Highlights of the 2021 Release Wave 2 for Dynamics 365 & Microsoft Power Platform

Dynamics 365 power platform release wave 2

Microsoft has published release plans for its second major wave of cloud updates for 2021 covering Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform.

The Dynamics 365 2021 Release Wave 2 is rolling out between October 2021 and March 2022, bringing new capabilities to the platform and across these products. In this post, we've highlighted a selection of the latest announcements focusing mainly on the customer engagement / CRM modules for Dynamics 365. This information is based on the initial documentation released by Microsoft, and as with any pre-release information, this is subject to change.

Enhancements to the integration between Microsoft Teams and Dynamics 365 is the recurring theme throughout this release wave. We've highlighted multiple examples of the upcoming improvements here but the headline announcement is Microsoft's commitment to enable anyone in an organisation to view and collaborate on Dynamics 365 records within Teams, at no additional cost. Teams users without a Dynamics 365 licence will be granted "Team Member" level access to Dynamics data via the Teams UI.

Learn more about Microsoft's plans to increase the connectivity between Teams and Dynamics, from October onwards, in our accompanying post.

UPDATE: 2022 Release Wave 1 Dates Announced

2021 Release Wave 2 Timeline

Dynamics 365 Power Platform 2021 Release Wave 2 Timeline

Power Apps

Starting with model-driven apps, these updates will be available across Dynamics 365 modules and Power Apps. The 2021 Release Wave 2 includes a series of improvements to navigation, accessibility and search:

Improved Site Map – collapsible groups will help users to navigate site maps more easily, and quickly get to items further down. App makers will also have the flexibility to hide the standard Home, Recent and Pinned options using the Power Apps Studio (Early access from August)

Dataverse Search - Relevance search is changing to Dataverse search which is enabled for an environment and used by global search in apps. Global search was recently released as an opt-in feature and will now be enabled by default in this release wave. Admins will be able to manage users' global search experience by choosing which tables will be indexed in each app. Use our links at the bottom of the page to watch a demonstration of global search. (Early access from September)

Exp site map

Advanced Lookup Capabilities for forms – currently available as an opt-in capability, this will be enabled by default in Release Wave 2. This simplifies the process to lookup rows / records on forms by viewing more detail and sorting records, and providing greater flexibility to select multiple records and drill into individual items without navigating away. Early access from August)

Visual Styling – scroll bars and the message bar will get a refresh to bring these in line with other Microsoft Business Apps. (Early access from August)

Advance lookup

Support for multiple side panes – all model-driven apps will have the ability to support multiple app-level right side panes which are shown in separate tabs alongside the main content. (Early access from August)

New app designer – simplifying the process to get started and quickly build new apps, this will also introduce new features including live preview. (General availability from October)

Support for themes – to provide a unified infrastructure of themes covering all apps across browsers and Teams integrations. For this initial release, Microsoft says this will be context aware and include theme-specific objects that will be used for a component's default and dynamic theme-switching. Further capabilities will be released on a staged basis. (Public preview from August)

Side panes with two panes

Column options in grid view pages – a new option will allow users to add, reorder and remove columns in grid view pages. Columns can be added using current and related tables / entities with reordering handled through simple drag and drop functionality. (Early access from August)

New record sharing experience – to replace the dependency on the legacy web client hybrid experience for record sharing, Microsoft says it will simplify this process and provide compliance with web compliance accessibility guidelines (WCAG). (Early access from August)

Column options

New experience to edit multiple records – another dependency on the legacy web client will be removed when a modern dialog is released allowing users to edit multiple records in an experience that meets WCAG 2.1 requirements. (Early access from August)

Accessibility & responsive improvements – further accessibility improvements will include support for 400% zoom with optimised views for narrow viewports, as well as updated keyboard support access. (Early access from August)

Demonstrating What's New in Model-Driven Apps

This demonstration the main changes and developments for model-driven apps (which includes Dynamics 365), set to be released from October 2021 onwards. Features include, multiple app side panes, customising grid columns and editing multiple records.

Power Apps Portals

Relevance (Dataverse) search integration – a new option will enable search across multiple tables and columns in accordance with security permissions. (Public preview from October)

Power Apps component framework support – enabling custom UI elements used within forms and webpages to be shown on a portal. (General availability from December)

Dynamics 365 Sales

To reduce switching between apps and speed up the flow of work, the following integrations between D365 Sales and Microsoft Teams have been announced for Release Wave 2:

Teams Meeting integration – this preview feature will include capabilities to create Teams meetings when scheduling appointments in Dynamics, join meetings in a single click from Dynamics, and update records during a Teams meeting and sync Teams notes back to records in Dynamics 365. (Public preview from October)

Configure & secure Teams integration – additional admin features will include a new experience to simplify setup, managing integrations and setting Teams created from Dynamics as private or public. (Public preview from August)

