10 New Salesforce Features to Take Control of Your Data, Activities, and Events
Salesforce, one of the leading CRM platforms, has announced enhancements in usability, functionality, and productivity in its Summer ‘19 release.
In this blog, we will talk about key improvements in – email experience, event list views, search result relevancy – and addition of activity sharing, virtual confetti celebrations, and customisable schedules.
Here are our 10 favourite new Salesforce Summer 19 release features you can use to scale your business, boost productivity, and elevate customer satisfaction.
1. Take Charge of Organisational Activities with Einstein Activity Capture
Users want more control over sharing and with the new Einstein Activity Capture, you are always in charge. It gives you a clearer picture of all your activities and lets you share activities with colleagues. It also provides deep and authentic insights at a blazing fast speed.
2. Never Miss Out on Important Events with Event List Views
It’s important to keep track of important events, agendas and make actionable plans. The new event list views option in Quick Actions saves you from relentlessly digging through your calendar. It provides at a quick glance, all your upcoming events and helps you be organised and on top of everything.
3. Capitalise on Your Data with Improved Dashboard
New dashboards will enable you to better use your data. You can classify data and narrow your preferences quickly with powerful data classification, for example, sorting data both by type and stage. This is then summarised and presented in easy to use dashboards.
4. Automate and Manage Team Workloads with Product Schedules
Product schedules will help you immensely in streamlining sales processes. You can automate tasks and manage workloads with customisable product schedules. This feature also significantly improves tracking and forecasting.
5. Take Your Email Experience to the Next Level
Sales teams will love this feature. Salesforce has enhanced the Lightning Email experience with attractive templates to take your messaging to the next level. The advanced email composer gets a lot of handy features, like adding images directly from your computer or URL.
6. Massive Step Ahead with the User Search Results
The search feature in Salesforce is more relevant and personalised. Salesforce has also made search faster, stressing that search affects how you navigate in the Lightning Experience.
7. Setup and Manage Built-In Sales Quotas with a Few Clicks
You can easily view and manage your sales quotas, without using Data Loader or API separately. After Summer 19 update, Quotas in Collaborative Forecasts are built right into the Setup area so that you can always keep track of your quota data.
8. View Options in Salesforce
Existing customers can now switch smoothly from Salesforce classic to Lightning page layouts. Enabling the full view option will give your customers the look and feel of the old classic view, while still using features of the new Lightning experience. Salesforce will likely switch to Lightning after October 2019, so it’s good to stay prepared.
9. Customise Wisely with Enhanced Related Lists
With the new enhanced Related Lists feature, you have more control over your record lists. You can choose to see all your records in one place or customise how many show up in the lists. You can display, resize and sort up to 10 columns and perform several mass actions.
10. Virtually Celebrate Sales Milestones with Your Team
Salesforce has added virtual confetti to its platform for milestone celebrations. Confetti celebrations might be common at your wonderful office. Your hard-working team members can now celebrate the completion of an opportunity in Salesforce. Isn’t this a nice, fun addition to instil a sense of accomplishment in your team members?
While a few updates announced in the Salesforce ’19 Summer Release have rolled out, others will take time to come into effect. We will be compiling more similar blogs on other modules of Salesforce too. If you want to know more about how you can use these features for your business, contact us for a no-obligation consultation on 01296 328 689. Or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
7 Upcoming Dynamics 365 for Sales Features to Accelerate Your Sales Process
The October 2019 release brings lots of brand-new capabilities and enhancements in Dynamics 365 for Sales features – improved email communication, multitasking, simplified lead management, business card scanning, and LinkedIn Sales Navigator integration.
Here are the 7 major Dynamics 365 for Sales features updates.
1. Easily Manage and Keep Track of Leads
Sales teams won’t have to enter company or contact details manually while creating a new lead. The system will autofill fields with relevant information for existing clients, making it more convenient. Also, lead management will become a lot easier as the tool allows you to move swiftly along various stages of the sales cycle.
2. Get More Details on a Won/Lost Opportunity
You can get more data on a won/lost opportunity to help strategies in the future. With the ‘Opportunity Close’ dialogue box in Dynamics 365 for Sales, you will get details on why the opportunity was lost or won.
