discover what's new for 2021

Dynamics 365 2021 Release Wave 1 Overview

Microsoft Dynamics 365 & Power Platform Wave 1 2021 Release Plan has recently been announced, and we can now learn of all the new features which will be implemented from April – September 2021. Our Dynamics 365 Consultancy team have highlighted and summarised their top 10 features of the Wave 1 Release update.

1. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Marketing – Author dynamic content with ease through a new point-and-click interface

Personalised and dynamic marketing emails can now be sent to customers without the need to write custom code in HTML. Email content can now be implemented via an easy-to-use, point-and-click UI editor. This useful feature should be in Public preview for admins, makers, marketers, or analysts automatically by April 2021. Find out more about the email editor updates here.

2. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Marketing – Create and send messages to any mobile phone

This feature allows for both transactional and marketing SMS and MMS messages to be sent via toll-free numbers and short codes. Messages can be sent from phone numbers across select regions in North America and Europe, and these messages can be fully personalised and timed as needed. This feature should also be in Public preview for admins, makers, marketers, or analysts automatically by April 2021. Find out more about the SMS messaging feature update here.

3. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales – Pipeline Manager Workspace

Microsoft continues to enhance the personalisation options in Dynamics 365 Sales with a new pipeline management workspace. This space should help identify which actions should be taken on opportunities to progress them, including filtering deals and contextual information. Find out more details about the Pipeline Manager Workspace here.

4. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales – Seller KPIs and Management Dashboards

KPI and Management Dashboards will soon provide out-the-box solutions to management, as well as making it easier for sellers to track their performance. Management can track lead/opportunity conversion ratios and leads per seller, among other metrics. KPIs will include metrics like number of calls and estimated value. This feature should be in Public preview for admins, makers, marketers, or analysts automatically by June 2021. Read more about the Management Dashboard Feature here.

5. Dynamics 365 Sales – Mobile App improvements

Whilst there is already a Dynamics 365 mobile app which has been improved over recent years, the current app is not focused on Sales, leaving some users wishing for a more sales-driven experience. The new app has been specifically designed for core sales scenarios. Features include a day planner, post-meeting work (quick record updates / contact creation), and contact/record search. The app is already available in public preview for those who want to investigate. Read more about the specific application features here.

6. Dynamics 365 Customer Insights – Create segments within Engagement Insights

Engagement Insights will see several new features in 2021 Release wave 1. One of these is the ability of customers to create segments, which let customers filter behavioural data into data that matters to them and this data can be used to answer specific questions. This feature should be in Public preview by March 2021 for admins, makers or analysts to enable for users, whilst general availability should be in September 2021. Find out more about how to create these segments here.

7. Dynamics 365 Customer Insights – Notifications for a process completion or failure within Audience Insights

Audience Insights also see numerous tweaks and changes. The latest is the addition of notifications of the status of processes, informing users if a match or enrichment run completes or fails. This feature should be in Public preview by April 2021 for admins, makers or analysts to enable for users, whilst general availability is yet to be announced. Find our more about the Audience Insights notifications  here.

8. Dynamics 365 Customer Service – Voice channel powered by Azure Communication Services

Previously announced at Microsoft Ignite in September 2020, this feature is built on Microsoft Azure Communication Services (the same calling platform powering Teams). This allows funnelling of omni-channels (Twitter, WhatsApp, Facebook) into Dynamics 365 Customer Service. It also allows users to utilise the AI features of Customer Service (such as topic clustering) to enhance their offering. This feature should be available for admins, makers, or analysts to enable by August 2021. Find out more about this new communication service here.

7. Microsoft Power Apps – Model-driven app adds in app notifications

Toast (pop-up) notifications have now been enabled for model-driven apps. These can be directed to specific users and can be sent from external system, internally, or through Power Automate. This feature should be available for admins, makers, or analysts to enable by June 2021, but will be in Public Preview from April 2021. Find out more about these app notification features here.

8. Microsoft Power Apps – Export documents to PDF from a canvas app

The change has been requested for some time by users and will allow apps to “print” customised reports and other outputs for them. Quoting, for example, can now be streamlined by using a Power App to produce a PDF quote at the push of a button. This feature should be available for admins, makers, marketers, or analysts in Public Preview from April 2021. Find out more about Canvas App printing features here.

9. Microsoft Power Automate – Trigger flows when a Microsoft Dataverse action is called

Flows can now be triggered when actions are performed in the Microsoft Dataverse (previously Common Data Service). This allows for better integration with Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations. This feature should be available for admins, makers, marketers, or analysts automatically by April 2021, but is already in Public Preview. Read more about how these flows here. 

10. Power Apps portals – Entity permission in Power Apps portals Studio

Further evidence of Microsoft supporting a “Low Code” approach can be found in their Power Apps Portal release notes. They are introducing a simplified entity permission configuration experience within the Power Apps portals Studio, giving more control to low code Makers. The web roles experience in the Studio will also be given new functionality. This feature should be available for admins, makers, marketers, or analysts in Public Preview from June 2021. Find out more about the Power Apps Portals Studio here.

Early access for Dynamics 365 Release Wave 1 and Power Platform Release Wave 1 were made available from February 1st 2021. This allows administrators to test and validate the upcoming features and capabilities before they are automatically enabled for users. Production deployment for both release waves will begin on April 1st, with regional deployments starting on April 2nd.

Changes are enabled in three ways:

  1. Users, automatically – some changes which will affect the user experience will be enabled automatically without the need for admin input.
  2. Admins, makers, or analysts, automatically – Some features designed for use by these roles will also be enabled automatically.
  3. Users by admins, makers, or analysts – Some features must be enabled/configured by these roles before they become available for users.

If you have questions regarding the upcoming release waves, or how to access and setup these features and services, please get in touch.

All images shown are owned by Microsoft