Microsoft just announced the release of PowerApps, a new service that will let enterprises create easy-to-build, disposable apps.

The new service stands in direction competition to Salesforce’s Lightning service — which is somewhat ironic since Microsoft has been boasting recently about its Salesforce partnership. Built on the Salesforce1 Platform, Lightning offers a number of services to enable anyone to quickly and easily create modern enterprise apps.

PowerApps gives Microsoft a comprehensive answer to Lightning and "is the democratization of app building and sharing,” Nucleus’ VP of research, Rebecca Wettemann told CMSWire.

Apps For Business

The launch of PowerApps capitalizes on the desire to quickly build enterprise apps.

In a blog post, Bill Staples, Corporate Vice President of Application Platforms at Microsoft, called PowerApps a response to needs of an increasingly mobile workforce. While workers have become increasingly mobile, the pace of app development has remained slow and unresponsive, he contended.

He also argued that despite increasing developer interest in mobile apps, commonly used apps for customer relationship management, human resources or invoicing remain locked on premises. There are three reasons for this:

  1. Skills shortage:  According to Gartner demand for mobile app development services will grow by five by 2017. However, there will not be enough developers to keep up with this demand
  2. Data proliferation: With the proliferation of data on-premises and in the cloud, it is increasingly difficult to find apps that can access all the different data repositories
  3. Mobile app distribution: App distribution happens through app stores, or mobile device management which is governed by IT, which often creates difficulty getting apps on to employee olives

Easy Apps

PowerApps enables employees to:

  • Create apps or any device using Office-like templates
  • Connect to cloud services like as Office 365, Dynamics CRM, Salesforce, Dropbox and OneDrive as well as on-premises platforms like SharePoint
  • Share apps as easily as they share documents

PowerApps also comes with Azure App Service for employee-facing apps, speeding up access to native web and mobile apps. It also provides security and privacy controls to manage data and who as accessing it as well as APIs to connect to other business systems.

“This is the next step in usability and developer productivity — enabling business users to quickly spin up applications — either from a template, data or from an app for consumption on different platforms,” Wettemann said.

“It uses Microsoft’s investment in Azure and productivity apps, furthering Microsoft’s strategy to use Microsoft research and its portfolio across Dynamics and business apps."

Wettemann also points out that the development of services for the creation of disposable apps that are shelved or redeveloped once they have served their purpose is one of Nucleus’ key technology predictions for the mobile world for next year.

Today business architects — and even business users — can leverage componentized mobile app platforms to rapidly develop and deliver new applications to business users, review their initial adoption and use and iterate to make those apps more effective, Nucleus said in its predications report.

Services like PowerApps will feed into this by enabling enterprises build apps cheaply, dramatically cutting the return-on-investment threshold needed to make app development worthwhile.

“When the cost barrier for delivering every new incremental mobile app drops to nearly zero, the payback – and need for longevity — of an app drops as well,” the report said.