So, which came first—the chicken or the egg? I think the answer depends on whom you ask and what their background is. Throw in artificial intelligence, and you may get a completely different and unexpected answer. The reality is that both what we do and how we think are influenced by who we are, the life experiences we’ve had, and many other factors.
This reality also translates into our approach to learning. As a Business Applications Most Valuable Professional (MVP), I often get asked by clients about the best way to get started with Microsoft Power Platform to analyze data, automate processes, build apps, and more. Should they use Power Apps templates or one of the prebuilt apps that connects to data? Is the journey to automation an easier one with Power Automate workflows? Or maybe visualizing data using Power BI is the right answer? The honest answer is, it depends.
Over the years, I’ve worked with hundreds of clients and observed a number of personas, including the Logician, the Artist, the Numerologist, and the Chatterbox. To help answer your questions on how to get started with Microsoft Power Platform, I’d like to share these personas with you.
The Logician tends to think in a somewhat linear fashion. Their approach to problem-solving is to break down the problem into smaller elements. Each problem has a cause—or trigger—and one or more outcomes. Logicians are good candidates to begin their Microsoft Power Platform journey with Power Automate workflows. Whether they choose Power Automate cloud flows or Power Automate desktop flows, each has a discrete starting point and one or more ending points—working well with the Logician’s thought process.
Figure 1. Example of a Power Automate workflow.
The journey for the Logician typically begins with a blank workflow or an existing template. Either way, the entry into Power Automate begins by chaining together triggers and actions that represent the logical flow of a process. To make the most of the Power Automate domain, the Logician needs to master two additional skills: the use of Power Fx expressions, which provide further flexibility for manipulating the flow data; and JSON, which is the structure used for flows.
The Artist loves the freedom to use paint, palettes, and brushes to create their own personalized masterpiece. Power Apps provides the Artist with a canvas (no pun intended) to build applications with lots of flexibility for customization—whether they want to create forms with a tabular structure of components or to make them freeform. Canvas apps even allow for changing the screen appearance. To begin their creation, the Artist can work with Power Apps prebuilt canvas app samples, many of which use Excel data that is stored in the app. These Excel datasets and sample apps provide great examples of what’s possible in Power Apps.
Like a work in progress, in which the Artist carefully distributes paint with brushes and other tools, the Artist starts building in Power Apps by placing controls on the canvas forms and then configuring and customizing them to their specific needs. Apps created in Power Apps are declarative, and they function like an Excel worksheet with formulas that continuously update. So it makes sense that the Artist would work with similar formulas, using them to further configure the canvas forms.
It’s all about the numbers—good, bad, or indifferent. The Numerologist loves to see their data presented in different ways. And not just simple tables, charts, and filters but rather a mash-up of related or unrelated data to find patterns that unearth the data’s real meaning. It’s even better if predictability and what-if scenarios can be added.
Naturally, the Numerologist frequently chooses Power BI as the first tool in their journey into the realm of Microsoft Power Platform. The Numerologist’s domain is data sciences, which takes them on a different path than the business process–centric tools Power Apps and Power Automate. To learn Power BI, the Numerologist needs to understand data structures, how data sources are related, and how to configure the various visuals. A more advanced Numerologist could learn Data Analysis Expressions (DAX), a formula expression language that lets the Numerologist transform their data in Power BI instead of exporting it to another tool for processing.
Figure 2. Example of a Contoso Sales Report, with graphs and charts, created in Power BI.
Let’s chat! The Chatterbox is all about conversations. They love a good dialogue so they can share—and gather—information. They like to keep things simple, without learning how to use a tool. Chatterboxes like experimenting with Power Virtual Agents to create chatbots. They often begin by building simple bots based on Q&A data scrubbed from sites or loaded manually in the bot. Over time, as they get comfortable, Chatterboxes experiment with additional input controls, such as choice fields and branching. Then the natural progression from the branching logic and fields leads them to Power Automate flows built like the bots themselves, which provide even more flexibility.
Figure 3. Example of a Power Virtual Agents chatbot creation workflow.
Which approach best fits your style?
As we’ve discovered here, there’s no single starting point that works for every learner, and different people have their own approaches and styles. To meet these various needs, Microsoft Learn offers more than 500 modules that focus on Microsoft Power Platform and ample resources to help you on your journey. Do you picture yourself as more of a Logician, Artist, Numerologist, or Chatterbox—or maybe you’re a combination of a couple of these personas? Whatever your learning style and approach, experts and colleagues in the Microsoft Learn Community are here to help. And be sure to join me in my Microsoft Power Platform Learning Room, where we explore this technology in greater depth.
Meet Haniel Croitoru, Microsoft Learn expert
Haniel Croitoru is an Enterprise Architect and Microsoft MVP with over 20 years of Microsoft 365 experience. Since 2003, he has focused on delivering solutions to meet short-term and long-term business goals using Microsoft 365 workloads, such as SharePoint, Teams, Microsoft Power Platform, and more.
Haniel is a big proponent of sharing knowledge and giving back to the community, and he regularly presents at conferences and networking meetings on the topics of utilizing Microsoft 365 for business process optimization, effective collaboration and communication, and managing projects using the platform.
Prior to entering the Microsoft 365 arena, Haniel spent a number of years in the medical imaging industry, where he helped launch an orthopedic software division and published four patents and numerous articles.
Haniel holds a Master’s of Science in Computer Science, with a specialty in Computer-Assisted Orthopedic Surgery from Queen’s University, and a Master’s Certificate in Project Management from the York Schulich School of Business. He is a Project Management Institute–certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP).