Microsoft brings in new investments and innovations across Dynamics 365 and PowerApps that will provide you with significant capabilities that can transform your business.
In this blog we’ll be focusing on what top new features to look out for in Dynamics 365 Marketing, Sales, Service; Business Central; Finance and Operations and Power Platform applications.
Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement 2021 Wave 1 Update
The Dynamics 365 Marketing, Sales, Customer Service and Field Service (Customer Engagement) suit of applications deliver many incremental improvements across each application. Microsoft deepening their investments in embedded intelligence and insights, personalisation, productivity and the better together story across the stack and power platform.Strengthen customer relationships with Dynamics 365 Marketing
The planned features in Dynamics 365 Marketing aims for personalised interactions to engage customers even more, introduce more channels to reach customers with the right messages and actionable insights to improve results and achieve business goals. Microsoft’s plans of enhancing personalisation is one of the key areas they are investing in and the planned features for the next waves will truly make this achievable for your business.
Personalisation enhancements include:
- Authoring dynamic content with a point and click interface which allows for delivering highly personalised messages to customers easily without the need to write custom code into the HTML.
- Deeply personalised emails from flexible sets of data sources to help facilitate customer engagement.
- AI generated segments allows for precise audience targeting and increasing campaign effectiveness, through the ability to target high value customers or customers with a high churn risk.
- Deeper Teams Integration and SMS integration enhancements and the ability to deliver push notifications to Android and iOS applications adds to the personalisation capability. Particularly the Teams event attendees report and ability to follow up with event attendees with D365 Marketing to continue to nurture and connect with them.
- Lastly, customer journeys to target leads and opportunities. You can now target customers through Lead or Opportunity entities without creating a parent Contact and personalise messages by inserting dynamic content for Lead and Opportunity entities, as well as analytics to improve results and achieve your business goals. This is achieved with being able to monitor customer journeys and key performance indicators in real time.
Figure 1: Real time customer journey monitoring
Sell more by understanding customers and the way they want to buy with Dynamics 365 Sales
The focus areas included in the upcoming release for Dynamics 365 Sales aims to save you time by getting tasks done more easily to keep the focus on selling, provide data-driven insights to help with decision making and enhancing mobile experience for sellers on the go. These planned features – powered by data, intelligence and experience will help you understand more about your customers.
The top feature to watch in this space that could improve your business is the proposed pipeline manager workspace.
Figure 2: Pipeline Manager Workspace
Currently, sellers might come across the problem of having lots of steps to take that could potentially take them out of their workflow. The deal manager workspace comes with new user experience that is intuitive, modern and personal which allows sellers to quickly view the right deals, get the right context and act immediately. Deal manager includes a new sitemap entry in the Sales Hub pointing users to the deal manager, workspace container with all components shipped out of the box and support workspace for organisations using custom apps.
Delivering the all-in-one contact center with Dynamics 365 Customer Service
In the Customer Service space, the first release wave for 2021 focuses on enabling customers to be up and running quickly, deliver the all-in-one contact center and transform contact center routing. One of the new features intended for D365 Customer Service that could have lots of impact in your business is the Omnichannel voice feature. Powered by Azure Communication Services, you can take advantage of an all-in-one customer service solution without fragmentation of manual data integration required and a faster time to value. This is by far the most valuable feature that enables Microsoft to truly deliver on its Omnichannel service approach. It enables organisations to adopt Azure Communication Services as a voice provider natively in the Omnichannel add-on and provides direct outbound calling, call recording, call transcripts and native capability within D365. No more standalone telephony integrations or solutions!
Figure 3: Omnichannel voice general availability
Predictive field service with Dynamics 365 Field Service
Planned features within the Field Service space offers quality of life improvements for both your customers and your technicians. These features will allow your customers to self-schedule service and be able to rate technicians to ensure the maximum satisfaction. The new knowledge management module will also help facilitate quality technician and customer relationships.
An upcoming feature you might want to look at and adopt would be the self-scheduling service feature for your customers. Giving your customers the ability to schedule their own time directly from their devices will allow a more personalised experience, reduce scheduling errors and rescheduling events. Key features include a responsive customer self-schedule interface, suggest available time slots based on your resource availability and collect important preservice visit customer information as part of the scheduling request.
