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First Look: Microsoft Dynamics 365 Demo and Overview

On Tuesday, October 11th, Microsoft launched a pivotal cloud product, Microsoft Dynamics 365. It will now be easier for companies of all sizes to implement and adopt enterprise resource planning (ERP) software.

Watching the event live, we heard a lot about how this new product is going to impact digital transformation in the workplace and in general how we do business today. It’s a paradigm shift in business technology, which is exciting but also somewhat intimidating.

But here it is in a nutshell: Dynamics 365 is simply a new business management platform where you can choose from all of Microsoft’s best technology, from Excel to Financials, and create a solution that fits your business model and size. With Dynamics 365, Microsoft is integrating existing Dynamics ERP and CRM products into one new service. This new service now provides end-to-end business application functionality all delivered as a SaaS application in the cloud.

Dynamics 365 Business Apps in the Cloud

Dynamics 365 provides a rich set of business functionality across each of the different business apps that are a part of the Dynamics 365 service. The home screen is the hub where you have access to all the business apps you have installed, including: Operations, Project Service Automation, Sales, Field Service, Customer Service, Marketing, and Finance. You have the ability to choose what apps you need and access them all in one place.

These business apps all share common traits and these core themes are essentially what this entire keynote highlighted. Dynamics 365 business apps are all purpose-built, productive, intelligent, and designed to be adaptable to any environment.

Dynamics 365 Business Apps in the Cloud

Purpose-Built

Dynamics 365 works with businesses of all shapes, sizes, complexities, and even with existing systems. You have the flexibility to start with, and pay for, only what you need. Business apps were designed to give you everything you need to solve a specific business problem, so if your issues are around pipeline management, you can start with the Sales app and just use that. Or you can start with just using the Operations app. As your needs grow, you can enable additional business apps within your system within minutes. They seamlessly integrate with each other as well as with existing on-premise systems that you might be using.

So what does this mean? Purpose-built business apps enable you to integrate end-to-end business scenarios that have traditionally been split up across multiple different systems. All of you data is unified under one roof so when a sales person quotes a price, the system automatically takes into account tax rules and discount calculations, which then feeds into inventory and manufacturing forecasts for more accurate and cost effective planning. Dynamics 365 is unified at the core, from the user experience to integrated business process workflows.

Take a look at what the home screen looks like when a user logs into Dynamics 365:

Dynamics 365 Home Screen

Productive

Watch this video to see how business apps enable greater productivity within your workforce and business processes.

Dynamics 365 makes it easy to integrate automated business processes directly into the productivity applications that your employees use on a day-to-day basis. As you can see from the video recently released by Microsoft, employees no longer have to switch between applications to see the information they need. When they receive an email from a customer in Outlook, the full customer details will appear on screen. To top it all off, the fully native mobile app makes this information available on any device and on any platform – eliminating all the hassle and manual data entry of the past.

Intelligent

With the ever-increasing need to derive insights from data and turn it into action, Dynamics 365 comes with built-in features that are backed by artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms. This means Dynamics 365 can actually use the data stored in your system to help guide your employees on how to drive the right business outcomes for your organization. It also has built-in support for Power BI data visualizations and Cortana Intelligence across all Dynamics 365 data, enabling you to track and optimize your business outcomes.

Watch this video to understand how to drive proactive action from insights in Dynamics 365.

After decades of research into speech, computer vision, and text-to-language understanding, Microsoft has made these capabilities available as APIs with their Cortana Intelligence offering. These capabilities, combined with machine learning and the data analytics services in Cortana Intelligence, provide a platform to enable you to build transformational systems. In Dynamics 365, there are dozens of built-in intelligence capabilities, like product recommendations and customer service sentiment analysis – all designed to help your employees make better decisions and optimize your business outcomes.

Adaptable

To support rapid growth, you need systems that can be easily adapted to the new speed at which business is moving. Dynamics 365 supports the existing extensibility capabilities that any Dynamics CRM, NAV, or AX user is currently using today. The new Common Data Model surfaces all the data stored within D365 across a set of custom entities that model data across all the different business apps.

This includes integrating entities from Office 365 in the Common Data Model, as you can see in the diagram below. If you set up a meeting with a customer to discuss a sales opportunity, the Opportunity entity in the Dynamics 365 Sales app will be automatically linked to the Meeting entity inside Office 365.

Common Data Model

The entities available in the CDM go far beyond Office 365 and Dynamics 365 out-of-the-box – you can add your own or integrate entities from Partners. This gives you a powerful way to model your data across all your business processes that can span every system in your organization. This feature allows you to seamlessly extend and accelerate all of your business apps and all your productivity solutions.

Microsoft has also added two new applications into the mix: Power Apps and Flow. Power Apps and Flow make it possible to build solutions that work both with the Common Data Model as well as data stored in existing systems and other data sources. You can now build apps and forms without having to be a professional developer. That means if you know Powerpoint and Excel, you can now build a business application that works in a browser and mobile app (and you can sell it on AppSource)!

Watch the Full Presentation

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William Wu

Insight written by William Wu

Executive Vice President at Rand Group

William Wu has over 16 years’ experience consulting for and performing ERP software implementations in the energy, technology, telecommunications, and service industries. With a background in both accounting and business and extensive certifications in ERP systems, William possesses both the drive and skill to move a company from where it is, to where it needs to be.

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