In the past, businesses with small budgets had no hope of getting a website. You had to have deep pockets to afford bespoke software and pay HTML developers big bucks to build a website from scratch. This was before companies like WordPress and Go Daddy came along, allowing small business owners to build their own custom websites quickly and cheaply.
Fast forward to the present day, and Microsoft is doing the same with app development. Nowadays, you don’t need a million pounds and a team of developers to create business applications. With PowerApps, you can build apps right inside Word, Excel, and PowerPoint that can interact with over 400 sources of data. Powerapps democratizes the idea of apps. It makes it easy for small businesses to use powerful apps on their smartphones and tablets without breaking the bank.
The PowerApps Surge
Since its initial release in January 2016, Microsoft PowerApps has generated a lot of excitement. People love the idea of being able to turn their spreadsheets, Word documents, and PowerPoint slides into actual applications. You can build an application without having years of experience in developing software and without having to study any software language. You just need PowerApps.
At its core, PowerApps does for applications what WordPress did for websites, causing innovation to flourish and spreading opportunity to many who had previously been left out of the equation. With Power Apps, small business owners can now quickly create mobile business apps for Android, iOS, Windows (Modern Apps), and almost every web browser that connects easily to data sources in your business.
In addition to being able to connect to databases and on-premises data sources, Power Apps has brought in connectors for Salesforce and other popular user database systems. This flexibility further enhances PowerApps because most people are familiar with Microsoft Office 365. It integrates into their workflow.
How Microsoft Gave Tools to Non-Developers
PowerApps enables non-developers to use low-code tools to build data-centric, responsive and secure apps that run on any device and in most modern browsers. That means that anyone in your company, regardless of their technical expertise or abilities, can build apps so that the business can offload some tasks from IT. You can use PowerApps to connect your existing business systems, create new ones or build simple mobile forms that simplify completing tasks in the field. You can do this in minutes or hours instead of days or weeks with traditional programming languages like C# or Java.
This is crucial for the small business owner with limited resources and budgets and a greater need for apps that can help them manage their finances, customer service and more.
So what can you build with PowerApps?
With PowerApps, you can build apps from scratch or use PowerApps templates. Templates are quick ways to create apps that use connected data sources. In addition to Microsoft’s templates, you can extend and customize them to meet your needs. Some examples of templates are:
- Site Inspection App
- Budget Tracker App
- Employee Ideas App
- Service Desk
PowerApps also provides the ability to create modern applications from your data. There are several out-of-the-box connectors to different systems, such as Azure, SQL, Slack, SharePoint, Salesforce, and Dropbox, to name a few. Custom apps are where it gets exciting because the possibilities are endless. You can create whatever app you need, for example:
- A simple checklist app that lets you tick off the items on a list
- An expense reporting app where you upload receipts, and it automatically calculates your total expenses by category and deducts them from an expense account balance
- An HR onboarding form that captures all the information needed to get new hires up and running in their role
- A tracking app to help record customer inventory or products
PowerApps can build apps that are accessed in Microsoft Teams, SharePoint and websites by your employees or customers.
Why are PowerApps great for SMBs?
1. Saves money
One of the best things about PowerApps is that it can save your company money. Buying off-the-shelf software is expensive and often does not meet business needs. With PowerApps, you don’t need code, developers or IT departments. You don’t need to hire additional staff or pay hefty developer fees. You don’t need to own a data centre or servers; everything runs from Microsoft’s secure cloud infrastructure.
2. Fast Deploying
Another significant advantage of Power Apps is how fast you can develop a professional app. Businesses no longer need to wait for IT. Compared to traditional development methods, Power Apps makes it much easier for your IT company to develop and deploy apps. Through a drag-and-drop interface and pre-built templates, the low-code platform makes building a user interface connecting data more accessible within weeks. You also won’t have to worry about app store approvals or the long wait times for getting your app approved by the Apple App Store or Google Play Store (if you choose to publish on those platforms).
3. Easily scalable
For your apps to keep up with your business, they need to grow. PowerApps is built on Azure so that you can rely on the robust infrastructure of Microsoft. Whether you need to build one app or one thousand apps, PowerApps can help you be agile and grow with your business.
PowerApps’ technology may very well be revolutionary: it allows us to build and publish apps then use them on an unlimited number of devices and share them with others. The possibilities for what we as individuals and professionals can do with these apps seem endless. For example, entrepreneurs can create business plans and financial spreadsheets for managing budgets.
The future of designing apps for business is looking bright, and it’s all thanks to programs like Microsoft PowerApps. With powerful tools at your disposal, why wouldn’t you be eager to start building your next big idea today?