Dynamics 365 Business Central 2021 Wave 1 Update
The Business Central 2021 release wave 1 will deliver many incremental improvements across Application, Administration, Performance, and development tools but arguably the most exciting new areas of functionality in this update are the improvements in the connectivity with the rest of the Microsoft Platform.
The Dataverse is Microsoft’s common data model, and as well as configurable managed synchronisation Business Central now supports virtual tables in the Dataverse. This greatly simplifies synchronisation and access to Business Central data allowing create, read, update and delete operations, while the data continues to reside in Business Central.
What this means for your business is that it is a lot easier to synchronise data to other applications, such as D365 Sales; and/or build your own Power Apps applications to replace or manage your unique business processes.
Enhanced collaboration with Business Central and Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams is quickly becoming our preferred collaboration tool, especially for unstructured information. With the last Wave update Business Central released the first piece of the integration to Microsoft Teams that help streamline conversations and empower users to act on their business data without leaving Microsoft Teams – which automatically creates cards within Teams chats to show Business Central data.
With this Wave update Microsoft Teams users can now lookup and view Contact details from Business Central’s comprehensive contact management system, without switching applications. We expect the integration with Microsoft Teams to continue adding features in future Wave updates.
Easier and faster analytics with Business Central and Power BI
The focus with this Business Central Wave update for Power BI is around making things easier. There is a new Getting Started wizard to guide the user through the necessary setup steps; and you can now connect directly from Power BI to the modern Business Central APIs, giving your access to better and faster data analytics in Power BI. In addition, Intergen have created a Power BI for BC kickstart, which is a set of materials to get you up and running with Power BI more quickly.
Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations 2021 Wave 1 Update
One of the many class-leading features of Microsoft Dynamics 365 F&O is that it is a cloud-based platform that is designed to evolve over time as new technologies become available. Customers buy into a platform that is always on the bleeding edge, enabling businesses to realise efficiency and cost-reduction benefits by way of the Dynamics 365 Wave Updates.
As we are now well into 2021, it is time to preview some of the leading features of the 2021 Wave 1 release for Dynamics 365. These features will be deployed generally to customers in April 2021 (Microsoft reserves the right not to deploy features should they not meet the stringent Quality Assurance requirements that they set).
For this Wave release, Microsoft has taken a strong focus on the Supply Chain Management aspect of Finance & Operations (F&O). As a result, our Top 3 picks for Wave 1 have a distinct Supply Chain flavour.
A list of new features for Finance can be viewed here.
A list of new features for Supply Chain Management can be viewed here.
Enhanced Operations with tracking of Landed Costs
Up until now, Dynamics 365 F&O implementation partners have needed to implement bespoke solutions to cater for the landed cost requirements of their customers. The good news is that native landed cost functionality is coming soon to F&O as part of the 2021 Wave 1 release!
What is landed cost and why do I need it? It provides the ability to define shipments of inbound orders and track goods in transit through their journey along with the ability to calculate item costs associated with procurement and transportation based on allocation rules. One of the most important aspects of landed costs is to apportion the correct amount of the procurement costs to an item to correctly represent the cost price of the item. As an example, if we purchase electronic goods from Japan, we want to factor in the handling costs, containerisation costs, insurance, duties and taxes as well as final transportation cost to get these items from Japan through to our warehouse to give us a fully representative cost of goods sold. This is crucial to the business as it allows us to calculate the correct Gross Profit on the sale of goods as opposed to an inflated Gross Profit due to our Cost of Goods sold not factoring in the correct procurement costs of the goods. Some of the features of the new Landed Cost module include:
- Distribution of Landed Costs to Items
- Goods in Transit Accrual
- Centralised Shipping
- Automated Costs
- Works the way Import Businesses Work
- Cost Comparisons & Reports
- Simulation of landed costs
- Automatic costing updates
- Supports transfer orders
Improved product lifecycle management through Engineering Change Management (ECM)
In the post-COVID-19 age where companies need to be able to pivot their product lines to rapidly evolving situations, companies require strong product data management, version control and engineering change management to succeed in a world of constantly shrinking product lifecycles, increased quality and reliability requirements, as well as an increased focus on product safety.
Microsoft has heard the call from the market and has responded by beginning to provide out-the-box Engineering Change Management (ECM) functionality in Dynamics 365 F&O with the 2021 Wave 1 update.