3. Compose Multiple Emails from the Same Screen
Composing emails will be much easier with contextual email communication after this update. You will no longer have to navigate away from the screen while composing emails, significantly saving time. It also allows you to view all the relevant content in one place. Multitasking will genuinely come to life in this new update. Maximise
4. LinkedIn Sales Navigator: Send InMails Directly to Customers
You can now engage with your customers by composing and sending LinkedIn InMail directly from Dynamics for Sales. You can easily drag and drop to select who receives the mail. Dynamics 365 for Sales will become a one-stop solution for sending InMails and viewing profiles of relevant receivers.
5. Scan and Save Business Cards Instead of Stacking Them
You can now scan all your business cards via the scanner, and automatically fill in relevant information in the system.
6. Make Quick Customer Calls Directly with Softphone Dialler
This new feature allows you to integrate your softphone dialler from your phone provider with Dynamics 365 for Sales to quickly call contacts. Without switching screens, you can quickly call customers.
7. Simplified Adding and Editing Products in an Opportunity
Save time creating multiple products line items using Create and Add capability. You can add new products to an Opportunity, Quote, Order, and Invoice with or without a price list. This also lets you view product properties while still editing them in the Opportunity.
See the links below to learn about our other blogs on the Wave 2 release series.
- 6 Upcoming Dynamics 365 for Marketing Features You Should Know
- Dynamics 365 Virtual Agent Delivers Fast and Responsive Customer Service
- 7 Best Picks from Dynamics 365 2019 Wave 2 Release
- [Infographic + Video] A Graphical Overview of Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 2019 Wave 2 Release
We will be posting more blogs on the other Dynamics 365 and Power Platform applications. Do subscribe to our blog for the latest information to be delivered in your inbox.
Dynamics 365 for Sales goes beyond the traditional sales force automation (SFA) and builds deeper relationships with embedded intelligence to guide your sales team through each stage of your customer journey. If you want to learn more about D365 for Sales and how it can increase your revenue, contact us today for a no-obligation consultation on 01296 328 689. Or email us at email@example.com.
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6 Upcoming Dynamics 365 for Marketing Features to Boost Campaigns, Customer Experience, and Relationships
With new Dynamics 365 for Marketing features rolling out from October 2019, you can manage activities and workflows, produce winning email campaigns, and create defining customer experience – to best achieve your marketing goals.
Since the last update, we have a lot to look forward to in Dynamics 365 for Marketing in terms of efficiency and performance.
Let’s round up 6 major features announced for Dynamics 365 for Marketing in the Wave 2 release plan, that will help you maximise on your marketing efforts.
6 Exciting Features in Dynamics 365 for Marketing
1. Approve Activities in a Single Click Using Microsoft Flow
Approve campaigns, emails, or other activities with a single click. Dynamics 365 for Marketing now includes Microsoft Flow to help workflow and approval processes. Managers and colleagues will receive notifications if there is any new approval request.
2. Send High-Performing Emails with A/B Testing
Emails are a vital part of any marketing campaign. With Dynamics 365 for Marketing, you can now create and send different email designs to determine which ones produce the best results.
3. Generate actionable insights with Customer Insights integration
Using Customer Insights, you can now leverage actionable intelligence with the data accumulated in your Dynamics 365 for Marketing. The AI-driven Customer Insights will provide you an all-round view of each individual contact, that’s easy to understand and use.
4. Create stellar customer experience & make smarter decisions based on Surveys
It’s easy to create surveys to measure customer sentiment and satisfaction at every touchpoint. Surveys help you make smarter decisions by capturing and analysing this feedback. Microsoft Forms Pro as part of Dynamics 365 brings a rich set of capabilities for asking about customers’ needs. You can automate this by including them in the criteria for segmentation, lead scoring, or branching a customer journey.
5. Design Beautiful Content with Layout Editor
With this release, Microsoft continues to make it easier for you to design and modify published content. Its graphical content-creation and design tools make visually rich emails, simple to design and execute. And the visual email designer now provides a layout editor for designing multi-column layouts.
6. Quickly Send Blast Emails in Bulk
If you need to send a quick email in bulk to customers such as notifications, updates or notices that don’t require testing beforehand, then the new October release will make this easy and intuitive.
Dynamics 365 for Marketing continues to evolve with new features, providing more fluency and improved processes. Using the application, you can find and nurture sales-ready leads for your business and increase collaboration between sales and marketing departments. 4
If you’re considering Dynamics 365 for Marketing or any other marketing automation platform, it is imperative to define your objectives and technology requirements before looking for a solution in order to find the best fit for your organisational needs.
Seelogic are product agnostic, this means we look at the best fit for your needs whether that be for current challenges or for a transformational vision. We use our experience and technical skills to provide trusted advice and proven solutions.
