Microsoft Power Automate, formerly Microsoft Flow boasts a whole host of business benefits. From streamlining everyday tasks to improving workforce productivity, and share and easily collaborate with business data.
There is a Cloud service that enables users to do just about anything; but how does the modern business run when their application landscape is overrun with a mix of legacy on-premises applications and modern Cloud-based services that don’t communicate with each other? In an increasingly digital and connected world, organisations who work this way often find that their employees are performing tasks that are time consuming when they can now simply be automated.
Introducing Microsoft Power Automate
At its annual Ignite conference, Microsoft announced a range of updates to its Power Platform. Microsoft’s Power Platform is a business tool that lets users analyse data, build solutions, and automate processes across their organisation using 3 tools:
Power BI – A highly powerful business analytics service
Power Apps – A low/no code application building service
Power Automate – A built-in workflow engine to automate and improve business processes
This means that Microsoft is expanding its reach beyond Office 365 productivity products, Azure Cloud Computing and offering more tools for its customers. The Power Platform and Power Automate are able to create tools or applications with little to no code. This means that within the Power Platform, AI features, analytics and data visualisation anyone at your organisation can be a developer.
What is Microsoft Power Automate RPA?
Within the Power Platform, Microsoft Power Automate has added Robotic Process Automation (RPA) features as well as launching Power Virtual Agents, another code-less tool to easily create intelligent customer service bots for your business. Microsoft has also improved Power BI’s security, integrated the Power Platform more closely with Microsoft Teams and even debuted new prebuilt models for AI Builder.
Built on top of Azure’s existing AI smarts and tools for building bots, Power Virtual Agents promises to make building a chatbot almost as easy as writing a Word document. With this, anybody within your organisation could build a bot that walks a new employee through the on-boarding experience, for example.
Within Microsoft Power Automate, it has prebuilt connectors for more than 275 apps and services that do support API automation, Microsoft claims it now has an end-to-end automation platform “capable of reinventing business processes for a wide range of workloads across industries.”
The bots within Power Automate can run in the Cloud on individual computers or in the background to automate tasks. Previously, the tool could only learn to automate tasks that had APIs.
The new Microsoft Power Automate RPA capabilities in Power Automate are called UI flows. Creating a UI flow is a point-and-click experience, though it does require some coding experience. The RPA feature turns manual tasks into automated workflows by recording and playing back human-driven interactions with systems that don’t support API automation.
Microsoft Power Automate RPA is a form of business process automation that relies on bots or AI workers and using RPA is has the capacity to eliminate the repetitive tasks that take time.
Users of the bot also don’t have to spend excessive amounts of time defining every possible question and answer and can instead rely on the tool to understand intentions and trigger the correct action. Like similar AI systems, the service also learns over time, based on feedback it receives from users.
If the requirement of needing some previous coding experience for UI flows concerns you, Power Virtual Agents are also now in public preview. Because Power Virtual Agents are part of the Power Platform and Power Automate, you can use the prebuilt connectors to have your bot talk to your backend systems or call an API.
With UI flows, your users can record step-by-step actions such as mouse clicks, keyboard use, and data entry, and then replay those actions.
This enables your organisation to:
Automate in a single platform across apps and services that don’t have APIs
Customise, build, and manage UI flows scripts in a secure cloud environment
Leverage a low-code experience with a step-by-step record and play back experience
Seamlessly integrate UI automation with API-based automation by combining UI flows with regular flows
Scaling and automating business processes isn’t easy — Power Automate is essentially Microsoft’s impressive attempt to offer API-based automation and UI-based automation in one tool. UI flows in Power Automate is now in public preview here.
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