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09.04.2021

What's new with the Dynamics 365 & Power Platform Wave 1 2021 Release?

If you've spent any time within the Microsoft business application space, you’ll be familiar with the twice-yearly ritual that occurs. By this, we mean the release waves, which outline the list of new features Microsoft will introduce to Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform. 2021, despite everything happening, is no different, and we already have the wave 1 release notes hot off the press. Rather than wade through the announcements in detail, let Agility on Demand guide you through what to expect and the key elements to look forward to. 

Dynamics 365 

Microsoft's set of business-oriented apps see a plethora of updates this time around. We can expect several investments on the marketing side of things, via features such as AI-powered segment generation and sending SMS messages to customers. The core set of customer engagement apps, such as Sales and Customer Service see some enhancements, such as a brand new mobile app to allow salespeople to work more efficiently and improved omnichannel capability, thereby enabling us to connect with customers via chat or telephone. Those of you utilising Field Service should expect to see several improvements, that will allow your customers to self-schedule appointments and track customer feedback more effectively. 

Moving across to the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Dynamics 365 apps, we can observe many new features landing. Project Operations, a new offering launched last year, is receiving further investments that will allow you to deploy the application for resource and non-stocked based scenarios. Previous Project Service Automation adopters will also gain the ability to transition across to the new application. Dynamics 365 Finance sees an array of AI-focused updates, to allow for more effective cash flow forecasting and predictions for when customers will make a payment. All in all, it's great to see lots of new capability in these vital ERP applications. 

Finally, we can anticipate other changes across applications such as Business Central, Commerce, Human Resources, a newly developed Healthcare industry solution and accelerators for education, financial services & more, that can help speed adoption. 

Power Platform 

This emergent area of Microsoft's business application offering continues to gain momentum, and the pace hardly slows within this next release wave. Pretty much all of the core products within the Power Platform will have new functionality introduced by April. Within Power Apps, we can see a focus towards providing better end-user experiences, via features such as improved accessibility when working with business process flows away from the desktop and the ability to export PDF documents from canvas Power Apps. Microsoft's leading automation tool, Power Automate, also receives some love, across both cloud and desktop flows, alongside some new capability to allow organisations to understand how individuals carry out a business process. Power BI is not overlooked either, with a key focus on providing amazing data experiences and Business Intelligence (BI) features for the modern enterprise. Watch out for new features such as improved report sharing and the ability to pin paginated reports within a standard Power BI report canvas. Last but not least, Microsoft's low-code AI chatbot platform, Power Virtual Agents sees improvements designed to improve integration across the Power Platform and to reduce the time to develop new chatbots, via features such as detecting problematic trigger phrases automatically and the ability to add chatbots to a Power Apps Portal easily. 

The related components within the Power Platform also receive some attention too. For example, AI Builder, sees several improvements to its Form Processing module, thereby allowing you to better automate complex document processing. Administrators of the Power Platform can also look forward to features such as tenant isolation and enhanced reporting to evaluate Monthly Active User (MAU) counts for each Power App. Finally, numerous new capabilities are coming to address data integration needs, covering tools such as the on-premise gateway and dataflows.  

As we can see, there's a LOT to consume as part of this release wave. We've only scratched the surface on what's on offer, and we hope to have selected some of the features we think will be most relevant to partners working in this space today. If you need assistance digesting this further, then Agility on Demand is in a great position to help. We work with a range of consultants, on a temporary or long-term basis, as part of our project bench offering; thus, we can quickly tap into the specific Dynamics 365 expertise you need to help you along.

To find out how our Resource Benches can help you scale up scale down with an agile workforce, contact Hannah Keep on hannah@agilityondemand.com.

Posted by: Agility On Demand