Send chat notifications to Teams – another preview feature will include using @user mentions in a Dynamics record timeline that will automatically deliver notifications to users in their Teams chat via the D365 Sales Chat Bot. Further automated Teams notifications are expected to include updates on followed records with options to control the type and frequency of notifications in Teams. (Public preview from November)

Teams d365 sales

Teams message extensions GA – more features that will be generally available during this wave include: search and filter Dynamics records and share within a chat, allow participants to update records in conversations and add notes / tasks to the record timeline from a Teams chat. Microsoft says read and update actions will be subject to the appropriate security permissions for each chat participant and this will support custom forms. (Early access from August)

Contextual Teams collaboration – building on the functionality released in the first 2021 update wave, enhancements will enable greater customisation to increase the relevance of contextual contact suggestions. This will also include new capabilities to render an adaptive card that allows a message to be viewed and edited in Teams and enable launch of Teams chat by clicking a user name in Dynamics. (Early access from August)

Ms teams 21b

Sales mobile updates – improvements announced for Release Wave 2 include (Public preview from December):

  • Smart lookup for mobile to quickly connect meetings to a relevant record
  • Meeting cards that apply Dynamics 365 appointment data on top of the Exchange data
  • Active records smart list for mobile
  • View / add contacts from Outlook or phonebook in the mobile sales app
  • Create an activity record from recent phone calls
  • Automatic transcription for Microsoft Teams calls and online meetings

Share and delegate forecast access - with any other Dynamics 365 user that will enable managers to view an individual forecast as one of their team. (General availability from October)

Filter users from forecast hierarchy – declutter forecast views by removing users from the forecast hierarchy. (General availability from October)

Field augmentation for predictive scoring enabling admins to select an attribute as an augmented field from an edit field page. Key values within these fields can then be used to train an AI predictive scoring model. For example, this augmentation could include identifying private or corporate email domain values. (Public preview from August)

Learn more about Sales Forecasting in Dynamics 365.

Deal Manager Workspace – currently available in preview, the Deal Manager Workspace will be generally available in this next release wave. This new experience is designed to change how sellers interact with opportunities by making this more intuitive within a single workspace. This includes choosing out-of-the-box interactive charts and the ability to drill into records using a side panel. The latest release wave will introduce hierarchy and date-based filters to help focus on the right deals. (General availability from November)

Inline editable tables for Accounts, Contacts and Leads – admins will also be able to enable a similar Deal Manager Workspace-like interface for sellers to manage accounts, contact and leads. This will support inline editable tables and drag / drop columns. (General availability from November)

Lead generation and nurturing – Microsoft says it will announce new integrations with third-party lead acquisition services and provide the ability to query for new leads that match a defined segment or criteria. (Public preview from October)

Deal workspace

Dynamics 365 Customer Service

Embedded Microsoft Teams – collaborate over Teams to resolve service issues without leaving a case where a chat can be linked to the appropriate Dynamics record. (General availability from November)

Bring your own data to the timeline – currently, the timeline only shows data stored within an organisation’s environment, but a new virtual data model will enable solutions to be developed that will display data on the timeline which isn’t stored in Dataverse. (General availability from October)

Team casess

Agent Workspace Inbox View – this is designed to help agents triage service requests and navigate cases. In Release Wave 2, the inbox view will be integrated with the Customer Service Workspace as well as Omnichannel for Customer Service apps to manage issues using customised views and filter across all channels. (General availability from October)

Agent Workspace Navigation – Customer Service workspace and Omnichannel for Customer Service are multisession apps that allow customer service agents to multi-task on several customer cases simultaneously. Simplified navigation which currently needs to be enabled for these apps will be available by default in the upcoming release wave. This will also see some productivity tools moving to the new extensible side pane, referenced above in the model-driven apps section. (Early access from August)

Universal Resource Scheduling improvements – additional features will bring parity with the older schedule board, and this will now be the default view. The latest update will include requirement groups to define resource groups for a job and complete a booking by scheduling these within a single search. (Early access from August)

Scheduling and IoT capabilities – in the Customer Service workspace, this release wave will enable agents to manage appointments using the scheduling capabilities and resolve issues created from IoT alerts. (Early access from August)

Usability improvements in knowledge management – new capabilities include better distinction between internal / external knowledge content in search results and easier access to frequent actions in a reordered article command bar. (Early access from August)

Omnichannel Voice

Dynamics 365 Customer Service omnichannel capabilities has been extended to include a new voice channel (now generally available). Using the same calling platform that powers Microsoft Teams, the voice channel includes:

Call recording – with options to start, pause and resume recordings that will be stored in Dynamics 365 and related to the appropriate records.

Call intelligence – call transcription and sentiment analysis will provide additional insights from each recording.

Direct outbound calling - contact using the native, fully integrated voice channel based on Azure Communication Services, where voice is another channel for agents and supervisors. Outbound calls can be initiated using click-to-call directly from phone number fields in cases, customer profiles, call back activities and more, without the need for third-party voice integration.

Intelligent voice bot – in this release, Power Virtual Agents and the Microsoft Bot Framework will enable intelligent voice bots which allow hand-off to human agents with conversation history.