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Blank Screen When Using Dynamics 365 for Outlook: Here’s How to Fix It
Users are getting a blank screen when trying to launch the Dynamics 365 for Outlook. This is a known issue and Dynamics users have reported the bug globally.
While our engineering team is already investigating for a permanent fix, we do have a workaround to the problem for you.
This issue in Dynamics 365 for Outlook is occurring due to the browser cache. Clearing cache from IE or Edge in browser settings doesn’t actually clear cache for the Dynamics App for Outlook.
So, in order to mitigate the issue, we need to use F12 against the Dynamics 365 app.
Here are the steps that will guide you through the process of clearing cache:
- Reproduce the issue in Outlook. Keep the blank screen on.
- Open F12 develop tool through the following link:
a.) For the 32-Bit version of Office, use C:\Windows\System32\F12\IEChooser.exe (F12Chooser.exe)
b.) For the 64-Bit version of Office, use C:\Windows\SysWOW64\F12\IEChooser.exe (F12Chooser.exe)
- Click on the “Dynamics 365” option.
- A pop up will open. On the popup, go to the Network tab and click the clear cache button as shown in the screenshot below.
Alternative way of Clearing Cache
- Reproduce the issue in Outlook. Keep the blank screen on.
- Open F12 develop tool through the following link.
a.) For the 32-Bit version of Office, use C:\Windows\System32\F12\IEChooser.exe (F12Chooser.exe)
b.) For the 64-Bit version of Office, use C:\Windows\SysWOW64\F12\IEChooser.exe (F12Chooser.exe)
- Check whether you can find “Dynamics 365 for Outlook” in your Outlook
- Go to F12 > Console Tab
- At the bottom of the Console tab, use the box to run commands and type “localStorage” to check the cache. Press enter or click the play button.
If the cache hasn’t been removed, you will see the following information. It will include your CRM user details
- If you find the cache, use “localStorage.clear()” to clear the cache. Press enter or click the play button.
- Close and reopen Dynamics 365 for Outlook.
This should fix your issue!
If you are not able to find it in F12, Outlook may use Edge to render Dynamics 365 for Outlook. For more information on this, you can check out Microsoft Edge WebView for Office Add-ins.
You will need to download Microsoft Edge DevTools Preview from Microsoft Store. Follow the steps to attach Dynamics 365 to Microsoft Edge DevTools for debugging.
Our customers have reported the bug and we’re working on a definitive solution. For now, the IT support in your office can follow these steps to temporarily solve this issue. Customers who are having trouble implementing these measures can contact us for support via mail– firstname.lastname@example.org. Our team will quickly help you with the fix to ensure your immediate operations aren’t affected. Companies outside our customer base can contact us for the consultation or send us an email addressing the issue at email@example.com.
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Dynamics 365 Virtual Agent Delivers Fast and Responsive Customer Service
Microsoft has launched a new AI-driven virtual agent solution for Dynamics 365 Customer Service, which is designed to improve customer service quality through quick deployment of virtual agents.
This solution allows you to create bots using a guided, codeless graphical UI and embed them to a website in a few simple steps without the need of AI engineers or data scientists.
The Virtual Agent which works 24/7 – can handle your routine customer queries to deliver a faster customer experience. It allows your customer service agents to focus on more complex requests, and when the bot can’t handle a case, it transfers the conversation back to your customer service agents.
We have compiled a list of announced features for its Dynamics 365 Virtual Agent.
Features of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Virtual Agent for Customer Service
1. Stay on top of your customer service
With AI-driven insights, you can analyse customer service performances across multiple channels. This identifies regular and emerging topics. You can easily equip your virtual agents with the ability to solve these problems on their own. The Virtual Agent Dashboard gives you an overview of the important metrics affecting your customer service performance.
2. Keep track of your agents’ performances 24/7
You can get more timely and deeper insights into the performances of your virtual and human agents. For example- it lets you identify the human agents with low CSAT (Customer Satisfaction) levels or low case resolved rates. You can then target training and support to help agents improve performances. This process empowers the team, effectively increasing the value everyone brings to the table.
3. Your own virtual agent without any coding- it’s possible!
Creating chatbots is straight-forward using a graphical interface that doesn’t require expensive coding. SeeLogic can then help develop your own staff to update and evolve the Virtual agent as needs change. Its natural learning capabilities allow it to learn problem solving skills and address most common issues.
