We had had a great trip gathering knowledge to help steer our company and client strategy as a Microsoft Dynamics 365 Partner Specialist.
Important updates to the Microsoft services:
Microsoft will not be developing the web interface going forward and will be putting all their focus into the unified interface. (UCI)
The UCI is much faster than the web interface and looks much better. It’s also easier to create a more role-based targeted experience for users and includes some of the great features like Linkedin integration without the expensive LinkedIn licence. UCI interfaces for Dynamics are created using the model-driven PowerApp method and these from April will be the default way users access the system for new implementations.
Whilst workflow will be available for real-time processes, they will move to Microsoft Flow for on-demand workflows. We're great fans of Microsoft flow so we don’t see any issues with this at all as Flow is very powerful. If you haven’t used it before, we highly recommend starting to.
The common data service (CDS) is a big theme for this event and most will not know that all Microsoft Dynamics systems sit on the CDS. Effectively that means that if we do an integration project we could consider talking directly to the CDS using its connector without touching the Dynamics layer. I already do this with some Microsoft flow processes and PowerApps that I have written. But what the CDS really adds is the possibility to create additional entities outside of any application to store data and interact with. There are many scenarios where we have had to use Azure SQL in order to stage data, this comes at a cost whereas CDS is included with PowerApps and Dynamics. I would expect that moving data between tables in the CDS is also a lot faster and more efficient.
One thing that we also learned is that because Dynamics is built on the CDS, you can start to use the tools there under PowerApps to create tables and fields in Dynamics and in fact, Microsoft plan soon to make this the customisation method the default one.
PowerApps also has the ability to make Canvas apps, also known as pixel perfect apps. You start with a blank screen but can create specific apps with no-code to achieve specific business processes. E,g checking people into an event and interacting with just certain tables and field in Dynamics. This updates Dynamics via the CDS and then displays on the web using Microsoft Portals. (An excellent solution with very little code)
Where things get very powerful is that you can embed PowerApps into the UCI. So imagine wanting to put some buttons on an account screen in Dynamics that run certain processes in the background like sending a quote or updating a load of fields on the one record. You can even make these trigger flows. The possibilities are endless and very exciting.
Finally, from April this year, Microsoft is going to be pushing updates regularly without allowing clients to delay the update. We're sold on this idea as it keeps everyone on the same version and they have been very careful to explain how they ensure things do not break. Just ask us about Microsoft Canaries if you want a detailed explanation. It goes back to the days where a coal miner would sacrifice a canary if there was a gas leak!.
We hope these updates are useful. We're keen that customers are kept up to date and informed about the upcoming innovations as the possibilities with these technologies are endless. We want to support our customers to add value to their business enabling long-term growth.
The extreme365 website details the full agenda for all things Dynamics 365. We suggest you bookmark it and look to get involved in the next event.