Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, employees and businesses alike have been forced to adapt to a more remote business culture. While countries like the Netherlands already enjoyed a very remote-friendly work atmosphere, only 3.6% of U.S. workers reported being allowed to work remotely at least half-time or more prior to the pandemic. In a dramatic turnaround, 62% of employed Americans reporting working from home during the coronavirus crisis, according to an April Gallup poll. Global Workplace Analytics estimates that between 25% to 30% of the workforce will be working from home multiple days per week through the end of 2021.
As companies settle into this new normal, it has taken time to see the real rewards of adopting new technologies to facilitate remote work and collaboration. Smart business owners know that new technology can’t show its impact overnight. In fact, the MIT researcher Erik Brynjolfsson, who has spent years studying the intersection of technology and economics, coined a term called “the Productivity J-Curve” to explain how companies are slow to adopt new technologies, and when they do, productivity actually dips at first. It takes time and money to adopt the new tech and transition, which slows your teams down, but once they’re over the learning curve, the rewards are huge — hence the J-curve shape.
The adoption of Microsoft Teams for remote work follows suit. Once you overcome the initial learning curve and get comfortable with the overall Microsoft Teams interface for keeping your teams connected and on the same page, you can dive deeper into what the Microsoft Power Platform, now available for Teams, can offer.
Introduction to the Microsoft Power Platform
Microsoft brought the Power Platform to Teams to allow companies to customize the Teams experience and utilities to get the most functionality out of the Microsoft platform while working remotely. There are a few different components of the Power Platform that work together to offer a no-code way to build tools tailored specifically for your business.
Microsoft Power Apps
Microsoft Power Apps are applications built with low-code techniques, without having to dive into the traditional developer tools, like Visual Studio. Power Apps can be built by a broader set of people within the organization, and don’t require as much maintenance when changes are made in the underlying technologies.
Depending on your user permissions, anyone in your organization can build and deploy a PowerApp and make it available to your Teams workspace. Power Apps can be pinned to a Team workspace, for example a project management integration a client requires you to use or your personal dock, a great place for personnel tools like your time clock. Administrators can go into the admin portal and distribute personal apps to every user in the company if needed.
Microsoft Power Automate
Microsoft Power Automate is a service that helps you create automated workflows between your favorite apps and services to synchronize files, get notifications, collect data, and more. Just like the name indicates, Power Automate allows you to automate tasks in a repeatable sequence, with the powerful consistency of AI. These automations are called Power Flows. You can create Automated flows, which are triggered by certain behaviors/events; button flows, which you can trigger at any time from a mobile device; scheduled flows; business process flows to walk users through a set of steps consistently to result in a desired outcome; or UI flows, which record and automate the playback of manual steps on older legacy software. You can even browse through hundreds of pre-made flows on the Power Automate homepage to jumpstart your journey with automation.
Microsoft Power BI
Microsoft Power BI (Business Intelligence) allows you to take raw data collected by your organization in other apps and turn it into beautiful visualizations to highlight insights. Notably, Power BI allows you to use natural-language queries to dig into the data to get answers to important questions. This allows your business units and various departments to do some of their own data analytics, reducing a potential bottleneck for your data analytics department, and also providing your teams with new tools to use to get a clear picture of the business at any time.
Microsoft Power Virtual Agent
Microsoft Power Virtual Agent allows you to build chatbots without having to use underlying developer technology. The Virtual Agents can interact and have conversations with visitors using your site or an application, and are able to take action using the capabilities of Power Automate, leveraging the best of both services.
You can use Power VAs for submitting internal help desk requests, launching emails with a pre-filled template, collecting customer satisfaction data (because the VA chats are recorded and can be automated into data), and more. A crafty Power Platform developer in Philadelphia even created a Power Virtual Assistant to help you choose what beer to buy when you’re undecided.
Being forced to adopt new systems and attitudes about the new work-life may seem like a Sisyphean task, but it’s actually a great time to do major tech housekeeping to standardize the systems your business uses to communicate, store data, manage projects, and pull reports. Taking a wholesale inventory of your digital systems and platforms will ultimately save your business money by not having to license redundant software for different departments. You’ll also be buying back the valuable time of your business intelligence and data analytics teams, because they won’t have to export and import data from one service to the next just to share reports across departments.
Another benefit of using Power Platform apps with your Microsoft Teams strategy is the trust you will build with your employees thanks to openness, autonomy, and data transparency. Empowering your employees to explore and analyze data they collect will lead to your teams figuring out new ways to improve their processes and efficiency.
Contact Windows Management Experts today to find out how your business can take full advantage of all that Power Platform has to offer. Call 888-307-0133 to talk to a WME Power Platform expert and get started.