A First Look at the 2020 Release Wave 2 Plans for Dynamics 365

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The 2020 Release Wave 2 for Dynamics 365 Online and the Power Platform was rolled out between October 2020 and March 2021.

Microsoft's release plans detailed the new Microsoft Dynamics 365 capabilities to be introduced during this wave with general availability, or new features that will initially be released in a public preview.

Early access began from 3 August 2020, enabling admin to evaluate some of the new features in a sandbox environment before these were automatically enabled.

This post was originally written following the initial publication of these release plans.

Using the initial documentation, in this post we have provided an overview covering: D365 Sales, Sales Insights, Marketing, Customer Service, Omnichannel for Customer Service, Field Service, Project Operations, Power Apps, Portals, Power Automate, Virtual Agent, Forms Pro and Power Apps Admin Center.

For the full detail, visit the Dynamics 365 Docs site to download the 2020 Release Wave 2 plans or contact Preact for Dynamics 365 upgrade support.

What's new in the 2020 Release Wave 2 for Dynamics 365

Discover what's new in the latest release wave for Dynamics 365 Online. In this presentation we demonstrate a selection of new features and improvements including Dynamics 365 Customer Voice, duplicate detection, PDF creation, timeline enhancements, knowledge articles and more.

Dynamics 365 Sales

General Availability from October 2020 including:

  • Simplified Duplicate Detection & Merge - featuring more detail to highlight why a record is flagged as a potential duplicate. This will also enable records to be merged from the duplicate warning prompt.
  • Enhanced Email Experience - the recently introduced overlay email experience will support view and reply actions from the record timeline. Email attachment improvements will include a quick preview feature and capability to select multiple attachments.
  • Create PDF Improvements - updates will include simplified document template selection, PDF preview, email options and saving PDF files to custom entities.
  • Forecast Reporting & Processes - forecasts will be written back to the Common Data Service (CDS) enabling dashboard reporting and automated Power Automate triggers.
  • Forecast Improvements - include new multi-currency support, custom entity support for forecast roll-ups and forecasting by specific dimensions including product.

Public Preview Feature:

  • New Sales Mobile Experience - a dedicated app to help sellers find information, update CRM and complete tasks. This will include quick note and quick edit functions, and an improved search experience that will include result grouping.
Mob apps2020

Sales Insights

Dynamics 365 Sales Insights provides additional AI capabilities to help sales teams automate tasks, analyse data and build relationships. In the 2020 Release Wave 2, new features and capabilities will include:

General Availability:

  • Enhanced predictive forecasting and an updated lead / opportunity scoring infrastructure and experience.

Public Preview features include:

  • Sales Accelerator - a new, unified workspace for sellers combining CRM functions, AI-driven prompts, work lists and automated sales sequences.

Dynamics 365 Marketing

General Availability from October including:

  • Redesigned Customer Journey Canvas - providing a more intuitive experience. This will also include a new option for negative journey paths enabling follow up actions to recipients who don't meet a specific condition.
  • Updated Email Editor - improvements include flexibility for additional email columns and faster loading.
  • Expanded Form Entity Options - enabling forms to be mapped to entities other than leads or contacts.
  • Microsoft Teams Integration - create webinar events as a Teams live event or Teams meetings.
  • Improved Social Posting - including a redesigned scheduling experience.

Public Preview Feature - from October:

  • Create Segments Using Natural Language Queries - offering a potentially quicker way to define an audience for marketing campaigns using natural language expressions.

D365 Customer Service & Customer Service Insights

General Availability from October 2020 including:

  • Timeline Enhancements - inline image support for text notes, expand / collapse all records and highlight matching text for search filter.
  • Timeline Configuration - new admin options that will include expand timeline records by default, hide status tags and add / remove new activity items by type.
  • Rich Text Control - a configurable control for any rich text, multi-line input that will also support images.
  • Email Template Improvements - including rich text formatting for templates, updated toolbar and preserved formatting when pasting from Word / Excel.
  • Knowledge Suggestions - AI-driven knowledge article suggestions based on case context.
  • Enhanced Knowledge Editing - enabling collapsible sections to show / hide content and additional editor controls.
  • Insert Knowledge Articles into Email - adding legacy capability to the Unified Interface.
  • New Multi-session App - designed to help service agents work on multiple cases simultaneously and switch between issues.
  • Monitoring Automatically Created Records - additional views to check the status of rules for automatic creation of case and other records.

Public Preview:

  • Similar Case Suggestions - AI-driven suggestions based on case context.
  • Embedded Insights - analytics and insights from Customer Service Insights will be embedded within the D365 Customer Service apps.

Omnichannel for Customer Service

This add-on app helps agents support customers across different channels, including web chat, and features customer identification with real-time notifications.

General Availability includes:

  • Embed Chat in Mobile Experiences - enabling an omnichannel chat widget to be embedded in mobile apps for iOS and Android.
  • Persistent Messaging - providing additional context by showing previous conversations with a customer in a new chat session.
  • Forms Pro Surveys - enabling inline surveys from web chat sessions.
  • Language Translation - real-time translation feature using APIs to bring in 3rd party translation services, and native implementation with Azure Cognitive Services.

