Microsoft Dynamics 365 | July 2017 Updates

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Microsoft have been busy showcasing a number of Dynamics 365 updates heading our way in July.

Some of the headline features include a new Unified Interface, the introduction of Virtual Entities which allow data in outside systems to be integrated via web services, a Customer Insights experience and a slew of other major and minor enhancements.

Unified Interface 

So out of the tumble of information from various community members and commentators, what did we actually learn about the upcoming July update?

Microsoft is phased out the use of ‘CRM’ and ‘ERP’ when describing its Dynamics 365 line-up, despite the fact that most customers still use this nomenclature when differentiating between the customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) branches of its offering.

Dynamics CRM is now being referred to as Dynamics Customer Engagement by the Dynamics 365 team but, rebranding issues aside, there are a number of other more concrete reveals and announcements to get your teeth into…

User Interface Updates

The single most noteworthy change is undoubtedly the unveiling of the new Unified User Interface. This major facelift was first hinted at Summit EMEA back in April. The slides released last week provide more detail to be going on with until private previews start to make an appearance.

First impressions are that it’s built with Microsoft’s mobile-first policy in mind, with one slide showing the ‘unified’ element applied across different mobile and desktop formats. The UI looks much slicker than the previous interface and will probably remind some users of Salesforce CRM.

Some of the features identified include:

UI 

As mentioned, this new Unified Interface is shown with a unified, consistent appearance across a phone screen, tablet and desktop computer, as well as via browser. Other improvements specifically for mobile include a new activity timeline with inline actions and new custom controls.

There will also be expanded offline mobile capabilities such as micro apps that can be designed to fulfil different specific roles by administrators. The theming options should allow greater customisation, the mobile layout support obviously had an overhaul and the overall look is simply fresher and more current.

Virtual Entities

There wasn’t a great deal of detail with this feature but virtual entities will allow integrated data from external systems to be integrated into the interface. Essentially, these virtual entities allow the data to be represented as Dynamics 365 CRM entities – or Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement entities as the current nomenclature probably has it.

According to one slide, the virtual entities feature will be fully integrated into Grids, Find, Forms, Lookups and Sub-grids.

Customer Service Hub

The old Interactive Service Hub is being replaced by a new Customer Service Hub. The Interactive Service Hub looks likely to disappear completely rather than deprecated, as is often the case when a new feature is introduced. Many users certainly won’t mind that, as the older hub could be erratic when it came to reloading waiting times or even trying to load it at all in a private browser window.

Other Reveals and Announcements

Other features and updates revealed during the briefing include:

  • A full integration of Microsoft Flows straight into the new Unified User Interface. Flows will be able to be configured to start from inside Dynamics 365 itself.
  • App Url suffixes can be specified within App Designer.
  • The Activity Wall web resource to be replaced by a new Timeline control.
  • Live Assist improvements including Bring Your Own Bot
  • An improved editor for working with HTML emails and Knowledge Base articles. Preview, Designer and HTML tabs allow you to preview the content across different form factors.

It appears there will be no improvements or changes of any kind to Workflow Designer. It also seems likely that Microsoft will make more announcements and reveal further plans for its Dynamics 365 family at its Inspire worldwide partner conference coming up in Washington DC mid-July. Watch this space!

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