Microsoft Dynamics 365 in 2020: 10 Developments to Watch
To kick off the New Year, here are ten topics to watch as we attempt to predict what will happen across Microsoft Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform in 2020.
Transitioning to the Unified Interface
From October, all Dynamics 365 Online environments will be exclusively on the Unified Interface as the legacy web client will be switched off. Many sites that have yet to move to the new UI are set to be transitioned as early as the first quarter of 2020 as Microsoft automatically schedules these dates. With limited scope to extend an auto-transitioning date, readiness for the Unified Interface should be a high priority for admins.
Release plans for the first update wave of 2020 will be published on 27 January. These will be quickly followed by an early access preview of the impactful changes that will be enabled by default. This update will automatically be applied to all environments during April with new features in this wave rolling out through to September. Expect to see release plans for the second main update of 2020 for Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform in June / July.
With more environments set to transition to the Unified Interface, there will be increased opportunities to improve user experiences by replacing legacy pages and controls. As referenced in our year-end wrap, the introduction of the Power Apps Control Framework was a game-changing moment. This redefined the type of solutions that can be created and embedded within Dynamics and model-driven apps. We are excited by the prospect of building and sharing many more examples of solutions and innovations driven by Power Apps in the year ahead!
Team Member Licensing
Back in October 2018, Microsoft announced a series of changes to its Dynamics 365 Team Member licences. This included a new limit of 15 custom entities covering create, update and delete permissions as well as removing these permissions for the Accounts entity on a Team licence.
Customers with one, or more, Team Member licences before October 2018 have been able to renew their agreement on the same licensing terms for unlimited custom entities and full Accounts usage rights.
However, the updated terms will automatically apply on renewals from 1 July 2020. For users currently licensed with a Team Member SKU who are updating Accounts and / or using more than 15 custom entities, a Power Apps Plan may prove a more cost effective solution in comparison to re-licensing users with a full Dynamics 365 Enterprise app.
The unification of Team Member licensing terms for all customers could also see the introduction of a dedicated Team Member app, or hub, which has previously been mooted to enforce licensing terms and capacities.
New On-Premise Version
During the Power Platform Summit in October 2019, Microsoft indicated a new on-premise version will be available during the second half of the year. This will mark roughly two years since the release of v9.
As announced during 2019, and covered in depth by MVP Jukka Niiranen, 'Customer Engagement' is now the exclusive title of the on-premise edition as this terminology is no longer applicable for D365 Online. The Online and On-Premise products have been on different tracks for many years but it'll be interesting to what new features and capabilities from recent Online updates will be available in the next on-prem edition. Which iteration of the Unified Interface is shipped will be of particular interest. Version 9 reflected an early build which had a series of critical functionality gaps compared to the classic web client. As a result, few, if any, on-premise administrators, have been able to deploy the new UI in a production instance.
Now generally available, Virtual Agent uses a no-code, graphical interface to simplify the process for building chat bots enabling subject-matter experts to lead this effort. The current October 2019 release wave promises further updates with more capabilities already announced to improve service delivery and satisfaction through conversational AI.
Towards the end 2019, Microsoft renamed the product 'Power Virtual Agents' as this isn't exclusively a Dynamics 365 solution. In the same way that portals have been hived off from Dynamics, AI-powered chat bots can also be deployed in any Common Data Service environment.
Within a Dynamics instance, Power Virtual Agents works alongside Customer Service Insights to help service managers identify which topics should be handled through a bot using trending case topics.
Sales Insights and Customer Service Insights were released in the second half of 2019 and further updates are expected during the current update wave through to March 2020.
Now in preview, the AI-powered assistant for Sales Insights will promote next best actions to help sales professionals plan their day and prep for meetings. The Sales Assistant will also be available through Microsoft Teams. Increased synergy between Dynamics 365 and Teams will be another key theme to watch in 2020.
Market Insights, also currently in preview, delivers emails notifications and insights about topics of interests. This is set for general availability during March but licensing information has yet to be announced and there is some uncertainty for how this product will fit into the Dynamics 365 and Power Platform story.
Customer Data Platform
In the closing months of 2019, through its presentations and in a series of posts, Microsoft was increasingly sharing its vision for a Microsoft Customer Data Platform. This recognises the proliferation of data across businesses and the need for a unified customer profile reflecting data collected from all touchpoints. The AI-powered Customer Service Insights is now positioned to offer the most comprehensive view by unifying diverse data, be it transactional, behavioural, or observational.
Whether through the enterprise-grade Customer Service Insights, or using other Dynamics 365 apps and the Common Data Service (CDS) to eliminate silos and connect data, we look forward to helping more organisations develop a single, unified customer view.
ClickDimensions Marketing Dashboards
Unifying data is also a priority focus for ClickDimensions as it releases a new suite of sales and marketing dashboards. Ready to use out-of-the-box, these will track more than 150 best practice KPIs across marketing automation, web, social and advertising channels.
Now in preview, Intelligent Dashboards is designed to create a single view that will help marketers understand which activities are driving results. The upcoming release is set to be a key component in ClickDimensions positioning its offering as a complete marketing cloud for Dynamics 365.
As Microsoft completes the move of Project Online to the Common Data Service it is bringing together Project Online, Dynamics 365 Project Service Automation and the Project Finance module of Dynamics 365 Finance in a single experience. During the first quarter of 2020 this is expected to see the introduction of a new licence SKU and details of its plan to sunset the D365 PSA licence.
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