We share some of our favorite features for Dynamics 365 and Power Platform from the 2022 Microsoft Release Wave 2.
Did you know Microsoft’s mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more?
This year, we think they’ve hit the mark. The 2022 Microsoft Release Wave 2 contains hundreds of new features across Dynamics 365 and Power Platform applications, focusing on intelligence and collaboration. These focus areas seem especially appropriate given the time we live in – where AI continues to take off, and companies need to think more innovatively in terms of collaboration and communication due to the recent boom in remote work.
The potential is inspiring.
In this blog, we will highlight some of the notable features in the 2022 Microsoft Release Wave 2 for Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform, which will launch in October 2022 through March 2023. We cover feature highlights for the Sales, Customer Service, Power Platform, Project Operations, Field Service and Marketing tools.
Deciding on Features and Frequency for Dynamics 365 and Power Platform
Microsoft uses customer feedback to determine its roadmap, along with insights from market trends for the demand for the latest tech and tools. As a result of their roadmap, they share a release plan which details all the new features and capabilities users can expect within their platforms. These include novel additions as well as fixes, enhancements and deprecations (so long Internet Explorer). Each year, they release two waves, often previewing features as beta features to allow for final tweaks before their mass release.
Most of the features we’ll cover are already available for public preview, so it’s time to buckle up for the ride – the race has begun.
Top Features: Sales
Get Tips and Suggestions While on a Call With Customers – Preview January 2023
Conversation intelligence leverages AI to capture customer interactions, automatically transcribe calls, analyze content and deliver intelligent insights such as real-time tips during sales calls with suggestions for product and service details, pricing and battlecards.
During a sales call, Jadelyn gets a request from a customer regarding a new product. While he has not had a chance to become familiar with the product, conversation intelligence empowers him to access the information he needs.
At that moment, conversation intelligence prompts him with a suggestion to review the battlecard for the product in question. It can provide the customer with details of the product, benefits and pricing information to win the sale.
Sales Accelerator Sequence Creation – No Public Preview
Sequences help sales managers enforce best practices by introducing a set of consecutive activities for sellers to follow throughout the course of a sale. A manager can connect sequences to leads and opportunities that appear in a seller’s work queue to help sellers prioritize activities to focus on selling, be more productive and better align with business processes.
Your company just hired three new salespeople and a new sales manager. The new employees have been onboarded but are still not 100 percent confident in memorizing the steps of your sales cycle.
By leveraging sequences, you can create step-by-step processes for your new employees to follow to help them through the sales process. You can use sequential steps, conditional branches, loops (for example: call the contact every five days until the deal is closed) and exit criteria to let them know when the process is complete.
Since you likely have more than one person working on a deal at a time, you can now assign different sequences to different employees for a particular record at the same time. The sales manager’s sequence will look a little different than the sales rep’s sequence, but they can work on their processes simultaneously to work towards winning the deal.
App for Outlook Improvements – Preview October 2022
Sharing links to Dynamics 365 records in email is common practice. Today, recipients of such emails need to select the link and open Dynamics 365 in a browser to view the information referenced, losing time and focus during the context switch. With the new Dynamics 365 messaging extensions for Outlook, users can now search for and insert Dynamics 365 records as information cards that display key preview information as part of the email body to increase conversation velocity. Recipients can view the preview as part of the email body and respond quickly, increasing their productivity.
Hannah oversees a large sales team, which is working on trying to close several deals for some key accounts. Hannah regularly sends out emails with the status of each of these deals. She is constantly flipping between Outlook and Dynamics 365 to grab links and copy over key information into her status update emails.
Leveraging this new extension in Outlook, Hannah can now search for and insert Dynamics 365 records into her emails without going into Dynamics. She can place “information cards” for each record in her email, making the information very easy to consume since the recipients no longer must copy the link and open Dynamics 365 in a browser to view the information she is referencing.
If Hannah wants to use information cards for the opportunities but not the account names, she can simply @mention inside her Outlook email to search for and tag the Dynamics 365 record in the email.
In the current fast-paced sales environment, collaboration features and guided assistance will be key to bringing your team to the next level and closing sales.
Top Features: Customer Service
Mentions – Preview November 2022
In part of several Microsoft Teams’ integration features rolled out in the customer service module, the mention capability allows users to reference CRM data like the @mention capability to reference people. This feature allows you to insert D365 CRM records as live-action cards as well as data from the records themselves.