4. Impress customers with natural, personalised conversations
Virtual Agent is stacked with natural language capabilities. When a customer types a query, the virtual agent will respond with relevant support. What’s impressive is that the customer doesn’t need to enter the exact match to trigger a solution. The virtual agent can instantly match the semantics to offer a personalised and thoughtful response.
For example: a user may type in “internet not working” and the bot will instantly come up with a response like this- “I see that your router is not configured properly. Would you like me to guide you through the configuration?”. Quite exquisite, isn’t it?
Lots of exciting features were announced at the Dynamics 365 2019 Wave 2 Release. As consultants, we work on making technology easier and relevant for you. Go through SeeLogic’s best picks from the features announced in the release plan.
In the meantime, if you would like to find out how you can take advantage of this new solution, contact us today for a no-obligation consultation on 01296 328 689. Or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Infographic + Video] A Graphical Overview of Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 2019 Wave 2 Release
Microsoft recently unveiled the release plan for the Dynamics 365 2019 Wave 2 release. This plan, effective from October 2019 to March 2020, disclosed all new features coming to the Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 and Power Platform.
You can go through the 350-page plan released by Microsoft if you have time, but we did the groundwork for you. We hand-picked 7 best features in the Dynamics 365 2019 Wave 2 release and turned them into this infographic video.
In a nutshell, these are the 7 best picks from Dynamics 365 2019 Wave 2 Release:
- AI Capabilities in Reporting
- Chatbot Integration with D365
- Email Communication in D365 for Sales
- A/B Testing in D365 for Marketing
- AI Builder in Power Platforms
- Blockchain in Power Platforms
- PowerApps Portal
Now that you know what major updates and features unfolded in Wave 2 release, do let us know which one you are most excited for.
We will be writing more about the exciting features planned in the Wave 2 release in the upcoming posts. Stay tuned!
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7 Best Picks from Dynamics 365 2019 Wave 2 Release
Microsoft announced its Wave 2 product release plan for Dynamics 365 and Power Platforms on June 10. The Wave 2 plan is set to roll out from October 2019 to March 2020. As a part of this, Microsoft is highlighting new AI capabilities.
We will be breaking down the updates in a series of blog posts, meanwhile, we have highlighted 7 best picks from the Wave 2 release plan in this blog.
AI capabilities in Reporting Tools
Microsoft’s business intelligence and reporting tool Power BI is getting new AI capabilities in the next release. With the AI capabilities users can now be offered “actionable insights” to aid innovation, efficiency improvements, and business decisions.
There is also significant update in Power BI’s natural language capabilities. With this new feature, you can now train and improve your Q&A so it understands and adapts to natural language to improve accuracy and overall speed.
It’s now also powerful enough to spot words in images and decipher hand written text using the likes of OCR – increasing the sources of data it can use.
Chatbot Integration with Customer Service
This new feature uses artificial intelligence to configure powerful bots in Dynamics 365 Virtual Agent for Customer Service. With the introduction of this feature, your customer service agents will be able to automate routine conversation to chatbots, letting the agents focus on other important interactions.
It integrates Chatbots with customer service agents, which allows the virtual agents to route the conversation to customer service agents if it can’t handle the queries. The virtual agent provides complete context to your customer service agents by displaying the whole transcript of the conversation to date.
It is easy and rapid to deploy using a no-code, guided graphical UI and can be embedded in a website within just a few clicks. With artificial intelligence and simplified configuration, Microsoft expects this new feature to improve both the customer service efficiency, quality and overall customer experience.
Improving email communication via Dynamic 365 for Sales
Email communication is now a core tool for a busy sales team. Dynamics can now both aid efficiency and bolster email quality. Within Dynamic 365 for Sales, your sales team can now compose emails, draft email with the context of the record you are working on, navigate between records, and draft multiple emails at the same time.
A new rich text editor feature is added in D365 for Sales, which overlays an email composition screen on top of the existing form, allowing your salespeople to compose an email without having to navigate away from the screen they are on. They will also be able to add attachments and preview the content before sending them.
Another additional feature — the non-blocking window feature –will give you all the relevant content at a glance, while you compose your email. This will help your salespeople to compose more thoughtful emails and help them stay on the top of their emails.
A/B testing in Dynamics 365 for Marketing
Since its inception in April 2018, Dynamics 365 for Marketing is growing from strength to strength and turning into a one-stop solution for all the marketing activities. As the marketing process is getting more and more sophisticated, Dynamics 365 for Marketing is adding more capabilities to it with each passing product updates.
