Microsoft is adding automation to its Power Platform tool that helps apps connect to one another

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  • Microsoft is introducing automation into its Power Platform tool that helps businesses do data analytics, app development, and app connectivity.
  • With robotic process automation added, Microsoft's Power Automate tool will be able to automate tasks across many applications on a device that uses a Windows operating system.
  • This tool essentially creates a bot that mimics keystrokes and mouse clicks to turn manual tasks into an automated workflow. It can be used to automate tasks like invoice management.
  • The robotic process automation market has been expanding tremendously and a lot of it is centered around Microsoft applications so it makes sense that Microsoft is trying to leverage that with this new tool, Craig Le Clair, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester, told Business Insider.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Microsoft is introducing automation into its Power Platform tool that helps businesses do data analytics, app development, and app connectivity.

With the platform, Microsoft is expanding its reach beyond Office 365 productivity products and Azure cloud computing and offering more tools for its customers. The Power Platform is meant to create tools or applications with little to no code.

At its Ignite conference on Monday, Microsoft announced that it is adding robotic process automation to its power automate tool (previously called Microsoft Flow) which helps move data from one system to another. Power automate is one part of the larger Power Platform tool.

Robotic process automation or RPA helps businesses automate repetitive tasks across many different applications. With the automation added, Microsoft's Power Automate tool will be able to automate tasks across many applications on a device that uses a Windows operating system. This tool essentially creates a bot that mimics keystrokes and mouse clicks to turn manual tasks into an automated workflow.

Those bots can run in the cloud on individual computers or in the background to automate tasks. Previously, the tool could only learn to automate tasks by uploading a video of the process.

"This is part of a much bigger initiative we're leading at Microsoft of making it so you can bring digital experiences to all parts of the business," Charles Lamanna, Corporate Vice President of the Low Code Application Platform at Microsoft, told Business Insider.

One way businesses have applied this technology is by automating invoice management. TruGreen, a company that offers lawn mowing services, has tested the tool and is using it to automate the process of taking in invoices. A bot grabs the invoice attachment from an email, starts scanning and reading the content, and then posts it into their financial system, something that previously needed to be done by manually copying and pasting.

The robotic process automation market has been expanding tremendously and a lot of it is centered around Microsoft applications so it makes sense that Microsoft is trying to leverage that with this new tool, Craig Le Clair, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester who has written a book on AI and automation in the workplace, told Business Insider.

"The RPA providers that have come into the market in the last two years, have been growing quite a bit, getting very high valuations...in a sense feasting on the Microsoft ecosystem...operating and providing value in it but none of that value has been accruing to Microsoft," Le Clair said.

What was announced Monday has a very limited scope, Le Clair said "it would be dangerous to underestimate the effect of Microsoft's product as it evolves in the longer term." He thinks companies like UI Path that do this type of automation could be impacted by Microsoft entering the space.

The tool is available in a free trial phase starting Monday.

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