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10 predictions for Microsoft Dynamics developments this year

17th January 2020,  

2020 will be an exciting year for Microsoft Dynamics 365. The use of AI will be extended, enabling the development of powerful features using a simple graphical UI. Sales, Marketing and Project Management will see dedicated new functionality. Customer data will be marshalled to provide new insights.

Here we give a prediction as to the anticipated content; this should whet the appetite of a business customer or a development professional such as a Dynamics 365 consultant.

1. Release wave 1

Microsoft has indicated the expected timeline for Dynamics 365 and Power Platform updates. Anticipated dates are:

– 27 January, release plans identifying the upcoming capabilities to be delivered from April.
– 3 February, early access to allow administrators to test changes
– 1 April, general availability of release wave 1. Deployments will begin on 3 April with all environments deployed by the end of the month.
– Further new features will continue to roll out through to September

2. Power Virtual Agents

Virtual Agent is already available for building a chat bot using a simple graphical UI. The feature has been renamed to reflect that it can be utilised in any of the environments under the Common Data Service. Further improvements are expected for these AI chat bots.

3. Microsoft Customer Data Platform

The proliferation of customer data is an issue for many businesses. Customer Service Insights is an enterprise-level AI solution that provides an overall view of customer data, gathered from transactions, observation or behaviour.

4. Microsoft Project Service

Microsoft Project capabilities are being re-engineered using the Common Data Service (CDA), giving project managers access to their tool of choice in the cloud. Core capabilities have already been migrated; future releases will include features such as issue tracking and core resource management.

5. Marketing

ClickDimensions will release new dashboards for sales and marketing. These will provide over 150 pre-defined KPIs covering advertising channels and marketing automation. Marketers will be able to review the activities that are achieving results in a single compound view, using Intelligent Dashboards (currently in preview).

6. Sales

Further updates to Sales Insights and Customer Service Insights will include an AI Sales Assistant (currently in preview) to help sales to schedule their tasks. Market Insights will provide notifications and insights, enabling the business to anticipate market trends and act on them.

7. On-premise version to catch up?

A new version of the on-premise implementation is expected during 2H 2020, 2 years since the version 9 release. The on-premise and online products have been out of sync for some years, so it remains to be seen which capabilities and features will be included. The Unified Interface version will be of particular interest as version 9 had functionality issues that prevented most administrators from deploying it in production.

8. Power Apps Control Framework

The introduction of the framework was a game-changer in 2019, allowing many more solutions to be implemented. A Dynamics 365 consultant will find that they have the opportunity to replace many legacy pages, innovating solutions and improving user experience.

9. Licensing alert!

Updated terms will apply to team member licensing from 1 July. Team member licenses will only allow the creation, update and delete of records up to a limit of 15 custom entities. It may be more effective to re-license users with a Power Apps plan.

10. Admin alert!

There is a hard date of 1 October for the end of life of the legacy “classic” web client. Every Dynamics 365 Online environment will be running on the new Unified Interface from this date, however, some environments may be transitioned well in advance, even as early as Q1 2020. Administrators should treat preparation for this auto-transition as a high priority.

An exciting year in prospect

2020 will be an exciting year for Microsoft Dynamics 365. With a healthy and innovative forward plan, the product suite will allow customers to further accelerate their business growth, with the help of Dynamics 365 consultants and other professionals.

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