One of the features to look forward in the Wave 2 release is the introduction of A/B testing; that is testing several variations of your email designs to gauge which will produce the best results. Once you create multiple version of email designs, the system automatically segments your email list and sends a different version of the message to each group. This would allow you to understand which email works best for your targeted group.
AI Builder in Apps and Automation Processes
One of the most interesting features to look forward this October is the AI Builder for PowerApps and Flow. This upcoming brand-new feature includes a no-code capability that helps leverage the power of AI and machine learning to make your apps and automation process smarter and more intelligent.
With this, AI can be added without the need for costly programming or data science. AI can be added directly into PowerApps and Microsoft Flow simply and cost effectively.
For example, business card reader capabilities can be integrated in PowerApps. This feature can scan a business card and extract the information directly to your marketing or any other list. Emails can then be automatically sent to the Lead.
Blockchain in Power Platforms
The addition of Blockchain capabilities in Power Platforms is a significant milestone of the Wave 2 updates. In simplest terms, Blockchain is a secure, shared, distributed transaction ledger database that decentralises data, eliminates the need for trusted third parties, and enables the anonymous exchange of digital assets like those used in cryptocurrencies.
Blockchain technology can be used to bring transparency to your business processes across your multiple business partners. Microsoft was quick to introduce the Azure Blockchain development kit for Ethereum blockchain back in May. Its addition will assist developers in creating an app using Blockchain-as-a-service platform.
Now with this impending update, using Blockchain is easier than ever with the ability to write low-code applications through Power Platforms. Applications can be built that can easily create verifiable workflows that pull data from every point in the business process across the value chain.
With this brand-new feature, you can create a new type of app called ‘Portal’ to build a fully responsive and low-code website through PowerApps. On the top of that, this feature will allow you to share the website to external users like your customers, partners, vendors, etc. who can sign in with a wide variety of identities, or even browse the website anonymously.
You can also integrate PowerApps Portals with other Microsoft service like Power BI embed, Microsoft Flow, SharePoint, and Azure Application Insights to enhance your portal with rich content and provide a more personalised experience to your customers. You will get full capabilities of Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement Portal with this feature within PowerApps.
Admins will gain early access to test the new features on August 2. While the general availability for the 2019 Wave 2 Release will see new features being rolled out starting from October through to March 2020.
We highlighted 7 interesting and anticipated features in this blog post, but there are lots more to it. We will write about the new features in each application areas in the coming weeks and as new releases are available for preview.
In the meantime, 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. Or email us at email@example.com.
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Outlook category now tracks appointments, emails in Dynamics 365
Have you ever wanted an easier tracking of Outlook activities in your Dynamics 365 CRM? If so, this latest Microsoft update might be exactly what you’re looking for.
Microsoft has updated its category-based tracking to provide an easier integration between Outlook and Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement (CRM) to track activities like emails and appointments.
Simply setting a category in Outlook automatically syncs the assigned item to Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement. This feature also allows you to select multiple emails and tasks at the same time.
This update applies to Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement apps version 9.x and Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement apps (online) version 8.2. If you want to learn more on how to make this update, feel free to call us on 01296 328689 or drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to configure category-based tracking
Category tracking is on by default for Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement version 188.8.131.5239 or higher. To check your version, you can sign in to Customer Engagement apps, and in the upper-right side of the screen, select the Settings button > About.
This video demonstrates how you can assign tracking.
How to use the category to track Outlook Email
You can track an email by assigning it the Tracked to Dynamics 365 category. Once you assign it, you can instantly see the assigned category in Outlook. Server-side synchronisation will sync the email to Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement apps within 15 minutes of assigned time. You can also set up a rule in Outlook to assign remove the category. See how to manage in this link.
How to use the category to track Outlook Appointment
Like Email tracking, you can also track an appointment by assigning it to the Tracked to Dynamics 365 category. Based on server-side synchronisation rules, your appointment will be tracked and synced to Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement apps.
You can also make someone a delegate user with editor permissions and allow them to manage your emails and calendar. The delegate can then access your categories and track items for you. Learn more in this link.
How to use the category to track Outlook Tasks
There is no difference between tracking the email/appointment and tasks in Outlook.
How to disable category-based tracking?
If you didn’t like this feature, you can easily disable it with these easy steps.
Go to OrgDBOrgSetting and disable the TrackCategorizedItems.
