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Best Picks from The Upcoming Microsoft Dynamics 365 October 2018 Release

Following another jam-packed Inspire Worldwide Conference, we are excited to update you on some of the features to be included in the October 2018 release. Being a Microsoft Silver partner and one of the longest serving Microsoft Dynamics CRM consultancies in the UK, it is our pleasure to share our learnings to our valued readers.

The Inspire Worldwide Conference, which featured some of the most senior Microsoft staffs in the Business Applications, Modern Workplace and Azure product areas, was based around corenotes presentations followed by breakout sessions for the various products and platforms Microsoft offers. The event also featured Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, who highlighted the importance of “cloud technologies” and explained how customers can benefit from the new technologies Microsoft are building.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 was one of the core area of focus during the event as it was positioned as the foundation for all business operations. Revealed at the event, Microsoft is preparing to deploy over 90+ major updates to their platform’s 10 core apps, plus further tweaks to supporting services such as Portals and Social Engagement. Since all the updates in one blog post would be overwhelming for you to read, we are breaking down the updates in a series of posts, starting with 10 major highlights.

1. Dynamics 365 AI for Sales

Building upon the Relationship Assistant we have already come to know and love within the Dynamics 365 for Sales App. Microsoft is releasing a new app designed to help sales teams utilise intelligent features like call sentiment analysis, and alerts about the health of the deals and activities, to keep businesses on the top of the customer sales cycle.

AI for Sales, which will be available for preview in the impending October 2018 updates, will use machine learning to deliver data-driven insights to help businesses make more insightful and proactive decisions. The new AI for Sales app also consists of a natural language processing-based Q&A that allows managers to conversationally ask questions and receive reports from the sales data – providing even more productivity benefits and making it easier to access information ‘on the go’.

2. Improved Dynamics 365 Unified Interface

Unified Interface was introduced in Dynamics 365 version 9.0 (previous version) with an aim to provide users a better user experience with a consistent, accessible and uniform user interface across all devices. It was responsively designed to provide an optimal viewing and interaction experience common to all screen size and devices. However, the mobile experience still fell short in comparison to the desktop experience with several features missing.

In response, the upcoming Unified Client Interface updates, will allow users to add controls to the UI for bulk edits, advanced finds, merge records, share records, and running on-demand workflows, which will help users improve performance and usability.

3. Custom Controls in Business Process Flow

Business process flow works as a guide in the form of stages and steps: stages show the process you are in; steps are action items that help you achieve the desired outcome. In short, it is a streamlined user experience defined by a set of stages that end users walk through. The previous versions of Dynamics 365 only allowed default visualizations for the field type like text boxes, dropdowns and numbers. Thus, a user wasn’t allowed to create custom forms for entities based on business process flow.

However, with the latest release, business process flow steps support custom controls for rich visualisations in the form of sliders, radial knobs, timelines, and LinkedIn controls. Also, this feature is available in both the Unified Interface and the Web Client.

Custom Control for Business Process Flow

4. LinkedIn Integration

Sales Navigator was connected in the previous release, where LinkedIn widgets provided insights about contacts and companies in the Dymanic interface. However, the scope for customisation was limited and were detached from sales processes. Now with the impending new release, Dynamics 365 applications powered by LinkedIn Insights enhances the LinkedIn Sales Navigator controls by combining it with the power and flexibility of the Dynamics 365 business process flow. Combining LinkedIn Insights to stages of a business process flow allows data driven users to gather information quickly and accurately to drive the process forward.

For example, in the initial stage of a sales process, LinkedIn Sales Insights can gather essential information about companies including size, industry and location as well as information about people; this includes name, company, position, and years of experience. Icebreakers and conversation starter insights can also be leveraged to start a warm engagement.

LinkedIn Insights enhances the LinkedIn Sales Navigator controls by combining it with the power and flexibility of the Dynamics 365 business process flow. Combining LinkedIn Insights to stages of a business process flow allows data-driven users to gather information quickly and accurately to drive the process forward.

