If you work in even a lightly technical workplace these days, you know there is a big push to use technology to automate many day-to-day tasks. Microsoft has worked hard to provide an array of tools to feed that need. If you look at the list of Power Automate's "connectors" (https://make.powerautomate.com/connectors), you will see that Microsoft has worked with a variety of partners to build an ecosystem of endpoints for working with data that moves to and from Microsoft 365 in a way that is designed to be useful for automation tasks. Connectors reduce the "friction" between various services interacting, reducing development needed to make various data sources communicate with one another. If you need to have something automated, in the Microsoft 365 context, Power Automate has probably come up.
Of course, this is the place where I could launch into an article about the virtues of Power Automate, and why not? It does exactly what we were talking about. Connectors, working with cloud data, reducing the friction of working with that data, pretty much all the things. Power Automate is a great tool, if you haven't tried it, you should. The Power Automate website (https://powerautomate.microsoft.com) is the place to go to start creating your automated cloud flows, and then call us here at Pait Group if you need help. (I feel like I could have one of those classic "The More You Know" TV graphics fly here in and a voice over say: “Pait Group: Powerful Alone, Invincible Together.” Then the music fades…)
But I am not here to talk about Power Automate itself; I really wanted to talk about Power Automate DESKTOP!
When I first saw Power Automate Desktop, I thought it was a toy. It looked like a starter kit for recording desktop actions. That can be very useful: recording the scrolling, mouse actions, and clicks that go into interacting with files without having to script anything; but there have been apps that have done that for over a decade, and it didn't seem too incredible. What I missed was that the Desktop version of Power Automate allows you to bring local files, applications, and resources into your workflows. It gives you a bridge between the local machine and your cloud storage. Power Automate Desktop helps to smooth the transition between cloud storage and local storage. If you have the "premium" version, it even allows you to trigger desktop actions from the cloud.
Power Automate Desktop
- Can access and automate local applications and resources
- Can record and replay user actions
- More powerful set of automation features including a pseudo-script language for manipulating the interface in Windows
- Requires installation on a Windows machine
- Can be more complex to use than Power Automate in the cloud
- Some features are only available in the premium version
It turns out that Power Automate Desktop isn't actually a toy; in many ways, it is the more advanced tool for automation. The ability to use local applications can give you a lot of flexibility, especially in situations where you may not be able to find an appropriate connector. A local application that enables complex changes to documents or performs mass data moves may even be faster or more affordable when utilizing a desktop computer to run your automations, rather than paying the costs of advanced cloud connectors. With a premium license you can schedule your flows locally, so you don't even need to be in front of the computer when it executes.
Power Automate has a lot of value and options in both versions, Cloud and Desktop. The best choice for you will depend on your specific needs and requirements. If you need to automate tasks that require access to local applications and resources, or if you need to create unattended bots, then Power Automate Desktop is likely the better choice. If you need a more user-friendly interface and more connectors available, then Power Automate in the cloud is probably the better option for you.
Go ahead and take a look at Power Automate Desktop for yourself (https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/power-automate/desktop-flows/install), try creating some automation in your day-to-day work, and let me know what you think! (And if you still need a hand with any of your automation setup, you really can contact us here at Pait Group for help with your automation needs.) I looked past Power Automate Desktop for a long time because of my mistaken initial impression.
Sometimes, it really is "The More You Know..."