How can it benefit your business? Engineering change management brings structure and discipline to the product data management process and enables products to be defined, released and revised in a controlled manner supported by workflows. Through product versions and engineering change management, it is possible to document, assess the impact of, and apply engineering changes throughout the entire lifecycle of a product.
Engineering change management helps you plan and manage product versioning, lifecycle management, and engineering change management. Some of the features that ECM delivers include:
- Strong product data management
- Product Version control
- Product change management
- Collaboration between different teams in the organisation to complete product related data
- Better foundation for integration with external PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) products due to introduction of version control and change order processes
- Visibility on traffic of change requests and change orders
It will help manufacturers to:
- Reduce cost
- Reduce Error
- Meet customer expectations continuously
A short demonstration of Engineering Change Management can be viewed here.
Better productivity with the Warehouse Management Mobile Application
Microsoft has recently re-engineered their warehouse management mobile application to improve it in almost all respects. Microsoft conducted broad usability studies to better understand the pain-points that warehouse workers were experiencing and have made changes which will allow workers to be more efficient, productive, and better able to complete their work accurately.
Microsoft has applied a fresh new User Interface design to the application based on their Fluent Design System concepts. The result is an application that is intuitive and easy to use.
Some of the benefits of the new warehouse management mobile application include:
- Improved worker efficiency:
- Large input controls to quickly dial in quantities.
- The most important information made easiest to see and set in a large font
- Saved worker preferences and device-specific settings that can be managed centrally
- Improved ergonomics:
- Large touch targets and other features that make the app easy to use with gloves
- A high-contrast design that provides clear text on dirty screens
- Custom button locations to match each worker's grip, device, and handedness
- Faster ramp-up of new workers:
- Clear titles and illustrations for each step
- Full-screen photos to verify product selections.
- Expanded support for B-grade accessibility standards with focus on situational disabilities, as defined by the WCAG guidelines
Figure 4: Mobile warehouse management application
Power Platform 2021 Wave 1 Update
Microsoft continues to invest in innovations in the power platform it’s low code, no code business applications and productivity platform that enables businesses to transform their digital landscape. The new release brings with it a multitude of new capability to enable new ways for your business to analyse, transform and automate your data, through providing innovations across the four core products: PowerApps, Power Virtual Agent, Power Automate and PowerBI, and two add-in products AI Builder and Power App portals.
For a full list of updates view here.
Empower your users with sophisticated apps on a unified platform - Power Apps
Improved app selection and navigation in mobile apps allows users to quickly access and pin their apps enhancing their productivity whilst on the go. Additional capability is enabled for users, app makers and admins across model driven apps and canvas apps. One of the top ones has to be the new in app notifications feature, which allows notifications to be pushed direct to specific users through external systems, Power Automate or from within the system in the notifications centre. Other capabilities include the merging of records, enhanced UX improvements for Subgrids and improved app discovery and navigation, read the full list of Power Apps updates here.
Enabling Remote work with deep integration to Microsoft Teams
In April 2021 the ability to package entire solutions as apps within your Microsoft Teams app catalogues will be generally available. From within the Solutions area in Power Apps, you'll now have the opportunity to bring an entire solution to Microsoft Teams so that you can package up flows, apps, and more within a single Microsoft Teams app. You can then bring the app to your tenant's app catalogue so that other parts of your environment can install and use the solution in just a few clicks. App makers and admins can also leverage environment variables to make your app more configurable, so that users have the opportunity to set these variables when they install the app for the first time.
Automate repetitive, time consuming tasks with Power Automate
Microsoft continues its investment into Power Automate and provides a better way to get things done across your organisation through digital and robotic process automation (RPA).
One of the top features in this release has to be the Process Advisor which comes into public preview now and general availability in May 2021. With this toolset businesses can map and record repetitive manual processes and view them in a process map with an associated set of analytics, to be able to streamline the process and reduce its steps and variants and automate repetitive tasks.
Figure 5: Process Advisor mapping of process recordings
The Wave 1 2021 update contains new features and capabilities that will roll out across Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform from April until September 2021. Certain features are available now in either Early Access or Public Preview before they are made Generally Available. There are over 300 plus new capabilities across 443 pages of rich content, if you want to know what this means for you and how you can navigate these updates, reach out to one of our skilled team members across our Service Delivery, Customer Success or Business Applications Teams, who can help you get in touch with our Specialists to explore how these features can help you achieve your business outcomes.
For more information please reach out to our team.