• Stellium

Missed Microsoft Business Applications Summit 2021? We give you the key highlights

On May 4th, in a galaxy far far away, Stellium crew connected to earth with a mission; to check Microsoft Business Applications Summit and get aware of the new features and announcements. With lots of presentations, table talks, ask the experts live events, challenges and news to digest, there are lots of things to unpack! To save you some time we bring you some of the key highlights of the event. Fasten your seatbelt! 🚀

In this article, we highlight updates out of Microsoft Business Applications Summit 2021, which we think will bring significant improvements for Microsoft 365, the Power Platform and Azure. We'll be going through a selection of digested topics with our own opinion on their relevance so you can quickly know what will be the upcoming updates of 2021 and why it could matter to your organization.

Overview

The summit was introduced with a session called "Enabling innovation everywhere with Microsoft Business Applications". This presentation set the tone for the next ones and highlighted two main points:

1) The power of a connected community to empower solutions, with the participation of many community testimonies;

2) Microsoft Cloud as a unified comprehensive platform for digital transformation able to connect people, processes and technology.


With an increasing interest of our customers to enable and infuse a low-code development culture in their organization, we've spent the last months helping them to build a governance strategy for large scale roll-out.


Governance is the entire foundation required to document and implement several blueprints to:

  • Define the positioning of the platform

  • Identify the needed roles and competencies for a Center of Excellence

  • Plan the environment strategy

  • Build a set of security and compliance policies

  • Implement a streamlined apps' lifecycle management

  • Monitor the overall usage and adoption of the platform

"Governance strategy" is now buzzing in every organization that tested and validated their interest in the Power Platform and that now wishes to go further. We can only be excited seeing Microsoft releasing new features to better administer and govern their products thanks to new granular control capabilities.


Power Platform Community


The entire summit had a lot of moments to highlight the achievements of the Power Platform Community in order to boost the solutions and help each other. There is also a whole new space for community collaboration.


Power Platform User Groups presents two sections:

1) Groups: different types of groups (by topic, location, etc.) that you can join and discuss around a topic or event.

2) Events: It can be online or in person. The speaker sets a topic and you could join as an attendee.


Power Apps


Power Apps, which offers a low-code platform that enables organizations to build their own business applications showed up, as the most transformed of the Power Rangers (also known as all the solutions inside the Power Platform) throughout this year and 2022.


In fact, the first transformation will arrive this month. A new converged modern app designer that will combine the best of model-driven and canvas apps, with a live preview allowing you to build and test faster.





This new modern designer will also enable custom pages built through canvas app designer to be used on model-driven apps, allowing users to get the canvas flexibility to customize every single pixel.



This modern view, for now, will contain three blocks and the goal is to unify them until 2022 in Power Apps Studio based on the roadmap below.

Power Apps designer roadmap

Another related new feature is the chance to share apps across teams without users needing to be part of the team. You just need to select "Share with colleagues" feature and the apps will show up on Teams Store in "Built by your colleagues".

In addition, Microsoft also released new quick start templates for mobile and Teams to accelerate the ability to start using the platform. The 5 mobile templates (Milestones, Bulletins, Issue Reporting, Employee Ideas and Inspection) are already available. For MS Teams, they will launch Profile +, Boards and Discussions this month and 2 more in June.

Microsoft Milestones app for Teams

Power BI


Microsoft Business Intelligence platform was also an active participant of the summit, with four big announcements. The most interesting for us is the new module called Power BI Goals.


This AI-powered tool promotes an interactive interface where specific users can be associated with metrics that represent goals and have people collaborating around the its progress with notes and Teams messaging. Somewhere in the future it will be possible to integrate it directly with Power Automate to automatically trigger business processes as your goals change status. As usual, this new Power BI feature is fully compatible with Microsoft teams and is now available in preview. This feature is only available for premium accounts, but it can be acquired through per-user plans available starting at 20$/month.


Another interesting announcement was the Automated Insights. Powered by AI, this tool will speed up your analysis automatically highlighting useful insights about your report and data. This new feature will arrive later this year.



The best part is that this new feature will come together with a much-needed one. You already had the possibility to bring Power Apps into Power BI (and vice-versa), but now, you can integrate Power Automate and Power BI to allow for immediate events based on your data updates.


Finally, to celebrate May 4th in style, there was the announcement of Data In Space. Related to the already presented augmented reality on Power BI, you can now use your phone or tablet to find Power BI dashboards around your facilities. This can be really useful for our manufacturing customers because they can now put their existing Power BI reports side by side with machines and infrastructure without extra costs.

Data in Space - Augmented reality for Power BI

Power Automate and Power Virtual Agents

Apart from the news already mentioned above regarding Power Automate, the event focused also showed us news in the robotic process automation (RPA) capabilities of Power Automate Desktop, such as a new screen recording feature to automatically create the automation flow. They've also highlighted the previously announced process mining module called Process Advisor, as a powerful integrated tool to find your bottlenecks, deep dive on insights and seek continuous improvement of different processes. This feature is still in preview mode.


For Power Virtual Agents, some demos were shown and the goal for the future is to have a deeper integration with Microsoft Teams and Power Automate, authentication improvements, expanded capabilities in the authoring experience and tools to create richer content.


You can find all the details about the releasing plans for Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Power Platform in the following link.

Power Platform Governance and Security

The event was mainly aimed at the Power Platform enthusiasts but there's always an intrinsic security and compliance part and here there were also announcements with Azure at the core.

The new announcement is part of the Monitor pillar. The new feature self-service analytics will allow you to export your data to azure to retain logs for a longer period of time, versus the existing functionality today that only gives us a monthly tracking. Microsoft will also provide Tenant wide analytics. Today, administrators can only check analytics and metrics scoped to an environment but with this new feature it will enable them to see a bigger picture for all the environments inside the tenant.


There's more! Another feature coming is Endpoint filtering, where you can restrict which servers and endpoints your Azure SQL Connector can connect to. Microsoft will add these capabilities to more connectors over time.


Tenant level isolation inside of the Admin Center lets you build trusted relationships with other Azure AD tenants without the need to add users manually. Otherwise you can block users from other companies connecting to your solutions, using the out of the box Power Apps connectors.



Connector action controls, lets you block or allow individual actions inside each connector. For example, you can allow read-only operations in the Azure AD connector (e.g. reading users and groups), but block all write operations (e.g. updating a user).



Microsoft Information Protection Support lets you have the Microsoft Information Protection labels on your data, have them flow through the different connectors inside of Power Apps. The same applies for all the data stored inside Dataverse.



Hopefully this digest was a useful recap of the Microsoft Business Application Summit announcements.


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