Microsoft published their release notes for the Microsoft Dynamics 2019 April release for their business applications platform. There are lots of new features and long-requested improvements on their way! The release notes are extensive and cover the whole Dynamics 365 suite, so we’ve picked out 10 highlights for you.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) within Dynamics 365 for Marketing
With the latest updates to Dynamics 365 for Marketing, Azure AI finds the best time to deliver your emails on an individual basis, meaning that every contact on your marketing list will receive the best content at the right time.
By looking at typical patterns and calculating new ones, the marketing engine creates a profile of preferred delivery times for each contact, as shown above. For example, AI may predict that managers are most likely to read marketing materials at lunchtime, or on a Friday afternoon as opposed to during the day when they are busy with meetings. AI in Microsoft Dynamics 365 will also be able to take into account multiple different factors to determine the best time for each contact, something which a marketing user would never have the capacity to achieve manually.
Even more integration with LinkedIn
The integration between Microsoft and LinkedIn gets event tighter, giving sales staff more and more data about who they are interacting with and how the organisation looks around their contact, including structure and other individuals sales staff should be speaking to about a sale. For example, you may have a contact you are selling to in an operational role, but you also need buy-in from the IT Director. The LinkedIn integration can help you quickly find the right staff to help with your bid. Additionally, this deeper integration can recommend existing connections within the organisation who can introduce you to the required key staff.
In the latest release, any sales user can quickly view LinkedIn profile information from the context of Dynamics 365 without the requirement for any additional licensing. The new ‘Live Org Chart’ feature allows users to easily see the structure of an organisation and get notified when staff leave or change role.
Deeper Teams integration
Teams has grown in popularity, with it quickly becoming the core collaboration tool amongst organisations of all sizes and Microsoft Dynamics 365 is fully compatible with Microsoft Teams. The April release will bring further functionality to this integration, allowing users to start a conversation about a list of record, for example ‘Open Opportunities’, easily accessing the records as part of the conversation, a great tool for collaboration amongst your sales team.
Additionally, the document management system in both systems is more tightly integrated, allowing you to access context specific records with ease from Dynamics 365 or Teams without having to manage two document stores and versions.
Knowledge management analytics
One for the Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Customer Service teams, this feature offers advanced analytics to your knowledge base, allowing you to proactively grow it in the right way to best assist your customers. Insights are provided into the most used articles, which ones solve problems most often and, importantly, failed search terms where customers aren’t finding answers, so you can fill gaps in your knowledge base and increase the amount of times a customer can resolve their own issue without engaging your service team.
Self-service Work Order scheduling in Field Service
Within the Dynamics 365 for Field Service module, there is now the ability for the customer to schedule an appointment at the best time for them. Accessed through the portal, the new control gives customers the power to schedule their own appointments at the best time for them.
For example a customer may have a quarterly maintenance visit with you. It’s now possible to send them an email a month before its due for them to schedule it themselves at the most appropriate time. This entire process can be automated from the moment the agreement is created, freeing up your staff to focus on what matters and deliver better customer experiences.
Configurable suggestions in the Relationship Assistant
Another AI powered enhancement, this allows administrators to configure suggestions to staff using the Relationship Assistant. Relationship Assistant allows you to prompt sales staff with relevant actions to help them close deals faster. For example, identifying good sentiment in conversation around an opportunity and then suggesting this may be the right time to go in for the close.
Power BI in the Portal
Microsoft Dynamics 365 subscriptions include access to the portal add-on, allowing you to create portals for the following scenarios:
Customer Service, Partner, Employee, Field Service and Project Service
The Dynamics 365 Portal is a fully customisable content management system with all the configuration and data stored in Dynamics 365, giving you a single view of data and allowing you to easily control what is shared externally.
Adding Power BI reports to the portal is a great feature, which means it is now possible to expose a rich and interactive Power BI reports view the portal to external users who do not need a Power BI licence. With simple list and chart controls right through to heat maps and custom visualisations, Power BI allows you to create engaging visualisations to share data with your customers.
More Microsoft Flow features
Microsoft Flow is Microsoft’s code-less integration platform, with connectors for hundreds of applications which allows you to read, write and transform data from a multitude of platforms.
Microsoft Flow now includes the ability to extract structured data from emails. An example of this feature being used in real life may be when you receive a purchase order from a customer via email with a table of products that they would like to buy, using Flow, we can parse this email, create a sales order and send them a PDF order for electronic signing, all without the need to code. Flow’s power lies in its ability to be intuitive and easy to use.
Common Data Model and Data Integration
Microsoft are investing heavily into the common data service and its shaping up to be the single, unified, platform used by the entire Microsoft ecosystem. Also included in the April 2019 release are a range of improvements, including new and enhanced connectors, an extended SDK and entity packs for predefined verticals such as education, healthcare and retail. These packs give organisations a real head start to developing solutions for their verticals, delivering tangible cost savings.
When can we get the new features?
Users are now able to preview the features that are coming in the April 2019 update. The way to do this is by opting-in to the preview feature updates which can be done within the Power Platform Admin centre by going to ‘Environment’ > ‘Settings’ > ‘Previews & Updates’. Opting-in will enable all the features and updates for Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement, which will become available in April 2019.
What can be used to preview features?
However, the previewing of features will only be possible within any of these three environments:
By using either of the environments above, users will be able to explore and test the preview features. By doing this, you can adopt them across your environments within your organisation at a rate that suits you.
Tip: Sandbox environments can be reset, backed up, and restored. Therefore, if you create a copy of your Production environment as a Sandbox environment, you can test features and cause no disruption to your Production users.
What features can be previewed?
By opting in to the preview, you will be able to try out all new features within Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement as well as apps e.g. Sales, Service and Marketing. This will include any updates to the system functionality that are going to be made mandatory upon full release in April.
Users will not be able to preview features and updates that will not be made obligatory by default in April. These additional features will be outlined in the April 2019 release notes.
When will the April 2019 updates be fully deployed?
On 5th April 2019 Microsoft will deploy the new features throughout the month across their customers base worldwide using a region by region deployment strategy. The update will be deployed much like a Minor Service Update and therefore will not require you to schedule any system downtime thus causing minimum disruption to users.
Those wishing to enable the features prior to the deployment across all regions, can now opt-in to view the new features. Over the coming months Microsoft will be publishing a specific schedule of deployment to each individual region.
To find out more about Microsoft Dynamics 365 and the upcoming April 2019 updates, please get in touch