Dynamics 365 CE | Spring Release Highlights for the Layperson!

With the Spring Release for Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement quickly approaching, I have outlined some highlights for the layperson! However, if you would like to go for a deep dive into the Spring Release Notes, I’ve included the link: April ’19 Release Notes.

For those of you who are not interested in wading through the detailed release notes, I want to highlight a few of the items that we can collectively agree are reasons to celebrate!

Dynamics 365 for Marketing

It is nice to see that Microsoft has paid some attention to Marketing. Our experience to date tells us that this product needed some TLC from Microsoft. The jury is still out as to whether this is ready for market but the number of items on their list of what’s new and planned leads us to believe that we are getting closer to a solution we should all be taking a second look at! Licensing is based on the number of contacts vs. other solutions in the market that focus on the number of emails sent. This in itself is a reason to eventually get it on your list of solutions to take a closer look at.

Dynamics 365 for Sales

The big wins here are around the Microsoft Teams integration. If you are not yet fully embracing Teams, now is the time. With the Teams experience flowing into Dynamics 365 for Sales there is no better time to jump on the band wagon. But this isn’t all – you will need to look at the work done around the “configure-price-quote” experience as well as the LinkedIn Alerts which will be really handy for Sales departments.

Dynamics 365 for Customer Service

A lot of work has been done around knowledge management in this release; knowledge article templates, automatic filtering and more analytics makes this more intuitive and user friendly. The addition of Single Sign On to Unified Service Desk (USD) will definitely make some people smile as well. There are also a number of Omni-channel Engagement features being planned for July which are worth looking at. Adding a multi-session agent experience, supervisor experiences, live chat channel and portal messaging will enhance the USD experience.

Dynamics 365 for Field Services

Most of what is proposed in Field Services will be coming out in the June/July and September timeframe. What you will see in the Spring release is Embedded IoT which is key to accurate diagnosis and steps for corrective action as part of the Technician Productivity enhancements.

Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation

More information will be released in the July to September timeframe but in short, Microsoft has announced a new vision for Project Service Automation. More details of what is available in this release can be found in A new vision for modern work management with Microsoft Project.

Dynamics 365 Portal

The exciting news for Portal is that with the enhancements in the Spring release, organizations using Common Data Service (CDS) for Apps will be able to connect a portal to their CDS for APPS organization. This will definitely open up many opportunities for clients moving forward to connect data with solutions! Microsoft has also added Maintenance Mode to the Portal which I am sure many of you will be happy to see. Rather than the user seeing an error when they are trying to access the portal, you can now display a “Website under Maintenance” message.

There is more information around Power Apps and Flow but for the layperson most of this doesn’t mean much.

I want to finish up by sharing what’s new and planned for the Common Data Model and how this can help with the integration discussion. Most of us have these integration discussions on a regular basis because it seems to be a big part of any project, so understanding how Microsoft is trying to make this easier for everyone is a big takeaway from the Spring Release notes.

The following information is quoted from the Business Applications Release Notes – Common Data Model (CDM) from Microsoft.

Common Data Model (CDM)‎

Today’s Common Data Model (CDM) provides modular and extensible business entities (account, lead, opportunity, and so on) as well as observational data concepts (such as Link clicks and Email opens). It unifies data in a well-known schema with semantic consistency across data silos, applications, and deployments.

Spring Release - Common Data Model

The span of products, platforms, and services that implement, produce, and consume data in CDM form continues to grow, inside and outside Microsoft.

Additional capabilities and features as part of the Open Data Initiative

As part of the Open Data Initiative, “one data model” across the founding partners supports a customer-owned shared data lake for intelligence and knowledge creation scenarios with direct access to the underlying data and metadata. The founding partners (and additional ones) will land their data with well-defined semantic metadata in that data lake and pull from it. This resembles the first version of “CDM folders” in Azure Data Lake Storage (ADLS) Gen2 but requires significant evolution, with multiple Azure data services and partners (for example, Informatica) building toward it.

With the huge volume of existing customer data and applications on the existing transactional platforms (such as CDS), it is not a tractable problem to converge those onto the same “one data model.” We need to ensure we make landing the data in the lake seamless and automatic. Similarly, it must be easy to gain insights from the shared data lake and bring those insights back into the platforms. This also extends the effort to include data assets from Adobe and SAP in our AI and intelligence offerings.

Updated developer and consumer documentation

The Common Data Model continues to evolve in scope and capabilities, which increases the importance of the public documentation for both consumers and developers. The release of additional quick starts, best practices, and more to the public documentation set provides a destination where anyone interested in CDM can learn how best to leverage its power.

CDM schema documents

The CDM schema definition has continued to improve based on needs from the ecosystem. Examples include adding support for namespacing, allowing partners to develop and release schema in CDM form that can be identified and versioned as concepts specific to their solution. We’ve also released an official versioning scheme for the CDM schema documents. This scheme ensures that producers and consumers can report and identify the versions they support.

SDK and tooling

In order to create and leverage the data in CDM shape, we’ve released an SDK and tooling to explore, read, modify, and create content in CDM form. These tools make the initiative approachable to developers across a wide range of platforms and services. These tools open their data to the growing set of services and experiences that understand data in CDM form.

New entity definitions

CDM continues to expand with the release of new industry accelerators and concepts from core Dynamics 365 solutions. For example, the release of accelerators from the education and non-profit industries, as well as updates to the healthcare accelerator, have brought more than 100 new entities to the CDM model. Additionally, entity definitions from Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Marketing, Talent, and more continue to make CDM relevant to customers and partners of all sizes.

If you have any questions or if you would like to learn more about the Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement spring release, please contact us!

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