Supervisor monitoring - While monitoring phone calls, supervisors will be able to review in-progress call transcripts and listen in anonymously as a hidden participant or join the call if appropriate.

Unified Routing

Historical analytics – an overview of historic routing performance across each channel will provide insights to optimise the routing strategies. (General availability from October)

Routing Diagnostics for Supervisors – extending current routing diagnostics for administrators. (General availability from October)

Dynamics 365 Field Service

Embedded Microsoft Teams – will be introduced within work order processes enabling users to initiate chats within work order forms, without needing to switch to the Teams app. (Early access from July)

Customer experiences homepage – a new homepage will serve as the entry point for customers to view their service history, check upcoming bookings and manage service visits. The homepage is a responsive interface built on Power Apps portals and will be customisable to ensure consistency with other web assets. (General availability from October)

Schedule service visits – will be accessible from the customer experiences homepage enabling customers to schedule on-site visits, without having to speak to a service agent. Time slots will be offered based on real-time resource availability, location and skills using pre-configured resourcing rules. This process will also be configurable and can prompt customers to provide pre-visit information. (General availability from October)

New work order form – improvements will include new tabs organisation, an updated work order summary, a unified view of service tasks, products and services, and an events / activities timeline. (General availability from October)

Schedule board enhancements – as referenced in the Customer Service section, Microsoft is adding remaining features that will bring parity between the previous and latest schedule boards. This includes making settings available on the schedule board tab so users can create and configure their tabs, displaying work order custom fields in the schedule board, or displayed as a filter. (Early access from August)

Dynamics 365 Customer Voice

Comparison analysis – enabling feedback comparisons to be made over a period of time, to assess monthly and quarterly performance trends. (General availability from January 2022)

Survey analysis – this new feature will provide insights into the relative importance of survey questions compared to the overall feedback metrics to identify key drivers. (General availability from January 2022)

Dynamics 365 Marketing

Teams Integration – enabling webinar registration pages to be created in Teams that are natively integrated with D365 Marketing to handle approve / decline and other registration management tasks. Added functionality will allow Customer Journeys to be triggered by registration and attendance actions. (Public preview from October)

Twilio & TeleSign Integration – new integration will enable SMS messaging through D365 Marketing using Twilio and TeleSign. (General availability from October)

Using Power Automate within Customer Journeys – looking further ahead, this preview feature will allow flows to be used within any stage of a Customer Journey to allow broader actions and enable connection with external systems. Capability will also allow Journeys to be triggered within a Power Automate flow. (Public preview from November)

Create Segments for Leads & Custom Entities – currently, D365 Marketing only supports contact audience segments but Microsoft plans to redesign its segment builder that will allow attribute and behaviour data to be used in audience definitions for contacts, leads and custom entities. (Public preview from December)

Power BI

Quick create on Dataverse – Microsoft says it will introduce a new, easier way for users to generate a Power BI report and start gaining insights from the data. The new solution will connect data in Microsoft Dataverse with a model in Power BI, enabling users to perform analysis on the fly in a Power BI report. (Public preview from October)

Natural language to DAX creation – DAX is the expression language widely used by developers. A new capability will allow users to create DAX measures using natural language terms and Power BI will generate the code in the background, without the need for a user to become a DAX expert. (Public preview from February 2022)

Export to Excel improvements for table and matrix visuals this new feature will retain the structure of Power BI visuals in a cross-tab format when data is exported from a table or matrix to CSV or XLSX files. This will provide greater flexibility for users who are less familiar with Power BI and prefer to analyse data in Excel. (Public preview October)

Sparklines for table and matrix visuals – report creators will be able to add a sparkline column to a table or matrix visual that displays a trending line chart for each row in the visual. This allows users to quickly identify key trends without the need to create separate visuals. (Public preview December)

Power BI Integration with PowerPoint – this will enable Power BI report content to be embedded into presentations allowing creators to modify filters and interact with the report directly from within PowerPoint. (Public preview from January 2022)

Sparklines pbi

Power Automate

Templates in Microsoft Teams – a new workflows section in the Microsoft Teams app store will allows users to directly acquire flow templates. (General availability from October)

Resubmit bulk failed runs – allowing multiple runs to be selected and resubmitted at once in the runs page. (General availability from January 2022)

Roll back to a previous cloud flow version – this new feature will display previous versions of a cloud flow to choose the correct version to revert to. (General availability from March 2022)

Undo edits in cloud flows designer – enabling recent changes to be removed that will return a flow to its previous state in a single click. (General availability from March 2022)

Learn more about the 2021 Release Wave 2

We are eagerly looking forward to this latest release and we hope this summary has been useful in helping you identify some of the upcoming new capabilities that will soon be available. Read more about these updates, and others, that will be available during the 2021 Release Wave 2 for Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform.

Related: Discover Microsoft's Plans for Advanced Integration Between Microsoft Teams and Dynamics 365

Please get in touch if you have any questions about this release and we'll be in touch.

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