Microsoft Dynamics 365 has come a long way since its release in 2016. Year after year, Microsoft has sought to improve the platform by consistently providing updates, some minor and many transformative. The platform is undoubtedly one of the leading CRM and ERP solutions on the market today. Dynamics 365 owes a lot of its success to the continuous investment Microsoft pours into its improvements, and how the solution gets better every year. So in this article, we take a brief look at what these improvements have looked like over the years leading up to today, we take stock of where the platform is now with the latest additions and enhancements, and then dive into what the future holds for Dynamics 365.
D365 Latest Updates & New Features
Feature release waves to date
Dynamics 365 has seen plenty of growth since 2016. 2017, the first year after its release, saw a rollout of important additions including the modularization of the platform into Sales, Finance, Customer Service and other role-based functions. Microsoft also released a new Customer Engagement Portal, and refreshed the UI to ensure consistency across different platforms. There were also minor quality-of-life changes – the ability to make multiple selections and wrap text in fields, for example – along with security updates and new integration possibilities with LinkedIn.
Since then, Microsoft has added new functionality in annual waves. 2018 brought with it D365 for Marketing, Power BI Insight apps, and new app-building capabilities among other things. In 2019 Microsoft released new AI apps which they had previewed the previous year. 2020’s improvements included new Kanban boards added to Sales, additional predictive capabilities, and new Sales and Field Service mobile apps. 2021’s wave of releases saw enhancements across the board and improved synergy between Microsoft Teams and Dynamics 365, so users don’t always have to switch between the two to access data.
As it has over the years, Microsoft published its plans for its updates to the platform in 2022. The plan is to have the updates released in two waves, the last of which was scheduled for announcement in July, early access at the beginning of August, and general availability starting in early October.
By app, here are some of the main improvements slated for release this year:
Dynamics 365 Marketing
- Added the ability to enrich customer journey information with additional sales activities such as phone calls
- New leads can now be routed immediately to sales agents
- Improved dashboards and data segregation now enable you to track leads through the funnel, see more details in various phases of journey, and see which brands and which marketing tools (emails, forms, etc) are performing best
- Better integration with D365 Sales to give both marketing and sales departments a shared perspective and facilitate collaboration on the business pipeline
- Increased data and AI capabilities with a more than threefold increase in the contact limit per segment from 30 to 100 million contacts, and up to 300 million messages a month from 100
Dynamics 365 Sales
- New designer for better sequence creation
- New side panel that provides more space for editing sequences
- New exit criteria for sequences
- Icons denoting the ends of sequences
- One-click saving of all changes to sequence steps
- It is now possible to assign different sequences to different sellers based on their roles
- It is now possible to program loops of sequence steps to be repeated until a condition is fulfilled
- Sellers can now create and edit sequences and customer engagement plans
- Better collaboration capabilities with Microsoft Teams – chats now appear as activities in timelines
- new extensions for Outlook let you add Dynamics 365 records and preview them as live information cards in the email body
Dynamics 365 Customer Service
- Newly introduced support for voicemail, callback, and direct agent calling.
- Efficiency improvements to queueing and routing, with capabilities for directing calls to agents that have the longest idle times, based on percentage for better workload distribution, and also routing to preferred agents
- Better collaboration features – agents can cooperate to resolve complex cases, with improvements to the integrated Microsoft Teams chat and meeting features
- Improved user experience for agents, with AI-powered conversation summaries, a new persistent view of past conversations, improved navigation across different sessions
- Better reporting with supervisors now able to see Power Virtual Agents analytics across various channels on their dashboards
Dynamics 365 Finance
- New improvements to the billing system to include subscription billing, where recurring quotations can automatically be generated.
- Additional customers can be added to quotations for split billing
- Automation features make invoice processing and ledger settlement even easier
- Optical Character Recognition for reading invoices. Parameters can be tweaked to internal standards, with manual reviews being required for the recognized invoices that do not meet your requirements
- Globalization Studio gets tax calculation and electronic invoicing, and electronic reporting enhancements to facilitate legal compliance in Poland, France, and Saudi Arabia.
Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management
- Improved analytics to help companies quickly identify risks, plan their sourcing better, and enhance their strategies based on supply forecasts
- Enhanced warehouse management features with more flexibility to customize supply chains according to demand
- Warehouse Management mobile app now lets staff complete packing order operations from barcode scanners
- Real-time tracking of inventory consumption in channels, regions, and pre-allocated groups
- Improved multi-language support
Dynamics 365 Commerce
- New chat functionality that can be configured to initiate conversations on e-commerce sites based on parameters such as the number of times a visitor has returned to a page, the number or value of items in a basket, or the amount of time they have spent on the site.
- New functionality enables sellers to create product catalogs for specific B2B buyers, with defined contract-based special pricing with conditions and criteria like quantity, and validity periods seamlessly incorporated into the buyer’s view of the e-commerce platform.
- New native Store Commerce apps for Windows, Android, and Apple now available on the respective app stores. Users can also take advantage of Apple Pay and Google Pay
Dynamics 365 Trends for 2023
2022 has already seen an entire list of impressive capabilities added to an already powerful D365 platform. With the announcement of the 2022 features in the official wave plan, Microsoft has also been very clear about the goals it is pursuing with its investments in the technologies that are being rolled out. Here are five of the biggest areas that are likely to see significant evolution as the platform continues to evolve.
Microsoft Dataverse development
Dataverse is the repository of data that supports Microsoft’s applications. Any app your company uses can theoretically funnel data into this store and, conversely, any app can retrieve from it. This is already a potent capability that Microsoft has leveraged to synchronize its solutions and present a seamless experience to users. Expect this to continue to develop well into the future. Microsoft has already stated its intention to continue investing in real-time collaboration infrastructure within Microsoft Dataverse. Microsoft intends for this infrastructure to be scalable and extensible, with APIs exposed to enable users to further leverage the power of their data with custom applications, automations, and other solutions.
Building on Dataverse’s capabilities, interoperability is likely to be a central focus. The Microsoft Power Platform already uses Dataverse APIs, as do Canvas apps that users create, and automations from Microsoft Power Automate. Expect such integration to grow, with more integration with third-party solutions, and better performance, reliability, storage capability and other increases in the scale of the framework.
There are likely to be improvements in the predictive capabilities of Dynamics 365 in line with the general progress that Machine Learning is seeing. Microsoft is already doing a significant amount of work on solutions like Microsoft Cloud for Retail to leverage the power of AI and ML for making relevant recommendations to shoppers, and providing valuable information. Machine Learning is also already in use for features like the automatic validation of invoices using optical character recognition, and to suggest workflow changes when setting up warehouses.
There has already been a considerable amount of work done to bring value-added capabilities to the cloud with Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare, Financial Services, Nonprofit, Retail and more. Performance, scalability, the scope of services, and availability are all expected to see expansion and enhancements in the coming years. In the near future, there are plans for greater integration with sales and marketing data models for Pharma, and better communications with relevant data exchange APIs. There is sure to be an emergence of new data models across different industries to support the growth of cloud capabilities.
A new Sensor Data add-in that Microsoft has introduced for Supply Chain Management points to the direction the company intends to take with this technology. At present, the goal is to enable businesses to have their devices and equipment autonomously report back about usage and other crucial data. This will give companies the ability to see, in real time, statistics vital for maintenance and planning, and automate some of the functions related to these activities. In the coming years, expect this functionality to be expanded with other value-added innovations and smart capabilities to enhance these processes.
2022 marks six years since the release of Microsoft Dynamics 365. In that time, the platform has grown and seen many changes, with features being added and improved every year. We’ve recounted some of the most pertinent changes, year by year, since its first release. 2022 has likewise been a big year. Many of the upgrades the platform has seen this year, will bring considerable benefits and important improvements in the way companies work with the platform. And with the changes we foresee in the not too distant future, there is lots to be excited about given the pace and direction in which Microsoft D365 is headed.