I struggled to think of a good title for this post, and I hope to change it to something more inspirational, as this is a very significant topic.
Microsoft have made several recent announcements in March 2018, but for me the most significant is the PowerApps Spring Update. This may seem strange for me, a CRM MVP, to say, given how much there was on CRM in the Business Applications Spring ’18 Release Notes, but I think it makes sense once you realise that the PowerApps Update describes the new and future Common Data Services (CDS) architecture, and that in this architecture, much of CDS is the CRM platform (aka xRM).
Rather than CDS being a separate layer or component that then communicates with the CRM platform, CDS and CRM are a shared platform.
Strictly, it's not quite as simple as the last sentence makes out, especially as CDS now splits into Common Data Service for Applications and Common Data Service for Analytics (I'm hoping we'll soon get good acronyms to distinguish these), but for now it's worth emphasising that, if using Common Data Service for Applications, you are directly using the same platform components that CRM uses. This has several major implications (all of which are good to my mind):

  1. CDS for Apps can fully use the CRM platform features, such as workflow, business process flows, calculated fields. This immediately makes CDS a hugely powerful platform, but also means there are no decisions to take on which platform to use, or differences to take into account, because they are the same platform
  2. There are no extra integration steps. Commissioning a CDS environment will give you a CRM organisation, and equally, commissioning a CRM organisation will give you a CDS environment. This is not a duplication of data or platforms, because again, they are the same platform
There's a lot to play with, and explore, but for now this seems a major step forward for the platform, and I feel I'll be writing a lot more about CDS (though I'm still not sure when I'll stop referring to CRM when describing the platform).
The one area that still needs to be confirmed, and which could have a major impact on adoption, is licensing, but I hope we'll get clarity on this soon.