Microsoft's Latest Features Release

Dynamics 365 2019 Release Wave 2 Review

Author: John Mills | Software Consultant | Formus Professional Software

Microsoft have released full documentation called 2019 Release Wave 2, that describes the latest features to be released for Dynamics 365. This article aims to pick out some of the most interesting and important features that we think you should be aware of and some of the ones we are particularly excited about.

All the new features mentioned (among others) are releasing from October 2019 through to March 2020 and are now available for early access should you want to test them out in a safe environment first.

Unified Interface Improvements

If you are not on or looking at Unified Interface (UI) already then you seriously need to start looking, as Microsoft have recently announced that Dynamics customers ‘must’ be on UI by October 2020. If you are unfamiliar with UI then you may benefit from reading our experiences with it so far. Here are some of the latest UI features to be announced in the wave 2 plan:

Immersive Business Process Flows

UI offers an alternative layout for business process flows which allows you to dock the flow vertically on the side of your record.  This means you can interact with your flow without it pushing down the main content of your record.

Softphone Dialling

In UI only, if your telephony provider has a softphone dialer, it is now possible to integrate with Dynamics for Sales.  This allows your users to dial contacts quickly and easily from within the browser by simply selecting their phone number.

Man dialling in call centre on a softphone

Sales Improvements

Contextual Emails

In our eyes this is a fantastic enhancement and a very welcome one.  Users will now be able to compose emails without a pop up taking them away from the record they are emailing.  This allows you to refer to the data from the record you are emailing about/to.  This will also allow you to navigate between records and have multiple active draft emails open at the same time.

Customise Opportunity Close Field (Unified Interface Only)

Although this may appear as a fairly minor change, it is certainly one that brings a number of possibilities for improving your opportunity processes and reporting.  This change gives us the chance to customise the opportunity close dialog.

What this means is we can now prompt users to fill in key information specific to our business process at the point of winning or losing an opportunity.

For example we can force a profit margin to be entered when winning or get more detail about why we may have lost an opportunity.  Previously, it was difficult to force requirement of these type of fields at the right time in the process, meaning unreliable data for reporting.  Now we can make sure it is recorded at the right time in the right way.

Field Service Improvements

Remote Assist for Mobile Phones and Mixed Reality Guides

We have previously talked about our excitement for the mixed reality offerings coming into Dynamics and this release has some interesting updates.

Remote Assist allows you to have a mixed reality call with an expert or another engineer.  The expert can draw pointers or send files to the engineer to help investigation or show how to resolve an issue.

This is pretty cool stuff and is now available to use on mobile phones meaning that you don’t necessarily need a mightily expensive HoloLens2.

“Guides” is now being introduced, which allows you to setup holographic instructions that guide a user on how to perform a task.  You can also run analytics on how efficient they are at that task.  For this one however, you will need to fork out on a HoloLens2.

Enhanced Offline Mobile Capability

In the field service industry it is vitally important that engineers can work continuously regardless of having a good internet connection.

Field Service already provides good offline capabilities, but these will now have a few useful improvements.

Metadata is now synced offline which from a user’s point of view will remove the need to sync offline metadata before continuing to work.  Notes are now available to use in offline mode including attachments, which is great for engineers adding photos.

Screen grab of contextual email options in Dynamics 365 sales hub

Other Items to be aware of

Contextual Emails

Currently admin experiences for Dynamics Customer Engagement (previously known as Dynamics 365), PowerApps, Microsoft Flow and Common Data Service are all in separate portals.  Sticking to the whole ‘unified interface’ philosophy, Microsoft have now combined all these in to a single-entry point.  Just be aware this change is coming and being an admin is all the better for it.

What to do with this information

It’s great to see some more exciting changes and improvements coming and hopefully this article gives you a good flavour of some of the best bits.

We would always recommend that you fully read the release plan to fully understand how it might affect your current system.

Getting early access is also something we would recommend trying out these new features and test that there are no adverse effects before it gets rolled out to your live environment.

Where possible get your users involved to see and experience the improvements.  Get them excited about an update and remove any surprise or trepidation.