No matter what the industry, the ability to develop and deploy useful and productive internal business applications can give larger enterprises an advantage over the competition. Enabling enterprise employees to efficiently gather, process, and act on data as it is generated is almost as important to success as creating products or providing services for customers. This is the lesson mobility, big data, and the Internet of Things has taught us.
On November 30, 2015, Bill Staples, Corporate Vice President, Application Platform, announced a new initiative from Microsoft called Power Apps. The idea behind Power Apps is to provide tools that empower developers in the enterprise. With these tools developers can create apps that are optimized for mobile, easily integrated with other services, accessible when and where people need them, and usable on the any device.
According to the announcement, Power Apps will quicken the development of business applications at all levels. Microsoft believes the tools provided by Power Apps will increase the speed of development to the point where applications that used to take months or even years to create will now take only days or perhaps minutes.
As you would expect from Microsoft, much of the benefit from Power Apps will come from leveraging Office 365, Azure, and other cloud services, like Dynamics CRM, SharePoint, and OneDrive for Business. Power Apps will also be able to integrate data from third-party cloud services, such as Salesforce and SAP.
Obviously, Power Apps has some lofty goals—and we can assume there is a certain amount of puffery in the announcement. However, the potential of the concepts outlined are real and should not be ignored. An enterprise that can quickly create and deploy useful business applications will gain a competitive edge.
Microsoft has created a website where developers can sign up for a first-hand look at Power Apps when it becomes officially available. In the meantime, you can check out some tutorial videos on MSDN's Channel 9 website that explain the benefits of Power Apps.
Power Apps is another example of Microsoft's commitment to be the productivity software provider for any and all things enterprise. Along with Power BI, Windows 10, Azure, and Office 365, Power Apps is another layer in Microsoft's vision of a mobile-first, cloud-first workforce.
Power Apps and all the other cloud-based services in Microsoft's portfolio sound great, but whether those services will be successful depends on one highly unpredictable variable: human nature.
To fulfill its vision of a mobile enterprise workforce collaborating on projects, sharing documents, and developing business applications using cloud services, Microsoft is going to have to convince enterprise employees that all that additional activity will be beneficial to them.
Employees at every level in the enterprise will have to learn how and why they should be looking at dashboards, creating applications, and otherwise processing enterprise-generated data. That could be a tough sale for many workers, and it presents a very real challenge for Microsoft.
I think Microsoft has created an integrated suite of productivity software for enterprises that no other company comes close to duplicating. The announcement of Power Apps adds another layer of capability for the overall suite. The job for 2016 and beyond will be to convince participants in the enterprise workforce to actually use more of the software Microsoft has created.
- Build 2015: Microsoft's new plan to rule the mobile world
- Google may be declaring war against Microsoft and Office 365
- Microsoft Azure adds impressive security, container, IoT, and file-sharing features
- 10 low-cost ways to develop and improve applications
- Enterprise Apps: The Next Generation (ZDNet special feature)
- Executive's guide to enterprise software trends (free ebook)
Do you use internally developed business apps on a daily basis? Are they necessary to do your job? Do you wish you could develop apps on your own that are more tailored to your needs? Will Power Apps help you? Share your thoughts and experiences with fellow TechRepublic members.
Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.