Power FX is to be the new low-code language that will be used to express logic across the entire Power Platform. This language is inspired by Microsoft Excel, and currently underpins canvas Power Apps. When going into detail about what Power FX is and does, they advised people to ‘think Excel’, given that its creation was inspired by the idea that apps should be built as easily as spreadsheets.
As a business that originated as Excel experts, before becoming Power Platform specialists, you can imagine how excited we are by this news! It’s not difficult to see where the name ‘Power Fx’ came from, just go and take a look at an Excel formula bar.
Given that hundreds of people create spreadsheets with Excel every day, Microsoft wanted to make app creation easier for all whilst leveraging people’s existing spreadsheet knowledge. The founding team’s original aspiration was to craft a language that achieved the following:
The table below shows the functions in green which are identical or very close to Excel’s version, emphasising the fact that Power Fx’s roots are firmly cemented in Excel.
Microsoft have confirmed that the roll out of Power FX will be phased over a 24 month period, and by the end of 2021, Power FX will be rolled out to:
Power Apps users – nothing! Expression language is currently used in canvas Power Apps and this is essentially Power FX, so what is currently in place will remain, but we’re likely to see this enhanced over time.
Power BI users – need not worry that this will replace M or DAX – Power FX has been created to complement these.
Power Automate users – no effect right now, likely to start seeing it rolled out to Power Automate in around 18 months.
Dataverse/Model Driven App & Power Virtual Agents users – Microsoft plan on rolling Power FX out to these environments first, so it is recommended that developers quickly familarise themselves with the syntax currently used in Excel and Canvas Apps.
By using a syntax synonymous with that used in Excel, Power Fx will allow users to build Apps as easily as Excel spreadsheets. In addition, it also means there is much more consistency across Power Apps and Power Automate, making the development of Power Platform solutions far more efficient.
Microsoft have highlighted three main reasons why the introduction of Power FX is so exciting:
Using formulas that are already familiar to hundreds of millions of users means that Power FX becomes common ground for both business users and professional developers
It is already the foundation of Power Apps canvas, and once rolled out across the whole of the Power Platform, people will be able to get started with low-code solutions much faster
Microsoft recognise that the future of programming is open source and have embraced the pace of open innovation that has propelled the adoption of languages such as Typescript and C#. By making Power FX available for open contribution from the broader community, Power FX will naturally evolve for the better over time
Probably the most exciting thing about Power FX to us, is that it is ALWAYS LIVE! Again, this is another Excel trait which has been adopted, as it allows immediate feedback. Excel doesn’t have an edit/compile/run state – you simply load the spreadsheet, edit your formulas and values freely, and you get your answers – simple. A spreadsheet is always live, and there is no distinction between editing and running. Any errors detected come to light immediately and don’t interfere with the rest of the spreadsheet. Well, the people behind Power Fx want their users to have this same live experience. As developers, this means we will now have the advantage of telling the app what we want it to do, without having to describe the how or when, meaning we won’t have the tedious task of keeping variables and data tables up-to-date manually – therefore, Power Fx will allow us to build solutions faster, which is, well, bloody marvellous news!
The introduction of Power Fx paves the way for businesses that are powered by offline legacy spreadsheets, to be migrated to cloud-based solutions that are multi-user, single version, scalable deployments. Not only that, because Power Fx is based on Microsoft Excel, using the Power Platform for their business intelligence requirements will be less daunting, as they will already be familiar with elements of it, therefore the Power Platform adoption process will be quicker and a return on their investment will be seen much sooner. What better way to kickstart a Digital Transformation journey!
To find out how your business can benefit from Power Fx and the Power Platform, get in touch.
You’ve probably heard the saying, “It’s not what you have, it’s how you use it.” Never is this potentially more true than when we’re dealing with data.
Data is a collection of facts and information turned into a form that’s easier for us to process. It can be numbers, words, measurements or even just observations. Consumer data often holds many insights about your customers – from what they like to buy to how or even when – and can help us build more positive customer relationships.
Gathering consumer data, however, is only one part of the equation – what matters most is how you use it. In today’s tech-led world we are being overwhelmed with data, and if you don’t know what to do with it, your competition will.
