Microsoft Dynamics 365 Deep Dive Series: Our Top 10 Favorite Cool Tools

As you know, Microsoft has officially released Microsoft Dynamics 365. But what exactly is it? How is it better now that CRM and AX have been brought under one roof? And why should you be planning for an upgrade to Dynamics 365?

In our first Deep Dive blog on Dynamics 365, What It Is, What It Costs, and What it Means to You, we introduced how it’s structured and priced, and how it can help you transform your business. We continue in Part 2 with a look at 10 “cool tools” in Dynamics 365. This is the fun part…the great new features that we’re excited about because they are all about productivity. It’s hard to narrow it down to just a few, but here are our favorites (in no particular order:

Dynamics 365 “Cool Tool” #1: Relationship Insights

Relationships Insights (not to be confused with Insights) helps users keep track of customer communications and interactions. It uses information derived from interactions to help guide your daily work, find critical opportunities, manage email communications, identify actionable email messages, and propose follow up activities.

The assistant analyzes the information available to it and generates action cards. Different types of cards provide tailored information, helpful links, and action controls for working with that information.

The cards can:

  • Remind you of upcoming activities
  • Suggest when it might be time to reach out to a contact that’s been inactive
  • Identify email messages that may be waiting for a reply
  • Alert you when important opportunities are nearing close dates
  • And much more

Relationship Insights also includes email engagement. When writing a new email, you can choose content templates, which includes recommendations based on previous open and reply rates.

We finally get the ability to know when a recipient opens an email, clicks a link, opens an attachment, or sends a reply. Oh, yeah!

You can even write your emails when it’s convenient for you and schedule delivery for when they’re most likely to be noticed and read by recipients. The system even checks recipients’ time zones to provide advice about when the best delivery times might be.

Dynamics 365 “Cool Tool” #2: Outlook Client

Outlook integration with Dynamics CRM has always been a key strength, and now, like the 6 Million Dollar Man, are better, stronger, faster. The result?

Work faster and more efficiently while still tracking all email, appointment and task activities — all without leaving your inbox. Even better, it supports Outlook for Windows, Outlook for Mac, Outlook Web Application, and soon on the Outlook app for iPhone. So, all you Mac users out there, get ready for a much-improved CRM tracking experience.

Watch this short video to see the Outlook Client in action

Dynamics 365 “Cool Tool” #3: Editable Grids

Woohoo! We finally see one of the most requested features to be added; Editable Grids. Features include rich inline editing for main views and sub-grids, JavaScript support, grouping, dragging columns, and more; which will make editing records much faster and easier and with fewer clicks.

Editable grids support:

  • In-grid editing of records at the entity or sub-grid level
  • Web and mobile clients
  • Navigation using a keyboard or mouse
  • Sorting
  • Grouping
  • Filtering
  • Moving and resizing columns
  • Pagination
  • Lookup configuration
  • Calculated fields and Rollup fields
  • Business rules
  • Hierarchical view
  • Enabling or disabling of cells based on security role

Dynamics 365 “Cool Tool” #4: Relevance Search

Houston, we have true global search! Relevance Search uses the power of Azure Search to deliver fast results from multiple entities, sorted by relevance. It finds matches to any word (including multiple key words) in the search term in any Relevance Search enabled field, in any entity. With facet and filter support (left side of screenshot below), users can drill into and explore search results without having to repeatedly refine search terms.

When you search for something, such as “order for litware”, results are returned with a match to any word in the search term, including inflection forms of words, like “order,” “ordering,” or “ordered”. And no more wildcards are required to search anywhere in the text!

In addition:

  • Relevance Search is available in mobile clients: Relevance Search is available in any client you choose, including phones and tablets.
  • Explore results using Facets and Filters: It’s easier to find what you are looking for when you can narrow your search results, particularly when a simple search term may result in hundreds of matches.
  • Search within Documents: One of the best capabilities of Relevance Search is that you can now search for text in a document stored in Dynamics 365! These include documents in a Note and Attachments on an Email or Appointment. Several document formats are supported, including Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.), PDFs, EML, HTML/XML, ZIP, etc.
  • Search records and security: All searches respect CRM security and only show you information that you have access to in CRM.
  • Search in Option Sets and Lookups: Text in Option Set or Lookup fields are also supported.

