- Microsoft is announcing new tools in its Power Platform product to help businesses reopen offices and get employees back safely.
- The tools manage things like employee health and contact tracing and can be customized to an organization’s specific needs.
- One analyst said the new tools for returning to the office would drive more users to Microsoft’s business applications, like the Power Platform, while helping Microsoft stay competitive with its rival Salesforce.
- Alysa Taylor, Microsoft’s head of business applications, said what sets Microsoft apart is its wide network of tools and the integrations among all of them.
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Microsoft is announcing four new tools to help companies get their employees back to the office safely that will be built into its low-code product Power Platform.
Generally, Power Platform helps businesses develop applications and perform data analytics with little to no code required, and the tools are meant to manage employee health, contact tracing, workplace cleaning, and supplies of health and safety items. Microsoft is also launching a new data-sharing function that will allow users to access these tools within its chat app Microsoft Teams.
The products are similar to the Work.com tools that Salesforce introduced for reopening safely, and one analyst speculated that they would help drive more users to Microsoft’s Power Platform, which competes with Salesforce’s no-code and low-code products.
Customers can use the new tools as is or customize them to their needs, Alysa Taylor, a business applications and industry executive at Microsoft, said. Organizations can even build on top of the tools and resell the new combination to their customers, she added.
The customization is what makes Microsoft’s tools different from what Salesforce offers, Taylor said. Additionally, the tools are free to use for customers that already pay for Microsoft Power Platform, unlike Salesforce’s products, which cost customers an additional fee.
Dan Newman, an analyst at Futurum Research, sees this launch as a way for Microsoft to attract new customers to Power Platform and its Dynamics 365 platform, which includes software for customer-relationship management and financial-planning tools.
“This could become a tool that gains attention,” Newman said. Companies that have used Microsoft in some capacity may see the product as a reason to expand their work with Microsoft, he said.
Return-to-work tools for monitoring employee health and office preparedness will soon become essential for any company looking to reopen during the pandemic. Companies will either have to use a tool from the likes of Microsoft or Salesforce, or consider building something themselves, which could be a significant lift.
“So if companies don’t have it, are they going to custom build it?” Newman said. “Or are they going to look to someone like Microsoft and the Power Platform to help them deploy something like this, which could drive new customers and new business opportunities Microsoft’s way?”
And if organizations start using the Power Platform for one purpose, they’re likely to find other ways to use it, he said.
Taylor said Microsoft’s advantage as a platform is the wide network of tools it offers and the integrations among all of them. For example, the consulting firm Mesa Global built an app in Power Platform that it’s combining with the new wellness-check tool to offer a telehealth tool for its own healthcare-facility customers to use.
Taylor said Microsoft planned to continue building new tools for its business applications like Power Platform and Dynamics 365, and more integrations across its entire set of tools from Azure to Office 365, to keep customer momentum going. Microsoft recently signed on large customers like Coca-Cola and Walgreens for its business applications.
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