Another six months have gone by and it’s time for the second major release from Microsoft for 2023. In this release, some exciting new features have been added and updates to existing software have been made across all areas of Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform, including changes to Marketing, Sales, Customer Service and Field Service.
Don’t forget, customers can opt-in for these changes now. This allows you to familiarise and test them before they are officially released by Microsoft between October 2023 and March 2024 in all environments.
Here, we explore some of these new features and updates, giving our opinion on the ones we think you should be keeping your eye on:
In this release, Microsoft is bringing together Dynamics 365 Marketing and Dynamics 365 Customer Insights to become one product. The new application will be sold under a single product SKU, however still provisioned separately. This is available now.
The single product will consist of Customer Insights – Data, replacing D365 Customer Insights, and Customer Insights – Journeys, which replaces the D365 Marketing application and focuses on real-time marketing.
Copilot and AI innovation
In the upcoming months, users will be able to use AI Copilot to aid them in creating journeys by describing them in simple words. You will also be able to prevent messages from getting sent at unwanted times and easily rewrite your existing content to make messages more compelling. AI Copilot will help interpret styles from your website and apply these to any emails, forms or landing pages you design. Colours, fonts, styles and buttons can also be applied easily and quickly.
Additional out-of-the-box journey templates will also be available, which include journeys triggered by form submissions and any post-event follow-ups. You also have the ability to create templates from the journeys.
Unifying sales and marketing
With the deep integration between Customer Insights – Journeys and Dynamics 365 Sales, you can align your efforts with sellers by sharing a unified timeline of customer activities. A clearer, holistic view of the customer that shows all insights and interactions will also become available.
Within the existing Customer Insights application, users will now be able to personalise the customer experience based on the data. By using out-of-the-box AI models, metrics and calculations can be done to find out who your highest-value customers are. These models can then feed into your journeys, leading the customer down different paths depending on the criteria they meet.
From December 2023, users will be able to create more granular lead qualification criteria. The criteria will not only be based on scores, but also signals that indicate a prospect’s likelihood to buy, such as their fit with your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), their intent to buy, recency, and engagement. As well as qualifying, you’ll also be able to set criteria for when a lead gets disqualified, so it stops it from getting added to a journey.
This release sees Microsoft Viva Sales rebranded as Sales Copilot. Bringing the CRM to the forefront, Sales Copilot enables users to view and edit Dynamics 365 data within Outlook and MS Teams. Using AI, emails and sales meetings can be summarised simply, as well as real-time sales tips being easily identifiable. An enhanced sales meeting experience with AI-powered intelligence will help improve sales conversations, enhance professionalism and streamline seller follow-through. Not to mention data entry from Outlook will now be linked back to Dynamics 365, ensuring CRM systems are always kept up to date.
By collaborating with MS Teams, sellers can improve productivity by bringing in the right people and providing them with the necessary insights about the meeting’s topic and attendees. Copilot allows users to create new MS Teams within Outlook, which sets up a Team with folder structures and a private channel you can share with the customer for collaborative working. All linking back to the Dynamics 365 record.
For Dynamics 365 Sales, AI Copilot is at the forefront again, providing a summary of Accounts, Leads and Opportunities all generated by AI. For example, when a new lead comes in you can view the source of the lead, see if it was from an existing contact/ account you previously worked with and what interactions they’ve had.
Another key feature is meeting preparation. Users can get prepared for meetings using the AI-generated preparation notes feature. A summary of the latest interactions including notes, emails and previous meeting summaries, the latest news about the account and any opportunities associated to it will be summarised and visible within MS Teams.
Within Opportunities in the Sales Sequence feature, an ‘Up Next’ section will display any follow-up actions that are required. As emails come in, the system will automatically detect tasks and follow-up points for you, making them easily visible and accessible.
Summarising chat conversations has never been easier for agents, all with the help of Copilot. Live chat and voice calls central to the omnichannel agent experience will provide agents with a single place to manage all their critical work by adding support for the live chat and voice entities in the inbox. These features will include dedicated card layouts and support for routing needs. Analytics for all Copilot-related activities are visible within Customer Service, allowing agents to complete tasks related to conversations, cases and emails more easily.
The user interface has been improved in this release, with the ability to switch to dark mode in the Customer Service workspace app and intuitive icons for call controls in the conversation panel. Users will also be able to compose emails using an improved email experience similar to Outlook.
Other features this release focuses on include:
Thanks to this new release, managers and frontline workers can now create and manage work orders within Microsoft 365 applications, such as Outlook and Teams, by using the power of generative AI. Details can be extracted from emails and automatically filled into the work order creation form, helping to streamline the work order process.
In addition to this, frontline workers can now upload compressed images into Field Service to reduce the bandwidth and storage capacity and ultimately save time. This feature was made available in a switched-off stage on 14th August and will be turned on by default on 2nd October.
Field Service users will have the ability to synchronise and upload their work on their own terms. Within the settings area, users can set how often the application is synched and if it needs to be done with Wi-Fi or via data usage. This allows more control over the automatic sync intervals and the connection type.
Where Dynamics 365 Guides are installed in the same environment as Dynamics 365 Field Service, users can now launch embedded guides that are associated to a work order. For just a Dynamics 365 Field Service environment, guides are still available within the work order and can be launched quickly if previously opened in the recent listings.
Users can quickly create work orders from quotes as they manage the sales pipeline through its existing process, streamlining service delivery and saving time for the team. Essential information is captured in the work order, such as job descriptions, customer information, expected completion dates and quoted parts and services.
Utilising the power of Microsoft Dataverse
This release sees Microsoft 365 Business Chat working alongside Dataverse. For example, within an MS Teams chat, AI Copilot can be used to summarise conversations and interactions using MS Outlook, which in turn reaches out to Dataverse to see what recent and active opportunities the customer has. From here, you can send a summary of conversations and use Copilot to draft emails, all within one space.
From December 2023, there will be an enhanced capability to bring external data into the Dataverse platform to help build applications and solutions. There will also be improved performances for Power Platform dataflows when they are used for data migration processes.
Another great feature includes the generative answers capability in Power Virtual Agents, which will now allow users to reach out to Dataverse to answer a bot’s question. You can even create a SharePoint library to assist with answering them.
Improving visibility and automation for admins in cloud flows
A common pain point associated with the Power Platform has been alleviated with this release. Previously, if a user with a cloud flow left a company, you would have to manually go into their cloud flow and reassign it to someone else. The new release allows the administrator to report on all cloud flows, including their usage and when they last ran, and if any do need reassigning this can now be done in bulk.
Getting the most out of Power Apps and Power Pages
App makers will soon find screen layout templates have pre-configured layouts for multiple form factors, enabling makers to quickly create apps for any device. While creating their app, makers will have the ability to preview how the app will reformat for various screen sizes.
Environment routing will allow administrators to set the main environment when makers navigate to the maker portal page. By setting this, the make portal page will no longer navigate to the default environment. They can also now use Copilot to write formulas using natural language or by providing examples.
Copilot can also now assist with creating websites using Power Pages. All you need to do is describe it and Copilot will build it.
Although this doesn’t quite fit under Customer Engagement or Power Platform, we still think it’s one to be in the know about. Within this release, Microsoft Azure Active Directory is being renamed to Microsoft Entra ID. The change will take effect from August 2023, however, no subsequent changes or updates will be needed. This means licencing, support, pricing and service level agreements for the product remain the same, as do developer experiences, existing logins and URLs.