Now that Microsoft Dynamics 365 has been officially launched, it’s time to take a look at the features that make it truly special. How will Microsoft’s combination of CRM and AX help you become more productive?

The first in our Deep Dive blog series explored the basics of Dynamics 365, Costs, Overview and What this New Solution Means to You. In Part 2 we’ve chosen to dive into 10 awesome features – our top 10 (in no particular order). The screenshots say it best. When you upgrade to Dynamics 365, these capabilities will be yours:

#1: Relationship Insights

Using the Relationship Insights “assistant” (which is different than Insights), users can track all of their communications and interactions with customers. The assistant gathers data from your interactions, guides you through your daily work, uncovers opportunities, proposes follow-up tasks, manages your email, and even identifies actionable messages.

Once the assistant has analyzed your communications and interactions, it generates action cards and provides you with customized information, links, and action controls.

These cards will:

  • Remind you when there are upcoming activities
  • Suggestion a good time to reach out to inactive contacts
  • Alert you to emails waiting for reply
  • Identify important opportunities that are nearing their close dates
  • And that’s just the tip of the iceberg

 

The Relationship Insights assistant drives email engagement and provides content templates for you to choose from, including recommendations that take historical open and reply rates into consideration.

What’s more, you will now see when a recipient opens an email, clicks on a link, opens an attachment, or sends a reply. Finally! A feature you’ve been waiting for.

Even more awesome is the fact that you can now write emails whenever you have time and then schedule them to be delivered any time in the future. Time zones are not a problem because the system will check them and recommend a time for optimal delivery.

#2: Outlook Client

The integration between Outlook and Dynamics CRM has always been tight. Dynamics 365 takes that integration to the next level so that now you can work more efficiently, track your emails, appointments and tasks without ever leaving your inbox. And there’s more good news, because Dynamics 365 also supports Outlook for Windows, Macs, and the Outlook Web Application. Support for iPhones is coming soon, too.

See the Outlook Client in action! (It’s just a short video)

#3: Editable Grids

Finally! Another feature you’ve all been waiting for: editable grids. Editing records is now faster and easier because this feature now offers rich inline editing for main views and sub-grids, and includes support for JavaScript, grouping, and dragging columns, among other things.

What else will editable grids support? Try in-grid record editing at the entity or sub-grid level, web clients, mobile clients, sorting, grouping, filtering, pagination, keyboard or mouse navigation. And that’s just another tip of yet another iceberg.

#4: Relevance Search

Santa Claus just visited your office and brought you Relevance Search! This new search tool delivers fast results from multiple entities, sorted … drum roll … by relevance. It will find you a match for any word or key word phrase in any entity or Relevance Search enabled field.

It includes facet and filter support, thus allowing you to drill into search results without having to refine your search terms again and again. When you conduct a search, the results will now include matches to any word including related forms. So if, for example, your search contained the word “order" you would also get results for “ordering.” This eliminates the need to use wildcards to find your search term/s wherever they may be in the text.

And there's more:

  • You can now use Relevance Search in any client. And that includes phones and tablets.
  • You can narrow your search results and save time using facets and filters.
  • Your search will return results from within any document stored in Dynamics 365, including Notes, and email or appointment attachments. Some of the document formats that are supported include the Office suite, PDFs, EML, HTML/XML, and ZIP files.
  • Your searches are secure, too, showing you only information you are allowed to access based on established CRM security protocols.
  • And last but not least, Relevance Search also supports text within Option Sets and Lookup fields. Who could ask for anything more?

#5: Mobile

If you’re already running the latest version of the CRM Mobile Client Application, (MoCA), then you know that it includes touch-friendly Custom Controls for a more intuitive mobile device experience. These include sliders, spinners, gauges, calendar, timeline and more.

Dynamics 365 takes that experience to the next level with new workspaces, layouts, colors, editable grids, tracking, and task flows. Indeed, the layouts are now more compact. Plus they’re now optimized to minimize scrolling. What’s more, dashboards and forms “stack” related elements. The result is that more information is exposed at once.

#6: App Modules / Site Map Designer

New feature, new terminology! What are exactly are App Modules? Simply stated, they’re a vehicle for packaging and deploying entities, forms, views, dashboards, and business process flows that in turn allow you to provide specific, role-tailored access within Dynamics 365. This granular level of access means that your users will only see the specific site map, form or view that you’ve included in the App Module.

Previous versions of Dynamics CRM allowed similar capabilities, but it was limited to a single site map. The ability to hide system views and dashboards was also previously limited. Now, with App Modules, you can easily create a highly targeted app using drag and drop functionality. No add-ins or plugins are required. Thus there is no coding involved at all!

Site Map Designer is related to the App Modules feature. You’ll love it because it eliminates the need for a third-party tool to create or edit a site map. Site Map Designer is a visual, easy to use, drag-and-drop tool. You can therefore have multiple site maps, one for each app in your deployment. But even if you do not have app modules, you can still use the Designer to hide features and modules not currently in use. This is a great way to keep the user experience simple.

#7: BPF Designer / Visual Process Designer

Here’s another drag and drop designer. This one can be used specifically for creating business process flows and task flows, and business rules. This visual capability makes it that much easier to create the flows and rules you need. Capabilities now include timers, suggestion bubbles, and the ability to call up workflows directly.

With the Dynamics 365 Visual Process Designer you can also manage the stages and branches of a process, as well as setting rules for process flows. What’s more, to help with images in documentation, there’s an export-to-image capability that allows you to create a visual representation of your process flows.

#8: Learning Paths

Using Learning Paths, including authoring capabilities, you can create your own custom Help experiences for your users. It allows you to literally walk a user through guided tasks, videos, how-to and other documentation. You can also display role-based customized help that would depend of the user’s departments or job functions. Plus, content can be localized in different languages.

With customized Help, users can work at their own pace as they learn new features and business processes or familiarize themselves with new forms. This is an awesome feature because it benefits are twofold: reduced training time and costs; increased productivity in Dynamics 365.

#9: Power BI

With the enhanced capabilities of Power BI in Dynamics 365, not only can you add “tiles” to dashboards, you can embed entire dashboards in reports and make them interactive. You can also create real-time visualizations.

As if that weren’t enough, you can also enable these embedded dashboards for tablets as well as mobile phones.

#10: AI / Artificial Intelligence / Azure Machine Learning

Azure Machine Learning (ML), Microsoft's tool for predictive and artificial intelligence, is included in Dynamics 365. As but a few examples, it can be used for recommending product cross-sell opportunities, auto-suggesting knowledgebase articles, and analyzing cases and tickets.

Versium Analytics’ Next Best Action (N.B.A.) is also now available in Dynamics 365. The capabilities of this customer-centric technology include analyzing actions from CRM historical customer interactions and recommending the next best action to be taken. The likelihood of a positive response is thus incrementally increased.

Because it is continuously suggesting the best thing to do next, users stay engaged with customers and therefore deliver a better customer experience. N. B. A. is available as ready-to-use widgets and you can actually add it to any out-of-the-box or custom entity you choose.

We're just getting started

Now that we’ve covered the basics in Part 1 of our Deep Dive series, and our picks for the Dynamics 365 Top 10 Awesome Features in this, the second installment, we hope you have a pretty good idea of how powerful Dynamics 365 can be for your business. However, we’re just getting started. Additional blogs are in the pipeline, each one planned to dig deep into this exciting new, cloud and subscription-based solution.

Learn More With Our Webcast

Want to learn more and see Dynamics 365 in action? Join AKA for our upcoming Deep Dive Webcast: New and Exciting Features in Microsoft Dynamics 365.