Highlights from the 2021 Second Release for Microsoft Dynamics 365 & Power Platform
Microsoft recently published Dynamics 365 and Power Platform 2021 Release with some exciting enhancements and new advanced features focusing on user adoption, customer engagements, powerful AI and insights, CX, Teams integrations and more!
As we know these release plans can be a lot to take in at once. So, we’ve summarised some noteworthy updates across the different modules– click below to jump to the relevant sections:
The most exciting update in marketing for this release is the ability to create email content easily and efficiently with AI-based content ideas. How fabulous would it be if your email editor could recommend relevant and engaging content? Your email will contain AI-generated content snippets (based on key points you provide). Also, based on your requirements, you will be able to examine, select, and fine-tune generated content ideas.
Another unmissable feature is that you will be able to better target customers through segmentation based on attributes or behavioural data with an easy to use “New segmentation builder”. This feature will help us directly create segments based on attribute and behavioral data for contact, lead, and custom entities.
Dynamics 365 Sales now powerpacks cool new updates but the most interesting feature on our watch is the general availability of Deal Manager Workspace.
The deal manager workspace offers a new experience that is intuitive and modern. Since it’s optimised for sellers, your sales managers can quickly find the right deals and act as it streamlines everything into a single workplace to maximize efficiency. You can also personalise your experience and manage your pipeline effectively by choosing a variety of pre-built interactive charts and drill down into records using a side panel.
Losing time engaging with the wrong leads? Struggling with a busy pipeline with irrelevant records? Unable to find the customers that are more likely to close?
This new feature ‘Improving leads quality with data hygiene’– uses automated process based on an AI engine- and ensures that only quality leads are being assigned to sellers, with accurate data that enables personalised interactions, which will save sellers valuable time and allow them to close more business opportunities.
The new integration between Dynamics 365 Sales and Microsoft Teams is also an enhancement to watch for this new release which will avoid switching time between two apps to speed up overall productivity.
For this years’ Dynamics 365 Customer Service second release, we are buzzed about the ability to bring own data to the timeline feature. This new enhancement will help agents bring data from outside the dynamics dataverse into their timeline via a new virtual data model and get that comprehensive 360° view of their data, activities and insights and make informed decisions. Like D365 Sales, the new enhanced integration between Dynamics 365 Customer Services and Microsoft Teams is also a feature to watch for this new release. With this feature, agents can collaborate over Teams without leaving a case and a chat can be linked to appropriate Dynamics record.
Some interesting developments in Business Central include:
- Updates in Bank and payment reconciliations which gives agent a better overview of cash flows, ledger entries, and ensure that all transactions have been accounted for.
- There is a large demand for Dynamics 365 Business Central online. You can find an increase in the global availability to cover more countries and regions so that small and midsized businesses across the world can achieve more.
- Other features that we are incredibly excited about are downloading embedded lists to excel, exporting reports to excel, and enhancements to Excel add-in.
For the 2021 second release, Dynamics 365 HR continues to focus on these key areas:
- Broaden the human capital management (HCM) ecosystem
- Reimagine the employee experience
- App unification
Some of the features on our watch-list are Benefits management capabilities enhancement by investing in a simplified setup and configuration user experience. Previously, benefit management had to be done on an employee-by-employee basis, which was time-consuming and repetitive. With this new update, benefits administrators get a simplified user experience where you get bulk editing capabilities.
Next is Employee and manager self-service allowing employees and managers to view and maintain their own information or information for their direct and extended reports.
Note: From January 2022, the Dynamics 365 Human Resource app is merged back into Finance and Operations. Merging the Human Resources infrastructure into the same infrastructure as other F&O apps eliminates confusion about which set of capabilities to use, and you can better plan and manage how you deploy, update, and integrate Human Resources.
FINANCE & OPERATIONS
- Dynamics 365 Finance
Dynamics 365 Finance for the 2021 release spotlights 3 main features: ‘intelligent finance insights, ‘enhanced usability through automation’, and ‘global expansion’. The feature you want to first take note of is Finance Insights which enables customers to get data driven financial insights through machine learning integration. One interesting functionality of this is intelligent cash flow offering.
Moreover, Microsoft is helping clients boost efficiency around fixed assets, year-end close, and financial dimensions via automation and modernisation of services. Additional localisations and the Tax Calculation service have been added to Microsoft’s globalisation offering.
- Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management
The most exciting update for us under this category is the Face recognition sign-in for production floor workers in manufacturing which will enable workers to sign in faster and improve productivity without having to pull out their badges or put key in a password.