You need to be aware that the disablement doesn’t delete the tracking, but just untracks it. If you change your mind, you can enable the setting to track your tasks anytime.
If you have any questions regarding this feature, just call our friendly team on 01296 328689 or drop us an email at email@example.com. Our team will be more than pleased to discuss these with you.
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The convergence of CRM and ERP: Myth or Reality?
Over the last year or so, I have noticed increasingly we are being asked to review whole system CRM and ERP requirements. I find that clients are now looking for a totally integrated and streamlined system or future system. So why is this?
Reflecting on the many changes over the last few years, I think there have been three key drivers at work here:
- Emergence of Cloud into mainstream
- Platform approach
- Growth in Vendor eco-systems
Let’s examine each of these key drivers?
1. Emergence of Cloud into mainstream
It is now rare indeed where we came across a mid-sized organisation looking to stay on their legacy on-premise system, be this CRM or ERP. Most IT departments I talk to are now pushing for cloud-based solutions and without going into the well-trodden path of comparing cloud versus on-premise benefits, the main factors for this in my view are:-
- Cloud is now mainstream. The last five years have seen a dramatic change in attitude, 10 years ago, we had the innovators, now most IT Directors are looking at what I like to call a cloud-first policy for new apps. A Bitglass 2018 analysis of more than 135,000 organisations showed cloud adoption had topped 81 percent – a 37% increase since 2016 and an incredible 238% increase since 2014!
- Office 365 has been another key business factor here in making cloud mainstream, so Microsoft has done an excellent job. Some figures suggest over half of organisations have now deployed Office 365. After all, once your email is cloud-hosted, seen as your Users most sensitive app in daily use, where next?
- Cloud access and security concerns allayed. Vendors have spent large amounts building specific Trust websites, take just two examples: Salesforce and Microsoft.
- Up-time Availability. With 99+% service levels available, this again supports this cloud-first transition and increases business and user confidence. Again, what internal IT department would be able to afford to offer 99+% availability, let alone guarantee this all year round on their own servers!
- Subscription or pay as you go model widely accepted. For many, this is now their preferred pricing model. Clients are able to better budget and with a cloud app, the iceberg analogy applies but in reverse, where most of the costs are all highly visible, there are no ‘hidden costs’ such as unexpected server replacement, maintenance, and services upgrades.
- Always up-to-date. Regular upgrades are built into the subscription. This enables Microsoft to have 2 upgrades per year and Salesforce 3 per year, whilst SAP Hana has one major update per year. This is replicated across the vendors, removing or reducing another IT headache.
- Inter-connectivity. Linking between cloud apps is one of the secrets to the success for the rapid rise in the cloud deployment. All of a sudden, the big expensive integration problem can become a lot smaller and more manageable with other cloud-based apps.
2. Platform approach
The CRM and ERP vendors have spent many millions of dollars in moving their offering to the cloud, so that today, all major mid-market vendors have a platform offering, be this Oracle, SAGE, SAP, and Microsoft whilst Salesforce has always been cloud-based since 1999. In fact, I would argue you would be hard pushed nowadays to find any major on-premise new application launches in the last 5 years in the Western World where we have an advanced IT infrastructure and ever-improving broadband speeds.
There has been this massive investment by the likes of Salesforce and by Microsoft since 2014 on creating platform suites. This is repeated across the Software vendors.
But, first, what do we mean by a Platform. Well for me, Technopedia.com explanation sums this up very neatly: “a platform is a group of technologies that are used as a base upon which other applications, processes or technologies are developed”
Taking two examples I know well, Salesforce have their Lightning platform, upon which vertical industry solutions have been built, including for example, Veeva, a primarily life sciences application, whilst Microsoft’s Azure and Dynamics 365 platform using the common data model is becoming widely used as a foundation across industries, here, for instance, Peppermint, a legal solution, has been built on Dynamics 365 and SharePoint and has been very successful in its target market.
A key business driver is the need for a single shared view of the customer, currently not as easy as it sounds with older legacy on-premise systems. Indeed, a recent survey from Salesforce in their State of IT survey from 2017 highlighted this as key objective. This problem for many IT Directors is still being hindered by having multiple legacy applications that are hard to integrate. By adopting a Platform approach this can be a major factor in starting to resolve and reduce this issue over the long term.
