I blogged about personal automation before. Today business is adapting automation to save money and time. We can also use some automation in our personal life. There are two services which are popular for automation. ‘IFTTT’ and ‘Microsoft Flow’. Recently I tried both and found that some pros and cons in both.
Like all the Microsoft products and services ‘Flow’ mainly targets business users. If your company is using ‘Microsoft 365’ then ‘Flow’ comes very handy for organization wide automation. To creates automation steps in Microsoft Flow you need some technical knowledge.
There are mainly two components in ‘Flow’:
‘Trigger’ means when your automation steps will be start and ‘action’ means what type of work you will do. For example, ‘when a new email comes to your inbox from your manager’ this is ‘trigger’ and then ‘you will mark that email as important’, this is ‘action’. You can also use ‘if’, ‘loop’, ‘for each’ and many more components (called ‘condition’) in your automation steps.
You can also use ‘Flow’ for your personal automation and for that you need a Microsoft account. But if you are not a technical person then you may face some hard time with ‘Flow’ because of its technical details. For example, sometimes an automation step can fail because of many reasons. In case of failed automation step, you will get very detailed error message which is helpful only for a technical person.
In summary ‘Microsoft Flow’ is good for business and technical person but if you are a consumer then you may find it not very useful. Also, though you can use third party non-Microsoft services in your automation steps with Flow, but it works best with Microsoft services.
Personally, I am using some automations with ‘Flow’ for my ‘Outlook.com’ email but for the majority I am using ‘IFTTT’.
Another option in terms of automation is ‘IFTTT’. The full name of ‘IFTTT’ is ‘If This Then That’. It is very easy to create automation steps in ‘IFTTT’. There is less flexibilities in it than ‘Microsoft Flow’ and you need to know less technical knowledge. In ‘Microsoft Flow’ you can add multiple ‘actions’ and ‘conditions’ in a single automation but in ‘IFTTT’ you can use only one ‘trigger’ and ‘action’. It is best for consumer to create small and basic personal automation but may not useful for business. It has healthy amount of third party integration support (including ‘Amazon Alexa’ and ‘Google Assistant’) which ‘Flows’ don’t have.
I am using ‘IFTTT’ for most of my personal automations.