- Dynamics 365 Project Operations
Dynamics 365 Project Operations 2021 release spotlights 2 main features: ‘ability to create and manage subcontracts with vendors for projects’ and ‘task scheduling enhancements.’
Project managers can now manage subcontractors for project-based work through time, material and fixed-bid models adoption while creating billing agreements with vendors. It further allows review and reconciliation of subcontractor time and clear vendor invoices for payment.
The major updates in Dynamics 365 Commerce for the 2021 release are on Customer segmentation and targeting.
Increase customer engagement and satisfaction by using tools in the site builder to target specific customer segments with different experiences based on your shopper’s device type, geo-location, market, language, and other attributes from your shopper’s browser request. Get a better knowledge of how your end-users interact with pages across your sites, including mouse-action recordings, heatmaps, and analytics.
What’s more? You can then use the Site Builder to generate audience groupings to create specific campaigns and experiments across the digital commerce channel and level up your re-marketing strategy!
There are two overarching themes in this release ‘Audience insights’‘Engagement insights.’
New enhancements in Audience Insights include Predict churn in B2B scenarios. For this release audience insights will also predict the likelihood of churn for accounts in the B2B area. This enhancement will surely help you put together and implement a solid customer retention strategy — ultimately reducing churn.
This year’s Engagement Insights focuses on unifying customer data, enabling interactive analytics, connecting analysis to systems of action, advanced analytics, and customer journey analytics. The feature we are most thrilled about is Journey Maps. Journey maps will provide insights on how customers interact through different touchpoints and channels and see how these interactions relate to each other helping agents clearly visualise the path visitors take through websites or mobile apps and use the same data to make better business decisions.
This year’s customer voice focus is to make it easy for the survey owners to get insights and act on those insights. There are a couple of new features that are of interest:
- Period-to-period comparison analysis– which enables business owners to compare feedback over a period of time (including monthly and quarterly reports).
- Dynamic closed-loop follow-up notification– which allows survey owners use the survey variables to dynamically assign an owner to the alert that is generated, for instance, when receiving low satisfaction responses. The alert owner will receive a notification, allowing them to engage with the customer in a timely manner.
The Power Platform 2021 second release update contains new features and capabilities that will roll out from October 2021 through March 2022.
Microsoft Power BI continues to invest in 3 key areas that drive a data culture: empower every individual with AI-infused insights, empower every team with BI woven into the fabric where teams work, and empower every organisation to meet the most demanding enterprise needs.
Quite a lot of things are happening with this tool but, our top pick here is that Power BI users can start building reports with Dataverse data using a new one-click feature. This tool, which enters public preview in October 2021, should reduce friction when connecting to Dataverse with a model in Power BI. Get a new, and easy way to generate Power BI report quickly and start gaining insights from your data!
Another interesting update is the ability to Export to Excel improvements for table and matrix visuals. This new feature will retain the structure of Power BI visuals in a crosstab format when data is exported from a table or matrix to CSV or XLSX files. This will give flexibility for users who might not have access to edit the report or who are less familiar with Power BI and prefer to analyse data in Excel. This will decrease the time spent on reformatting data (especially hierarchical data) in Excel.
This release provides notable developments for Power Apps developers of all skill levels, enhancing the sophistication and usability of apps across the web and mobile devices.
The most compelling update for us in Power Apps is the Unified and modern Power Apps designer that will allows you to easily build an app with forms, views, and dashboards, as well as take advantage of the capabilities of canvas apps, in a more intuitive way. Also, the new maker portal will offer full customising power, which makes the classic designer deprecated.
Another exciting feature is Advanced lookup capabilities in model-driven Power Apps. Multi-table lookups, a long awaited and much requested feature, are now live (Preview) for use via API. Multi-table lookups allow the creation of a lookup in one table that looks up records in multiple other tables at once. This provides much greater flexibility in retrieving data within your environment. Using these multi-table lookups, you can reduce development time for your apps and provide a more streamlined user interface.
Power Virtual Agents
Lots of impressive stuff happening in Power Virtual Agents in this release, such as:
- developments in the authoring experience with topic suggestions from bot sessions
- power apps portals integration
- data loss prevention options
- proactive bot update messaging in Microsoft Teams, and more.
What’s more? Microsoft is also building on the Power Automate integration with advanced error handling and new topic trigger management to enhance your bot’s triggering abilities.
We have highlighted some impressive and anticipated features of the 2021 Second Release Plan in this blog post, but there are a lot more. Stay tuned as we bring you the details in upcoming posts.
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