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Microsoft Power Platform –

Enabling and Managing

“Citizen Development”

Desmond Struwig, Managing Executive: Intelligent Operations, Decision Inc.

The days of discussing the pros and cons of digital transformation are over. Today the issue is how best to embrace digital technology and digitise all business processes in order to stay abreast of the rapid and unrelenting changes in the business environment.

“We are moving to a scenario where more rapid development and innovation in the business is becoming essential,” says Desmond Struwig, Executive: Digital at Midrand-based data, digital and performance intelligence business, Decision Inc. “However, this is placing IT development teams under enormous pressure, as the traditional software development lifecycle for the production of apps that will support process change and competitive advantage is too slow.”

According to Struwig, as already over-burdened IT teams are generally focused on large, strategically important projects, projects to address small, localised problems are often pushed way down the list of IT priorities – negatively impacting productivity, customer experience and staff morale.

The best way to achieve digital transformation is to drive innovation at the coal face where the people within the organisation who are experiencing problems on a day-to-day basis are given the tools, such as Microsoft’s Power Platform, to develop their own solutions to these problems.”

Microsoft’s Power Platform is a powerful tool for enabling what Struwig calls “citizen development” – software development without the need for professional software developers, in a fraction of the time and cost it would take with conventional software development processes.

By integrating three core features in the Microsoft stack – PowerApps, Power BI and Flow – Power Platform enables a business to accommodate innovation and rapid application development right where it is needed.

For example, the finance department could develop an app for the uploading of payroll files into an accounting package; the HR Department could develop an app for the onboarding of new categories of employees and the development of appropriate performance management scorecards. In effect, the platform could be used where there is any local need for an app that has little strategic value for the organisation as a whole, but will have a massive impact on departmental productivity.

Struwig dismisses concerns that “citizen development” could unleash a plethora of security breaches that could make BYOD (bring your own device) concerns pale by comparison.

“With PowerApps, you are not giving free rein to everyone in your organisation to publish apps into the business as a whole. Power Platform comes with very strong governance and security layer which will control things like protecting against data loss; providing analytics into usage; restricting usage; and restricting the publishing of apps into the broader organisation’s ecosystem without the authority to do so,” he explains.

“Because of its easy-to-build no-code/low-code features, all you are giving employees is the capability to self-innovate within their area of the business, enabling them to transform business processes and to innovate faster. You will still need the assistance of the IT team to extend the functionality of the app beyond the basics or to integrate it with other business processes across the organisation should this be required.

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