Top 10 Features from Microsoft Dynamics 365 April Release

Top 10 Features from Microsoft Dynamics 365 April Release

Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Power Platform is releasing its latest update in April this year, have you read through all the release notes yet? 

Clocking in at nearly 400 pages the April update is bringing a slew of new features and improvements to Dynamics 365. 

For those who haven’t had a chance to rotate this riveting read on to their night stands yet, the team at NuSoft has compiled a more digestible top 10 list to high light some of the features that excite us the most! 

10. Dynamics 365 Portals – Portal Diagnostics 

Dynamics 365 Portals is a great way to surface Dynamics 365 information to your customers, but one of the biggest concerns with any customer facing website is performance. 

Research by Google has shown even slight increases in page load time dramatically increase the likelihood of a user simply leaving your website. 

Figure 1: 32% sounds like enough for me to bounce 

In this new release Microsoft is adding a Portal Diagnostic center for portal administrators to quickly diagnose common portal performance issues such as: 

  • Unnecessarily large asset files 
  • Legacy portal features impacting performance that can be disabled 
  • New portal performance optimizations that can be enabled such as header and footer caching 

While portal diagnostics isn’t a replacement for regular portal health checks, it is an extremely useful tool for portal administrators to diagnose common causes of performance issues with the portal without having to performance a deep technical analysis.  

9. Dynamics 365 Customer Service – Case Resolution Extensibility 

For too long administrators of Dynamics 365 Customer Service have been shackled by the inability make any modifications to the case resolution dialog, forcing administrators to tailor their case resolution process to an immutable dialog rather than the other way around as it should be. 

Figure 2: Some things never change; except when they do 

We are happy to announce that with the April release a new era of customizations to the case resolution dialog begins. Administrators will be able to add, remove, or edit any of the fields on the case resolution dialog and customize it as per their requirements.

8. Dynamics 365 Field Service – Embedded IoT with IoT Central 

Embedded IoT in Dynamics 365 Field Service isn’t a new feature being introduced in the April release, but it is getting several nice and shiny new coats of enhancements. 

Embedded IoT Visualizations 

The first enhancement is Embedded IoT Visualizations for IoT alerts. Using IoT visualizations will allow field service agents to not only see the current state of an asset or device, but also provide the ability to view multiple measurements through an adjustable time window. This will provide a picture of what is happening on the device in real time. 

IoT visualizations can also be used to perform deeper levels of analysis, such as viewing the history and trends of measurements, to see if events are isolated or part of a larger pattern. You will even be able to see repair history to better understand the relationship of events and trends to repairs. 

Below is a chart of the information that is available through visualizations and a sample visualization: 

Case or Work Order Alert Asset Mobile 
Current and recent history  Current and recent history  Current and recent history  Within Field Service Mobile App 
Related repair history  View across similar devices  View across similar assets  Current and recent history  

Figure 3:Let’s play guess if the temperature is Celsius or Fahrenheit 

Device Commands and Device Provisioning 

Not every alert needs a human touch to fix, and often an alert can be resolve by sending a command to the device. Field Service now includes the capability to categorize devices and define commands that can be sent to any device within the category. The feature supports both manual and automated commands and can be executed on the device through IoT Central. 

Figure 4: The payload is sent using Microsoft Flow for any Power users out there reading 

Lastly IoT Central integration has also been enhanced to provide the capability for synchronized mapping for device, asset or account in order to facilitate the usage of embedded IoT capabilities. 

7. Dynamics 365 Marketing – Smart Scheduling 

Everybody has their own little quirks and patterns for how they approach their inbox. Personally, I tend to read every email that comes into my inbox right away because I have an irrationally fear that I will forget to respond to it otherwise. The consequence however is any marketing email I get throughout the day I will aggressively delete as low priority, however marketing emails near the end of the day I may be more receptive to. 

Another example might be a manager who might read transactional messages first thing in the morning, but don’t typically open marketing emails that arrive over the weekend.  

In either case there is a clear benefit to being able to schedule your marketing emails to send at a certain time of the day, and for each recipient this time might be different. 

Smart Scheduling is a new AI feature being released in the April update that will consider both typical patterns and discovers new ones to build a preferred time profile for each contact. Using the time profile, Smart Scheduling can be used to schedule and send communications close to the detected preferred time slots for each recipient. 

Figure 5: One day Dynamics will know more about me than I do 

6. Mixed Reality – Mobile App 

Dynamics 365 Remote Assist is an incredibly exciting offering from Microsoft. Words don’t quite do the proper justice to a feature that is so visually focused, so instead I’ll use a video. 

