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The way we do work today is fundamentally different than just a few years ago. Work happens on our phones, tablets and laptops everywhere we go: on manufacturing floors, in airplanes or at customer meetings. The mobile revolution, together with nearly limitless compute and data in the cloud, has transformed our professional experience.
And yet, the apps we use to do business have been slow to keep pace with employee demand. While companies are increasingly turning to SaaS solutions for specific scenarios like CRM, travel and HR, using services like Microsoft Dynamics, Concur or Workday, most business app scenarios still remain locked on premises, dependent on corporate connected PCs. Too often, they’re not optimized for mobile, not easily integrated with other services, and not accessible when and where people need them most – on the device they want to use in that moment. The business app category continues to lag behind consumer app scenarios in terms of richness and ubiquity.
What is the cause of this business app “innovation gap”? Working closely with our customers, we have identified three key problems:
1) Not enough skilled mobile developers. Gartner predicts, “through 2017, the market demand for mobile app development services will grow at least five times faster than internal IT organization capacity to deliver them.*” There simply aren’t enough skilled developers to keep up with demand for business app scenarios.
2) Business data proliferation. Business data has proliferated spanning on premises systems and beyond the firewall to SaaS clouds. With data stored in many systems, it is difficult to connect to and consume related data from within an app.
3) IT agility and app sharing. Mobile app distribution typically happens through app stores, or through mobile device management, governed by IT. This creates inherent friction in getting apps onto employee phones.
Today, we’re excited to introduce Microsoft PowerApps as a unique solution to these problems. PowerApps is an enterprise service for innovators everywhere to connect, create and share business apps with your team on any device in minutes. And PowerApps helps anyone in your organization unlock new business agility.
- Quickly create apps that work on any device using a Microsoft Office-like experience, templates to get started quickly and a visual designer to automate workflows.
- Use built-in connections, or ones built by your company, to connect PowerApps to cloud services such as Office 365, Dynamics CRM, Salesforce, Dropbox and OneDrive and on-premises systems including SharePoint, SQL Server, Oracle databases, SAP and more.
- Share PowerApps like documents. It’s as simple as typing an email address and your coworkers can take advantage of an app you created.
For developers and IT professionals,
- PowerApps includes Azure App Service for employee-facing apps, so native web and mobile apps get into employee hands faster than ever.
- Build additional data connections and APIs to any existing business systems, thus empowering any users in your organization to create the apps they need.
- Data security and privacy controls are respected by PowerApps, so you can manage data access and maintain corporate policies.
We have been partnering closely with a number of customers and partners such as Toro, Bose, Metro Bank and eBecs to ensure our vision for PowerApps addresses their needs for business agility. Customers have built solutions ranging from a recruiting app for an internal team to a mobile app for banking employees that connects to their CRM data. And customers are realizing the impact of PowerApps on their business. Stéphane Cavallo, CIO of Division Habitat at Groupe Beneteau, shared that “PowerApps is simple to use, and doesn’t require deep technical knowledge or programming skills. I can create fully-functioning apps very rapidly and easily. In fact, we’ve brought app development in-house, which has really saved us a lot of money.”
PowerApps will dramatically accelerate how business apps are built, reducing time to solution from weeks or months to minutes and empowering a new category of app creators. It balances power between IT and business users, arming those closest to business needs with tools and services to not just envision but also implement the solution. It moves what has been for decades a set of scenarios that typically only run on-premises with PCs to being centered in the cloud and delivered mobile-first.
To learn more about Microsoft PowerApps and to put your name on the list to get access, go to www.PowerApps.com. And, if you are professional developer, learn more about development related scenarios with PowerApps on Channel 9.
* Gartner, The Enterprise App Explosion: Scaling One to 100 Mobile Apps, Adrian Leow, 07 May 2015