Dynamics 365 Spring Release: 5 Takeaways from an Business Solutions MVP

So the Dynamics 365 Spring Release Launch is upon us. 3 days, 14+ hours of videos and presentations and overwhelming amount of content and change. What does it mean for you? Over the next few blog posts, I will attempt to break down the changes and features discussed in each component to help the community understand the impact. However, I felt it would be great to talk about some “Hidden Gems” inside what was actual being presented and as I see it being a Technology Evangelist and MVP.


 

# ONE: DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION IS HERE TO STAY

Digital Transformation is HERE: If you haven’t noticed, or your still using your older CRM/ERP system, your company is at RISK to become insignificant in your marketplace or channel. Your competitors are deploying and using tools that help them understand their business like never before with predictive analytics from Customer Insights showing your customer retention percentage real-time, Social Engagement managing your social brand and online presence giving you the ability to quickly react, resolve and response before your company reputation is harmed. The “Walmart” class of systems is now available to everyone, at every level with Dynamics 365. Think about it too long, and you will get past by a company using AI models to predict, alter and change their business direction before you even know there’s a problem.

 

# TWO: CLOUD, CLOUD, CLOUD

Cloud Cloud Cloud: Cloud is here to stay and Dynamics 365 is taking full advantage of the Azure Cloud Platform. How many times was on-premises mentioned during the presentation by Program PMS you ask? I recorded only 1 time with security team mentioning security changes would come to on-premises as well. On Premises is dead when it comes to innovation. Deal with it. How many times have you been told Azure is nothing more than IaaS? Think again. The solution stack offered via the Azure platform is simply mind blowing, and in my opinion no other cloud partner or platform can keep pace. Azure is no longer about Virtual Machines and Hosting Solutions, it’s become a development hot bed, IOT,  global directory, intelligence & analytical powerhouse! It’s great to see the Dynamics 365 interaction with Azure and its offerings. Educate yourself on what Azure truly can mean for your company. HINT: It’s not just hosting.

 

# THREE: Versatile Platform

Versatile Platform: Many people did not catch all the underlying work to the platform that has enabled the Spring Release to finally escape a monolithic application model and truly become and app centric, modular platform where you can pick and choose the services you need, and that can grow when your ready. Microsoft Dynamics 365 platform team brilliantly executed this move that will set all of us up for the future in many, many ways. First of all, think about having to test all the areas and modules of Dynamics 365 at once. This leads to longer release cycles, inability for rapid change or fixes, and getting bloated to boot. By breaking apart the Dynamics 365 modules into Solutions for Sales (Business Edition/Enterprise Edition),  Marketing and Service this allows each of these areas to work independently of each, removing the dependency will speed up each of these areas ability to resolve challenges and provide new features worrying about a release cycle. I predict we will completely go away from major product releases with Dynamics 365, and follow the Azure release model, of continuous improvement for your business applications, just like the tool you use the most. Your cellphone! It’s updated all the time, with apps changing and updating independently of each other. For ISVs (as fellow MVP Steve Mordue tweeted), this means that Microsoft will now have to work in the same solution model we have been using for System Customization. This will mean great enhancements for the entire community.

 

# FOUR: Unified Client 

Unified Client: As mentioned, the design principals (Uniformity, Styling, Text Wrapping, Font Standardization, White Space Reduction and theming) behind the interface refresh  is based on the new Dynamics 365 interface called the Unified Client. The benefits of the Unified Client are Reusable, Fast Deployment, Deploy Once, Responsive Design, Accessible and Consistent. As seen in the Business Edition, Dynamics 365 App for Outlook and Mobile Versions. Enterprise Edition will get a small face-lift, until the Unified Client can be refreshed across the board. This means, that better than ever before, build it once and deploy every it everywhere. Making sure that all features are available is an amazing feat. As Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella recently stated.. “When we talk about Mobile-First, we are talking about the mobility of the experience”. Customer experience is key and the new client looks amazing. Integration with Skype, new configurable timeline entity that final replaces the social/activity pane and so much more. An entire article will be devoted to these changes soon.

Business Edition Screenshot:

Enterprise Edition Screenshot

Finally, # FIVE: SMB on the same platform 

SMB Platform: The small. medium businesses or business edition version of Dynamics 365 has been eagerly awaited. And this is announcement should be a big win for everyone. I can remember talking about how to accomplish this with the Microsoft Product Team and several MVPS (Donna Edwards, Joel Lindstrom, Steve Mordue, and Gustaf Westerlund). Our concern was we didn’t want another version of CRM, seeing the failures of AX/NAV So-called CRM light offerings. We wanted a solution built on the existing platform with limits (number of  entities, users, workflows, records, processes). Well, we got our wish, and the same underlying platform we love, will soon host the Business Edition “APP” as well. This is a big win for partners and ISVs but also the community. Add in the power to migrate to Enterprise (and possible backwards in the future), this gives SMB the platform the need. Now if we can just stop people trying to find ways to cheat the enterprise license cost and use business edition instead… Think Team Members 🙂