Our Top Picks from the New Microsoft Dynamics 365 2021 Release Wave 2 Plans.

Microsoft has now published the release plans for the Microsoft Dynamics 365 2021 Release Wave 2, the second major update of the year. This release will roll out between October 2021 until March 2022, bringing a variety of new features to the applications.

As usual, the Dynamics 365 and Power Platform notes are separate. You can read our summary of the Power Platform notes here.

There are a lot of features that Microsoft announces as part of these releases, and if you want to read about these in-depth, you can do so here. However, in the blog post you are about to read, we detail our top picks from the release notes across Dynamics.

Below, we detail our top picks from the release notes, across Marketing, Sales, Customer Service, Customer Insights and Customer Voice. Click one of the below headings to skip to that section:

In this blog we cover the following areas (click on one to skip to that section):

  1. New Dynamics 365 & Teams Experience
  2. D365 Marketing
  3. D365 Sales
  4. D365 Customer Service
  5. D365 Customer Insights
  6. D365 Customer Voice
  7. Wave 2 Release Dates
  8. Full Release Notes

A new experience for Dynamics 365 & Microsoft Teams – at no additional cost

Before we explore the release notes, let’s take a moment to discuss the new Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Teams experience; one of the top highlights to come out of the Microsoft Inspire 2021 conference.

This new experience enables anyone in a business to view and collaborate on Dynamics 365 records, whilst working within Teams. This kind of integration and accessibility across an organisation is not offered by other technology vendors, without the need to pay for multiple underlying software licenses. However, Microsoft has addressed this and confirmed that this experience will be available within Teams to any user, at no additional cost.

Dynamics 365 users can invite anyone in the business to view and collaborate on customer records, from within a Teams chat or channel. As a result, the right individuals can take the required action, without needed to switch between multiple apps and data sources.

For sales teams, this includes sharing information like details on the sales opportunity, customer history, health of the customer relationship, key contacts, and more.

For customer service representatives, this could include sharing the customer case record, sourcing troubleshooting steps, and tracking follow-up tasks.

Read more about this announcement on the Microsoft blog, here.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Marketing

  • Get AI-based content ideas to help craft email content

When composing a new email within Dynamics 365 Marketing, finding inspiration for a starting point can be a challenge. With this new feature, the email editor can suggest AI-based, relevant and engaging content ideas; think of it as having a team brainstorming content ideas alongside you.

These ideas automatically generate a set of content snippets (based on provided key points), giving you inspiration to craft your email. You can then review, select and edit these ideas based on your needs.

  • Use account-based profile data from Customer Insights as part of your customer journeys

Leveraging Dynamics 365 Customer Insights, businesses can focus their marketing efforts around account-based profiles, which are enriched with first and third-party data. As a result, marketers can provide a deeply personalised and holistic experience.

  • Improved webinar registration experience in Teams, that seamlessly connects with Dynamics 365 Marketing

Webinars and online events are here to stay. With this new feature, businesses can create webinars and manage participant registrations in Microsoft Teams that are seamlessly connected with Dynamics 365 Marketing. You can also:

  • Create branded registration pages in Teams that are integrated with D365 Marketing
  • Manage registrations – approve, decline, and waitlist functionality
  • Trigger journeys in D365 Marketing based on user behaviour in Teams
  • New segmentation builder

Ensuring you are targeting the right customer audience is key to improving marketing ROI. With the segmentation builder in D365 Marketing, you can build dynamic segments for contacts, alongside segments that include leads and custom entities (such as patient or donor).

This redesigned experience also enables users to use natural language to specify an attribute-based segment, speeding up the process of identifying your target audience.

  • Visualise customer journey interactions on the Customer Insights activity timeline

The integration between Customer Insights and Dynamics 365 Marketing means all marketing interactions (such as messages sent, opened, clicked) are available as activities in Customer Insights. These interactions can then be added into the Customer Insights timeline to quickly visualise all data in chronological order.

This timeline can be included in other Dynamics 365 apps with the Customer Card add-in solution or in a Power BI dashboard. Empower sales, service, and other frontline agents to deeply personalize relationships through knowledge of every customer’s engagement history.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales

When it comes to Dynamics 365 Sales, there are plenty of new features including the general availability of the Deal Manager, a new, modern workspace for managing your pipeline, new mobile capabilities, as well as enhancements to the integration between Dynamics 365 Sales and Microsoft Teams.

Below, we have selected our top three picks:

  • Enhanced integration between Dynamics 365 Sales and Teams meetings

Over the last year, we have seen more meetings conducted digitally than ever before. Even as people return to the office, there are no signs of online meetings going anywhere, therefore it is crucial the technology continues to support this shift.

