Microsoft’s mission is to “empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.” Microsoft Business Applications are core to democratizing augmented intelligence (AI) and empowering millions to make an impact through data driven decisions.

To facilitate this empowerment, Microsoft has invested heavily in what I call the Intelligent Business Application platform.

Specifically, Microsoft Business Applications consists of Dynamics 365, the Power Platform (PowerApps, Power BI, Microsoft Flow) and the Common Data Service (all of which are run on/are integrated with Microsoft Azure).

Dynamics 365 consists of traditional CRM / Customer Engagement applications (Sales, Service, Marketing) as well as Field Service, Talent, Finance & Operations (ERP), Retail, Project Service Automation, Portals, Resource Scheduling, AI & Mixed Reality.

Empowering a Digital Feedback Loop

To compete successfully, companies must use data to optimize their business processes. But in today’s world, the core business processes to engage customers, optimize operations, empower employees and transform products are changing. 

Organizations who digitally transform and pivot successfully with this paradigm shift survive. Those who do not will soon fall further behind.

To empower this digital transformation, Microsoft Business Applications offers a unified platform to create a Digital Feedback Loop. 

Watch Microsoft CVP of Business Applications, James Phillips’ Business Applications Summit Keynote highlighting the Digital Feedback Loop.

Unique Assets for Differentiated Customer Value

Microsoft’s unique set of assets (Azure, Office 365, LinkedIn, HoloLens, Bing, GitHub) creates a unique ecosystem that delivers a differentiated advantage to customers over other application vendors, specifically Salesforce, Oracle, etc.

 

Side note: Microsoft's unique approach (integrating CRM with ERP on a common data model) combined with it's set of unique assets contributed to winning best Enterprise CRM Suite, best Customer Case Management for 2018.

It is this unique approach and differentiated set of assets that creates an advantage for Microsoft Business Applications customers. That same advantage fuels Microsoft’s ability to democratize augmented intelligence (AI).

Empowering Millions by Democratizing AI

As applications become commoditized, the infusion of AI will be the key differentiator delivering value for customers.

With Microsoft’s $12bn annual R&D budget, 5,000+ AI focused engineers and an unparalleled history of investment in AI – Microsoft is uniquely positioned to empower millions through the Democratization of AI.

Recently, Microsoft’s AI research and business engineering teams have now taken the top positions in three important industry competitions hosted by Salesforce, the Allen Institute for AI, and Stanford University.

Read more: Microsoft Recently took the #1 spot in four AI leader boards simultaneously.

400 Enhancements = Massive Innovation

The Microsoft Business Applications October Release includes more than 400 enhancements and extends the advantages of customer’s who leverage Microsoft’s Intelligent Business Application cloud.

As part of our Microsoft’s own Digital Feedback loop, many of the 400 enhancements were customer suggestions provided through the Dynamics Ideas Portal (below).

The Business Applications October Release Notes (245 pages) showcases the full breadth of the enhancements and is available publicly here: https://aka.ms/BusinessAppsReleaseNotes

 

7 Advantages of Microsoft Business Applications (October '18)

(Note: All information in this blog is publicly available. My goal is to create a helpful resource for customers considering business applications to be aware of Microsoft's unique capabilities to empower them to solve the most difficult business challenges.)

#1) Open Data Initiative lead by Microsoft, Adobe & SAP

On September 24th the CEOs of Shantanu Narayen, CEO, Adobe (left), Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft (center), and Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP (right), introduced the Open Data Initiative at the Microsoft Ignite (#MSIgnite) conference.

  

Together, the three longstanding partners are re imagining customer experience management (CXM) by empowering companies to derive more value from their data and deliver world-class customer experiences in real-time.

To deliver on the Open Data Initiative, the three partners are enhancing interoperability and data exchange between their applications and platforms — Adobe Experience Cloud and Adobe Experience Platform, Microsoft Dynamics 365, SAP C/4HANA and S/4HANA — through a common data model. The data model will provide for the use of a common data lake service on Microsoft Azure. This unified data store will allow customers their choice of development tools and applications to build and deploy services.

