The Power Trio of ERP Integration

May 4, 2018 Tony Castellano

One of our favorite features of Microsoft Dynamics 365 is the ability to connect customer engagement processes using the Business Applications Platform. With PowerApps, Flow, and Power BI, we can more easily build new apps and workflows across Dynamics 365 and other systems and data sources. PowerApps and Flow joined Microsoft Power BI in late 2016 to create what is sometimes referred to as the “power trio.” Collectively, they allow users to accomplish tasks that previously required programming skills.


Let’s start with a quick overview of each:


  • Power BI: enables analysis and visualization of data
  • PowerApps: allows for building apps without coding
  • Flow: provides automated business processes


These solutions are incredibly powerful, and by harnessing the power of the Microsoft Cloud, our customers can transform their business processes in a way that was previously too difficult, too costly or both. A unifying backbone for the Business Applications Platform is the Common Data Service (included with PowerApps). The Common Data Service enables many capabilities including the following:

  1. An easy to provision, yet scalable data store
  2. A common data model with standard entity schema and behavior
  3. A powerful data access layer with support for data import, export and security
  4. Integration with Microsoft Office for Excel and Outlook
  5. A software developer kit (SDK) for professional development scenarios


The Common Data Service stores business data in a secure cloud database, organizing it in a standardized but extensible form. For customer engagement, this could include data such as:


  • Customers
  • Leads
  • Opportunities
  • Invoices
  • inventory


This standardization makes it easy to create new applications and workflows. Best of all, PowerApps, Flow and Power BI are natively aware of this common data model.

The Common Data Service contains a common data model of standard entity definitions. There are dozens of standard entries and categories to choose from. The goal for the common data model is to ensure that data is not locked within application-specific or custom entities. Standard entities allow apps to share concepts and build on each other’s data, a key ingredient to achieve seamless customer engagement.

In addition to their standalone value, PowerApps and Flow work together with Microsoft Office 365 and Dynamics 365, with a large selection of built-in connectors and hundreds of business applications and database systems. Customers can even connect to applications and data residing at their own facilities through the on-premise data gateway. Through these integrations, users can easily build applications and orchestrate workflows spanning business processes and joining data previously locked up in silos.


This ability for power users, developers, and industry experts to work collaboratively to solve business problems is a powerful differentiator of Dynamics 365 customer engagement—and for your business. At Western Computer, we like to think of our partnership with Microsoft and our customers as a “power trio” too. The goal is to enable our customers to build cross-platform, multi-data source applications quickly and on a scalable, secure and compliant platform. Talk to us today about your needs for a more integrated ERP experience. 

About the Author

Tony Castellano

As Western Computer's VP of Sales, Tony oversees sales and business processes to ensure that the company's large customer base is supported.

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