Dynamics 365 Field Service

General Availability from October 2020 includes:

  • Work Order Completion Surveys - enabling survey invites to be sent using Forms Pro.
  • Work Order Metrics - new time stamps tracking delivery time metrics over the life cycle of each work order and a new Field Service dashboard.
  • Field Service Sub Grids - usability improvements to open Field Service child records in an overlay within a form sub grid to reduce clicks and avoid navigation away from the main record.
  • Enhanced Skill-Based Matching - resource scheduling optimisation to automatically match a technician to a work order with the least common denominator of skills first. This is designed to help schedulers maintain reserve capacity for resources who possess multiple or unique skills for emergencies and other booking types.
  • Asset Hierarchy & Location - an enhanced authoring experience to define hierarchy models and location identification of assets on work orders that may cover sites, buildings, floors and rooms.
  • Field Service Inspections - general availability of this preview feature including functionality to associate inspections with work orders and capture inspection results.
  • Calendar View Improvements - including an agenda view showing all detail for each appointment.
  • Predictive Travel Time - using historical travel data supplied by Bing Maps to more accurately predict the travel time between bookings.
  • Travel Outside Working Hours - allowing technician travel time to be scheduled independently of defined working hours.
  • Enhanced Work Hours Calendar - improved user experience using a Power Apps calendar control.

Connected Field Service Mobile App - Microsoft says its next generation Field Service mobile app is built on the Power Apps platform and the 2020 Release Wave 2 will include:

  • Mobile access to device telemetry and maintenance data to help diagnose and resolve issues on installed assets
  • Custom reporting
  • Real-time technical location sharing
  • Push notifications for important updates including new / cancelled bookings

Field Service Public Previews include:

  • Embedded Optimiser within Schedule Board
  • AI-Driven Predictive Work Duration

Dynamics 365 Project Operations

Built on the Microsoft Power Platform, D365 Project Operations will enter general availability during the next release wave. This will include project-based sales, project resourcing, Microsoft Project capabilities, project accounting, integration with MS Teams and AI features.

From March 2021, existing Dynamics 365 Project Service Automation customers will be able to upgrade to the new Project Operations product.

Power Apps Portals

General Availability from February 2021:

  • Portals create, read, update and delete (CRUD) web API will be generally available to all customers.

Public Preview capabilities include:

  • Add Power Virtual Agent bot component to a portal.
  • Simplified experience to set up complex entity permissions within Portals Studio.
  • Support for code components created using Power Apps component framework (PCF) inside Power Apps portals.

Model Driven Apps

General Availability from October 2020:

  • Unified Interface Transition - a new transition service will help admins switch environments to the Unified Interface before 1st December. After this date, environments will be automatically switched.
  • New Search Experience featuring a series of usability improvements including: search bar in the header, suggested results as you type, intuitive results page and AI-powered intelligent search featuring natural language terms and misspellings. Find out more and how to enable.
  • Chart Customisations - updates to support frequent non-designer customisations previously available in the classic web client. This includes X / Y axis support for grid line colours, grid tick marks, data label hiding. For Y axis, support is enabled for minimum, maximum and intervals.
  • Usability improvements for Sub Grids and Form Tabs on Mobile - including prominent headers for sub grids and more discoverable form tabs.
  • Power BI Report / Dashboard as System Dashboard - a new dashboard type for model-driven apps to define a system dashboard which references a Power BI report or dashboard.
  • Recurring Appointments on Mobile App - new capabilities to set recurring appointments using the mobile app.
  • PCF for Canvas Apps - enabling custom, reusable interface controls and extensions to be added to canvas apps. (General Availability from March 2021)

Public Preview from December 2020:

  • Add Custom Pages in Model-Driven App Designer - extra flexibility to use custom layouts with support for no / low code configuration of controls and components.

Early Access from October 2020:

  • Business Q&A integration with CDS relevance search supporting natural language queries to return instant answers. The release guide outlines a series of simple and complex natural language queries that would be supported. This suggests similar functionality to the Dynamics query bot available in Microsoft Teams. Highlighted examples of queries include, 'Who is the owner of x (account)?' or 'contacts missing email'.

Power Automate

General Availability includes:

  • Easier Set-up, Creation & Config of UI Flows.
  • Delay Actions - configure delay actions within flows using new built in delay actions from seconds to months, as well as supporting custom values.
  • Consolidated view of UI flow runs and common errors.

Power Platform Admin Center

Public Preview:

  • CDS Errors & Diagnostics in Azure Application Insights - going beyond built in Admin Center reports, the telemetry from model-driven apps on the Unified Interface will be available through Azure Application Insights. By opting in, this will export production environment logged error and performance data for UI plug-ins, API calls and form loads. By leveraging Application Insights, this will enable greater analysis of these metrics and performance-based alerts when thresholds are breached.

Power Virtual Agents

General Availability includes:

  • Configure basic bot theming and welcome message at the start of a conversation.
  • Add images / videos to topics.
  • Improved Topic Suggestions - including bot crawling sites to extract Q&A suggestions from CSV, DOCX and PDF files hosted on a website.

Public Preview:

  • Deploy Power Virtual Agents as Alexa Skills - interact with bots using the Amazon Alexa app and devices.

Forms Pro

Next Steps

Visit the Dynamics 365 Docs site to read more about what's new and which items can be tested before the October release.

If you have any questions about this update, or upgrading from an earlier edition of Dynamics, please get in touch on 0800 381 1000, or request a call back.

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