Watch the Open Data Initiative announcement from Microsoft Ignite. Watch the full length Open Data Initiative interview on CNBC:

Read the Open Data Initiative Press Release. Also Microsoft Ignite Book of News.

#2) Continued AI Investments in Dynamics 365

Microsoft Dynamics 365 has included built-in AI since early 2016. AI experiences included Relationship Assistant, AI Action Cards, Auto Capture for email, and more (below).

(Above) Partial list of early AI investments in Dynamics 365.

Signals and Data to Feed AI AI

Microsoft Office 365 is used by 120+ million commercial customers globally. Linkedin has 500+ million users. The graph of connected data Microsoft can model/learn/integrate/ingest signals from is unique and massive. It offers customers a significant advantage.

(Above) Microsoft’s graph includes Office 365 (Email, Calendar, Files, LinkedIn (Relationships), and Dynamics 365 (Customer Experiences).

New Era of Business Applications AI (October '18):

On September 18th, Alysa Taylor, CVP Business Applications announced a new suite of AI business applications that will “deliver out-of-the-box insights by unifying data and infusing it with advanced intelligence to guide decisions and empower organizations to take informed actions.”

 Additional details: Overview of Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities in Dynamics 365 October '18 release.

Dynamics 365 AI for Customer Service

“With Microsoft’s AI and natural language understanding, customer service data can surface automated insights that help guide employees to take action and can even leverage virtual agents to help lower support costs and enable delightful customer experiences, all without needing in-house AI experts and without writing any code.”

First Look: Microsoft Dynamics 365 AI for Customer Service.  Watch Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella and Navrina Singh demo Microsoft Dynamics 365 AI for Customer Care.

Dynamics 365 AI for Sales

“AI can help salespeople prioritize their time to focus on deals that matter most, provide answers to the most common questions regarding the performance of sales teams, offer a detailed analysis of the sales pipeline, and surface insights that enable smarter coaching of sales teams.”

See Microsoft's Ryan Darby Martin demo a few of the AI features available for Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales.

Dynamics 365 AI for Market Insights

Microsoft Dynamics 365 AI for Market Insights empowers organizations to know what your customers are saying, seeking and feeling.

"Marketers can improve customer relationships with actionable web and social insights to engage in relevant conversations and respond faster to trends.”

(Above) Market Insights leverages Microsoft Social Engagement which uses Azure Machine Learning, Sentiment Analysis and integrates with Office 365 & Dynamics 365.

Microsoft Social Engagement with Dynamics 365 can help customer's resolve customer's social complains in under 1 hour. Watch the demo here.

#3) Microsoft Power Platform (PowerApps, Power BI, Flow)

Creating apps for your business is easy with Microsoft’s Power Platform (PowerApps, Power BI, Microsoft Flow). A powerful, point-and-click approach to app building makes it easy for anyone familiar with Microsoft Office to customize and extend Dynamics 365 and Office 365 and build a new category of apps.

 (Above) The PowerApps editor allows drag and drop apps to be created with ease.

(Above) Power Apps enables organizations to leverage existing investments by using any data source via 200+ Microsoft Connectors.

The full October Power Apps updates are available here.

PowerBI: World's leading Business Analytics solution

For 11 consecutive years, Microsoft is positioned in the Leaders quadrant in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platforms 2018 edition.

With 5+ million subscribers using Power BI, it is the world’s leading analytics solution.

PowerBI offers a significant advantage by empowering organizations to connect to hundreds of data sources and has deep integration with Dynamics 365 and Power Apps.

(Above) PowerBI embedded in Dynamics 365. Watch an Introduction to PowerBI. Get started with PowerBI for free.

Microsoft Flow

Microsoft Flow allows organizations to integrate your apps and business processes with automated workflows that connect to more than 200 services out of the box.

Microsoft Ignite 2018 Event Recap – PowerApps & Microsoft Flow sessions.

#4) Office 365 + Dynamics 365 = Better Together

Microsoft Office 365 is used by 120+ million commercial customers globally. Since inception, Dynamics has shared a deep integration with Office 365. In many ways, Dynamics makes Office 365 come alive in new ways to empower your organization.

