Business Applications – October Release Review Pt1

So we’ve had the Business Applications summit recently and had a wealth of updates on where the business applications platform is going and its going to be a little bit awesome.

We have 238 glorious pages of what’s coming and updates in the October 2018 release notes coupled with the on-demand sessions going into deeper detail and crucially some great demos of new and improved features.

So let’s take a look at some of the cool bits of the update and a bit of a view on how they may change things.

Dynamics 365 for Sales

Dynamics 365 for Sales has largely remained a very similar and consistent platform for a number of years with the main changes previously having been the relationship insights/assistant. That’s about to change with some interesting core features and changes that should really move on the feature set significantly.



New feature alert! 

Playbooks are a new capability to provide repeatable, automated and event-driven sales activities based around templates. Microsoft give the example of a product champion leaving during the sales cycle, something that could potentially derail the deal. Playbooks would kick in when this event occurs providing a standard set of actions/activities to remedy the situation. The following could be a typical set of actions in this scenario.

  • Contact the customer base – notifying them of the change in personnel to the new sales lead
  • Booking an initial phone call with accounts

Playbooks sound like a cool feature to really nail a common business issue on what to do when something major happens in a sales cycle such as staff leaving or a new contact coming in at a prospect or perhaps when a prospect has to go to tender.

Who knows whom/Talking points/Quick actions


Who knows whom is a new control as part of the lead process to help you determine if people within your organisation have pre-existing relationships with new leads such as do they know them directly or can they connect you to someone who knows them. It seems to be predicated on the exchange relationship insights feature so is an opt in requirement for users. It allows you to request an introduction from your colleague notifying them that you need help with getting an icebreaker with this lead.

Quick actions work alongside who knows whom to give you quick create controls for common scenarios. Microsoft showed the capability by typing a note saying “Create an appointment to review budgets” which when saved shows the quick action control suggesting to actually create an appointment, not just a note to say to do that. Small things really but useful in the busy, fast paced world of sales. Any time you can make it easier for your sales team to use D365 is a massive plus as this data is massively useful but sometimes seen as an impediment to the sales team to just get on and do their thing.

Ice breakers are seemingly a new type of relationship insight, again utilising exchange data to review the last known interaction and suggest the next best course of action. In the example shown, an email from the client has suggested they’ve just come back from ‘Vacation’ (Summer holibobs for the brits) and had a wonderful time. Great way to remind you of the little things that can really help bring focus on the relationship with that person and help build the key sales power play of ‘rapport’. Having a solid rapport with your prospect inevitably puts you in a good place, so any tools that help kick you into gear with timely reminds will be very useful in the fast paced sales world.


Updated Sales controls

Sometimes, it’s the small things that count and in “Sales automation and productivity with Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales” session, the following slide was revealed.

NewSales Controls

Product grids have been a bit legacy feeling for some time so some enhancements especially with the Unified Interface feel overdue. Seems to suggest an easier way of interacting with individual product line items and an easier view of product recommendations to show up/cross sell and replacements.

Hierarchy controls give us an easier way of showing hierarchical relationships with multiple child and grandchild records. Not earth shattering but really bloody useful. I love these small, useful updates that don’t kick down the walls but just show some care for people who use the platform to make business simpler.

Dynamics 365 AI for Sales

So in the last major D365 release we had (finally!) Dynamics 365 for Marketing and in the October release we get a supplementary sales app called Dynamics 365 AI for Sales.


Dynamics 365 AI for Sales is designed at Sales Managers to give them a single look view at team performance and the general pipeline health. Using Natural language based Q&A to allow managers to ask questions and get contextual answers relating to the data in Dynamics. This will give Sales Managers answers to import questions such as

  • How healthy is my teams pipeline
  • What should my forecast be for the quarter (This could be seriously cool as it should be based around machine learning driven experience of opportunities likely to come in)
  • What are my star players doing well? (Again massively cool, what sets apart our A-lister sales staff from the rest? Do they book more calls or send more emails etc)


Really interesting new app that I can’t wait to get my hands and really kick the tyres 🙂

Next time

In my next post, we’ll look at the new features and changes coming with in the Dynamics 365 for Customer Service arena which has some great new stuff coming with a big focus on true omni-channel capabilities.

Microsoft Business Applications Summit 2019 – Keynote Wrap up

I’ve had the great privilege to attend the Microsoft Business Applications Summit 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia, this week with 11 members of the QuantiQ team and now, safely back home, I’ve had a chance to reflect on my time there. Simply…..it was a fantastic experience and chance to be around some of the brightest and best talents in the D365 space. So this post will highlight some of the key announcements and take away’s from the conference. Enjoy!

