity on sensitive data in real–time with alerts, session monitoring, and risk remediation using Microsoft Cloud App Security.
4. Security Administrators can use data protection reports and investigation capabilities with Microsoft Cloud App Security to enhance organizational oversight
As stated above, these features are available in preview and will engage with Power BI is paired with Microsoft Information Protection and Microsoft Cloud App Security. “Changing user behavior is difficult but having Microsoft Information Protection data protection capabilities available to users directly within Power BI, a tool we use daily, greatly increases our confidence that our documents will be labeled and protected correctly,” stated Cem Urfalioglu, Director of Avanade ITS. Users can read more about these enhancements, here.
4. Integration with Teams
The combination of Teams and the Power Platform allows for the best workplace collaboration. Teams users can have access to Power Platform dashboards, apps, and automation so they can be easily found daily. Users can now communicate on Power Platform applications, just as they do on Teams. The example that Microsoft provided is users engaging via a conversation through adaptive cards and bots. Power Apps can now be published directly to the company’s library in Teams, making them more visible and improving the user experience. Soon, users will be able to pin Power Apps to their Teams left rail, which provides a display of the most used apps.
For Power Automate specifically, new triggers and actions are now available within Teams. Common team and personal tasks such as scheduling focus time and automating document approvals. For more details on the enhanced integration with Teams, check out this blog post from the Microsoft Tech Community.
5. AI Builder
Made available on October 1st, AI Builder is the no-code AI capability for Power Apps and Power Automate. Organizations can customize AI to their liking and address specific business needs with their own unique data. AI Builder takes common scenarios and provides point-and-click solutions for app makers to solve forms processing, object detection, binary classification, and more.
There’s a new set of pre-built AI models for the Power Platform. This simplifies the process for users, meaning they will not have to gather data, build, or train their models. The four prebuilt scenarios include:
– Key phrase extraction
– Language detection
– Text recognition
– Sentiment analysis
Learn more about the pre–built scenarios here.
Aside from having to remember to refer to Microsoft Flow as Power Automate now, this update will only make the job easier for users and Microsoft partners. The new Power Platform features will enable users to analyze, act, and automate across their entire organization. Microsoft’s goal is apparent in that they want to help companies drive impactful business outcomes and take proactive actions. For a deeper dive into the new capabilities we touched on, watch this technology keynote from Microsoft Ignite.