Dynamics 365 October 2018 Update: What You Need To Know

In July, Microsoft published a release preview guide for the next major cloud update across its Business Applications (Dynamics 365, Flow, Power BI, PowerApps and Common Data Service).

The official guide runs to over 200 pages so rather than attempt to squeeze this content in a single post, we've covered a series of the new functions and capabilities in separate posts across Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement apps for:

In this post, we've wrapped up the main themes and shared our highlights about the upcoming release for Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement.

By way of a disclaimer, this is pre-release information so we haven't yet had an opportunity to test these new features and all points are subject to change!

All Users Will Be On The Same Version

Microsoft recently made a change to the way it manages cloud updates for Dynamics 365 which now requires all users to be on the same version with no option to skip an update. This next major update is scheduled to roll out between October 2018 and March 2019. 

Any remaining sites using v8.2 must be on the latest version by 31 January 2019 for D365 Customer Engagement apps.

The October release will be 9.X, following this the next major cloud update expected in April 2019 will be v10.

Prepare for the Unified Interface

In v9, Microsoft rolled out a new Unified Client Interface for Dynamics 365 that uses a responsive design to provide a uniform interface and experience across any screen size, device, form or browser.

For most Dynamics 365 users, the Unified Interface is hidden behind the curtain as in the v9 release this had several important gaps  compared to the regular web UI. As a result, relatively few sites have so far enabled the new experience in their production instance, instead using a refreshed version of the legacy interface.

These gaps are closing, and may disappear entirely in the upcoming release. 

Specifically, administrators will soon be able to add controls to the Unified Interface for bulk edits, advanced find, merge records, share records and run on-demand workflows. Further performance and usability improvements are also promised.

This is important for several reasons:

  • The Unified Interface is the future of the product
  • Microsoft are introducing new Dynamics 365 functions that are only available within the Unified Interface
  • New instances are now deployed with the Unified Interface enabled by default
  • With the October release, the Unified Interface will be the only option when building new app modules
  • At some future point, Microsoft will switch off the classic web user interface

For the October update, administrator will be able to choose between enabling the new Unified experience, or sticking with the legacy  web UI.

To determine which user experience will be best for your organisation in this upcoming release, we recommend taking early action gain familiarity with the UCI.

Dependent Option Sets

New capabilities for dependent option sets will enable option set values to dynamically change based on the data from a linked field option set.

Through native functionality, this will more accurately capture data with option sets that are contextual to previous field entries without the need to involve custom code.

This is just one example of new functionality that will be exclusive to the Unified Interface.

Custom Controls in Process Flows

For both the Unified Interface and classic web UI, sliders, switches and other custom controls will now be supported within guided business process flows. 

As a result, administrators will now have greater freedom to make workflows more interactive.

Closer Integration with LinkedIn

In v9 with Sales Navigator connected, LinkedIn widgets provide added insights about contacts and companies in the Dynamics interface.

These offer limited scope for customisation and are rather detached from sales processes but by using the new customisable controls for guided flows it will now be possible to embed these LinkedIn insights. 

Within the initial stage of a lead record, this could promote LinkedIn data to highlight potential conversation starters that will support connection requests by identifying shared groups and other similarities.

At each stage within guided processes, controls can be configured to show insights from LinkedIn about individual contacts and companies, as well as recommendations suggesting similar contacts to connect with. 

This includes Teamlink to leverage your organisation's LinkedIn network by identifying colleague who may be able to facilitate an introduction.

Web Portal Integrations

New SharePoint integration for web portals will enable document libraries to be shared with users through the Portal UI that will include permission-based controls to manage uploads and file deletions.

Further controls will enable Power BI visualisations to be embedded within portal pages. Personalised views of Power BI dashboards and reports can be configured and presented via the portal UI - even if portal users don't have a Power BI account.

Power BI Fonts

While we're on the topic of Power BI, if your organisation has a preferred font it will be possible to apply this to reports to ensure these are presented in line with branding requirements. This control will initially be rolled out as a public preview feature.

Microsoft Teams Integration

Initially available through a public preview, the October release will introduce new integration with Teams.

This will make it possible for a Dynamics 365 record to be pinned to an associated Team and be accessible to all Team members within the Teams UI, even if members aren't Dynamics users. Read more in our post about what's new in the Sales app.

Set Regarding Enhancements

Using the 'Set Regarding' control is the App for Outlook will be made easier by filtering the entities that appear to avoid users having to scroll through a long list of irrelevant entity types.

AI Capabilities

The October preview guide references a slew of new Artificial Intelligence capabilities that will introduce increasingly prescriptive and proactive insights.

These are most in evidence within the Sales app and the next update is expected to include previews of AI powered controls to:

  • Recommend follow up tasks and other actions immediately when notes are added
  • Promote conversation starters by identifying talking points from tracked emails
  • Help sales managers quickly gain performance insights across their team via a new AI for Sales app
  • Provide predictive lead scoring

See our post about what's new in the sales app.

Resource Scheduling

The Universal Resource Scheduler used in the Field Service app will now offer additional flexibility to assign work orders to groups of resources.

This includes a new 'Crew' scheduling option that will group people and other resources together for a specific period of time. This is designed to fit scenarios where a team will remain together in carrying out a series of jobs during a day.

Further scheduling enhancements include:

  • Associate resources with a resource pool and schedule work orders to pools in the first instance
  • Schedule jobs to take place at a designated facility
  • Use resource capacity to match work order effort required with available capacity 
  • Split the schedule board in two for easier navigation
  • Mix and match pools, crews and individual members as required

Read our Field Service post to learn more about what's new in the Universal Resource Scheduler. 

Finally, the Universal Resource Schedule will now be available in the Customer Service app replacing legacy service scheduling feature.

New Power Platform Capabilities

Through continuing investments in the Power platform, these capabilities combine across Power BI, PowerApps and Microsoft Flow underpinned by the Common Data Service for Apps to provide an unrivaled array of tools for extending, customising and integrating Dynamics 365 apps and Office 365 into your environment.

In the October 2018 update, Flow, PowerApps and CDS will be unified in the same interface to help administrators more easily track app activity and usage.

App Solution Checker

A new solution checker will help identify PowerApps performance issues and highlight any API's that are due to be deprecated. These actions will be rolled up into a scorecard to prioritise the most critical improvements needed.

Embed Canvas PowerApps into Entity Forms

Canvas apps support connections to more than 200 data sources including cloud services. App designers will now be able to bring these capabilities directly into model-driven Dynamics 365 entity forms in the same way that custom controls are added with support for look-ups and option sets. 

Further controls will enable the size of each canvas app to be customised, or create apps with a responsive layout.

Social Engagement

A new set-up process will be rolled out to help new users quickly get started with Microsoft Social Engagement. Microsoft say this will include a guided experience to set-up search topics. Historical data will then be acquired and loaded immediately after set-up.

Dynamics 365 On-Premise

The on-premise edition of Dynamics 365 didn't receive much attention in the October release guide but Microsoft has separately confirmed that a new on-premise version will be released in Q4 of 2018. 

What Next?

We'll share more information about the upcoming release including an updated licensing guide. To keep updated why not subscribe to our mailing list, or follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn?


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