In light of the Government’s decision to lift all Covid-related restrictions, many organisations will be planning a return to the workplace in some capacity, as employers prepare for life in the post-pandemic era.

This includes implementing technical solutions that are designed to streamline existing processes and make working more efficient for employees throughout the business.

For this reason, key decision makers will be keeping a close eye on Power Platform’s release wave two, after Microsoft recently announced detailed plans of its upcoming rollout, with early access expected in August if all things go to plan.

The release wave two focuses on all areas of the Power Platform, including Power BI, Power Apps, Power Automate and Power Virtual Agents, delivering significant enhancements across the entire offering, that will benefit new and existing users.

In this blog, we have highlighted some of the key updates that businesses should keep an eye on in the months ahead.

Power BI

One of the key focusses of the upcoming release wave is Power BI – a service that has been reviewed and discussed at length in our previous blogs. According to the recently announced plans, Microsoft are investing in three key areas, which will help to drive a data culture across every organisation. These are:

  • Empower every individual: To help drive a data culture, individuals must feel comfortable handling and harnessing information. This means having access to instantly familiar experiences combined with easy-to-discover insights.
  • Empower every team: By deeply integrating BI into team workspaces, it becomes a standard part of the decision making process and allows different departments to uncover important insights.
  • Empower every organisation: Power BI has licensing options and features that are suitable for organisations of all sizes. This scalability means it can meet the most demanding needs of large enterprise customers.

One of the most noteworthy enhancements of the upcoming release is the long-term historical and near real-time performance and usage analytics. This feature integrates with Azure Log Analytics to provide administrators with detailed real-time and historical metrics, so they can accurately monitor performance and ensure compliance within their Power BI environment.

Meanwhile, a number of Power BI datasets hub enhancements are set to be rolled out, allowing users to easily discover and reuse data within a central hub. With this feature, users can discover curated and non-curated datasets, explore relevant dataset properties and create reports based on the info provided.

Power Apps

Over time, Power Apps has built a strong reputation as an industry-leading, low-code application development platform, that dramatically lowers the cost and complexity of software development. It underpins Dynamics 365 extensibility and Microsoft 365 customisation, and as such, is another main focus of the release wave two.

According to the official release notes, a new unified and modern Power Apps designer will be made generally available in October 2021, allowing makers and admins to build apps more efficiently. Acting as a hub for productive app creation, the new designer has a live preview feature and can integrate with other authoring experiences.

To provide an accessible and complete modern maker experience, Power Apps will also include all the features currently available in the classic experience, so that users can stay in the portal to manage their solutions, without having to switch back to the classic interface.

There are also a number of exciting user experiences being rolled out in the upcoming release wave, which will significantly improve the app’s performance. One notable improvement is advanced lookup capabilities in model-driven Power Apps, which will help users conduct data-entry tasks more productively.

Power Automate

Another key component of the Power Platform is Microsoft Power Automate, which provides the tools needed to improve business productivity by automating repetitive and time-consuming tasks.  As part of the release wave two, Power Automate is investing in several key areas, including Microsoft Teams, Dynamics 365 and AI builder.

Over the past year, Microsoft Teams has boomed in terms of its popularity as businesses were forced to adapt to a culture of remote working due to Covid-related restrictions. To enhance the user experience, the release wave two will make it easier for users to directly acquire flow templates from the Teams store through a new dedicated workflows section.

Another key feature, which will be made generally available in October 2021, is a document automation solution that can be used to process documents at scale. This solution can be customised for a broad range of document types, allowing businesses to streamline existing processes.

Finally, Microsoft has revealed it will provide more analytics capabilities for administrators, allowing them to monitor and manage the automation adoption throughout their organisation.

Stay ahead of the competition

In the post-pandemic era, the businesses that will thrive are those that are proactive in implementing new and sophisticated technical solutions.

For those organisations that already use the Microsoft Power Platform on a daily basis, it is crucial that they keep up to date with the latest developments, so they can extract maximum value from the updates as they roll out.

Throughout the pandemic, Microsoft has delivered consistent high quality update cycles in direct response to customer feedback, and judging from the recently announced plans, the upcoming release wave will continue this momentum.

If your business would like to implement any of the solutions discussed in this blog, then contact our in-house team of experts and find a solution that meets your unique needs and requirements.