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2021 Release Wave 1: What new features will be coming to Dynamics 365 and the Microsoft Power Platform?

Towards the end of January, Microsoft announced its plans for the incoming Wave 1 release which will be providing several new & improved features to the Dynamics 365 applications as well as the Microsoft Power Platform. 

In this blog article, we’ve got one of our in-house Dynamics 365 consultants to take us through some of the best new features that will be released for Dynamics 365 and the Microsoft Power Platform as part of the Wave 1 release that will be rolled out between April 2021 and October 2021. 

NB: It is important to note that these new features are subject to change. 

What is coming to Dynamics 365 Marketing in the 2021 Release Wave 1 update? 

It goes without saying but over the course of the last year the way in which customers engage with brands has changed significantly which has meant that businesses have had to quickly adapt to their everchanging needs and expectations. Therefore, in order for businesses to forge strong relationships, they need to use personalisation more, showcase value & prove they understand the needs of their customers. 

This is partly why Microsoft for this update have decided to focus more on personalisation, more out of the box channels and to give businesses better access to data. 

Improved out of the box Analytics 

Following the Power BI driven AI dashboards of Customer Insights and Sales Insights, D365 Marketing will have an analytics dashboard to report on Customer Journeys and the effectiveness of campaigns and related activities. 

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Follow your customer journeys and channel KPIs, in real-time 

This latest feature will allow you to follow your customer journey’s effectiveness with real-time analytics updates. Furthermore, the analytics overlays will provide marketers with the tools and the capabilities to review the end-to-end customer journey at the touch of a button. 

Build emails fast with minimal effort and without compromises 

You will now find that Microsoft has completely rebuilt the email editor which will make it easier to create much more engaging and relevant content for your target audience. 

Build and send SMS messages to any mobile device 

SMS messaging through the Dynamics 365 Marketing mobile avenue will help to create new opportunities for businesses through building better relationships with mobile users. 

Ability to target leads as well contacts 

You will find that the customer journey editor will now allow you to be able to target customers who are in your CRM system as Leads and Opportunities as well continuing to target Contacts. Furthermore, you will be able to use these additional channels to target customers in both these segments and journeys. 

You can view the full list of new features for Dynamics 365 Marketing here

What is coming to Dynamics 365 Customer Service in the 2021 Release Wave 1 update? 

The main purpose of Dynamics 365 Customer Service is to provide an end-to-end solution for customer support, spanning situations across different channels of customer engagement. 

Therefore, Microsoft has decided as part of this 2021 release Wave 1 update to concentrate its efforts on allowing customers to be up & running quickly, providing the all-in-one contact centre as well as transforming the contact centre routing. 

Game changing embedded analytics for customer service managers 

As many of us already know, traditional dashboards provide us very little in terms of engaging & interactive capabilities along with a limited visibility over the business activities. This is why the new Omnichannel’s embedded analytics for chat and digital messaging helps make it easier for service managers to highlight problem areas as well as areas for improvement based on historical data along with slice-and-dice capabilities through Power BI. 

Knowledge search analytics 

Being able to predict exactly what agents are looking for when they are on customer issues will help businesses to develop their knowledge resources which in turn will help to improve the agent’s ability to help customers quickly and effectively. 

Enhanced user experience through email 

The new and improved email configuration experience will help users to improve their overall efficiency and effectiveness when making use of email to reach customers. Furthermore, by improving this will also make it easier for administrators to configure email experiences that will be best suited to the way that they work. 

You can view the full list of new features for Dynamics 365 Customer Service here

What is coming to Dynamics 365 Sales in the 2021 Release Wave 1 update? 

Moving onto the new and improved features coming to Dynamics 365 Sales, Microsoft have decided to channel all their energies into productivity enhancements for sellers as well as providing greater access that will help with decision making. 

New Pipeline Manager Workspace 

For a sales pipeline to be managed correctly it needs data to be processed quickly and tools that allow for quick edit actions, data visualisation, collaboration and much more. 

In this latest release, Microsoft have introduced a new personalised workspace for pipeline management that will include the following: 

  • Deal manager workspace – will make it easier for salespeople to easily keep on top of and interact with their opportunities. You can access this through the Sales Hub where it will appear as a new sitemap entry. 
  • Interactive visual charts – you will find that inside the deal manager workplace there will be out-of-the-box charts that will give extra visualisations of opportunities. 
  • Data filtering functionality – will make it easier to find opportunities by using the search, quickly setting a column filter or taking advantage of a time-based slicer. 
  • Advanced editable grid – quickly change deals in the deal manager workspace by using the inline editable grid and personalise column displays. 