One key point keen viewers may have noticed is that HoloLens is no longer the only device compatible with Remote Assist functionality, you can now also use it with your mobile device. 

In the initial April release Remote Assist will become available on any augmented-reality-enabled Android device, and users will be able place a one-to-one call with an expert using Microsoft Teams to solve problems together. Users will be able to create augmented reality annotation, such as inking and placing arrows, that appear spatially locked in the real world of the mobile device user. 

A general release to all Android and iOS platforms is also on the roadmap for a future update 

5. Microsoft Forms Pro – Intelligent Survey Response Analysis 

Microsoft Forms Pro is an enterprise survey tool that allows organizations to collect feedback from customers, relate that feedback to business transactions and then finally generate actionable insights from the combination of that data. 

In the April release Microsoft Form Pro’s data architecture will be upgraded so that both survey response data as well as business data reside in the same common data source.  

This architecture upgrade will allow forms pro to provide rich question, invitation, and survey response analytical charts as well as dashboards for quick reporting of survey response trends. 

The standard Power BI reports and dashboards will be able to take care of most of the business needs, but business users will also be able to use their Power BI license to build out custom reports and dashboards to meet the unique analytical requirements of each business. 

Figure 6: We even have emojis! 

4. Dynamics 365 Sales – Microsoft Teams Integration 

With the release of the April update, Dynamics 365 for Sales will now be integrated into Microsoft Teams. Allowing for much easier collaboration when working on a sales opportunity.  

Sales teams will be able to use Teams as a collaboration hub, where they can access records together with the Office applications they need to close deals.  

Leverage Microsoft Teams also allows a sales team to work together with customer and colleagues across functions and departments, including customers that do not have a Dynamics 365 account. 

File integration will allow users to co-author documents using Office 365 and automatically sync to Dynamics 365. 

And lastly, users will be able to search and update records on the go using the Microsoft Teams mobile app. 

Figure 7: Everything you loved about Teams, and now with Dynamics 365 

3. Dynamics 365 Customer Service – Virtual Agent 

In the past, developing and deploying a virtual agent to handle frontline customer requests required significant investment in both time and technical expertise. While tools and development frameworks existed, they are generally oriented towards developers and the bot’s dialog scripts are encapsulated in lines of code. 

Dynamics 365 Virtual Agent for Customer Service is a Virtual Agent framework offering a graphical designer where a customer service manager can build complex dialog trees and curate an end-to end conversation between the customer and virtual agent.  

Individuals can now encapsulate their business understanding and conversational expertise without requiring coding or artificial intelligence expertise 

Figure 8: It’s basically a flow chart 

In addition, a test bot exists within the feature to allow users to verify functionality before deploying it broadly, and the test canvas allows authors to trace conversations through dialog trees, and interactive chat bubbles allow quick navigation to specific nodes within the dialog. 

Figure 9: Now everyone can experience the joys of debugging! 

Once testing is complete, you can choose to deploy your virtual agent as a widget to a channel of your choosing, such as a Dynamics 365 Portal.  

2. Dynamics 365 Sales – Forecasting 

Dynamics 365 for Sales has a lot of valuable information around customers and their opportunities, and the new forecasting feature uses the data to help both salespeople and sales managers. 

For sales managers a forecast can be created for their team members so revenue for a given period can be accurate predicted, allowing the manager to make more informed business decisions and predict short- and long-term team performance.  

For salespeople a forecast can be created for themselves to predict whether they will reach their quote, quickly spot pipeline risks, and prevent deals from slipping away by identifying risks early in the sales process. 

The sales forecasting feature will allow sales teams to specify forecast categories for each opportunity, with the ability to view, adjust and submit rollup forecasting for individuals and their teams. 

Figure 10: More accurately guess your commission!

1. Dynamics 365 Sales – Relationship Sales 

Microsoft Relationship Sales merges LinkedIn Sales Navigator functionality directly into Dynamics 365.  

Every Dynamics 365 for Sales user can now view basic customer profiles from LinkedIn right out of the box without any configuration or additional subscription. 

Figure 11Now simpler to deploy, and cheaper! 

In addition installing and configuring the LinkedIn Sales Navigator integration is much easier; the two existing packages have been merged into one, and the integration is an administrative setting that just needs to be toggled on to start using the Sales Navigator.  

And that concludes our Top 10 features list! If you are interested in adding the full volume to your book club, you can get the full release notes in all its glory at this link:  

Below are some honorable mentions that didn’t quite make the last, but are definitely worth checking out: 

Dynamics 365 Marketing 

Dynamics 365 Field Service 

Dynamics 365 Customer Service 

Dynamics 365 Portal