Here at Bespoke, we help businesses efficiently process their data to unlock powerful advantages. We do this in five ways:
Data transformation involves changing the format, structure, or values of raw data in order to make it easier to process (see below). It may be constructive (like adding or replicating data), destructive (deleting records and folders), aesthetic (standardising values and labels), or structural (such as moving and combining columns in a database).
We transform data to make it more organised and easier for both humans and computers to use. It helps to improve data quality later down the line (see Data Validation) and protects against potential problems like null values, unexpected duplicates or incompatible formats.
Data transformation might also include data integration – the combination of technical and business processes to combine data from various sources into meaningful and valuable information.
All of these transformative processes are crucial to effective data management, which is the practice of collecting, keeping and using data securely and cost-effectively.
More data of course means more processing, which can significantly add to your company’s workload. That’s where data automation comes in.
Data automation allows mundane data handling tasks to be run effortlessly in the background, without demanding precious employee time. It can be achieved using business applications such as Excel and Power BI, or even a bespoke solution created specifically for you.
Different types of data automation might include data capture automation (making it easier to collect, store and organise large amounts of data at once); automating business processes or workflows, and automated data uploads (leading to increased accuracy and saved time).
Data visualisation is the presentation of data in a graph, chart, diagram or other visual format. It is incredibly important for business dashboards as a way to communicate relationships between the data and allow trends and patterns to be easily seen. Machine learning makes it easier to conduct business analytics such as predictive analysis, which can then serve as helpful insights for future goals.
Data virtualisation, meanwhile, allows an application to retrieve and manipulate data without requiring technical details such as the data’s format or physical location. Similar to data visualisation, the goal of data virtualisation is to create a single representation of data from multiple, disparate sources, without having to copy or move the data.
Data processing is when data is collected and translated into usable information. It is important for this to be done correctly so as to avoid negatively affecting the end data or product.
Starting with the data in its rawest form, data processing converts it into a more readable format (such as a graphs or documents, etc.), enabling company employees and stakeholders to utilise the data for their own data analytics projects.
This type of information processing is typically done using machine learning algorithms, though the process may vary depending on the source of data being processed and its intended use.
Data validation involves checking the accuracy and quality of source data before using, importing or otherwise processing data. When moving and merging data from different sources and repositories, it’s important to make sure it conforms to business rules and doesn’t become corrupted due to inconsistencies. The goal is to create data that is consistent, accurate and complete, to prevent data loss and errors during a move.
Different types of validation depend on destination constraints or objectives. Data validation is also a form of data cleansing.
At Bespoke, we have a team ready to help you prepare to work with your data and understand the opportunities available and even do a data healthcheck. Just shoot us an email to set up your free consultation.
Most small businesses often start out using Excel for their accounting and data management needs. However, this strategy is only doable up to a point.
Although the popular spreadsheet application can do a large number of tasks and is easily available worldwide. It isn’t a long-term solution. This is because while the program itself is sturdy, the spreadsheets created using it aren’t. This often leads to problems later on – which we’ll go into shortly.
Eventually, there comes a time when businesses may need to look at alternative software for their developing needs. This usually involves a move to cloud-based software.
Before we get started, let’s first establish what we mean when we talk about ‘moving to the cloud’.
‘Cloud computing’ is a general term for anything that involves delivering hosted services over the internet. ‘The cloud’ refers to servers that are hosted in data management centres all over the world and accessed over the internet, as well as the software and databases that run on those servers. By using cloud computing, users and companies don’t have to manage physical servers themselves or run software applications on their own machines – freeing up a lot of space and resources.
A ‘move to the cloud’ (also known as cloud migration) is the process of moving digital assets such as data, workloads, IT resources, or applications to cloud infrastructure. This might mean moving tools and data from old, legacy infrastructure or an ‘on-premises’ data management centre to the cloud.
Although Excel is an excellent spreadsheet application, it is just that: a spreadsheet application. Many businesses unknowingly try to use the platform for purposes other than what it was designed for or overwhelm it with data and processes it was not meant to handle. This can lead to a myriad of problems, from the small and inconvenient to the large and disastrous.