3. Growth in Vendor Eco-systems
The third key driver in recent years which I think has been instrumental has been the tremendous growth of integrated vendor supported and promoted eco-systems. All the major players have been actively encouraging and supporting third-party companies to produce add-on’s or build vertical solutions on their own market place to augment their core offering and fulfill functional niches. Taking four examples, firstly Salesforce AppExchange, launched its own marketplace for third-party applications way back in 2006 and now has over 3500 apps available that interconnect and which are all downloadable from their marketplace for any client.
Similarly, Microsoft has its own marketplace for third-party apps, called AppSource, whilst Oracle has Oracle Cloud Markeplace and SAP its own SAP App centre. Indeed, such is the importance of this new market for apps, Forrester, the industry analysts, are now measuring these marketplaces in a new Forrester Wave annual review.
The strength of these online marketplaces for the vendor’s platform is in being able to offer their clients tried and test tactical solutions to missing functional or process needs and supporting their core product offering. Of course, added to this, the major add-on niche application players such as e-mail marketing, e-documentation, and marketing automation strive to have their own inter-connectivity app on these marketplaces to maximise their own market opportunity and support their own offering.
Today, the major providers are able to offer the complete CRM-ERP solution with their platform integrated with a marketplace eco-system of third-party apps. And to illustrate this, taking one example from Microsoft the Dynamics 365 for mid-sized organisations has over last few years expanded to now offer a complete Lead-to-Cash suite of core applications, so, for example, this could include:
- Dynamics 365 Marketing: capturing visitors to your website and converting them into Leads
- Dynamics 365 Sales: Supporting engagement in the Lead to Opportunity process and creating quotations and orders, which will then be processed through
- Dynamics 365 Business Central: Financial transactions, invoicing and shipping through this core ERP system (previously known as the well-respected Navision product)
And then any other niche functional gaps such as e-documentation, for example, can be fulfilled with a choice of approved apps from their online marketplace, Appsoruce
The key point is in this example is there is: One Vendor, One Platform, One Eco-system which is now able to support this whole end to end Lead-to-Cash process in the cloud at an affordable price and without the endless integration issues of previous on-premise software.
As I stated at the start of this post, suffice to say, more and more clients are taking less of a tactical approach and are now considering first their overall CRM and ERP requirements and are recognising the remarkable transition of the last few years in being able to move to a single Platform. Clients are now looking at their plans much more holistically in a way that was probably not feasible or possible even just 5 or 6 years ago.
The myth of a single platform approach even just 5 years ago is now rapidly turning into a reality across the whole IT sector. You can argue if this is 100% complete for all the brands mentioned, but the direction of travel is clear and certainly, in the next 5 years, they will be no more myth just the reality of an ever converged single CRM–ERP platform solution being an achievable goal.
Published by Gary Perkins, Business Development Manager at SeeLogic
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What’s New in PowerApps April 2019 Release
Rolled out in 2015, PowerApps is a powerful mobile solution that allows you to create, develop and share custom applications without the requirement of coding. With PowerApps, you can help streamline your organisation’s day to day tasks by creating business apps that can be built in weeks with limited technical knowledge.
PowerApps provide simple drag-and-drop functionality to design apps and work on iOS, Android and Windows devices. They link seamlessly to Dynamics365 and other O365 products.
PowerApps has an intuitive visual design and has a familiar look and feel taken from applications like PowerPoint plus. Altogether this equals rapid development, speed to market and you don’t pay astronomical £100,000+ development costs.
With PowerApps getting a lot of attention and popularity day by day for its ability to rapidly develop custom apps, here are all the important updates that are set to roll out from April to September.
View results of formulas and subformulas in canvas apps
Canvas apps are operated by composing functions like ‘Filter’ and ‘Sort’ to form powerful formulas. When the compositions get much more complex then there is lack of transparency and makes it difficult to understand what’s happening and debug issues.
Now, this feature helps you to get into the middle of the formula and understand what’s happening in the system so that the understanding and debugging of apps get easier and quicker.
New view designer for CDS for Apps
With this new capability, building new system views is easy and quick with the new view designer. Some important ability includes:
- Can add fields to the entity directly within the view designer.
- Drag in new columns from the field drawer.
- Add advanced filtering in the property pane.
- Select columns to change the header name and to define a specific column width.
App-licensing requirements presented to makers while building apps
Users might need a different license to run the app if the maker adds a complex or restricted entity to a canvas app. Hence, App makers will be notified as shown in the figure below.
App usage reports in your inbox
From this update, app makers will regularly be notified (via email and in-product) about end-users app usage along with a recommendation to improve their app experience. Also, tailored based communication on the app to include recommendations for learning resources.
