By Alexandra Tucker
June 23rd, 2017

With details of the next release of Dynamics 365 hitting the wires, it’s worth taking a moment to recap…

As founders of Barhead, we left an eco-system we helped create (we were pioneers in salesforce.com, as founders of both OKERE and Cloud Sherpas – two of the most successful salesforce.com implementation partners of their time). We didn’t want to do the same thing again … if the only reason for doing so was that it was easy. We researched the market with a view to seeing how we can best help customers move forward. Doing the right things for customers has always been one of our core values.

Microsoft came up trumps in our review and we brought Barhead, a Microsoft R&D company in the Philippines we had been incubating, to Australia.

We went from a solid network and a known product (in salesforce) to a new world and a different product direction. I wrote a few blogs at the time about that decision process and I’m proud to report that, given the number of enterprise customers we have deployed solutions for, we are on track with our success plans (and that’s no easy thing – if you know me, you’ll know I set aggressive goals).

More importantly than Barhead’s success, Microsoft, with renewed focus on business solutions, has followed through on what we had hoped they would deliver. If you step back and look at it, the pace of innovation and change in the way Microsoft views CRM over the last 9 months demonstrates they are very serious about changing the game.

The evolution of Dynamics 365

Nov 16 – Dynamics 365 release

Dynamics 365 was the first step in changing the game and brought to market Microsoft’s new business solutions approach to CRM and ERP:

  • ERP and CRM on a common platform
  • Field service and project service¬†including in the core CRM offering
  • Voice of the customer (survey) and gamification included
  • Power apps and Flow released as a new paradigm for bringing systems together. With the common data service this is a very significant change
  • PowerBI embedded in Dynamics365 to provide compelling insights and data visualistions
  • Tiered licensing (starting at approx half the cost of salesforce) and a true read only license options (read only all entities, including sales and service for something like $10)
  • Appsource and focus on industry specific value add partner IP
  • Customer insights, relationship insights, relationship assistant released to take advantage of Microsoft’s huge investment in AI and ML
  • Significantly enhanced Outlook app for Dynamics (everyone still works in email and the new Outlook App makes leveraging customer interactions easy)

Dec 16 – Linkedin Acquisition

  • $26 Billion invested to increase the value of what Dynamics365 can do for customers
  • Sales enhancements (with a great roadmap)
  • Talent management app

March 17 – Cafe-x live assist partnership

  • Next generation customer support: Co-browser, screenshare, etc for personalised assistance (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IaIknAU2GLc)

March 17 – Adobe partnership

  • Plugging the gap with class leading application (and still in the press) http://www.cnbc.com/2017/06/21/adobe-ceo-msft-partnership-will-automate-sales-marketing-with-ai.html

July 17 – Major release

This is the next step in the evolution of Dynamics365 and includes changes to the front end, the core platform and application design and a new approach to servicing the SMB market.

  • New User Interface (and massive step towards a unified UI). In my view this is a critical in passing the emotional hurdle of the old UI
  • Virtual entities (huge productivity gain for displaying non D365 data in the business solution). Solution Architects should be getting ready for this one.
  • Major customer insights enhancements (this changes the game of CRM… from input and reporting tool to major productivity enhancement and focused customer intimacy tool)
  • Further enhancements splitting platform code from application code (which will really facilitate future functional app development
  • Business edition ready for launch

And all of this before I even start thinking about the enhancements in Azure (analytics and insights, machine learning, facial recognition, video streaming etc) and new products such as “Stream” for in-house video sharing and “Dictate” for productivity enhancements.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s still a way to go and the industry is, as a whole, changing rapidly, but if the enhancements across the last 9 months are anything to go by I am very happy to say we have backed the right horse.