Here are just a few examples:
Excel lacks the security of a cloud-based system. Imagine the username and password of the person responsible for creating the Excel sheets (or those of a person with editing privileges) were stolen. That means the person who now has access to the sheets can do anything with the data – from deleting to stealing confidential client details.
As the size of data in a spreadsheet grows, the application’s performance plummets. When simultaneous access is added to the mix, things can come to a grinding halt – if the users can open the sheet at all. Many users run into these performance issues when they work with large amounts of data or combine lots of worksheets.
Excel also doesn’t integrate easily with other business applications, which can cause problems with data duplication or overlap.
So long as manual data entry, copy-paste techniques and formula errors are a reality, there is always a risk to the accuracy of data, and spreadsheets can be riddled with mistakes.
As people work with Excel sheets, they may make changes to the main file such as hiding columns or tabs, of which others may not be aware if changes are not communicated, leading to incorrect or incomplete reports. Another problem is that some people may prefer to work on a local version of the file in case there is an error, meaning multiple copies of the same workbook can be passed around the office, inevitably leading to a version mix-up.
Because Excel files don’t have an audit trail, it’s almost impossible to track who did what after a file has been edited a few times by multiple people. This can have a real impact on accountability and data recovery. After all, if you don’t know what was updated, by whom, and on what date how will you be able to restore the original data?
Setting up an Excel spreadsheet that meets all of your financial or data collection needs requires a lot of forethought and planning. It often takes time to set up formulas and reporting and requires manual tracking. You may find your business constantly adding or changing the information on the spreadsheet, which can be a poor use of employee time.
Creating forms to manage data input can also be time-consuming and difficult. Even when done correctly, the forms won’t have enough methods to control and validate inputs from the users, meaning there is always the chance of erroneous data capturing.
Cloud-based software is a definite step up from Excel in a number of ways. As well as being scalable, cost-effective and tailored to your business needs, it also guarantees maximum up-time and does highly secure backups on the regular, meaning you never have to think or worry about your data’s integrity.
Unlimited users are allowed, each with their own access levels so that employees only see what they need to see, and sensitive data isn’t out in the wild. Cloud storage also alleviates the pressure (and costs) of providing data storage on the premises.
Let’s look into the benefits of cloud-based software in a little more detail.
Cloud computing can scale up to support larger workloads and greater numbers of users far more easily than on-premises infrastructure. The latter option requires businesses to purchase and set up additional physical servers, networking equipment, or software licenses – all of which can be very costly (see below).
Companies often find that moving to the cloud vastly reduces the amount they spend on IT operations since their cloud providers handle maintenance and upgrades. Rather than think about keeping things running, businesses can focus more on their actual business goals and getting ahead in their chosen market.
If an application or website is hosted in cloud data management centres instead of in various on-premise servers, then data will not have to travel as far to reach the users. This enables many businesses to significantly improve service performance and the overall user experience for their customers.
Both employees and customers can access the cloud services they need from anywhere. This opens up various business opportunities such as expanding into new territories and allowing their employees to work remotely.
Cloud-based users will also be able to take advantage of other apps that sync with their existing data. This means processes like inventory management, invoicing and client data collection will become a whole lot easier, saving time and reducing costs.
Most cloud-based systems come with an easy-to-use dashboard which you don’t have to set up yourself, giving your employees confidence from the get-go. When a business has a clear financial view from the very start, it can make better strategic decisions.
All real-time financial (and other) data is kept in one central place – online, in the cloud. There’s no need to wait until the month-end to see how things are going – with just a few clicks, real-time reports and budgets are easy to view and share.
Historical data is also always available at your fingertips, and a proper audit trail ensures your data cannot be compromised.
Cloud-based software allows you to create the information any of your customers or stakeholders might need at a moment’s notice, and with more automation and less manual data entry, mistakes and errors are exceptionally rare.
It’s worth bearing in mind that Excel is highly adaptable and basically free. If your business is just starting out and your data is relatively straightforward, an Excel workbook with one administrator could be the best choice. However, even small businesses eventually tend to outgrow their spreadsheets and have to make the move to a cloud-based system.
A move to the cloud can be stressful, but it is often the best choice for organisations that require data confidentiality, access by multiple users, and ease in reporting.
Get in touch if you think there is something Bespoke could help your business with.