Microsoft recognised user feedback when it comes to a more integrated experience between Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Teams, including creating and joining Teams meetings directly from the D365 workspace. With these new features, users can:

  • Create a Teams meeting when scheduling an appointment from Dynamics 365
  • Join Teams meetings in a single click from Dynamics 365
  • Access and update sales records seamlessly during a Teams meeting
  • Capture notes seamlessly during a Teams meeting, and have these notes automatically sync back to records in Dynamics 365
  • Leverage premium conversation intelligence for real-time call analysis and insights during a Teams meeting
  • Enhanced integration between Dynamics 365 Sales and Teams meetings

With more employees collaborating on records, it is important for everyone to be in the loop when it comes to key changes that are made, as they happen. Automatic chat notifications can now be sent from Dynamics 365 to Teams, to keep everyone alerted to updates.

  • Users can get Teams chat notifications for the records you’re following; use the follow/unfollow feature in Dynamics 365 to get automatic notifications about the updates to sales records
  • Specific adaptive cards can be sent based on the notification type, enabling more connected workflows
  • Use @mentions in the timeline of a record. The user will be notified automatically in their Teams chat through the Dynamics 365 Sales bot
  • Configure the notifications that you want to receive within Teams, where, and at what frequency
  • Find, interact, and create CRM information easily

This Wave release brings several enhancements to the Dynamics 365 Sales mobile application, ensuring interactions with the CRM from a mobile device is as seamless as is from desktop. This new feature enables users to find relevant data quickly, take the necessary follow-up actions and sell more successfully…

  • Notifications centre support
  • View or add Dynamics 365 appointments within the agenda experience
  • Show activities in a record’s form
  • Active records smart list
  • View or add contacts from phonebook
  • View or add contacts from Outlook
  • Bottom-bar alignment across the application

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Service

  • Easily collaborate with other employees over Teams

Employees who use Dynamics 365 Customer Service can easily collaborate with others in their organisation, over Microsoft Teams, to resolve customer issues without needing to leave the case or conversation. Any chats that take place over Teams will link directly to Customer Service records, enabling a contextual experience.

Some of the key highlights of this feature are:

  • Ability to chat with contacts from within Dynamics 365
  • Access to key Customer Service contacts, such as supervisors, queue members, and support experts
  • Access to AI-driven suggestions of agents who resolved similar cases
  • Access to recent Microsoft Teams chat lists
  • Ability to link and unlink chats to case records
  • Access to linked Microsoft Teams chats
  • Message avatar and presence, where users can easily see profile pictures of a chat participant and their availability (presence)

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Insights

  • Journey Maps

This new feature allows you to understand the path visitors take through websites or mobile apps, giving you the knowledge to make better decisions in response to customer behaviour.

Journey maps in Dynamics 365 Customer Insights also help you to find out more about how customers interact through different touchpoints and channels, and they see how these interactions relate to each other.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Voice

There were various new features as part of the Wave 1 release that rolled out across Customer Voice, so it was to be expected that Wave 2 might not have been so feature-heavy.

Despite this, there are a couple of new features that are of interest:

  • Period-to-period comparison analysis

Business owners will be able to compare feedback over a period of time, including monthly and quarterly reports. The period-to-period comparison identifies your performance over time and what drives the score to go up or down.

  • Dynamic close loop follow-up notification

Survey owners can use survey variable to dynamically assign an owner to the alert that is generated when receiving low satisfaction responses. The alert owner will receive a notification, allowing them to engage with the customer in timely manner.

2021 Wave 2 Release Dates

On August 2nd 2021, early access will be available for administrators, allowing administrators to test certain capabilities in a sandbox instance. General availability deployment will commence on October 2nd 2021 and continue until March 2022. A more detailed schedule of the rollout and regional deployment dates will be published nearer the time.

You can find out more about the timeline here.

Access the Full 2021 Release Wave 2 Notes

Hopefully this article has given you a good overview of some of the features that will be included in the 2021 Wave 2 Release. At PragmatiQ Solutions, we are excited about what these new features will mean for businesses, enabling business to achieve more with their technology.

You can access a full breakdown of the features on the Microsoft website here:

If you have any questions about the release, or you are on an older version of Dynamics 365 and would like to upgrade to get access to all of the new features, please contact us. Fill out the contact form below and a member of our team will be in touch shortly, or if you’d prefer, email us at in[email protected] or call us on 01908 038110.