THE NEED FOR A COMMON DATA MODEL
Integration is traditionally one of the most difficult tasks in any CRM or ERP project. To get data from one system to another, data will need to be extracted, stored, transformed and then imported, taking hundreds of hours of development to get right for more complex processes. This has historically ruled out any possibility of individual users specifying integration processes that fit their individual needs.
Since last month, this is no longer the case, with the General Availability of Microsoft Flow and the Common Data Model, both of which have spent the last several months in preview.
WHAT ARE MICROSOFT FLOW AND THE COMMON DATA MODEL?
Microsoft Flow is essentially a visual workflow builder, allowing users to specify triggers in one application that kick off actions in another, including moving data between applications. This is made possible by a set of standardized connections to 58 applications, the majority of which are third party – as well as connecting to Dynamics 365, Outlook and OneDrive, Microsoft Flow can connect to Mailchimp, Salesforce, Google applications and major social networks such as Twitter and Facebook.
This takes the ability to automate processes across multiple applications and puts it in the hands of the individuals who know best what their business and productivity needs are. For Enterprise-scale integrations, Microsoft offers LogicApps, which uses a similar interface and the same connectors, but is designed for processing much larger amounts of data.
This is underpinned by the Common Data Model (CDM), an Azure-hosted database designed to be easy to map Microsoft application data to, as well as to add new types of data to the model. This is useful as a middle step in workflows, as well as the primary source of data for apps designed with PowerApps.