A customer recently called requesting to update the shipping address for an order. Sasha is responsible for this case and is sharing the updated shipping address with her shipping team since this is a last-minute request – the order goes out this afternoon. From her email, she uses the mention feature to access her customer’s record to quickly reference the order number and new address that was recently saved.
Chat via Teams Inside Dynamics 365 – No Public Preview
Collaboration across different sales teams happens primarily on Microsoft Teams chat. This feature helps business users keep track of the latest in their conversations associated with a record.
Mark and Lisa are working on a hot new opportunity for one of their key accounts. They spend much of their day switching between Teams and Dynamics 365 to keep in touch about this opportunity. By enabling Teams collaboration in Dynamics 365, Mark and Lisa can now chat via Teams on screen in Dynamics (without opening Teams).
Lisa can minimize the chat to continue working on another Dynamics record and come back to the chat later to check for responses from Mark. Mark can link the chat as an activity record on the timeline, so they don’t lose their conversation.
This new feature saves Mark and Lisa a ton of time by letting them work and collaborate on one application instead of clicking back and forth between windows.
Collab Spaces – Preview November 2022
Collab spaces in Teams is a tailored workspace created using Dynamics 365 templates for Teams. This release enables sellers to easily collaborate on Dynamics 365 records with their colleagues in Microsoft Teams. Additionally, the intelligent deal room dashboard provides a single pane for customer insights and activity coordination and intelligent activity recommendations.
Each time your team adds a new account in Dynamics 365, the project manager is responsible for going out to Teams to create a new Teams workspace. Your project managers try to use the same channels and folders each time they create a new Team to keep things consistent between projects. By leveraging this new feature, you can set triggers to auto-create Teams workspaces and use templates to define the channel and folder structure for each.
By setting the trigger to “new account created,” your project managers will no longer have to create new Teams workspaces or manually add the channels and folders. Once in Teams, your project teams can use collab space dashboards to see all stakeholders and activities relevant to their key deals. They can also add intelligence to provide the next best actions based on account or opportunity updates.
Power Virtual Agents Support Voice Responses Over Telephony Channels — Preview November 2022
Users can now create Power Virtual Agents that support voice interactions and are available over telephony to assist with problems and obtaining information.
Myah is waiting for a package from your organization for a product she ordered and calls your help desk for a status update. Your customer service team is stretched thin due to a recent power outage that slowed down order processing yesterday, so it has been all hands-on deck.
A Power Virtual Agent responds to her call immediately and prompts her to select an issue category so it can help. Myah indicates she would like an order update since she hopes to receive her product before a special event.
Luckily, your Power Virtual Agent is well equipped to support her in finding this information, and your team can stay on task by catching up with order processing. After confirming her account information, the assistant identifies her most recent order and shares her package shipped out that afternoon and provides the carrier tracking number for her to monitor her package.
Myah leaves the interaction with the information she wanted and is satisfied with the efficiency of getting a quick response to her request.
Queuing and Call Back With Omnichannel – No Public Preview
The voice callback features allow the system to arrange for customers to retain their position and arrange for a callback when their turn arrives in a customer service queue during busy periods.
Damian has been working on installing a new security system in his home that he purchased from your organization and requires assistance with troubleshooting an issue.
He calls your help desk, but no agents are currently available to assist him. He does not want to wait on the phone as he would like to continue installing some of the other components and inform the bot that receives his call he would like to request a callback in 30 minutes.
Damian completes the other tasks for the installation and receives help finishing his project when an agent calls him back to troubleshoot his issue. Damian is satisfied with this customer service experience that saved him time.
Enhanced team collaboration and the ability to easily reference data regardless of the interface results streamline the experience, allowing agents to focus on providing an unmatched customer experience.
Top Feature: Power Platform
Grid Control – Preview October 2022
Power Apps is a great tool to expose data across multiple sources. Microsoft made enhancements to allow for more efficient development of table structure with less code. Most specifically – enhancements for nested grids, grouping and aggregation will improve how you present data to the consumer.
Department heads go to Jim in IT with a requirement to better understand the data provided in views. They explain all the data is there. However, it is difficult to understand and use to make decisions.
Jim is neither a developer nor does the organization have access to advanced data warehouse solutions. With grid control, Jim can group, nest and filter the data so the department heads can quickly find trends and make decisions. This capability has had a tremendous impact on customer service.
The team can quickly drill down from an account record using the nested grid functionality opportunities related to the contacts tagged to the account from a single view.
