It’s not brand-brand new, having been launched late in 2016, but Microsoft Flow is a rather unsung hero in the Microsoft pantheon. It’s a hero nonetheless, though, because it can transform the way you work.
But if this is the first time you’ve heard of it, let’s start with the basics:
What is Flow?
There’s a big clue in the name. It is indeed a workflow solution (and it is a cloud computing service). Workflow software automates tasks in a process and provides a level of control so that steps in that process are executed in the right order. It also connects things together – which may sound familiar to those who know a thing or two about middleware.
Except middleware is generally associated with enterprise applications (and enterprise costs). Not Flow.
What makes Microsoft Flow a big deal is a couple of things:
1. It is really easy to use, it allows you to connect applications and data through a ‘click and select’ template-driven process, and it works with an ever-expanding set of applications and devices.
2. Connect to services like Twitter, Office 365, Salesforce, Google Drive, Microsoft Dynamics and many more; when something happens in one of those applications, Flow uses the event to kick off a workflow which involves actions in other, connected, applications.
Need a use case example for Microsoft Flow? We have a few!
- For example, if an email arrives, Flow can automatically save attachments to OneDrive; an event in Salesforce can kick off a notification on your phone and automatically schedule a calendar appointment.
- If files are added to SharePoint, Flow can make sure you receive a text message notification. It can also do tasks like kicking off automated backups as new documents are created, shared or received.
Probably the best way of describing Flow is that it fills in the gaps between the multiple data sources and apps with which we work today. But it also goes a step further, by automating a lot of manual ‘admin’ tasks that would usually take time to do.
This is why it can transform the way you work: automation means big savings in time. It means not forgetting to do the stuff we all hate (the boring things, in other words). And that means a boost in personal productivity.
For most of us, the templates are going to be all that’s needed to put Flow to work. For the ‘power users’ who know their way around a bit of code, Flow is even more powerful, as it can be programmed to do even more special stuff and connect more apps, data sources and applications.
An easier way to understand Flow and the possibilities it offers is to check it out by video (and we have made a video just for you!), that will also likely give you additional ideas of how Flow can make your work easier, faster and better!