A Quick Guide to Dynamics 365 CE April Update
Last month, Microsoft published a release guide for its Dynamics 365 April update. In a series of posts we covered the main announcements across the Sales and Service apps, Marketing, Talent and AI apps as well as the upcoming changes for Dynamics Portals and the Power Platform.
In this post we'll wrap up the main points with a focus on the Customer Engagement apps to help you prepare for this update.
Single Supported Version
This will be the first major update where all Online customers across Dynamics 365 will be on the latest version, and on a consistent update schedule. As such, it will roll out to all Online production instances during April.
Last year, Microsoft stated this update would be Version 10 but that isn't referenced in the initial release documentation.
A preview is now available. Administrators can opt-in via the PowerApps Admin Center to test and validate selective new features in non-production instances.
Microsoft will share an updated release guide on 21 February.
Prior to this update being generally available on 5 April, Microsoft will host a virtual launch event on 2 April.
It's important to note this will be a release wave. Individual new features will enter general availability, or be released as a public preview, between April and September 2019 though some previews are set to start ahead of this timeline.
Unified Interface - default experience
Microsoft's has previously shared its vision for making the Unified Interface the only client interface for all Dynamics 365 and Common Data Service apps. In the April release guide, Unified Interface is referenced as providing users with the 'mainline experience'.
The latest UI enhancements include a series of navigation improvements and there were a series of announcements for this update wave that will only be rolled out to the new interface. These include:
- Extended integration with Microsoft Teams
- Embed canvas apps in model-driven forms
- Omni-channel Engagement Hub accessible in the Unified Interface web experience or within Unified Service Desk
- Hide the Dynamics 365 tile in the title bar
- Integration with live Profile Cards used by Microsoft 365 People experience
Combined with the recent updates already available, the Unified Interface is now providing a more capable experience and the April update will undoubtedly prompt many more administrators to migrate to the new experience.
Basic LinkedIn Integration
Every Dynamics 365 for Sales user will be able to view basic customer profiles from LinkedIn out of the box without any configuration or additional subscription.
This has been announced as simple setting whereby admins can enable this. However, it isn't clear in the release notes if this will be exclusively available in the Unified Interface, or whether desktop users in the classic web UI will also be able to access this.
Also, a new Live Org Chart experience will visualize a customer's organisation structure and provide alerts when contacts leave their position as reported in LinkedIn.
Integration with Microsoft Teams
Last year, Microsoft announced a new integration between Dynamics 365 for Sales and Teams. This is now set to enter general availability from April and be expanded to enable collaboration across multiple records through Dynamics views as well as individual records such as opportunities and accounts, as previously announced.
A further enhancement will enable sales users to prep for meetings by accessing customer information and documents via a Dynamics 365 bot for the Microsoft Teams mobile app. Following meetings the bot will provide an automatic reminder to capture meeting notes which can be done using voice to text capability. This content will be analysed and the bot will suggest contextual follow-ups.
Finally, Relationship Assistant action cards will become available within Teams and integrated with this bot experience.
Ultimately, deeper integration into Microsoft Teams will enable any app built on the Microsoft Business Application Platform to be published on the Teams App Catalog for broad distribution via Teams.
Power Platform Driving Dynamics Change
The re-engineering of the Dynamics 365 platform in 2018 may have been under the bonnet and not immediate obvious to end users but changes are now increasingly evident.
We weren't the only partner surprised that the Power Platform sections in April release guide were covered last as this is driving much of the change in the product to connect processes and apps.
Specifically, through Microsoft Flow the April update will see:
- Flow reaching parity with classic workflows whereby automated flows can call all actions that available in Common Data Service for Apps. Automated flows will eventually replace the asynchronous workflow and with this release it will now be possible to accomplish all scenarios using automated Flows.
- New intelligence features in Flow to extract structured data from emails, HTML, and PDFs. For example, this will include extracting tables from emails and specific entities from HTML.
- Service Level Agreements (SLAs) for Service apps can now be configured with any of 230+ services that Flow can connect to.
- Sales Playbook functionality will leverage Flow conditional logic.
- Automatic behaviours in Microsoft Teams which will ultimately be evident in Dynamics 365 for Sales through new integrations as mentioned above.
Simple Forecasting View
A new dashboard and view will better present forecasting data and trends for sales users and roll-up forecasts across products, pricing and accounts.
Customise Case Resolution Dialogs
Organisations will (finally!) be able to customise the case resolution dialog's by adding, removing or editing fields.
We've referenced how SLAs will now connect with more sources across Microsoft Flow. Further enhancements include updated visualisations that will show the time elapsed and remaining with the latter shown in two modes for business hours and actual hours. Also, within a Field Service scenario SLAs can be automatically applied when work orders are created based on defined rules.
Self-Service Scheduling via Portal
Field service organisations will be able to offer self-service scheduling for customer visits via integrated portals enabling routine maintenance visits to be booked at a convenient date and time for customers. Within the portal interface, customers can browse available time slots when a suitable resource will be available.
Other Field Service new features including ASAP optimisation objective, optimised variable resource location and embedded IoT visualisations.
Web Portal Maintenance Mode
A new maintenance mode capability will enable admins to activate / disable maintenance mode and display messages to portal users, such as 'Website in Maintenance'.
Omni-Channel Engagement Hub
This cloud-based service will extend Dynamics 365 for Customer Service enabling businesses to connect and engage with customers across channels such as Live Chat and SMS.
This will enter general availability in several regions from July to include new unified routing and supervisor experiences.
Three Dynamics 365 AI apps were released in preview towards the end of 2018 and the April release wave will see further capabilities being added.
Of these, Customer Service Insights will enter general availability. This will include functionality to embed Customer Service Insights dashboards within Dynamics 365 for Customer Service though only within the Unified Interface (or Unified Service Desk).
It was recently announced that AI Market Insights will replace the Microsoft Social Engagement. Upcoming features additions for the new app include a new AI assisted query builder as well as analytics for conversations and Bing web searches.
Within AI for Sales new capabilities will include customisable Relationship Assistant actions and predictive forecasting.
Read more about what's new in the Dynamics AI apps.
Dynamics 365 for Marketing
Numerous enhancements and new capabilities have been announced for the Marketing app with spam score, landing page personalisation and smart scheduling among the most prominent...READ MORE
Not strictly a Customer Engagement app but the April release wave will see major updates to extend the Attract and Onboard modules of the Dynamics 365 app...READ MORE
What the Release Guide didn't tell us
- Anything about updates covering Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation. Microsoft says it will provide these release notes at a future time. The app no longer appears on the Dynamics roadmap site and previously Microsoft, has stated that work has begun in 'converging' the PSA app with Microsoft Project so more news to follow...
- No deprecated features were announced for the D365 Customer Engagement apps but these may appear in a later announcement prior to the April release.
- No firm licensing information was included in this guide. The release did suggest that some new sales capabilities are likely to only be available with a Sales Enterprise licence but at the time of writing these details hadn't been publicly shared.
We'll be providing updates about the upcoming release. To keep up to date please join our mailing list.
If you have any questions or concerns about this update that will roll out during April we'll happily offer assistance. Please get in touch for help and insight from our Dynamics experts.