QuantiQ team at MSBizAppsSummit


Starting with the keynote session presented by James Phillips, Corporate Vice President of Business Applications, kicked off the proceedings for the conference detailing some key business metrics around the PowerPlatform and Dynamics 365 stacks, some of which are incredibly impressive! 95% of the Fortune 500 use PowerBI……making Salesforce’ acquisition of Tableau seem a bit silly to try and catch up. Another great stat, 700% growth in PowerApps going into production, which matches up with what we are seeing with our clients at QuantiQ and the broader Microsoft story.

Key statistics around Business Applications momentum

James also highlighted that we live in a data-driven world with applications producing more data than ever before and that data is now coming first allowing a business to understand their customers better than ever and turn reactive processes upside down to become proactive. Don’t wait for a customer issue to occur, proactively deal with it before it becomes an issue. Connected Field Service is a critical driver in this behaviour.

Digital feedback loop

The digital feedback loop premise is still key to the wider Business Applications idea with data being fed from numerous sources and traversing the levels of the Business Applications stack. The capability under the Microsoft banner makes for a compelling story as they genuinely have all the bases covered which rivals are unable to offer. Microsoft Azure, the Power Platform, Office 365, Dynamics 365, LinkedIn……the list of amazing applications goes on and creates a fantastic ecosystem.

Virgin Atlantic

A key portion of the keynote was dedicated to the great story of innovation coming out of Virgin Atlantic who has jumped in with the Power Platform and delivering business change to ageing processes. The story of Manuela Pichler, who has championed the usage of PowerApps at Virgin Atlantic, was shown and is well worth watching to understand how the game is changing. Gone are the days of excel sheets and paper processes, switching up to simple but effective PowerApps are key. Check out the video below that explains the story.

The keynote also demonstrated several other customer success stories such as Grant Thornton who are using Dynamics 365 Sales Insights to stimulate the right conversations with their customers at the right time. Also, Malibu boats, who are utilising Dynamics 365 Product Visualise and Experlogix CPQ to provide customised views of potential boats. A number of other customer demonstrations and product releases were announced, but I’ll deep dive into them in other posts.

Another key area was the focus on community and the great work being done by groups such TDG and #PowerAddicts in promoting the Dynamics/PowerPlatform communities out there. They’ve put a tonne of effort into building the community aspect and promoting good causes such as the #hack4goodMBAS event creating PowerApps to help make significant change to charities. I didn’t get a chance to attend this but did pop my head in and it looked like a fantastic event.

Overall, the keynote set the bar for the rest of the conference, outlining a few days of substantial workshops, presentations and deep dive sessions into the extraordinary rate of change and frankly, market leading developments in the business applications space. Microsoft, under Satya Nadella and the business applications management structure, is continually readjusting the bar for application ecosystem excellence. The introduction of the PowerApps and the common data model has changed how we think about applications and the previously silo culture of data. Companies are now looking at a platform for their business applications rather than point solutions, and currently, there is only one major player in the game. Well done Microsoft, I’m looking forward to the next few years of business application excellence.

Dynamics 365 Customer Service – Last activity direction

During nearly every implementation of Dynamics 365 Customer Services, someone inevitably asks is there an easy(ish) way of determining if the customer has responded to an email. The answer is yes.

On the email message entity, the direction field is set by server side synchronisation based on, you guessed it, the direction of the email coming into or out of Dynamics.

2017-08-13 21_20_15-Advanced Find - Microsoft Dynamics 365 - Microsoft Dynamics 365 - Microsoft Dyna


This allows you to do the following:

  • Create a field on the case entity called ‘Last response by’ with the following options
    • Customer responded
    • Awaiting response
  • Create a workflow on the email message entity on creation of new records to update the regarding case, setting the ‘last response by’ field to ‘customer responded’ if email direction = ‘incoming’ or ‘awaiting response’ = ‘outgoing’

You can then create views based on this to help your customer services agents in determining cases to be prioritised based on interactions.

TIP – Be careful with your workflow and set appropriate filters such as checking that ‘regarding’ has data so it only affects emails going to/from an active case record.

Dynamics 365 Portals – Reset Cache Tool

Hey all,

Quick one that I had posted on crmtipoftheday.com previously but a good kick start to getting my blog running again!

Append /_service/about to your portal URL in the latest release of Dynamics 365 Portals to get the handy ‘Clear cache‘ button.

Hopefully this gem will help you when working with #Dynamics365 Portals and the ever lovely cache issues!