Businesses always prefer automating things and that is what Power Automate (previously Microsoft Flow, and Microsoft says it was renamed to convey the fact that this is able to do more than just create workflows) does. Obviously then the next question comes. If that is the case, we already have Business Processes. What makes power automate better? The answer would be, it does much more than what business processes are capable of in addition to what already business processes do.
- As usual, power automate can be done by anyone with basic knowledge of what he needs to achieve, from a business user to an IT person.
- Can send reminders
- Based on a schedule it can move data from one system to another
- Connections available is huge (read as data sources currently available)
- Can automate even local tasks
- If we consider the availability of custom connectors then the permutations and combinations will become immense.
What value does this bring to our tables? In simple terms, as its name suggests it can help us to manage repetitive tasks by handing it over to computers (examples are already mentioned above). It’s all about the creativity of the user who is indulged in creating a process. If that person is enough creative most of the business process can be automated with minimal interference and maybe thus expediting the process resulting in a happy customer.
Considering the fact that the connectors (as of now it’s around 275) already available with the user when creating a process the access to the data is very easy. Along with that power automate allows us to have multiple data connections helping the user to bring the data from multiple platforms into a single automation. That’s why I mentioned it’s all about the creativity now. If the above-mentioned list of connectors doesn’t have the required connector we also can have a custom connector.
There are basically three types of flows that we can create with Power Automate.
- Event-Driven Flows
- Business Process Flows
- UI Flows
Event-Driven flows are built with a trigger and a corresponding action(s). These flows can be owned either by a team or by you. Depending on that it’s availability will be restricted for the users and will be listed either in My Flows or Team Flows.
We might not have to explain more about Business Process Flows (already we might have seen this in our current processes available). Still, for anyone new to this, it’s just a guided experience for the users based on the business process. Even though we say it as a guided experience the value this adds to the business is immense. In this age of data, having a huge amount of data alone won’t help businesses to thrive. It’s all about the quality of the data they have. Business Process Flows to some extend will help the business to capture quality data depending on different business scenarios they have.
UI flows refer to robotic process automation (RPA) flows allowing us to perform actions on our desktop or within a web browser. After that either by passing parameters or without that we can trigger flows that do the process for us. Also, we do have the option to get the data out of this flow as well.
As a cherry on the cake, without any coding knowledge now power automate allows us to bring in artificial intelligence (AI) to our flows by providing a wizard-based interface for the end-user. Internally this is invoking Azure Machine Learning and Cognitive Services for us. As of now, there are four different models available to build.
- Form Processor
- Object Detector
- Text Classification
In the above list, the first two help us to extract text and identify an object from an uploaded image or taken photos respectively. The last one categorizes the text helping us to analyze later. The third one in the above list helps us to build a model that can predict a boolean answer based on historical data. Training of this model will be done using historical data which itself is a boolean answer based question. Once we have the trained model available, we can use that to interact with the same in our flow to send and receive information to the AI system.
To summarise, Power Automate is something that can help the business to automate most of its repetitive processes (even using AI and different conditions in place) without circumventing security and not involving any IT personal. It’s pretty cool, right?
We will jump straight exploring more on this in the coming days. Stay tuned and share your thoughts in the comment section.
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