Perfect Image Microsoft Dynamics 365 expert, Paul Rutter, explains everything that businesses need to know about the Spring Launch of Dynamics 365.

Exciting news! Microsoft’s big Spring Launch has recently been announced, with release beginning in April 2018. I thought it would be wise, given the 221 page release notes, to summarise what the update is all about, from the perspective of a Dynamics 365 consultant. I’ll explain the major benefits this update will bring, how (and why) data is becoming the focal point of businesses to benefit customers, and whether there is a “killer feature” of the update.

What is the Spring Launch?

The Spring Launch is an update of Dynamics 365, but it’s not just a new version of one product, it’s the full end to end suite. Not too long ago, you would buy on-premise licences and perform a major upgrade of the product every few years, potentially requiring an investment in new hardware. By moving to a Software as a Service model, built on Azure, Microsoft has opened up the opportunity to be more agile in the way we consume the latest features. What we now have is a half-yearly release cycle, ensuring businesses always have the latest features at their disposal. And because the platform is hosted on the Azure platform, we no longer need to worry about server hardware at the time of upgrade.

Notable Improvements to the System

For each application across the Dynamics platform, there have been announcements for considerable leaps forward in terms of functionality and ease of use. Here are some of the top new benefits I’m excited about:

Dynamics 365 for Marketing

  • Effortless, personalised content creation, from premade templates for more successful email campaigns
  • Intelligent event marketing and management options to target the right people at the right time

Dynamics 365 for Sales

  • Deeper, embedded insights and improved integration with LinkedIn Sales Navigator
  • New features to help salespeople better nurture and manage customer relationships

Dynamics 365 for Customer Service

  • More options for case and knowledge management on-the-go from any device
  • External web portals hosted on the cloud can be built for better methods of communication and gathering feedback for analysis

Dynamics 365 for Field Service

  • More effective resource scheduling, and optimisation improvements
  • Connected Field Service (IoT) enhancements to alerts, preventative maintenance notifications, and synchronisation between devices

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Common Data Service for Apps

  • A single system of record for business data across Dynamics, Office and PowerApps.
  • New capabilities include: improved entity creation; server-side logic; calculates and rollup fields; enhanced SDK support.

Power BI

There are six pages alone in the Spring Launch release notes to summarise the updates to Power BI. That just goes to show the importance of Business Intelligence, more so now than ever before. Microsoft Power BI is being fed into every app, every service, everywhere it possibly can to give you a fully rounded view of your company and customers.  Microsoft wants data to be a business’s main focus: to let real, information-backed demand shape how your business works.

Find out more about Microsoft Power BI here.

Data-centric Businesses

There’s been tighter integration with Power BI to make data the central point your business works with – and also a tighter integration of what were traditionally very disparate systems. When Microsoft introduced the concept of Dynamics 365 it was for good reason. You traditionally had a CRM system that sits on one side of the “customer” loop, and an ERP system that sits on the opposite side, in the “products” loop. These two processes are inherently connected, but technology has never really reflected that, until the launch of Dynamics 365, and especially given some of the new features in the Common Data Service for Apps.

What you have now is a focus on your end to end business processes, whilst keeping the customer at the heart of everything you do. You can gain a deeper understanding of your customers, and your employees can make intelligence backed decisions, based on previous customer interaction, which in turn keeps customers happy. With this strong focus on data, there’s also been a big push for the GDPR compliance, which they’ve now invested into heavily, and more tightly incorporated into every single app upgrade.

Modern, Unified, Intelligent and Adaptable

A change in focus going forwards is that Dynamics 365 is going to be: Modern, Unified, Intelligent and Adaptable. I think this change is necessary because if your business grows, the market shifts, or your audience changes and your system can’t change, your business won’t survive. Through the introduction of Dynamics 365 and new features such as Power Apps and the Common Data Service for Apps, Microsoft has created a platform that is tightly integrated, adaptable and rapidly customisable to meet ever-changing business needs.

What’s the standout feature of the Spring Launch?

People might ask what the “killer feature” of the Spring Launch is. The answer to that is there isn’t one – it’s the 220+ pages of new features and functionality; it’s the connections and cohesiveness between data, the platform, and the apps; it’s the way Dynamics 365 is developing and revolutionising how business works. It’s the demonstration of the investment Microsoft is continuing to make in its products, for its customers. That, to me, is the most exciting part of the Spring Launch.

Paul Rutter – Microsoft Expert at Perfect Image

Paul Rutter is Senior Solutions Architect at Perfect Image and Microsoft certified Partner Technology Solutions Specialist in Business Applications. He is certified in Microsoft Azure, Dynamics 365 and SharePoint. In 2008, he started his career in IT as a developer, and joined Perfect Image in 2010, working his way up to lead a team of certified Microsoft consultants who are experts in architecting, implementing and supporting Dynamics 365. He has since transitioned into solution architecture, providing guidance and oversight to the wider delivery teams within the business.

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