One of my favorite podcasts ends with a question to the guest of what they’re currently optimistic about. I always liked this positive vibe, which I think we all could use a little more of these days, so I thought I would try to carry it over here to this month’s DC Digest. So here are 10 things I am optimistic about in the Dynamics Customer Engagement / Power Platform space (in no particular order):
- With every upgrade, the “buyer’s journey” across CRM & ERP gets more cohesive
The out-of-the-box integrations between CDS and F&O and CDS and BC are constantly improving. There will always be edge case scenarios that require a custom integration, but the connectors that Microsoft is providing are starting to cover enough scenarios to be viable for many organizations. Over time, this will continue to get even better.
- Logic Apps as an integration platform
Logic Apps has grown so much in capabilities over the past couple of years that it’s now being considered for every integration we design. It’s serverless, priced based on what you use (which can be controlled pretty tightly by adjusting the throughput capacity and integration frequency), and with the built-in Management solution, it has enterprise-grade integration management and error handling. And with new connectors consistently becoming available, the platform keeps getting better.
- Power Apps Component Framework (PCF) Controls for CDS applications
One of the big benefits, if not the biggest, of moving to the new Unified Interface is the new PCF controls. These can be used to improve and augment the user interface in several ways, from the updated activity timeline visualizations to YouTube players. DC Solution Architect Mike Valentine recently created a control that handles global phone number formatting beautifully (check it out here).
- Embedded Power BI reports
A common requirement is for Sales users to be able to easily see ERP data (and vice versa). Instead of building a big complex integration, we can now build a Power BI report and embed it into a form with context-awareness. For example, when you’re on Contoso Corp’s Account record in D365 Sales, the embedded report is filtered to show the sales history for Contoso using data from BC or F&O. Power BI can connect to hundreds of data sources, including non-Microsoft platforms, so this has the potential to be a game-changer for just about any industry. Plus, with Joel Leichty now heading DC’s Power Practice, we have more in-house Power BI expertise than ever before.
- Field Service
Having worked with Field Service for the past couple of years, we have had a front-row seat to the growth and potential of the application. Gartner has recently recognized as well, putting D365 Field Service as a Leader in the 2020 Magic Quadrant for Field Service Management. The power of this app to automate processes, and deploy field service technicians with the information, checklists, parts, and tools they need to get the job done on the first visit is incredible, and I think we’ll see a ton of growth in this space – both in terms of the Dynamics 365 market share and in the capabilities of the app.
- Sales Insights
This add-on application to D365 Sales connects up the CRM data with Microsoft 365 data (primarily emails, appointments, and tasks) to provide very a useful digital assistant that helps guide the salespeople to the best next actions to build and grow their pipelines. I think the ‘Who Knows Whom’ feature illustrates the capabilities of this app really well: because it knows who is on the recipient list of every email sent from the tenant, it can infer the strength of relationships between all employees and everyone emailed. So, if Mary comes in as a new lead, it can see that Bob in Operations has emailed Mary 10 times in the last two months and prompt the salesperson to speak with Bob to broker a warm introduction. There are also features like Predictive Models and Conversation Intelligence that also leverage tenant-level data and use machine learning to generate insights and recommendations. Sales Insights is not for everyone, but I think it is the beginning of an explosion of machine learning assistance being embedded in our day-to-day applications.
- HoloLens for Field Service / Remote Assist
I visited a client recently and had a chance to speak with some of their field service technicians who had been in the business for some time and had their sights on retiring soon. One of the issues, and I think this is common across many industries, is a ton of knowledge would retire with them. Schools are not teaching how to service some of the older equipment that is still in use, making the knowledge they have even more valuable. “What if, instead of going to the job site every day, you could just come into the office and help other technicians in the field – wearing the HoloLens, so you could see what they see and put arrows and information into their view – complete the job?” I asked. Most said they would stick around for another 3-5 years.
- Power Apps Single App License
It is rare to get excited about licensing. Very rare. But the $10/mo. Power Apps Single App license is an exception. In the past, we had to build custom applications based on a full CRM/Sales license, even if none of the sales-related features were ever used. The extra cost for unused features put up a high bar for a strong ROI for the custom app. But with the new Single App license, we can build custom apps with all the great features of Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform at a great price point, which opens the doors to many more use cases. As with most Microsoft licensing, this is sure to change, but I am excited about the trend of opening the platform for a wider audience.
- D365 Marketing
This is not Microsoft’s first foray into the marketing area, and with the previous attempts not going too well, we are still a bit cautious about D365 Marketing at this point. But it seems to be picking up some good traction and if the updates keep making the platform easier to use and more approachable for the SMB market, I think it’ll be tough to compete within the near future.
- D365 Virtual Events
One of the silver linings to the COVID-19 quarantine is that many of the in-person events were made virtual this year, which opened access far beyond the typical in-person turnout. I do miss having the chance to meet and network and get some more face time with my team, but I must admit, it’s tough to beat the efficiency of watching the session recordings from home at 2x speed. 😉 Along these lines, do not forget to check out DynamicsCon coming up September 9-10. I didn’t intend to get on the sales soapbox here, but we are genuinely excited about all the developments in Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform and all the new tools in our toolbelt to help solve our customer’s challenges. The products are all trending in the right direction, and the market is taking notice. If any items above struck a chord, or if you have a specific challenge that you would some help with, don’t hesitate to reach out. Best, Charlie Fink, CRM Practice Manager
News You Should Know
#MSDyn365FO: Virtual Entities were introduced in Version 10.0.12, providing a new method of writing a Power App using F&O as the data source. #MSDyn365CE: Microsoft is starting to add more restrictions if you are over on your storage, namely you can’t create a new environment or restore from a backup. Check your storage… #MSDynGP: Q3 is right around the corner, start planning your year-end upgrades today! Not sure how to get started? Email us and we will be glad to help! #MSDyn365BC: Wish Business Central did something that it currently does not do? Check out the ideas portal here. Submit new ideas and VOTE for submissions – voting counts! #PowerPlatform: In PowerBI.com, a new switch called “New look off/on” appeared at the top of the site this year. Recommend turning it to the “on” position; the new look makes Power BI much easier to navigate! #Microsoft365: New “Meet Together” and new meeting/call experience on desktop. If you have any questions or would like to have a discussion with us about any of the topics above, please reach out to your Practice Manager, or fill out the Contact Us form.
Upcoming Virtual FREE Events
DynamicsCon Free Virtual Event September 9-10 For the Community, By the Community Register Now: https://dynamicscon.com/ Leadership Goes Beyond | Pulse Virtual Conference Free Virtual Leadership Conference and Webcasts Tuesday, October 27th 8:00am PDT / 11:00am EDT Register Now Here
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Century Business Solution Partners with sa.global for Payment Processing
EBizCharge by Century Business Solutions is an all-in-one payment solution that provides payment processing technology to over 30,000 merchants in the U.S. and Canada. Century has been integrated with Microsoft Dynamics for over five years and provides payment processing for Dynamics 365 Business Central, Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations, Dynamics AX, Dynamics GP, Dynamics NAV, and Dynamics CRM. Century has partnered with sa.global to provide top of the line integrated payments to Dynamics users including reduction of credit card fees, invoice payment automation with a fully integrated customer payment portal, and most importantly complete PCI compliant payment security. We invite you to look now! If you want more information, please let us know. Thank you for catching up with DC Digest’s August 2020 edition! Questions, comments, concerns? Contact us today, and don’t forget to check back next month for September’s issue!