(Above) Office 365 and Dynamics 365 are integrated to empower your organization with full access to CRM whether in the desktop or on the go with Outlook.

Office 365 & Dynamics 365 integrations:

  1. Outlook / Exchange / Exchange Online
  2. Microsoft Teams
  3. Sharepoint / Sharepoint Online
  4. Skype for Business
  5. Office 365 Groups
  6. OneNote
  7. OneDrive for Business (online)
  8. OneDrive for Business (on-premises)
  9. Office Delve
  10. Yammer
  11. Word & Excel online (data updates) & template generation
  12. Stream video integration with Dynamics 365 for Marketing

(Above) Microsoft Teams & Dynamics 365.

(Above) Use Excel templates to 'Commit Changes to CRM' in Dynamics 365.

 (Above) OneNote integrated with Dynamics 365 allows rich note taking, video/audio, inking and more.

Learn More: Integrate Office 365 Online Services with Dynamics 365.

#5) LinkedIn Sales Navigator + Dynamics 365 = Microsoft Relationship Sales

In June 2016 Microsoft announced the acquisition of LinkedIn and its 500+ million member social platform. Since the acquisition, existing integration with Dynamics 365 for Sales have widened to include Dynamics 365 for Marketing Lead integration, Dynamics 365 for Talent as well as Office's Word.

 (Above) LinkedIn Sales Navigator with Dynamics 365 for Sales.

(Above) Close deals faster by focusing on the right customer with Sales Navigator & D365.

Learn more about Microsoft Relationship Sales.

#6) Dynamics 365 for Marketing

The re-release of Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Marketing in September 2018 brought a new modern experience built from the ground up to include core marketing, event management, voice of the customer surveys, LinkedIn Lead Gen forms and Dynamics 365 Portals. Full Overview of Dynamics 365 for Marketing.

(Above) Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Marketing includes intuitive Customer Journey creation and Event Management with rich analytics.

The October '18 release includes account-based marketing and deeper LinkedIn Integration:

 (Above) Dynamics 365 for Marketing Account Based marketing.

(Above) Adding a LinkedIn Ad to a Customer Journey in Dynamics 365 for Marketing.

#7) Microsoft Cognitive Services offers unlimited possibilities

Microsoft’s Azure Cognitive Services APIs allows you to embed AI (Vision, Speech, Text Analytics, etc.) into your Microsoft business application experience.

My colleague Geoff Innis' blog showcases some excellent examples of the possibilities of integrating Microsoft Cognitive Services with Dynamics 365 for use in the Call Center.

Phone Call Transcription and Insights with Video Indexer and Dynamics 365 (below)

Learn More about Microsoft Cognitive Services. Thank you again to Geoff Innis.

'We have a CRM. We aren't happy. Why Microsoft?'

For many customers, their CRM solution hasn't met their expectations. I hear it often. The guidance I share is this: when evaluating a new a CRM or business solution it is more than just comparing CRM application to CRM application.

As CRM applications become commoditized (forms over data) it will be the infusion of AI in that cloud that will deliver value.

It is here where Microsoft customers will have an advantage.

As Microsoft, Amazon, Oracle, Google, Salesforce duke it out in the age of Cloud Wars that pace of infusion of AI will only increase.

With 400 enhancements Microsoft’s focus on business applications has never been stronger. The advantage for customers using Microsoft business applications never greater.

Just the Beginning

This blog is meant as a starting point of detailing the advantages of Microsoft’s Business Applications. Although we covered 7 areas, we are only scratching the surface.

Topics for another day include Dynamics 365 Connected Field Service, Dynamics 365 for Talent, Dynamics 365 Mixed Reality, Finance and Operations, Project Service Automation, Unified Service Desk or Business Central.

Get Started Today

  1. Access Resources, Ideas and Trials: https://experience.dynamics.com/
  2. Engage the community: https://community.dynamics.com/
  3. Learn Business Applications: https://microsoft.com/learn

View the full October ’18 Release Page (including Microsoft Ignite Keynotes) & Notes for full details and product videos.

What advantages do your business applications deliver?

Please share this post with a colleague. Comment below, let our community know how Microsoft can empower you with an advantage.

Thanks for reading, Nick