The ‘New Normal’ is mostly tech-driven, and everyone is increasingly tech-savvy than ever before. Remote work and life increased our reliance on technology to do everything. Self-service innovations also have become the new normal.
Do you prefer human interaction or a ‘self-service’ to get things done? If you can think of airport kiosks, cash machines, and supermarket self-checkouts, there is a lot more to it. ‘Self-service innovations’ are not limited to customer interactions with businesses. Still, they include a whole gambit of technology orchestration in processes, partners interactions, employee experience, data governance, security, and many more. 88% of the customers expect businesses to have a self-service portals option, according to research from Statista.
Self-service is now more about building different automation layers in your business. Imagine your ITSM ticket execution without any service agent, data preparation for insights done with simple queries and connectors, a conversational bot leveraging data and AI to answer all your questions. It is now easy to implement all these self-service innovations using the Microsoft Power Platform Services. Before we get into more details, let us look at the different business enablers from Microsoft Power Platform Solutions.
Microsoft Power Platform Services and the Business Enablers
Microsoft Power Platform is a combination of business enablers offered in four applications. It brings together Dataverse, Dynamics 365, Office 365, Power BI, Power Apps, Power Automate, and Power Virtual Agent. Building solutions, analyzing data, and automating processes were more simplified in the platform than ever before. It is a comprehensive one-stop solution for many enterprise transformation needs. Let’s do a sneak-peak into these four applications.
- Power BI – The most popular among all the applications, businesses can rapidly derive insights by connecting to several heterogeneous data sources. It is a self-service business insights tool to design effective dashboards, data stories, and compelling visualizations.
- Power Apps – An intuitive application that can modernize your application landscape in no time. Powered by low-code, a simple visual interface empowers users without any tech understanding to build business apps in hours. Leveraging drag and drop features, users can craft experiences, create workflows, alerts, and notifications in no time.
- Power Automate – Digital businesses are heading up faster to automate their repetitive and manual tasks for accelerating their time-to-market. Leveraging Power Automate, companies can automate their workflows without writing any code.Ready-to-use templates, recommendations, and pre-built connectors power the application for more straightforward navigation and control.
- Power Virtual Agent – Businesses can handle their entire bot development lifecycle without writing a single line of code using this application. It will be easy to trigger any workflow based on the conversation, as all the applications are interconnected. Additionally, the natural language features empower businesses to enhance their customer experience. An AI Builder is also incorporated into the platform to deliver intelligent insights as and when needed.
The combination of all these applications usually delivers more value than the individual applications. Data, insights, and automation are the core for any digital business model today, and Microsoft Power Platform solutions have everything in it. So, where is the concept of self-service in this? Self-service is about limiting human interactions for any needs, which is underlying in every application from the platform. Let us get into more details about the self-service in each of the applications.
Self-service powered by Microsoft Power Platform
Do you think self-service is mostly customer-led? Yes, as per Gartner, but there are many facets to it. For example, consider self-service analytics; the customer here is the business professional aiming to create reports for business use. Self-service is about generating the needed business report by this customer on his own without any IT support. The role and definition of customer changes according to the product or service you may be looking for. But self-service is about catering to the customer needs/services without any human interaction. That being clear, let us now look at the applications in Power Platform for self-service innovations.
Self-service Business Intelligence with Power BI
Power BI has some powerful self-service capabilities. Users can connect to data from on-premise and cloud data sources and do the necessary data preparation for insights without any support from IT: data ingestion, transformation, and integration from big data using Power Query experience. What is the challenge that it resolves? Imagine Mr. A asking Mr. B a BI-related question. Mr. B had to go back to the IT team to find the required data and reports. It takes a week for the report. Even after that, Mr.A will need to explore the data with his team. This iteration cycle is vicious for business performance. Beyond real-time insights, collaboration, and easy reuse of data, simple connection and access to data turn out to be the game-changer for businesses.
Power App Portals, Specifically to Develop Self-service Portals
Imagine the scenario, your employee trying to submit some official expenses. It takes many rounds to HR and Finance before submission for the policies and guidelines. What if you had a self-service employee portal for all such activities? It becomes easy, right.
Power App Portals are an extension to the Power Platform, and you can easily integrate with Dynamics 365 for all the required data. Business portals are now for the consumers and every stakeholder: partners, employees, suppliers, and the community. The Self-service portals in Power Apps leverage numerous pre-defined templates based on the scenario. A few popular templates are Community Portal, Partner Portal, Employee Self-service portal, Customer self-service portal, among many others.
The Self-service portals also come with built-in security, and users can take the utmost benefit of low-code. These internal or external portals enhance the experience and improve productivity and efficiency.
Power Virtual Agent for Self-service Conversational Bots
The creation of intelligent virtual assistants was never this simple. With Power Virtual Agent, anyone can create a bot to resolve customer, employee, and partner service issues. The no-code assistant makes it simple for everyone to launch the self-service capabilities. A few simple yet powerful scenarios to understand self-service better:
- An HR bot to check your leave policy, balances and to apply for leave
- Finance team’s bot to address all the payroll and tax-related queries
- A Marketing bot for information about standard practices to be followed by employees for more brand value
Additional capabilities to be leveraged from Power Automate and AI builder to make conversations more intelligent with the chatbot.
Power Automate to Enable Self-service with Low-code
It is not just about automating workflows but without any technical expertise leveraging low-code. Power Automate is at the back to enhance the self-service capabilities of Power BI, Power Apps, and Power Virtual Agent. The trigger and action performed by the application are centered around workflow automation and engagement with external applications.
Let me share an example of this. The marketing team can streamline social media communications, like posting something on Facebook or Twitter. Creating a flow, setting up triggers, alerts, and push notifications can reduce dependency and save time. Power Automate brings in more efficiencies to your self-service capabilities and also makes automation simpler for everyone.
Benefits from Self-service initiatives
All the initiatives centered around experience when everyone thought about self-service: each process, application, insights, and stakeholder should be independent to perform their activities and bring agility to the business, decreasing reliance on new-age digital business models. Self-service is gaining attention for more adaptability, connectivity, accessibility, cost savings, and most importantly, the speed to act and deliver the best outcomes. Self-service is no more about customer experience, but it is a must for every business to gain a competitive advantage.
Individually, the Microsoft Power Platform solutions fulfill specific business needs, but when combined, the synergies are great to analyze, act, and automate on the data. Check out our Expert Podcast Series to rethink your digital business models.
You can still focus on growth, while a service partner like Saxon Global can help you in business transformation. Learn more about our Microsoft Power Platform services.
Gopi is the President and CEO of Saxon Global Inc since its inception and is responsible for the overall leadership, strategy, and management of the Company. As a true visionary, Gopi is quick to spot the next-generation technology trends and navigate the organization to build centers of excellence. As a digital leader responsible for driving company growth and ROI, he believes in a business strategy built upon continuous innovation, investment in core capabilities, and a unique partner ecosystem. Gopi has served as founding member and 2018 President of ITServe, a non-profit organization of all mid-sized IT Services organization in US.