RPA at Microsoft: Power Automate updates will draw comparisons to established channel vendors

December 5 2019

Microsoft has taken its first steps toward competing as a provider of robotic process automation (RPA) solutions, thanks to the evolution of Flow into Power Automate. The updated solution will add "UI flows" to record interactions with desktop user interfaces and will "a unified automation platform that can bridge the gap between API-based automation and UI-based automation," according to Microsoft corporate vice president James Phillips in a November announcement.

These plans now position the company alongside partners with their own RPA-focused solutions. While most RPA vendors are not exclusive to Microsoft, several can be deployed atop Azure infrastructure and services. Some have already become top Azure co-sell partners with deep connections into both the Cloud Solution Provider program and the more traditional enterprise sales efforts at Microsoft.

Microsoft's decision to announce UI flows and Power Automate around Ignite 2019 may have come earlier than expected, but it was not altogether unexpected. The term RPA had been mentioned by CEO Satya Nadella on an earnings call in the last year, and automation has been one of the key themes of the Power Platform. Still, there remain many ways to delivering value around automated processes, and vendors maintain a variety of viewpoints even within the Microsoft channel.

Microsoft's outlook on automated apps and flows

Microsoft director of product marketing for the Power Platform Richard Riley says that by the time Power Automate launches its UI Flow engine, it will be a real competitor in the RPA space.

About Jason Gumpert

As the editor of MSDynamicsWorld.com, Jason oversees all editorial content on the site and at our events, as well as providing site management and strategy. He can be reached at jgumpert@msdynamicsworld.com.

Prior to co-founding MSDynamicsWorld.com, Jason was a Principal Software Consultant at Parametric Technology Corporation (PTC), where he implemented solutions, trained customers, managed software development, and spent some time in the pre-sales engineering organization. He has also held consulting positions at CSC Consulting and Monitor Group.

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