Dynamics 365 in 2019: 10 Trends to Watch

There was no shortage of Dynamics 365 developments in 2018 but what does the New Year hold in store?

In this post we've shared ten topics that we expect to feature prominently in 2019. 

We hope the New Year is a happy and successful one for you!

(1) April 2019 Update

On 21 January, Microsoft will publish its preview guide for an April update across Dynamics 365 and the Power platform.

For the first time, this release will see all Dynamics 365 Online instances on the same version as the update is due to roll out to all instances, and across all regions, throughout April. 

Administrators will have an opportunity to test selective new functions and changes by enabling a preview in non-production instances from February.

The 2nd major Dynamics cloud update of 2019 is set to be released during October so look out for the publications of these release notes in the Summer.

In the meantime, check upcoming release plans in the new Dynamics 365 and Power Platform roadmap site.

(2) Migrating to the Unified Interface

For most of 2018, functionality within new Unified experience lagged behind the classic web interface. This began to change when a series of updates introduced hybrid experiences to plug these gaps through functions such bulk edits, merges and advanced find. 

Further enhancements were announced in the October 2018 release guide with new capabilities such as dependent option sets and custom controls. Crucially, these would only be available in the new UI.

At the end of 2018, relatively few of our clients had migrated production Dynamics instances to the Unified Interface. However, an increasing trend was evident in the closing weeks of the year for specific use requirements where there was a clear benefit to be gained in leveraging the new experience. 

With Microsoft expected to announce more new features that are 'Unified Interface only', and at some future point the deprecation of the classic web UI, administrators should increasingly be looking to test and evaluate the new experience. For widespread adoption to occur, third party solutions and existing customisations must be proven to be ready for the 'Unified' experience. 

(3) AI Apps

Microsoft has made significant investments in Artificial Intelligence for many years and further AI developments will undoubtedly feature in upcoming release guides and be an increasing part of the Dynamics 365 narrative.

Subject to underlying data quality, predictive AI technology enables individuals to uncover new insights with the aim of increasing responsiveness, gaining deeper understanding of customer engagement and delivering more personalized experiences. Read Microsoft's AI Vision 

In 2018, three new Dynamics AI apps were launched in public previews so expect to see more capabilities added as Microsoft extends these for general availability.

  • Dynamics AI for Sales - facilitating smarter selling with embedded insights to increase engagement & drive revenue
  • Dynamics AI for Customer Service - helping service managers improve performance with insights into case trends & service centre heath
  • Dynamics AI for Market Insights - combining Social Engagement with Bing search insights

(4) Power Platform Admin Centre

Another 'Preview' release in 2018 was a new admin centre for the Power platform. This will be the go-to resource for managing environments across Microsoft business applications by including administration for Microsoft Flow, Powerapps and Dynamics 365 apps. 

As with any preview release, its capabilities are a work in progress but the recent announcement that previews for the April 2019 release are to be enabled through the Power Platform Admin Centre points to an increasing trend in directing administrators to this site. 

(5) LinkedIn Sales Navigator integration

By the close of 2018, the integration between Dynamics and LinkedIn Sales Navigator had promised rather more than it had delivered since Microsoft's blockbuster acquisition was completed. 

At the outset of 2019, we remain in the October 2018 release cycle which runs through to March 2019. This update previously announced a series of enhancements to better embed LinkedIn Sales Navigator insights within the Dynamics (Unified) Interface that promises a big step forward. Specifically, within guided process flows for leads, opportunities and other workflows, contextual LinkedIn data about companies and contacts would enable users to use these insights to better reach successful outcomes. As well as the release of this functionality, we're eager to see further developments that will embed more LinkedIn functions and data within Dynamics. 

(6) Microsoft Teams Integration

Preact was one of many organisations in 2018 to discover the benefits of using Microsoft Teams for most internal communications compared to email. As such, we are keen to test the previously announced release of Teams integration with Dynamics 365 that will enable individual records to be accessed within Teams and Teams functions used within the Dynamics (Unified) interface.

(7) Marketing App

As a new app, broader functionality is sure to be added to Dynamics 365 for Marketing so this section of the April release guide will make interesting reading. The app already has an unrivalled position by being built on the latest Microsoft technology but will it make inroads into the market share held by 3rd party providers such as ClickDimensions and dotmailer in 2019? Filling functionality gaps and increasing usability will be crucial. 

(8) Team Member app?

With the dramatic increase in Dynamics apps and hubs covering various user experiences, Microsoft indicated it was considering the introduction of a Team Member app. In 2018, important changes were announced to the use rights for Team Member licences as Microsoft stressed its positioning for light usage needs. A dedicated app would seem to fit this strategy and enforce Team use rights on new agreements so watch this space...  

(9) Storage

Microsoft's plans to update its Dynamics 365 cloud storage policy were put on hold in 2018 when details of incomplete changes entered the public domain only to be reversed a few days later. The original change sought to simplify how additional storage capacity is purchased so a new announcement in 2019 seems likely.

(10) Microsoft Flow & Model Driven Apps

As a result of the fundamental platform change last year, it has never been easier to connect workflows across business applications. Our team is increasingly utilising Microsoft Flow and model-driven apps to build low code / no code solutions that meet new requirements, this will continue apace throughout the Dynamics community in 2019. 

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