Microsoft Puts the Power in Power Platform

It used to be that publishers looking to extend and extract information from their ERP system had little more than Business Intelligence (BI) tools at their disposal. As good as some of these BI tools were, they could only go so far. However, the Microsoft Power Platform, recognized by Gartner as a leader in its class, can now offer much more by providing an integrated set of low-code/no-code tools that allow users to rapidly create end-to-end business applications around their core ERP, without endangering the integrity of the ERP data.

Originally launched in October 2019, the Microsoft Power Platform is a collective term for these much-enhanced tools, all using a common data service. In most cases, users can enjoy rich integration with their ERP system for creating custom apps that suit their particular requirements. The Power Platform is made up of the following components, all with user-friendly interfaces, guided learning paths and tutorials for rapid delivery:

  • Power Apps: A platform for developing business applications, made up of apps with drag and drop capabilities on a “canvas” to create custom workflows and user interfaces. Other model-driven apps allow users to add forms, dashboards, charts, and tables, and portals to create external-facing websites.
  • Power BI: A suite of business intelligence tools for extensive data analysis and reporting, display and real-time visualization, and other user-defined data presentations.
  • Power Automate: A set of software services to create and integrate workflows between apps that can be scheduled or triggered automatically.
  • Power Virtual Agents: Now part of Copilot, used to create interactive bots and interfaces.

The Platform provides a low-cost, low-code custom development tool for filling in the information gaps around the core ERP system, and to automate processes around them.

Value of Using the Power Platform with an ERP System

Your ERP system is the core system of record but cannot always supply all your information needs, so there is often a need to easily create additional and secured information workflows that can use data from within the ERP. Here is an example of how it can be done with the Power Platform.

If your ERP system does not provide a subscriber lead tracking sub-system but does contain and manage your existing subscriber data and communications, Power Apps will allow you to create a custom app for your marketing and service group. The app can track subscriber leads including a chatbot (via Power Virtual Agents, now part of Copilot Studio) to gather other important data from the prospect. With Power Automate, you can set up workflows that are triggered when a new request is received, notifying the appropriate staff to initiate their own follow-up processes. Subsequently, Power BI can analyze this data, and identify trends and areas for future process improvement.

And when the subscriber engages, all this data can be automatically passed into the billing, accounting, and supply chain processes within your ERP. Other examples might include an HR (Human Resources) portal for the onboarding process or a system for tracking sales commissions from ERP sales data. What is important is these apps eliminate harmful data silos and can be quickly developed without consuming specialist resources in your IT group.

Further Value of The Power Platform with MS Dynamics 365

There are even more benefits if the ERP system is also in the Microsoft stack – such as MS Dynamics 365. This, of course, includes ERP products like knkMedia, that are built on the MS Dynamics platform. MS Power Platform Integration is a feature that can be activated in MS Dynamics Lifecycle Services, which allows users to access Dynamics data and processes, and integrates the Dynamics ERP system with Power Platform environments without duplication.

This seamless integration is not just with Dynamics 365, and knkMedia, but also with Office 365 products, such as SharePoint, Excel, Word, Outlook, and Teams. And the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central Connector, which is a part of the integration toolkit, makes it possible for users to run Power Automate flows inside Business Central (BC), so administrators can build powerful Power Apps or flows that use BC data through REST APIs.

Apps may also be developed using Enterprise Templates in Power Apps, which serve as starting points for specific use cases for specific industries. Examples might include functional templates for processes like custom contract and royalty management, editorial workflows, or to integrate with external systems.

In summary, the MS Power Platform is an excellent low-code/no-code development platform that allows companies to rapidly build unique applications around their existing ERP platform without any significant coding experience, especially so if the ERP system is based on the Microsoft stack. What is more, with Microsoft’s policy of continuous enhancement of products like Power Platform and Dynamics 365, with two automatic updates annually, the value of your investment grows over time. And by combining publishing ERP systems built on MS Dynamics Business Central along with The Power Platform, it offers a comprehensive solution that leverages Business Central’s data, logic, and data security with the analytical and process automation capabilities of Power Platform.