The long-anticipated April ’19 Release has started rolling out, promising to deliver a host of new and innovative features, enhancements and functionality to the existing Dynamics 365 applications. These applications include Sales, Marketing, Customer Service, Portal, Field Service, Project Service Automation, Finance and Operations, Talent, Retail, and Business Central.

This release is also the first major update where all Microsoft customers across Dynamics 365 will be on the same and latest version, and on a consistent update schedule. Going forward, Microsoft will be releasing major updates every year in April and October, following the same pattern as this release, delivering continuous enhancements and additional functionality throughout the year.

This article aims to highlight a few of the most significant additions to the Dynamics 365 technology stack but is by no means totally comprehensive, simply due to the sheer volume of items in this release.

Along with hundreds of enhancements and new capabilities added to the existing business capability verticals in the Dynamics 365 applications, Microsoft is introducing brand new functionality and applications in several areas as listed below:

  • Mixed Reality experiences using Microsoft Layoutand Microsoft Remote Assist
  • Microsoft Forms Pro is a brand new enterprise survey app built on top of Microsoft Forms and integrated with Dynamics 365 and Common Data Service.
  • Artificial Intelligence capabilities using Microsoft AI research, tools, data, and the Power Platform to assist organizations in their digital transformation journey for customer service, sales, and marketing functions.
  • Dynamics 365 Sales Insights providing actionable insights to drive personalized engagement and proactive decision-making.
  • Dynamics 365 Market Insights enables business users to gather actionable insights based on what consumers say, seek, and feel about their brands and products.
  • Dynamics 365 Customer Service Insights optimizes the customer experience through AI enhanced analysis.

There are three new Artificial Intelligence driven applications added to Dynamics 365 to drive efficiency, insights and security:

  • Dynamics 365 Virtual Agent for Customer Service provides AI-powered chat bots to optimize the customer experience.
  • Dynamics 365 Customer Insights enables every organization to unify and understand their customer data to harness it for intelligent insights and actions.
  • Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection enables e-commerce merchants to drive down fraud loss, increase bank acceptance rates to yield higher revenue, and improve the customer online shopping experience.

Microsoft is continuing the journey started in the October ’18 Release to make Dynamics 365 Portal an external customer-facing platform for all Dynamics 365 applications. This initiative will be ongoing, and the following areas have seen heavy investment from Microsoft in this release to:

  • Drive improvements in fundamentals.
  • Invest in integration with other Microsoft services.
  • Provide new extensibility patterns to enhance capabilities.
  • And most importantly, extend Power Platform to external users.

PowerApps is a suite of apps, services, connectors, and a data platform that provides an environment for rapidly developing applications and building custom apps for your business needs. This release provides huge improvements in PowerApps to enable efficiency and ease of use in the following areas listed below:

  • New and improved capabilities for app makers
  • Better platform for administrators
  • Unified Interface for everyone
  • Enhanced platform capabilities
  • Embed apps everywhere
  • Build apps at scale with Independent Software Vendor Pro Dev Tooling

With Power BI, Microsoft strives to help organizations create a data culture where every employee can make decisions based on facts, not opinions. Through integration with PowerApps and Microsoft Flow and embedding these in applications, Microsoft proposes to facilitate action with insight.

To achieve this, Microsoft is investing in five key areas to drive a data culture:

  • Simple, fast, intuitive experiences that inspire every employee motivated to participate.
  • Support for large-scale, enterprise-wide BI with self-service.
  • Enabling agile, self-service, big data prep with Azure so that business analysts can participate in the synthesis and enrichment of digital signals and organizations can accumulate data of analytical value in Azure Data Lake Storage.
  • Pervasive application of AI to make the inherently difficult task of determining what truly matters easier for business users by automatically uncovering hidden insights and helping business analysts with data preparation.
  • Enabling solution developers to embed insights within the applications where actions are taken.

Common Data Model and Data Integration embodies Microsoft’s strategy to accelerate data-gravity and bring data from a variety of sources to Common Data Service, Power BI dataflows, and Azure Data Lake Storage Gen2. Microsoft worked with third parties to form the Common Data Model and collaborated with Adobe, SAP and others on the Open Data Initiative.

As a result of this effort, Microsoft will deliver in this release:

  • An extensible platform that supports a rich ecosystem of ISVs and partners who develop hundreds of connectors to new sources.
  • The Common Data Model, which is used and extended by ISVs and industry (and which is evolving into One Data Model as part of the Open Data Initiative).
  • Power Query as the data prep solution through Microsoft products, including Power BI, PowerApps, Logic Apps, Microsoft Flow, and Analysis Services (both Azure-based and SQL Server Analysis Services), and Microsoft Excel.
  • Hybrid connectivity via the on-premises data gateway.
  • Dual-write and Data Integration solutions.

The content above is a fraction of the April ’19 Release contents, sourced from the Release Notes that can be downloaded or viewed online from the link below.

As you can see, we live in exciting times, with technology advances increasing daily at a staggering rate. A world of business capability, efficiency and accessibility waits for your business and customers in Dynamics 365.

Please feel free to contact us for more detailed information or to help plan and execute your journey to digital transformation of your business.