5. Power BI Visualisations Embedded in Web Portal

As Dynamics 365 customers may already be aware, a fully-integrated web portal is already included with 5 x full user licenses or the Customer Engagement Plan. We are excited to learn that the latest update brings a lot of new features that will help the users utilise the web portal in a much better way.

One of the interesting updates about the new release is that it allows users to embed Power BI visualisations with the Portal. With Power BI being one of the best business intelligence platforms on market to deliver insights and interactive visualisations of data, this new update can now securely embed Power BI reports and dashboards within portal pages using liquid code.

One major feature about this update is that Portal users without Power BI licenses will still have access to the Power BI content. Also, filter parameters can also be applied to personalize the Power BI content.

6. Microsoft Teams Integration

With more and more organisations leveraging Microsoft Teams as part of their collaboration tool, users will now be able to connect any Dynamics 365 record to a Microsoft Teams channel.

The new integration will also help teams working on a collaborate deal regardless of where they are working from. It will be easier for individual opportunities to be pinned to a Team associated with the prospective deal. Additionally, users can communicate more effectively through persistent chat sessions across the Microsoft Teams and Dynamics 365 records.

7. Social Listening in Dynamics 365 for Marketing App

One of the new features in the Marketing platform is the addition of Social Listening, which allows marketers to add relevant social tags to the customer journey, events, and other entities. Social listening collects data generated from all the social networks and provides valuable insights like how each phrase is mentioned over time, the sentiment associated with each mention, influences mentioning that phrases, and many others.

Users will now be able to view the social media response in a new dashboard for social insights helping them track their marketing initiatives alongside other marketing insights in real-time.

8. Resource Scheduling Optimisation in Field Service

Resource Scheduling Optimisation is an add-on capability in the Dynamics 365 for Field Service application build to automatically schedule work orders by optimizing bookings to the most appropriate resources, while simultaneously optimizing appointment setting for travel time, mileage, and many other constraints.

The new release will have plenty of updates in the Universal Resource Scheduler feature. Users will now gain a lot of flexibility to assign work orders to a group of resources. A new “Crew Scheduling” option will be added, that will group people and other resources together for a defined time. This feature is brought to fix the issue of the previous version, where a group of people wasn’t allowed to be grouped together for a task.

Resource Scheduling for Field Service

9. Business Application Platform Capabilities

The October 2018 update will combine all the Business Application Platform tools — PowerBI, Flow, PowerApps and Common Data Service — in the same interface to help users trade app activity and usage more easily. For example, the October release will enable Common Data Service (CDS) to combine with PowerApps to model sophisticated business solutions. Combining CDS with PowerApps, a user can create a high productivity point-and-click app which is easily customisable and quick to develop.

These upcoming capabilities, powered by insights and intelligence from data across business systems, will integrate with the business applications people use every day to provide rich and intelligent experiences. This integration will also enable users to extend and customise Dynamics 365 with Office 365 into the users’ environment.

10. Social Engagement

Microsoft Social Engagement is a very powerful app that helps organisations harness the power of the web – social, search, browse — to achieve better sales and marketing results. In the October release, users will be equipped with a lot of new features, fixes, and changes in the Social Engagement platform.

Key improvements include; a new sign-in process to help users get started with the platform; a guided experience when defining search topics and deeper integration with other business applications including Marketing and Sales. Users will now be benefitted with enhanced user guidance experience that will help them quickly learn how to use the app effectively. A new feature that will be added is the “additional languages”. Several additional languages will be added for both the UI as well as for data acquisition.

The latest Dynamics 365 release is just another example of Microsoft’s continual investment into the latest technologies and user experience being released in October. Stay tuned for more blog articles that will highlight the updates in the specific Dynamics 365 apps.

If you would like to find out how you can take advantage of the latest updates within your organisation, contact us today for a no obligation consultation on 01296 328 689.