A Decision-makers Guide to Dynamics 365 Spring Release

A Decision-makers Guide to Dynamics 365 Spring Release

Spring has sprung for some of the world and flowers are resplendent in certain places. But as sure as March turns to April Microsoft is always going to announce changes to the Dynamics 365 product line and this year's announcement was profound in its effects. A great return to new products / upgrades actually being available virtually immediately. Also, a return to more complex licensing. I talk about these issue in more depth in our companion podcast. In this blog I want to underscore what stands out to us and what customers or prospects should know and do

Dynamics 365 - Customer Engagement

Highlights

  • Adds GDPR which is a critical regulatory feature and completes the move to the Unified Interface: better look that is the same across web, mobile, and Outlook
  • The rest are small upgrades that continue to add value:
    • Sales continues to add AI intelligence and leverage the capabilities of LinkedIn  
    •  Continued improvements to case and knowledgebase functionality 
    • Universal Resource Scheduler just keeps getting more important

Opinion

  • At this point Microsoft clearly has the most compelling "CRM" suite in the marketplace from an objective perspective: beyond integration with other products in the MS stack, elegant feature rich components displayed in a user friendly manner consistent across platforms, with great AI add-ins and the Business Applications Platform (see below) to provide  a full range of rapid customization alternatives
  • If you are currently have MS CRM On Premises move to the Cloud as soon as you can
  • If you are looking for a modern platform to base a customer-oriented digital transformation on then this is the clear choice

Dynamics 365 for Marketing

Highlights

  • Same elegant User Interface as the rest of the Customer Engagement suite with a beautiful canvas for planning customer journeys
  • Built-in AI functionality for doing segmentation adds value to the standard kit of marketing automation features provided
  • Lots of process models and email templates make it easy to use
  • Conference functionality is unique and delivers considerable value for organizations that do big or lots of conferences
  • Pricey (at USD1500 plus add-on packs based on number of "contacts") but interesting bundle with Voice of the Customer, a Portal, and Social Engagement

Opinion

  • This is likely going to be a compelling new product for Microsoft and business organizations but just not yet
  • Given considerable teething problems we have witnessed with other product launches in the past two years and some flakey demonstrations and tests I have been part of I would recommend waiting a minimum of 12 to 18 months before using this app especially when Click Dimensions already covers most of this ground in a proven and excellent fashion. Other Microsoft partners have gone google-eyed over the sex of it all. But I want the core marketing automation to do its job in a proven manner at the right price. Nobody wants their core email marketing to suddenly go wrong
  • My one exception to this guideline is for organizations who have a significant conference business. That part of the functionality works very well and would provide great value for Microsoft clients and the contact limits wouldn't be as big an issue

Dynamics 365 Business Central

Highlights

  • Back from a vacation to Tenerife and it looks like this time it might have legs. UI is slightly fresher but still not identical to the new D365 UI which was a key overall part of this update
  • Some changes to the platform and ability to modify make it more accessible to non-NAV Microsoft partners and clients 
  • Very attractive transitional pricing for old MS ERP stack customers (GP, SI, NAV) to move to the Cloud
  • Many more features than a year ago (before the Tenerife stop) so that it now has two licensing levels

Opinion

  • Big push for partner adoption and adaptation for it so it will grow in volume
  • I'm still a little unclear exactly who it is aimed at but I think it will find its feet
  • I would recommend for clients who only want one application to deal with or can find a partner tailored version for their type of business
  • Great for stepping up from Quickbooks or the junior Sage products

Dynamics 365 for Sales (Pro version)

Highlights

  • This isn't a new product but I wanted to point it out as it replaces what was going to be Sales for the Business Edition
  • Great subset of the "bigger" version with a streamlined onboarding process
  • Has enough customization options to make it very attractive at its pricepoint

Opinion

  • This is a real App winner to me for Microsoft and could be the hit of the Spring Release in 2 years time
  • Looks perfect for smaller business who are tired of the limited freemium web offerings and who use other Microsoft products like Office 365. Recommended for organizations with some sales process complexities who want more than the $10 per month products and for Business Central customers who want more than what it provides out of the box

Dynamics 365 for Talent

Highlights

  • This suite is on monthly updates so isn't really part of the Spring Release
  • I understand the long term vision but right now this product isn't ready for primetime in terms of feature sets
  • The exceptions are the Attraction and Onboarding applications which work well together, provide a pretty reasonable feature set right now and have a decent roadmap in front of them

Opinion

  • Recommend Attraction and Onboarding for anybody looking to upgrade to e-recruitment especially if they are Office 365 and LinkedIn Recruiter / Jobs users already. A perfect fit.
  • For the rest of the Talent suite wait for at least 6 months to see how the rest of the HCM applications shake out

Business Applications Platform

Highlights

  • This is the true source of "Oh Wow!" in the Spring Release: a greatly upgraded and elegant platform for providing a large range of customization options to customers: tailoring conventional access to D365, putting in Line of Business applications, creating streamlined mobile "front ends" for first line workers, and quick low-code applications to feel an immediate applications gap
  • The split of PowerApps into two major versions (Canvas and Model) increase the power and type of applications that can be developed using this platform immensely
  • A major upgrade to Common Data Service means that this tool is ready to be used commerically
  • Even MS Flow suddenly has much more power with the added Process workflow capabilities and linkages to SharePoint
  • PowerBI upgrades it capabilities considerably from its recent leading Gartner position. It has its own version / variation of the Common Data Service. Look for a whole new generation of "Insights" applications to be developed on PowerBI

Opinion

  • This will drive a lot of new applications developed around the Dynamics 365 platform and clients and prospects should at a minimum investigate its capabilities immediately. Specific "gap-filling" applications or first line worker mobile applications should be first
  • In 18 months AppSource will be full of a variety of apps: industry specific; functionally specific; role specific; special purpose. Imagination will be its own reward. Let's hope that most of them are thoughtful and robust
  • Title is very lame. I like the nick-name PowerSuite

 

Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations

Highlights

  • From a feature set lots of little changes and upgrades but nothing game-changing
  • Integrations to other apps within the Dynamics 365 family and platform enhancements are the major items to me
  • Continued localization roll-outs
  • Continued improvements made to Retail especially in the process improvement area

Opinion

  • Dynamics 365 Retail is robust and improving. Retailers that are changing their front-end capabilities should strongly consider it
  • D365 for Finance and Operations is a good option for larger enterprises looking at upgrading their ERP capabilities, especially for organizations already using Office 365 and/or other Dynamics 365 apps
Full Scorecard on Microsoft StaffHub

Full Scorecard on Microsoft StaffHub

Digital Solution Podcasts - Episode 5

Digital Solution Podcasts - Episode 5