Improved inline help for makers and admins
App makers and admins will be assisted step-by-step guidelines with resources available in PowerApps studio, the Power Platform admin center, and Microsoft Flow for common scenarios.
We can see the example of guided-learning help for these common scenarios:
- In Microsoft Flow, create an approval process.
- In the Power Platform admin center, enable a mailbox to use server-side sync.
- In PowerApps Studio, reuse menu selection in different screens.
Improved solution checking capabilities
Solution Checker is updated with new capabilities for parsing and acting on results. Also, performance and stability checks are implemented so that you can quickly identify problematic patterns in your solutions.
Embedding canvas apps in model-driven forms
New capabilities that enable deeper integrations between model-driven forms and embedded canvas apps are included in this release. Some of these capabilities include:
- Trigger methods on the host model-driven form from the embedded canvas app.
- Enhanced and streamlined authoring experience via the new model-driven form designer.
Create canvas apps with responsive layout
In the previous versions, screens of the canvas app are usually scaled to fit the space that the app host provides. But as the screens get bigger, the app can’t adapt to the environment. With this new update, users can now have better app experience that enables app makers to create responsive canvas apps by writing formulas.
One unified control framework
PowerApps Control Framework (PCF) is the interface for all the new controls across PowerApps for both canvas and model-driven apps. Through this new update, developers have access to a rich framework API set and can build production-grade controls due to continued investments in framework capabilities. Dev tools support building PCF controls, rule-based validation, faster testing and debugging, and solution deployment.
Sign in more easily to Dynamics 365 on a mobile device
You can now sign in to the D365 app on an Android device or iOS device using email address instead of server URLs and can access app across all their available online organizations and environment.
Test out new updates first in Preview
Customers were unable to sign up easily to get early access to updates across Dynamics 365 for customers engagements and were unable to develop and validate the apps. But with the new update, customers have a way to develop and test new updates to the platform and can create a ‘preview’ environment or they can copy an existing environment over to ‘preview’ from the Power Platform admin center.
Improved supportability for admin
Now admins have a unified support experience across all power platforms and can get self-help recommendation to resolve issues on their own. Also, they can have a seamless connection with Microsoft support agents and can get quick help in case of a system-wide issue impacting all users.
New storage-consumption and trend reports
Admins can have a closer look into how their organization consumes storage capacity and updated report of all storage consumed available from the admin center.
Unified Interface as the default experience
Unified interface in PowerApps improves user’s home page experience to view model-driven apps and space to work in simple purpose-built apps. This makes the unified interface better and more capable than legacy web experience.
Office value-adds in Dynamics 365
Dynamics 365 users are part of this coherent experience, as their contact management in Unified Interface is enhanced by a seamless integration with live profile cards.
Streamlined PowerApps experience
New modern experiences working with Common Data Service for Apps are moving into one streamlined portal experience. Users will be able to move between form, entities, solution, and view designers in one shared web experience.
Share entities by using security groups in Azure Active Directory
You can share data in Common Data Service for Apps with one or more security groups in Azure Active Directory. To share this data, create one or more custom security roles for your entities and assign those roles to security groups instead of to individual users. You can share apps, flows, and entities with the same security group.
Seamless image support in CDS for Apps (Public Preview)
PowerApps that are built on Common Data Service (CDS) for Apps offer seamless support for images from all app types. Users can provide richer data in addition to attaching files and notes.
Teams is a first-class distribution channel
Deeper integration with Teams will allow IT admins to seamlessly publish any app built on the Microsoft Business Application Platform to the Teams App Catalog for broad app distribution in the enterprise through Teams.
If you have any questions in the meantime regarding the April update, just call our friendly team on 01296 328689. Our team will be more than pleased to discuss these with you.
If you want to learn about the other D365 related updates, follow the links below:
- What’s New in Dynamics 365 for Customer Service April 2019 Release
- What’s New in Dynamics 365 for Field Service April 2019 Release
- What’s New in Dynamics 365 for Marketing April 2019 Release
- What’s New in Dynamics 365 for Sales April 2019 Release
- What’s New in PowerBI April 2019 Release
- How to Deploy Dynamics 365 April 2019 Release
Also, being one of the most trusted Microsoft PowerApps partners, we have the capability to design and build custom solutions to meet your organisational needs. But first and foremost, we can help you understand the tremendous benefits of this tool and how it can leverage your business. Visit our PowerApps page or call us at +44 01296 328 689 to learn more.