Data is only useful if you can summarize and interpret it. A flexible 360-degree view from a parent record with drill-down capabilities to review the finer details is a feature we can’t wait to start using.
Top Features: Project Operations
Subscription Billing – No Public Preview
Subscription-based billing is an excellent enhancement for finance teams that are required to bill with an OPEX approach and record unbilled revenue based on contractual agreements.
Tommy is responsible for billing his customers for products and services they use during projects on a subscription basis. Using the enhanced subscription billing featured, he can define and maintain billing schedules while accurately deferring costs and revenue until the appropriate period.
Progress-based Billing – Preview January 2023
Microsoft has implemented progress-based billing capabilities to bill based on progress status.
Sarah needs to track actual hours reported to a project without generating an invoice until they deliver a specific set of requirements. Progress-based billing allows her to bill most effectively.
Baseline Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) – No Public Preview
Microsoft added baseline work breakdown structure (WBS) to compare snapshots of project status to track deviation and trends.
Jeff must relay which project tasks are complete and compare original time and effort estimates against the most up to date results. Now, he can easily generate variance trend analysis to estimate delivery times most accurately.
Sub-Contract Enhancements – No Public Preview
Projects can have a requirement to use subcontractors to complete their work. Visibility of subcontractor usage from project to accounts payable is now available.
Tim is working on a project and needs to partner with subcontractors to complete the required tasks. Tim has an excellent understanding of when tasks worked by coworkers will be completed. However, neither Tim nor his accounting department has insight into the activity and effort supplied by subcontractors.
With the enhanced subcontractor capabilities, Tim can get a holistic view of the project and the work done by outside resources.
Current trends in finance show it’s critical to offer increased flexibility in billing to meet customers where they are and keep up with customer needs to stay ahead of your competition. With more options available within Dynamics Project Operations, we’re thrilled to be able to cater to a larger range of payment preferences in projects and manage them effectively.
Top Feature: Field Service
Schedule Board Redesign – Enabled
Microsoft replaced the existing schedule board with an enhanced schedule board that allows for better performance and use. You also can make changes in bulk. Improved tool tips help you find the best resources available.
Tricia schedules field technicians to complete work orders based on their technical capabilities, availability and location. Tricia now has better visibility of the team and can make required changes in bulk saving her time.
Connecting the best resource for the job with schedule constraints is no easy task. We love the enhanced schedule board in Field Service, which makes managing your team and providing timely services for clients efficient and hassle free.
Top Features: Marketing
AI-Powered Next Best Content – Preview October 2022
Leverage AI to analyze your customer data from customer insights and provide tailored content and offers to your customers based on preferences, interests and motivations. Next Best Content makes it easy to create content variations and get it to the right person at the right time.
Jacklin is excited to promote a new product line for her business and has a few different offers available. With Next Best Content, she can optimize the content selection for each customer in her next marketing campaign, so she sends the most relevant product offer to the right person. Her customers feel seen and understood with product offers that fit their needs, and her sales pipeline is looking up — a win for all.
Segment Builder – No Public Preview
Segment builder allows marketers to easily build segments by describing them in natural language or using an easy drag-and-drop logic builder instead of complex queries and logic.
Padma has new insights on target audiences and wants to initiate a campaign for these customer segments. She has limited technical expertise, but luckily, segment builder empowers her to easily create new customer segments without knowledge of complex query logic, so she can quickly begin targeting these new groups in her next campaign.
Topic Consent Management for Compliance – Preview October 2022
Topic and preference centers allow your customers to subscribe to topics that matter to them in real-time, so you can easily manage your compliance requirements instead of using complicated subscription lists.
Valentina recently learned she needs to ensure her company’s marketing efforts follow GDPR and that she has obtained customer consent for receiving communications. With the ability to easily create topics and stand-up preference centers, her customers have control over the information they receive. She can rest assured her marketing campaigns are always run using the most up-to-date customer information.
We know getting the relevant information to the right target audience is the secret sauce for closing sales and creating brand loyalty. The latest marketing features for Dynamics 365 and Power Platform empower everyone on your team to access these powerful insights to create trust and loyalty amongst your customers.
A heavy focus on AI and a plethora of new features will make Q4 2022 and Q1 2023 an exciting time to be in business. With the power to get to know and understand your customers better and enhanced collaboration capabilities, the opportunity to drive change and meet needs is more available than ever.