Ignite 2019 brought a lot of changes to the Power Platform, and there’s a lot of fantastic stuff to explore. I’ll explore them in the coming weeks, but I just wanted to write a quick article with my first impressions.
I’ll focus on the 3 features that I found most interesting coming from Ignite 2019, but there’s a lot more to explore. Just go to Ignite 2019 official page and explore for yourself.
Let’s address the elephant in the room.
Flow is now called “Power Automation”. Don’t quite know how to feel regarding the name. I understand the reasoning behind the renaming as James Phillips, the Corporate Vice President, Business Applications Group said in his post:
Microsoft Flow is being renamed to Microsoft Power Automate, to better align with the Microsoft Power Platform
Short and sweet, but I have to say I don’t like the name. Flow was the kind of name that invoked action and was easy to remember. Also, it was quite evident when you saw a diagram that represented a ”Flow” of actions. Just naming it “Power” for the sake of aligning it with the Power Platform sounds like a strange choice to me, but I’ll get used to it.
For those who are not aware, RPA stands for Robotic process automation based on the notion that robots (or bots) mixed with AI can automate routine tasks. An analogy could be to replace humans in an assembly line, freeing them to perform other, nonrepetitive actions. It’s a promising area that is gaining a lot of traction. Awesome!
Allow anyone, without the need of any coding, to deploy user agents (commonly known as bots). This is a big deal because anyone, without the need for data scientists or developers, can quickly build and deploy bots that can automate much of the daily tasks. I can see this being useful for contact-centres for example, where there’s a lot of scatared information that could be gathered under this agent and could help both online clients and human agents to find answers quickly. Another example can be to generate a company FAQ without the need to making a long page. Most of the company’s information is live somewhere so it’s a question of just gathering the information and allow people to get information automatically, for example, “Where’s the official PPT template?” or “When what the company created?” or “What’s the phone number for Manuel?”.
With AI Builder, you can insert AI logic in your Power Apps and Power Automation. There are some pre-build scenarios but you can build your own. I see this being to provide internal services that, up until now, needed to be connected to external APIs. Think, for example, of Key Phrase Detection or Sentiment analysis, both complex topics that are greatly simplified with the introduction of AI Builder. With this, you can integrate the Virtual agents with “Sentiment analysis“ for example and take actions depending on the mood of the interaction. This is super powerfull to retain customers , increase sales and improve the overall customer satisfaction. Of course that none of these tools solve directly the problems. They are tools, but used wisely can bring great benefit to the organization
There’s a lot to check since there was a log coming out of Ignite, but there’s a lot to be happy about and a lot of new tools to make easy the development and rollout of complex features in a easy way.
Overall I’m super surprised and excited to start working with these tools.