Microsoft PowerApps Aim To Unlock Employee Innovation

Microsoft launched "PowerApps" this week.

The idea is simple: provide an easy to use toolkit that empowers employees (and tech management pros) to build their own mobile/desktop apps on top of existing data sources such as systems of record and even Excel spreadsheets, and do it as easily as they build PowerPoint decks today.

Announcing the initial preview beta launch this week at Convergence EMEA, Microsoft demonstrated just how easy it will be for employees to build their own apps to digitize their business processes and make things better, faster, cheaper, etc., etc..

At first look PowerApps has the potential to empower employees across the business to take ownership of their digital future. But I suspect some older CIOs will feel a touch of Déjà Vu. When dBase came onto the market in 1979 – OK that's before our time but there are lessons to be learned from history so bear with me here – there was tremendous excitement that employees could now create their own aplications to replace manual processes. What resulted was a plethora of applications that ushered in 36 years of shadow IT. And the maintenance of many of those poorly designed dBase (and all the other tools that followed) applications eventually fell to IT. Or IT was asked to build a scalable version of these applications that often became business critical. Will PowerApps lead to applications chaos? Will we see apps mushroom the way SharePoint sites have? We'll see.

One advantage of PowerApps, according to Microsoft, is that the CIO's team can control to some extent the ability of employees to link to different data sources. And PowerApps may help the tech app dev team themselves to quickly deliver MVP apps to employees. So there is a great deal of potential upside for Microsoft customers if PowerApp governance is managed well from the outset. 

What do you think? Will PowerApps be a huge benefit or a huge headache for tech management teams?

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