One of the most affordable ways to analyze, build apps, and automate workflows, the Power Platform is Microsoft’s set of solutions designed to make your job easier. Consisting of Power BI, an affordable and easy to use business intelligence tool, PowerApps, a low-code development product, and Power Automate, a workflow management tool that can speed up businesses, these solutions improve productivity, decision making, and growth.

Big Things on the Way: Power Platform 2020 Wave 2

But with a constantly evolving business landscape, Microsoft has to stay ahead of its BI, low-code development, and automation competitors. To make this happen, the company focuses on constant innovation, released through two semiannual waves. What’s coming to the Power Platform and how can you leverage new functionality for business success?

Following our last exploration into the Wave 1 Releases—Power BI in part 1, PowerApps and Power Automate in part 2, we would today like to discuss some of the areas Microsoft is focusing on between October 2020 and March 2021.

While this comes nowhere near the full functionality discussed in the 150-plus page document, we hope it shows you just some of the benefits and good things on the horizon.

Improvements on the Way in Power BI

Power BI is considered a godsend by many organizations. Affordable, user friendly, and incredibly robust, companies like Wildlife Trading Company, Kayco, and AP&G leverage this solution with the help of competent partners to build models and link data.

In Wave 2, Microsoft is focusing Power BI improvements on enabling a data culture. Investments built to provide amazing data experiences, modern enterprise BI, and insights are the priority, and Microsoft has worked to make content creation easier, make reports more intelligent, and leverage AI for improved authoring. Here are just some of the areas being introduced:

Power BI Desktop

With each release, Microsoft Power BI Desktop continues to deliver simple, intuitive experiences that make authoring content easier and provide powerful tools to create amazing experiences for report users.

  • PowerPoint for data: Millions of people are familiar with how to use Microsoft Office, especially PowerPoint. Users want to create content in Power BI Desktop as quickly and easily as they can create a slide in PowerPoint.
  • Help Authors Help Users: Power BI creators want to empower their users to navigate through their reports, understand the story in their data, and find answers to their own questions. Expect more intuition and easier to understand reports.
  • Content Creation at Scale: Power BI is built to be affordable, but robust as well. Power BI Desktop will continue to support large-scale enterprise BI deployments through rich tooling, a focus on performance, and infrastructure capabilities to support BI at scale.
  • AI Infused Authoring: Power BI Desktop will infuse AI throughout the report authoring experience, which will enable analysts to find new insights, create engaging content more easily, and empower their users with engaging AI visualizations.

Power BI Service

In order to build a data culture, everyone needs to be able to discover and collaborate on insights. This is where the Power BI Service fits in. Here are just some of the areas for investment.

  • Bring insights to where people get work done in Office: Power BI will be deeply integrated in the tools users know and love: Excel, Microsoft Teams and SharePoint.
  • Self-service analytics: With deep feedback from our community, Microsoft is adding new features to make Power BI easier and more delightful to use as well as new capabilities for power users who want to push the limits of what they thought possible.
  • Enterprise reporting: As organizations seek to standardize their BI platform, the need for advanced reporting scenarios increases, whether that is content organization, managed distribution, lifecycle management, or more advanced reporting.

PowerApps Coming to Make Low Code a Reality

The main driver in the low-code development world, PowerApps includes significant improvements for Power Apps developers of all skill levels, improving the sophistication and usability of apps that are created across the web and mobile devices.

Whether it’s tighter integration with Microsoft Teams, easier addition of custom pages, or better connection between the types of App content, PowerApps delivers a wide range of new capabilities. Pair this with the introduction of new functionality in the AI builder, and Power Virtual Agents in PowerApps Portals, and this functionality continues to evolve.

The 2020 release wave 2 provides significant improvements for Power Apps developers of all skill levels, improving the sophistication and usability of apps that are created across the web and mobile devices.

  • Portals Improvements and Platform Unification: Power Apps portals are enabling low-code makers to roll out experiences to broad external audiences. This includes better APIs and better unification, logic-based app improvements, and better productivity.
  • Offline Capabilities: The Power Apps mobile app provides an offline mode that lets you to work with your data even when you don’t have internet access. Once you’re back online, changes you’ve made are synchronized with your apps in Common Data Service.
  • Better PowerApps/Power BI Integration: this wave of PowerApps improvements adds support for customizers to define a system dashboard referencing a Power BI report or dashboard.

Power Automate Set to Connect More Workflows

Built to simplify the connection between tasks, Power Automate will update the offering to combine the best of WinAutomation RPA with the cloud-based AI Builder and connector-based capabilities in automated flows.

This new version will offer customers a way to automate everything from Office apps to legacy terminal applications that haven’t been updated in decades. In addition, there are further enhancements coming to automated flows running in the cloud, including richer automation and approval experiences.

  • Tighter Integration with the Power Platform: Power Automate will provide improved and deep integration with other Microsoft Power Platform products to enable better application lifecycle management (ALM) scenarios and simpler inclusion of flows within Power Apps and Power BI.
  • Better Connection with Microsoft Teams: Teams has become the go to application for connecting a remote workforce. now, users can Create and use Power Automate flows within Microsoft Teams, including in-context flow triggers, simpler template acquisition, and integrated approvals experiences.
  • Big RPA Improvements: Part of the WinAutomation acquisition, Microsoft is improving the user experience. Robotics process automation (RPA) with UI flows enables customers to automate their legacy applications at the UI layer. With these new capabilities, you will be able to increase the scale as well as benefit from new programmability and compatibility features.

Platform Improvements and Integration Updates

In addition to the functionality itself, expect great things in the back end as well.

  • Power Virtual Agents includes expanded capabilities in the authoring experience, deeper Microsoft Teams integration, tools to create richer content, adaptive cards capabilities, authentication improvements, and improved Power Automate integration.
  • Microsoft understands the value of data protection, and introduced range of governance and administration capabilities that span Power Apps, Power Automate, and Common Data Service. These capabilities are designed to help the administrators and IT pros in the organization to help set up, secure, manage, govern, and monitor the use and adoption of the platform and its components across the enterprise.
  • Already connecting hundreds of applications to accomplish a variety of tasks, Microsoft has put even more integration at the forefront. There are many new capabilities in this release wave in areas such as dual-write, export to Data Lake, Microsoft Power Platform connectors, Microsoft Power Platform dataflows, Microsoft Power Platform gateway, and Power Query Online.

Get to Know the Power Platform

At MIBAR, we’ve long specialized in delivering Microsoft products for our customers. What started with a focus on Dynamics has continued to evolve, and we’ve quickly become a leading provider of services for companies who want to make the most of Power Platform applications.

Get to know more about how to make your business more successful with the Power Platform. Contact us to learn more.