Digital Selling 

Inside sellers manage customer lists. Many businesses manage sales leads differently with certain people in charge of leads that need to be converted & others that look after opportunities that need to be won. Microsoft has put a lot of thinking into being able to tailor sales acceleration in order to meet  specific business requirements, whether it is managing leads, opportunities or any custom entity. 

In this latest release, Microsoft have introduced digital selling that will include the following: 

  • New email template and email signature editor – you can find this in your enhanced personal settings area. 
  • Automation and adaptive sequences – to enable sellers to reduce manual processes. Furthermore, as well as sequence automation, this latest preview will have reactive sequence forks to allow the next step to be chosen through triggers and sequence listeners for email engagements along with phone and meeting conversations. 

Mobile App Integration

Mobile is an essential part of solving one of the biggest challenges faced by sales organisations today: how to help sellers access what they need, when they need it, wherever they are, and make it easy for them to log and share information in real time.  

Using the new sales application, available on iOS and Android platforms, field sellers can be productive anywhere, anytime. 

Search, interact and create customer information easily 

It is important for all CRM systems to be easy to access and easy to use. Therefore, when users can easily engage with information, find the data they need and action the necessary follow-ups will help them to become more efficient which should increase the chances of them selling more. 

To build on the above, some of these new features have been added to make things simpler: 

  • Activity management inbox and to-do experience. 
  • One-click follow-up actions. 

Easily log and share information 

The main value of a CRM system can only be maximised if the right type of information is added by users. Therefore, if minimal effort is required to add information will help to increase the chances of it happening more regularly which will lead to the quality of the CRM system increasing. 

Easily keep an eye on all your customer engagements 

Over the course of a typical week, the vast majority of salespeople will look to engage with their leads and customers which will usually take place from their mobile device. Each engagement will contain vital information which can be hard to capture if the seller is focussed on the conversation or they don’t have the time to make notes. 

Therefore, the following new features from the update can help with this process: 

  • Automatic transcription for each call and online meeting. 
  • Automatic assignment of each call to its relevant Dynamics 365 entity and populating the data within Dynamics 365. 
  • Conversation insights and action item extractions. 

Have all the information to hand when engaging with customers 

With so much happening with customers on a daily basis, it can be often difficult to find the time necessary to prepare for meetings as much as you would like. However, having the right information about a customer and the right opportunity can be the difference between winning and losing. 

This can be achieved with the following new features: 

  • Enriched information per participant taken from LinkedIn and Dynamics 365 insights. 
  • Access to personal contacts and a quick way to integrate them with Dynamics 365. 
  • Access to engagement-related resources like files, notes, and emails. 

You can view the full list of new features for Dynamics 365 Sales here

What is coming to Power Apps in the 2021 Release Wave 1 update? 

Power Apps represent a slightly small proportion of the overall 2021 release wave 1 update. However, we are excited to say that the following new & improved features will be coming to Power Apps: 

  • In-app notifications within model-driven applications – This is an amazing new feature! This means that you are now able to configure a simple pop-up notification with a key item a user needs to address. 
  • Debugging functionality with Canvas App Monitor – You will now find that both system administrators and users can easily assess and troubleshoot apps much faster. 

You can view the full list of new features for Power Apps here

What is coming to Power BI in the 2021 Release Wave 1 update? 

The updates announced for Power BI include the following: 

  • Smart narratives - the ability to speedily assess visuals and reports using the out-of-the-box insights. 
  • Ability to share links to Power BI reporting – this process has been updated to align more with Office 365 applications. 
  • Automatic anomaly detection – the ability to improve charts with the automation anomaly detection for time series charts. 
  • Quick Create – an improved & intuitive experience which will allow users to easily start using Power BI by simply copying and pasting data which will automatically create a report which can be chopped and changed. 

You can view the full list of new features for Power BI here

What is coming to Power Automate in the 2021 Release Wave 1 update? 

The updates announced for Power Automate include the following: 

  • Ability to record repetitive, manual processes through Power Automate Desktop – simply use the process advisor to record a process via a desktop and easily analyse it through the use of a process map and analytics. 
  • Ability to search through records in Microsoft Dataverse through relevance search – simply build cloud flows to trawl through search records using AI-based relevance search for extended capabilities such as wildcards, fuzzy search and regex matching. 

You can view the full list of new features for Power Automate here

Next Steps? 

If you are business that is looking to implement a tailored Dynamics 365 solution or an existing Dynamics 365 user that is looking to take advantage of the latest updates above via an upgrade or some additional Dynamics 365 consultancy or some additional Dynamics 365 Support then please get in touch with our team of Dynamics 365 experts now

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