Accelerating digital transformation with the spring 2018 release for Dynamics 365 and Business Application Platform

James Phillips – Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Business Applications Group

Today I’m thrilled to announce the spring 2018 release for Microsoft Business Applications. We’re unleashing a wave of innovation across the entire product line with hundreds of new capabilities and features in three core areas: new business applications; new intelligent capabilities infused throughout; and transformational new application platform capabilities.

As I talk with business leaders to learn what draws them to Dynamics 365, the answer is almost always the same: they want to digitally transform and believe Microsoft is uniquely capable of helping them succeed on that journey. Microsoft is the only provider of a modern, unified and intelligence-infused family of business applications that span the breadth of business processes – across marketing, sales, service, operations, finance, talent and commerce; all powered by a business analytics and application platform, built atop a common data model, on Azure, our planet-scale public cloud, connected to Office 365 and the world’s largest professional network, LinkedIn.

It is this collection of integrated capabilities spanning the Microsoft Cloud that supercharge Dynamics 365, creating what we believe is an unmatched platform for digital transformation.

Prescriptive guidance for digital transformation

Future growth across all industries, and the organization and business models of entire industries themselves, will be driven in large part by applying digital technologies to more intelligently engage customers, reimagine products and services, transform operations and empower employees.

At the center of this opportunity is data: from customers who visit our websites, comment on our brands via social media, visit our stores and use our products; from our products and services which are increasingly “connected” and provide direct insight into their use and health; and from our people who communicate and collaborate with modern productivity tools like Office 365 and who maintain their profiles, skills and business connections on LinkedIn.

This data from customers, products and people is fuel for intelligence to power transformed experiences, with those experiences further providing data to further refine interactions. We call this the digital feedback loop.

Moving business forward with technology innovation across applications and platform  

Dynamics 365 is built around this data and intelligence – unlocking these powerful insights and efficiencies for organizations everywhere. Our spring 2018 release represents continued innovation that is the result of that focus.

Business process applications

We continue to deliver new capabilities and features in Dynamics 365 for customers and partners of all sizes, and for any degree of business complexity.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Marketing is generally available as part of the spring release. This is a new marketing automation application for companies that need more than basic email marketing at the front end of a sales cycle to turn prospects into relationships. Visit the product page to learn more about how marketers can take advantage of this new solution.

To further simplify our Dynamics 365 offerings and increase ease of selection, today we are introducing Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales Professional, a new streamlined version of our Sales application with core Sales Force Automation capabilities. From opportunity management to sales planning and performance management, the solution optimizes sales processes and productivity. More details can be found on the product page.

Intelligence infused throughout

Across Microsoft we’ve invested billions of dollars over the last two decades in cutting-edge AI research. These investments are infused throughout Dynamics 365 and are now available with the spring 2018 release. For example, in Dynamics 365 for Sales, new embedded intelligence capabilities include: Relationship assistant– helps sellers see alerts and reminders to move relationships forward; auto capture with Outlook – helps sellers save time by analyzing email to find messages relevant to specific accounts and then track in Dynamics 365 for Sales with just one click; and email engagement – delivers insights from email with customers, so sellers can prioritize the most receptive contacts.

We are also announcing Microsoft Power BI Insights apps, delivering out-of-the-box insights tailored to specific business scenarios – across marketing, sales, service, operations, finance and talent. Insights are generated by applying advanced intelligence to a subset of unique Microsoft data. Also, customers can easily incorporate additional data from a range of third-party sources to enhance relevance and accuracy. Power BI Insights apps can be customized in Power BI and further tailored by applying the full power of Azure data services.

Power BI for Sales Insights and Power BI for Service Insights will be available in preview this spring. Power BI for Sales Insights will include an embedded experience for Dynamics 365 for Sales, which allows customers to take advantage of: Relationship analytics – offering a single relationship health score, calculated from large amounts of data representing transactions, customer sentiment, emails and content exchanged, and frequency and level of customer interactions brought together from Dynamics 365, email, and social networks; and Predictive lead scoring – to predict what will happen in the future to help exceed quota attainment by prioritizing efforts on quality leads.

New Application Platform capabilities

Just as every business is constantly evolving, no app that is successfully serving the changing needs of a business is ever complete. That’s where the Business Application Platform comes in –  a foundation to extend, customize and build new applications alongside and on top of Dynamics 365 and Office 365 with PowerApps, Microsoft Flow and Power BI.

With the spring release, we’re announcing a significant update to the Common Data Service for Apps that ships with PowerApps and will enable a broad set of capabilities for modeling sophisticated business solutions. Combining these new capabilities with PowerApps existing high productivity point-and-click app development approach unlocks new potential for customers to customize existing apps across Dynamics 365 and Office 365, and quickly build new ones.

We’re also announcing a new capability in Power BI – the Common Data Service for Analytics. Integrating and analyzing data siloed across business apps and services can be challenging. Common Data Service for Analytics will help reduce this complexity with the addition of an extensible business application schema built on the common data model. Organizations will be able to integrate data from multiple sources and empower users with access to business analytics across all data relevant to them.

CUNA Mutual Group’s new AdvantEdge Analytics offering is a powerful example of how Power BI and Dynamics 365 will help Microsoft partners deliver industry-specific innovation in the cloud atop our Common Data Model. We are excited that CUNA Mutual Group will be the first Microsoft partner to create industry-specific extensions for the Common Data Model, combining their extensive financial services expertise with Microsoft’s expertise in business applications and analytics. Today, CUNA Mutual is announcing plans to develop a next-generation data platform that will extend Microsoft’s Common Data Model to meet the needs of the credit union industry. Standard connectors will populate the data model from the line of business apps used by credit unions, and AdvantEdge Analytics users will get deep insights into their business through Power BI and the ability to translate these insights into action through Dynamics 365. It’s exciting to see partners rallying around and extending the Common Data Model.

Learn more

To see some of these new capabilities set in the context of the broader, global digital transformation opportunity across industries, please tune in to the livestream of Microsoft Business Forward event underway now in Amsterdam. At Business Forward, we are welcoming business leaders from a variety of industries to talk about the steps they’re taking to reimagine how they operate, innovate and compete. Visit the virtual event site here to receive event updates and attend this live web event.

If you are a current partner or customer, or if you’re interested in a deeper technical discussion about what’s new in the spring 2018 update for Dynamics 365, you can find a summary of new features across the Dynamics 365 apps and the platform in the spring 2018 release notes. We also invite you to attend our Business Applications virtual spring launch event on March 28. Register for the webcast and get a firsthand look at our how modern, intelligent technologies can transform your operations, improve engagement with your customers and help move your business forward.

Source: microsoft.com

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