Business Applications

Common Data Service for Apps

28th Mar 2018 | 5 min read

Recent launch of Common Data Service for Apps

Last week, Microsoft released the PowerApps Spring Update which included the announcement that they were bringing PowerApps together with the platform that powers Microsoft Dynamics 365.

xRM developers have been waiting for this news since CRM 2011, as it finally means a true single business applications platform, something Microsoft have talked about for a long time. It’s also extra good news for xRM developers as the architecture and development tools that we are used to are now available on the PowerApps platform.

The Common Data Service CDS enables users to securely store and manage data which is used in apps they have developed  as well as apps from Microsoft and app providers.

All data within the Common Data Service for Apps is stored within a set of both standard and custom entities. Once your data is stored securely within the CDS xRM developers can then use Microsoft PowerApps to easily build a multitude of powerful applications.

More interestingly, PowerApps (v2) and the Common Data Service for Apps now power Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales, Marketing and Customer Service.

Common Data Service for Apps – Benefits for users

If you’re currently a Microsoft Dynamics 365 user, you will notice that as soon as your Microsoft Dynamics 365 apps are upgraded to 9.0, your app data will be available in Common Data Service for Apps. Providing you have admin permissions, your existing Dynamics 365 environments will also display within PowerApps.

Common Data Service for Apps – Benefits for developers

Whilst Solution Explorer and other familiar editors remain fully available, Microsoft Dynamics users/developers can now start using PowerApps to create enterprise ready Microsoft Dynamics 365 applications.

Previously a Microsoft Dynamics 365 developer would need to write custom scripts to implement declarative logic functionality. However, this latest announcement opens up a suite of ready-made functionality within PowerApps omitting the need for custom development.

Common Data Service for Apps now supports several server side logic types – Here are some examples of declarative logic:

1: Business Process Flows– consist of broken down sequences of stage that include specific steps at each stage. Business process flows are used when you want users to move through the same process flow and follow the same steps. An example of this could be a customer interaction after a specific (conditional) task has been undertaken, depending on the outcome the customer would then be placed in a dynamic process flow where multiple outcomes can be determined. Before now, a Microsoft Dynamics 365 developer would be required to set these up for you.

2: Workflows– Common Data Service for Apps has a wide range of easy to implement workflows. Within PowerApps you can now setup custom workflows to trigger a wide range of events such as creation of a new service case, specific changes to a record, etc. The workflow itself can then take one or multiple actions like modifying/pre populating fields, creating new records or even preventing the operation that triggered the workflow from completing when required.

3:  and roll up fields– Prior to now, calculated fields e.g. A field that calculates the different values between other set fields, were a custom feature that a developer would need to implement. An example calculated field would be if you stored your customers’ Date of Birth within their record, you can now implement a calculated filed that would instantly work out their age for you. These are also particularly useful when you need to work out the remaining contract length of a customer, a separate calculated field could be applied to the start and end date and automatically work that out for your sales team.

4: Business Rules– In line with GDPR, it’s imperative that you ensure you are using accurate data, to maintain consistency and ensure apps and analytics continue to operate as expected. You can harness Business Rules which are ‘programmed’ by an easy to use interface where you can define these rules and actions that will be then be executed synchronously when a task or record is created/updated.

What benefits does Common Data Service for Apps bring to businesses powered by Microsoft Dynamics 365?

The launch of Common Data Service for Apps provides the best of both worlds for businesses.

It’s opened up some of the core functionality to enable maximum business efficiency. Businesses who use Microsoft Dynamics 365 no longer need to rely on expensive developers to implement this useful functionality. Any non-developer staff member such as a Busyness Analyst can use the drag and drop tools within PowerApps to implement custom functionality. This reduces the cost for the businesses and also, seeing as the functionality is all centrally developed, there is no additional maintenance cost to maintain the functionality going forward.

Ultimately the launch of Common Data Service for Apps dramatically enhances the output for Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales, Marketing, Customer Service and HR as a whole.

If you are interested in finding out more about Microsoft Dynamics 365 or discussing custom functionality specific to your business, please get in touch and one of our Dynamics 365 Consultants will come back to you very shortly.

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