Now Microsoft Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform are aligned to bi-annual releases, we always look forward to getting our hands on the release plans to see what new features are going to be available.
The following are the key dates for the 2020 Wave 1 release:
- January 27th: Release plans are made available
- February 3rd: Early access available
- April 1st: General availability
What this means is that we have access to the release plans now (their content isn’t set in stone, so some features can drop out of a release, hence the subtle name change from ‘release notes’ to ‘release plans’), then as of the beginning of February 2020 we can access the new features and play with them in a sandbox environment and then finally in April we can apply them to production instances. Changes which will have a big impact on your system are made optional, meaning administrators must turn them on when they are made available in April 2020.
We have read the release plans and picked out 9 highlights that we’re excited to see, but there are hundreds of new features on the way: Official details on these direct from Microsoft can be found here.
1. Kanban Opportunity View
Users will be able to work with opportunities in a Kanban view, something other CRM products have had for some time, so we’re pleased to see this in Dynamics 365. Users will be able to simply drag and drop opportunities to move them through the stages of the sales pipeline.
This is an exciting addition as it signifies a move to richer controls across the platform, for example managing cases or accounts could be done in the same way. This functionality is built using the Power Apps Control Framework (PCF) meaning it uses tools that are a native part of the Power Platform and which can be further extended by Partners.
2. Sales Forecasting
This is a completely new set of capabilities which will allow you to forecast sales. Salespeople can manage their pipeline, picking out relevant opportunities which will help them hit their target. Managers can plan based on flexible forecasts which they are confident of, and drive sales in the right areas.
A simple interface allows users to adjust forecasts:
Along with a simple layout for visualising the forecast:
3. Conversation Insights
This is a feature that has been around for a while within the AI toolset, but is seeing some interesting updates, including better emotion detection, deeper topic analysis and a nice new interface to work with all this data:
As you can see from the screenshot of the phone call record above users can easily see things like the ‘talk to listen ratio’, ‘talking speed’, sentiment throughout the call and important mentions like brands, competitors or actions… clever stuff!
4. A New Sales Mobile App
In addition to the core Microsoft Dynamics 365 mobile app, a new sales specific app is being introduced to provide targeted functionality for salespeople. This will deliver useful insight like a summary of your day, meeting preparation and an easy way to capture post meeting information.
You can also use ‘conversational assistance’, meaning you can use voice to record notes quickly and have them transcribed and saved in the relevant place within Microsoft Dynamics 365.
5. Configurable Case Resolution Page
Another long-awaited feature is the ability to customise the Case Resolution dialogue to capture additional details when closing a case. Customers often want to capture additional details such as any suppliers who helped fix the problem, or more granular resolution options, this can now be done by customising the case resolution screen.
6. Rich Text Notes and Keyword Search in Timeline
The current iteration of the timeline with its consolidated view of posts, notes and activities is a vast improvement on previous experiences, but there’s always room for improvement. This release promises to introduce rich text notes, which will allow you to create more useful notes, and give the ability to make the standout with colours, sizes and formatting.
Additionally, keyword searching on the timeline will allow you to quickly find relevant notes, posts or activities; often a challenging task if a case has been open for a long time and has a large amount of associated records.
7. Next Generation Schedule Board
The schedule board within Field Service is already a powerful tool which enables intelligent scheduling and managing of resource using a colour coded, drag and drop, UI. The next generation will come with serious performance improvements and additional functionality to simplify and speed up the scheduling process.
8. Test Send Dynamic Email Messages in Marketing
The Microsoft Dynamics 365 Marketing app is now well placed to compete with longer-standing competitor solutions, and this release includes even more impressive functionality. This feature allows users to test send marketing emails with custom dynamic content and see what the results will look like before executing the mailshot.
9. Improved Segment Creation
Also, within the Marketing app, Microsoft have introduced an enhanced segment designer. The tool enables users to better define dynamics segments, create them more quickly and intuitively, create hybrid segments and add more members.
10. There’s more!
The features above cover the ‘Customer Engagement’ set of applications, the ones we specialise in here at Infinity Group, but there are a vast number of changes across the ERP solutions (Finance, Supply Chain Management and Business Central) too. We work with specialist partners to deliver ERP solutions with Microsoft Dynamics 365, so get in touch if you’d like to know more about those areas.
Additionally, there is also a release plan for the Power Platform, which includes:
- Power BI
- Power Apps
- Power Automate (formerly Flow)
- Power Virtual Agents
- AI Builder
There are too many new features to mention here in the Power Platform update so that will need to be a separate blog, stay tuned for more of our favourite features and latest updates!
The official Microsoft Power Platform release notes can be found here:
Finally, a Word on Project Service Automation
When reading through the Release Notes there is one omission that stands out, and that’s to do with Project Service Automation. Currently, this is an app which sits under the Customer Engagement banner, however Microsoft are making some strategic investments to combine project management functionality from Microsoft Project, Finance and Supply Chain’s PMO module and Project Service Automation to create a unified project management experience, built on Power Apps and the Common Data Service, that will cater for the management of projects from sale through to execution including project accounting and stock management. This functionality isn’t ready yet, but Microsoft have noted that an update will be available in a few weeks.