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What is PowerApps and What Does It Mean for Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement?

By Skylar Macromallis, CRM Consultant, Arbela Technologies

Maybe this is old news, but if you have gone in to customize Dynamics 365 CE (Customer Engagement) within the past few months, you've probably noticed the PowerApps header at the top of the screen.

So what's the deal? Well, it isn't a bug-- it was a dead giveaway that the model of Dynamics 365 was changing.

What is PowerApps?

The PowerApps is an application development platform that is part of the broader Microsoft Power Platform, whose capabilities are built on and utilize Azure cloud services. Dynamics 365 for Sales, Service, Field Service, Marketing, and Talent are all built natively on the platform. Using PowerApps, users can now build their own custom line of business applications using Azure cloud services to scale from personal use to enterprise-level using little-to-no code and running both mobile or desktop devices. There are two types of applications: Canvas and Model-Driven.

Canvas Apps

Canvas apps are built without code and are configured using a drag-and-drop UI similar to PowerPoint. This gives users a high-level of control over the user experience and can make the interface clean and intuitive. These apps are meant for simple and specific use-cases, such as submitting an expense report and can connect to both Microsoft (Sharepoint, SQL, etc.) and non-Microsoft (Twitter, Dropbox, etc.) data sources.

Model-Driven Apps

Model-driven apps are built using the Dynamics 365 framework and can only connect to the Common Data Service as their data source. These applications are more suited to complex scenarios with multiple functions and utilize the Unified Interface UX.

How does this relate to Dynamics 365 CE?

As it is also on the common data service, Dynamics 365 CE is a datasource that can be surfaced into a PowerApp for users to interact with without having to learn how to use and navigate Dynamics 365! Apps can also be embedded into applications that users currently use, such as SharePoint and Teams. Either way, this will be a significant drive to Dynamics 365 user adoption.