The enterprise mobility market has been really interesting to watch over the last couple of years. While there’s a clear pattern of systems moving to the cloud with dedicated mobile app SaaS offerings, the path for creating enterprise mobile solutions hasn’t been very clear. As companies start to realize the cost and complexity of building their own mobile solutions, a market has emerged making it easier. Major enterprise vendors like SAP, Oracle, and Salesforce have solutions, and, of course, we have been working hard on the Sitrion ONE offering to make work better for mobile employees. Last week, Microsoft jumped into this space with PowerApps.
Here’s a quick view of what PowerApps actually is, what it means in the market, and Sitrion’s
perspective on it.
What is PowerApps?
If you get a chance to work on an enterprise mobility solution, you quickly learn that there’s much more to it than just creating an app. Enterprise mobility involves integrating with backend systems; working with authentication, providing secure access to systems; deploying and managing user functionality; and creating a compelling user experience. PowerApps is actually tackling all these needs. If you quickly scan the website or the initial stories, it can easily look like PowerApps is just a designer tool that allows business users to compose apps. But PowerApps also includes a set of capabilities in Azure to create and manage scalable and secure API’s for accessing data. These API’s can be used by any client, including native clients built totally separately.
There’s also workflows to process data and take actions on a periodic basis. While this isn’t strictly a mobile capability, the value we’ve seen in enterprise mobility is providing the right information at the right time. Probably the two most interesting concepts in PowerApps are: 1) it appears modular, using just the parts you want; and 2) it spans use cases ranging from single-user, consumer-like apps to potentially complex, enterprise-wide applications.
What does this mean for the enterprise mobility market?
First, it’s a pretty strong endorsement that demand exists. Microsoft makes a lot of cool products, but they don’t often enter into a space until there’s a pretty well-established need. Second, it’s not yet clear what Microsoft is going to charge for this. The pricing model looks to be per-user per-month. The main motivation for Microsoft may be more strategic. If using PowerApps gets enterprises committed to using Azure AD and Azure as their standard for cloud-based enterprise API’s, this gives Microsoft tremendous leverage over the long term.
When you look at this move in conjunction with the Office Graph announcements, it looks like a pretty compelling approach to reproducing Microsoft’s dominance inside the enterprise in the rapidly evolving cloud and mobile world. By making it easy for business users and developers to leverage a powerful set of capabilities, like identity and data access in a scalable way, this could create a compelling value proposition.
A new ecosystem forming
As a longtime Microsoft partner, this is all really exciting for us at Sitrion. When Microsoft achieved market dominance with SharePoint, it created an entire ecosystem in which partners could offer added value. With the very open approach Microsoft is showing with PowerApps, we’re starting to see a new Microsoft ecosystem forming in the cloud. Now there’s more to leverage than simple Azure capabilities that basically had equivalents from other vendors. Yet there’s an openness to the approach that allows partners to add value in areas where they have specific expertise.
As we continue to evolve concepts like the productivity stream in Sitrion ONE, it’s extremely encouraging to see that Microsoft continues to make investments that will help us make work better. To learn more about Sitrion ONE, visit Sitrion.com.