Dynamics 365 “Cool Tool” #5: Mobile

Microsoft Dynamics 365 MobileIn the previous release the CRM Mobile Client Application (aka MoCA) included new, touch-friendly Custom Controls (sliders, spinners, gauges, calendar, timeline, video player, etc.). These controls provide a more intuitive experience for users on mobile devices.

There are lots of great new features in this release, including: a new workspace, layout, colors, editable grids, tracking, and task flows. Layouts are more compact and optimized to provide essential information at a glance with minimal scrolling. Dashboards and forms stack related elements, exposing more info at once.

Dynamics 365 “Cool Tool” #6: App Modules / Site Map Designer

App Modules, in simple terms, are a way to package and deploy selected entities, forms, views, dashboards, and business process flows that allow you to provide very specific, role tailored access to Dynamics 365. It provides even more granular access to features than any previous releases – e.g., your users only see a specific sitemap, forms and views you add to the app.

You could sort of implement this in previous versions of Dynamics CRM, however, you were limited to a single site map and there was limited ability to hide system views and dashboards. With the introduction of Apps, this means you can easily create a highly-targeted app that shows only those areas of CRM you want them to see. Best of all these apps are created using drag and drop functionality and no add-ins or plugins – yes, that means with NO CODE.

A related feature to App Modules is a new Site Map Designer. No longer will you have to use a third-party tool or edit the sitemap directly! The Site Map Designer is a visual, drag and drop, way to update your sitemap.

Even better, this means you can now have multiple site maps, one for each app in your deployment. If you don’t have any apps, you can still use it to more easily hide the features and modules of CRM that you are not currently using, making a simpler, streamlined and efficient user experience.

Dynamics 365 “Cool Tool” #7: BPF Designer / Visual Process Designer

This is a great new addition. The Visual Process Designer is a drag and drop WYSIWYG designer for the creation of business process flows, task flows, and business rules. New capabilities include timers, suggestion bubbles, and the ability to call workflows directly. The visual capabilities greatly improve the way you create your business process flows.

Now it’s easier than ever to manage the stages and branches of a process and establish the rules involved with progressing through the process flow. To help with documentation there is an export-to-image capability to get a nice visual of your process flows.

Dynamics 365 “Cool Tool” #8: Learning Paths

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Learning PathsLearning Paths allow you to create your own custom Help experience for your users. It includes authoring capabilities to walk a user through guided tasks, videos, how-to, and other documentation. E.g. on a given form or view you can display different Help content for sales people vs. customer service reps. You can even localize your content in different languages.

Learning Path provides a great way to help users discover new features and become familiar with new forms or business processes at their own pace right from the app. This can help you reduce training time and costs and enable your users to more quickly become productive using Dynamics 365.

Dynamics 365 “Cool Tool” #9: Power BI

In the last CRM 2016 update, Power BI tiles could be added to dashboards. With Dynamics 365 we can now embed entire dashboards to create rich, interactive reports and real-time visualizations in Microsoft Dynamics 365.

Even better, it’s now also possible to enable these embedded Power BI dashboards for mobile phones and tablets.

Dynamics 365 “Cool Tool” #10: AI / Artificial Intelligence / Azure Machine Learning

The future is now. This release will introduce Azure Machine Learning (ML) for product cross-sell recommendations, auto-suggesting relevant knowledgebase articles and case/ticket analysis. Azure ML is Microsoft marketing speak for their predictive and artificial intelligence capabilities.

In addition, Versium Analytics, Next Best Action (N.B.A.) is available. Versium is a customer-centric technology that analyzes actions from CRM customer interactions and recommends the next best action to take, increasing the likelihood of a positive response.

By continuously suggesting ‘what to do next’, Next Best Actions helps your users keep engaged with customers delivering a first-class customer-centric experience. Available as ready to use widgets the solution can be added to any out of box and custom entities.

We are Just touching the Surface (pun intended) here, folks.

This wraps up an overview of some of the exciting new capabilities available with Dynamics 365. More than just features and cool stuff, Dynamics is entering a realm of truly productive and predictive capabilities to help you annihilate your competition. Stay tuned for more awesomeness as we continue our Deep Dive series over the coming months.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Webinar

In the meantime, ioin us for Part 2 of our Deep Dive Webcast Series on February 16th to see a demo of these features and more.

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