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Key Takeaways from the Dynamics 365 April ’19 Update

Microsoft recently announced the upcoming April’19 updates with a full 315 pages of release notes covering a wide spectrum of what to expect in the future from the solutions they offer.  The list includes updates to Dynamics 365 apps, Power Platform tools and what is on the horizon for the ERP, CRM and HCM offerings.  

The preview for the below features will be available on February 1st 2019 with updated release notes and Project Service Automation to be released on February 21st.  

Artificial Intelligence (AI) 

Microsoft has placed a clear emphasis on Artificial Intelligence and the innumerable ways it can be used to benefit companies with the utilisation of the vast amount of rich data at hand.  AI for sales will have incorporated predictive forecasting whilst AI for Customer Insights will become generally available as of the April’19 release. AI for Market Insights will also add the ability to suggest related topics from curated searches and will correlate Bing search data with information found on social media platforms.  

With the addition of smart scheduling, users will be able to benefit from more in-depth and accurate email postings based on when users are mostly likely to interact with the content. Due to many different variables such as work profile, demographic and time of the year it can often be difficult to pinpoint a time to reach maximum engagement.  

The smart scheduling AI feature will consider typical patterns whilst discovering new ones to build a preferred time profile for each contact. As customer journeys are already capable of sending communications at distinct times, users can schedule emails close to detected preferred time slots for each recipient. An example would be that the AI may predict that Finance Directors read transactional messages early in the day but do not open any marketing emails or collateral until after 4’oclock in the work day. This of course will vastly improve the effectiveness of user's content.  

This links nicely to the Segment boost which allows users to find more prospects that resemble or behave like the best contacts from their current segment. The system will analyse an existing segment to identify contacts that are most successful and recommend a new collection of contacts who are most likely to yield high business returns based on how well current campaigns are performing. The identified contacts are automatically added to the running campaign and their level of success is then further analysed to increase the effectiveness further. Segment boost will repeat this process until the campaign reaches its configured size or end date. This is a jewel in the crown for industries that rely on identifying their most lucrative target audiences quickly like Professional Services.  

Business Central Updates  

The April ’19 update also boasted plenty of new features for Business Central. There is whole host of new functionality that will improve the efficiency for users.   

Company indicators, a useful tool for on premise that was missing from the cloud has been added. This will allow for a slicker and easier switch between companies for those clients who have multiple companies. This feature will also help with preventing making transactions in the wrong company. 

There is also an increase in number of allowed characters in the NAME and DESCRIPTION fields on cards which includes (Customer, Vendor, Item, Contact Resource) and on documents (Sales Order, Purchase Order, etc) as well as the increase in the DESCRIPTION fields on journals. This helps to resolve the previous issue of the 50 characters limit which can cause problems in projects where there is a larger customer requirement.  

Business Central users are also now able to select multiple items to add to a sales or purchase documentSelecting multiple items at once allows for a major saving in time and efficiency for its users and will also be able to auto add many lines instead of having to add one at a time for any companies that sell products.  

By popular request, users are now able to set expiry dates on Sales QuotesMany companies have previously needed to do this manually or via modificationsAdditionally, you can also view your payment information on customer and vendor statics via FactBoxes.  

A major update many users will relish is the introduction of Lists. This is an extremely useful tool that allows users to create their own featured views and will be available for Business Central customers with the SaaS version.  

Handle your data better with Autosave Indication and keep your data safe with cloud versions and SaaS capabilities. Need more rapid support or simplified help from your partners? Now Business Central will allow users to log a support ticket with us directly from within the system without having to call directly. This of course will rapidly increase the efficiency and ease for users.  

PowerApps users will be able to get incremental platform and tooling updates in the upcoming April ’19 releaseFlow will also showcase incremental new features including integration with Microsoft Learn whilst Power BI users will be benefit from unified data between it and Azure Data Lake Storage.  

Dynamics 365 for Marketing  

No matter what content management system you use there is now an opportunity for wider integration. With the new April ’19 release, Dynamics 365 for Marketing will seamlessly integrate with any third-party content management system whilst allowing your company to provide the same level of capabilities and insights and widening the scope and availability for users. Previously, users needed the application to use Dynamics 365 portals to host features such as subscriptions centre and event portal but with this new update portals will be an option. This will allow users to host Dynamics 365 forms and content on an external Content Management System whilst giving users access to vital interaction data, visits, submissions, registrations and much more.  

Improve cross team collaboration with enhanced sales integration.  Companies that have tighter collaboration across Marketing and Sales enjoy much higher sales and revenue.  Salespeople are now able to add contacts to running journeys or specific segments in Dynamics 365 for Marketing further breaking down silos and barriers.  

Dynamics 365 for Sales  

Improve your customer tracking with robust customer insights from more data providers.  Every Dynamics 365 for Sales user will now be able to view the basic customer profiles from LinkedIn right out of the box without any configuration or additional subscriptions. This will allow users to get more rich data for target customers or some of your most important clients. Businesses will now be able to select multiple third-party data in addition to InsideView and Versium to augment customer data. 

Sales collaboration with Microsoft Teams will also allow for wider communication enabling users to share files easily whilst accessing the latest customer information without leaving Microsoft Teams. Establish powerful best practice methods with playbook capabilities that capture knowledge and convert them into scripted lists of activities (including phone calls, tasks and appointments). The April ’19 release will allow workers to receive content recommendations via playbooks giving sellers additional information on what content to refer to while working on the activities that are created when playbook is launched.  

Leverage Dynamics 365 for Sales integration with partner configure-price-quote (CPQ) solutions. This will allow Dynamics 365 for Sales customers the opportunity to install and configure the right partner solutions to enable salespeople to identify the right configuration of products that fit their customers needs with correct pricing that considers all the possible variables including discounts.  

In the CRM module, Microsoft is adding live chat as a support channel enabling wider Omni-Challenge Engagement Hub availability with additional features for knowledge base authoring and analytics.  

More to come  

Of course, this is a brief overview of the many projected updates for the April ’19 release, for the full document outlining all of the updates click here. What update are you most excited about? 

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