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Q2 Update for Microsoft Flow

By Stephen Siciliano, Principal Group PM Manager, Microsoft Flow

July 28, 2017

Easy process automation means better business for Microsoft customers - Flow brings new automation capabilities to more services.

Microsoft Flow, the automation service that helps business users work smarter by connecting their apps and services, is emerging as the go-to business workflow engine. Microsoft Flow is now embedded directly within a range of business applications, and offers advanced capabilities in a streamlined experience for end-users and administrators alike. With these advancements, Microsoft Flow is helping companies around the world save time and increase productivity through easy-to-implement workflow automation.

Richer administrative and lifecycle control

Microsoft Flow now offers administrators more granular control and management capabilities, meaning they can more effectively empower end users with rich automation capabilities.

Manage the lifecycle of flows

Solutions built with Microsoft Flow can now be imported and exported, along with other assets like PowerApps, to move them across environments or from test to production. This type of lifecycle management is essential to organizations that need to verify their solutions before they roll them out broadly. Additionally, system integrators can build their solutions in their own environment, export it to a package, and then distribute directly into their customer’s tenants.

Grow up to Azure Logic Apps

Microsoft Flow now allows users to convert flows to Azure Logic Apps by simply saving any flow as a Logic App resource template. This template can be managed like any other Logic App resource and deployed through Visual Studio, or, directly in the Azure portal to a subscription of the user’s choice.

Greater control and visibility in the admin center

Admins can view and manage all flows inside of their organization in the Microsoft Flow admin center. Now, they can download the flow usage in their tenant to be able to understand exactly where and how flows are being used, and how they are tracking against their billing quotas. Based on flow usage, admins are able to see which scenarios are being adopted the fastest, and then identify those most useful to employees.

Partners enrich their solutions with Microsoft Flow

Beyond embedding in Microsoft products, more than twenty partners have worked with Microsoft directly to make their services available inside of Microsoft Flow.

Building custom connectors

Partners, such as Adobe, have been able to leverage Microsoft Flow’s rich custom connector experience to build connectivity to their own services directly inside Microsoft Flow. Partners can now even build both types of triggers that Microsoft Flow supports: polling and webhooks. For example, Adobe has developed its Creative Cloud connector which has a rich set of actions and triggers.

ISV Cloud Embed

This month Microsoft Announced the ISV Cloud Embed program. Later this year, Microsoft will enable ISVs to provide power users and information workers the ability to add and customize workflows as part of their application. Microsoft is looking for ISVs to pilot this program – please use this simple online form to get started and provide feedback on scenarios.

Connect to the physical world with Flic

One of the most exciting new partner use cases is with physical buttons like Flic. Flic recently tested out a beta version of the Flic hub, which allows people to distribute smart Flic buttons throughout an environment, such as an exhibition, and then visitors can tap the button and flows immediately run in response. You can read more about this real-world use case here. In another example, an organization paired Microsoft Flow and SharePoint with a button to leverage smart workflows that optimize field service technicians time.

A common automation engine across business applications

A range of Microsoft products are adding the power of end-user automation by embedding Microsoft Flow more deeply in their user experiences. These capabilities are now being made available in first release and will roll out to all users in the coming weeks.

Run flows from SharePoint and OneDrive for Business

As announced in May, Microsoft Flow can be triggered from SharePoint Document Libraries, SharePoint Lists, or OneDrive for Business folders. Flows can also collect additional parameters when they are run,  for example, an approval flow on a document can ask if the approval is high priority – or, on a request for feedback the user can provide additional comments that are provided to the reviewer. These flows can also be shared so that with other people in the organization can run them, without giving them edit access to the flow.

Flows in Dynamics 365 for Financials & Operations, Business Edition

Microsoft Flow is now more deeply integrated with Dynamics 365 for Financials & Operations, Business Edition which means customers can now benefit from even more automation in workflows. The new integration allows users to manage flows from inside the context of Dynamics 365 for Financials & Operations, Business Edition without ever leaving the application. That means, fast workflow automation and a more seamless experience for Dynamics 365 customers.

Introducing the Microsoft Teams @FlowBot

Today, we are announcing a Microsoft Flow “Bot” – bringing automation into Teams workspaces. Using this bot, team members will be able to trigger flows right inside of Teams conversations. For example, team members can easily run a flow that sends a text message to a support engineer about an impending issue, or, log an issue in an Excel spreadsheet.

Powerful capabilities for users at every level

Microsoft Flow simplifies workflow automation for both novice and advanced users alike. It’s now easier than ever to get started with Flow in just a few clicks, and users who require more sophisticated control now have a deeper range of options to choose from.

Find a variety of new workflow scenarios to enhance apps and services   

Users can instantly see how each connector can support a variety of scenarios by just clicking on the service they are interested in – and browse everything that connector can do. Even better, users can then use any trigger for any connector as a jumping-off point for building their flows.

Use expressions in flow actions

Flow has a rich set of actions, but sometimes users just need to do basic operations like getting the current time, adding numbers together, or replacing part of a string of text. Starting today, that’s possible by using Excel-like expressions inside any flow action. Flow uses the exactly same Workflow Definition Language used by Azure Logic apps. For new users, who are unfamiliar with the expression language, there is an inline help experience that shows how to use each expression as they build out their flow.

Faster, richer flows enable instant action with button technology

Physical and digital buttons allow users to kick off workflows by pressing a button. Microsoft Flow buttons have two new rich capabilities. First, flow authors can now choose how accounts are used in shared buttons: they can either ask the person clicking the button to provide their account, or, they can bake an account directly in to the flow. Second, authors can define inputs such as dropdown lists for buttons – so that the person tapping the button can choose one from a predefined list of options.

The tight integration between Microsoft Flow and other products like SharePoint, along with richer button flows, are essential for Microsoft’s customers and partners. Prorail, a railway infrastructure management company of the Netherlands, recently adopted Microsoft Flow and quickly realized the benefits it provides when used in conjunction with SharePoint.

“(Microsoft) Flow buttons help us create (SharePoint) sites quicker, which makes our customers happy. Another advantage is that a non-technical person can do the job. I can’t wait to see the Flow app in the hands of the end-users, it will help them adopt SharePoint.” said Berna Vink from ProRail.

With these and other great features previously announced this year, more enterprises are using Microsoft Flow to work smarter.

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