Microsoft’s Office 365 platform continues to develop and there are an increasing number of tools that are often overlooked. One of these tools is Flow, which I have seen in the app list for quite some time now but never really taken any notice. Taking a look into Flow opens a significant tool that has quite a lot of functional capability. in addition, if you have a logical mind, it’s also quite straight forward to use.
So what does Flow actually do? Well, in simple terms Flow is a tool that allows you to create and run cross product workflows. In layman’s terms, it enables you to create a trigger in one product that then does something in another. For example, it could monitor your email and if you get an email from a certain user with a specific subject, it could record the details into an excel spreadsheet. It also has the capability to integrate with products outside the Office 365 suite, such as twitter, Facebook or your ERP system. So imagine a school wanted to visualise it’s social activity on Twitter, Flow is the perfect tool for this. Flow could monitor the Twitter account for tweets, retweets, mentions, etc. and drop all the details into a Power BI dataset and the analysis could be displayed in (almost) real time in a dashboard.
The possibilities of flow are quite extensive and mainly limited by your own imagination in finding an appropriate use. On first review it may feel a little like a tool looking for a job, and you will need to be careful not to just create workflows ‘because you can’. Keep it in mind though, because when you identify that need, Flow will add real value.
Now this capability is not new and other services, such as the web tool IFTTT, can do this just as well. However, Flow is part of the Office 365 platform and therefore included in many of the subscription packages at no additional cost.
Written by Virtue Technologies Head of Operations, Will Stead