A Concise Microsoft Dynamics 365 Glossary

With the launch of Microsoft Dynamics 365 and the transitioning of services from Dynamics CRM to this new service, an array of new terms and features are being used.

But what do these all mean?

There are many moving parts to Microsoft Dynamics 365 and in this post we've provided a quick glossary to lift the fog and remove any confusion.

Contact Preact to learn more about Microsoft Dynamics 365 and to discuss how you can benefit from this service. 

Microsoft Dynamics 365

Dynamics 365 is a brand new cloud service that unifies and combines Microsoft's CRM, ERP and cloud solutions in a single offering that brings together people, processes and business data.

Existing Dynamics CRM Online customers will transition to Dynamics 365 and from 1 November new customer registrations in the cloud are made as Dynamics 365.


Azure is the Microsoft cloud based computing platform that now includes Dynamics 365.


PowerApps is the foundation for web and mobile application development.

A low code (or no-code) tool, PowerApps uses visual drag and drop tools enabling users to quickly create new web and mobile connected apps that pull data from multiple sources to extend the capabilities of Dynamics 365 apps and other business applications.

Microsoft Flow

Flow is the sister service to PowerApps and is one of the new workflow engines of the Microsoft cloud.

Microsoft Flow enables workflows to be created between PowerApps and other cloud apps. 

Thanks to the Common Data Model (see below) each PowerApps workflow can span multiple applications in Dynamics 365, Office 365 and the wider landscape. This can include connecting workflows with Twitter, Dropbox, OneDrive, You Tube and other cloud services.

Flows are designed to short cut any time consuming task or process as either a complex multi-step process sequence, or a simple one-step task. 

This differs from the workflow engine that Dynamics CRM users will be familiar with (which still remains available and continues to be supported).  

'Flow' workflows can deliver notifications, sync or organise data, and automate approvals.

To simplify the process to create new Flows, hundreds of templates are available. For example, this includes creating a new CRM lead from an Excel table, or using a Flow to enforce an approval step before messages are re-tweeted.

Common Data Service / Model

The Common Data Service (CDS) is a shared database for storing business entities that connects to Dynamics 365, Flow and Power Apps. Essentially, CDS is the glue that sticks these pieces together.

At the heart of its cloud framework the CDS is the fabric behind Dynamics 365 and Office 365 to provide consistently structured entities across these connected services that include calendars, invoices, accounts and sales leads. 

The CDS is behind the standard Dynamics 365 business apps including Sales and Fields Service and apps created using PowerApps, or integrated solutions that are developed externally.

The CDS enables apps created on Powerapps in addition to Flow, to interact with other Dynamics 365 services.

A series of templates are available for collecting data from sources that can include SQL, Excel, Custom API and Dynamics 365.


Appsource is Microsoft's new directory to find and evaluate cloud applications for businesses, add-ins and content packs from Microsoft and partners. 

Apps listed on AppSource will include PowerApps built on top of Dynamics 365, Office 365, Cortana Intelligence and the Azure platform.

Machine Learning

Azure Machine Learning and Cortana Intelligence are natively embedded into Dynamics 365 to deliver predictive intelligence that gives users actionable insight and prescriptive advice for next best actions.

For example, this includes suggesting products during the quoting building process, or promoting email templates that have previously resulted in high levels of recipient engagements based on tracked open and click data.

Cortana Intelligence and machine learning combine to offer Relationship Insights. This includes providing sales users with a health assessment of their open opportunities based on sentiment from tracked emails, frequency of contact and the time spent, and highlights the recent trend enabling users to identify and respond to upward and downward movements.

Further examples of embedded artificial intelligence includes automated personal assistance which alerts Dynamics 365 users to key events and actions that require attention.

Power BI

Available since 2015, Power BI uses graphical charts and interactive dashboards that enables users to quickly visualise data across their business processes and apps to gain insights which can be acted upon. 

Dynamics 365 provides embedded Business Intelligence through Power BI components that provides a new way to work with data. 

A separate full Power BI subscription is recommended to analyse and share insight from apps including Microsoft Dynamics 365.

Team Member Licence

Team Members licences provides light usage across the full range of Dynamics 365 apps and is designed to connect more individuals to the relationships and processes that matter to each business at a low cost price.

With this option, individuals have read / write access for processes that include Accounts, Contacts, Activities, Knowledge articles as well as Custom Entities. 

Team Members can consume data and reports (subject to user permission setting) across all applications.

Businesss & Enterprise Editions

Microsoft is releasing Dynamics 365 in two editions. Business is designed for small and medium sized organisation and as implied Enterprise is designed for larger operations.

However, several key components of the Business Edition will not be available until 2017. As a result, the Enterprise Edition is currently recommended for all businesses as this provides the full range of apps including Sales and Service. In many instances, new and existing customers are able to receive reduced pricing for the Enterprise Edition prior to the full release of Dynamics 365 Business Edition.

Plans & Apps

Microsoft Dynamics 365 consists of a series of apps which include Sales, Fields Service, Project Service and Customer Service.

Individual users can scribe to an individual app as defined by their role, or subscribe to a plan than spans Dynamics 365 apps to to provide full access.