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A Guide to Microsoft Dynamics 365

Dynamics 365

Microsoft have revealed their new Cloud service, Dynamics 365, which combines their best-of-breed ERP, CRM and BI solutions into one online system. Basically, Dynamics 365 is to Microsoft’s line-of-business software what Office 365 was to Microsoft’s Office suite. The shared ‘365’ is no coincidence; Dynamics 365 is designed from the ground up to integrate with Office 365. We’ve provided a handy guide to explain what Dynamics 365 is, and what it could mean for your business.

What are the benefits of Microsoft Dynamics 365?

As a Cloud service, Dynamics 365 can provide the ability for a business to move all their operations online. This means that none of your team needs to be constrained by the physical locations of your infrastructure, as it will be minimal. Your processes can be more flexible, improving both the quantity and quality of work done. Dynamics 365 is especially valuable for back-office employees, salespeople, consultants and others in the service industry and field service technicians.

Getting ERP systems online has always been a significant obstacle. Installing VPNs and remote networks isn’t great in terms of user experience, and burdens your IT team with time-consuming work which could be better spent doing more dynamic tasks. Microsoft avoids this by updating the ERP of the Dynamics family, Dynamics AX, into a web-based system integrated with its front office tools.

Dynamics 365 eliminates the need to manage your own data centre and servers, which can lead to significant savings. Even more radically, Dynamics 365 has the capacity to support fully virtual office environments, so you might not need to manage any offices at all. All the work that needs to be done can be accomplished no matter where everyone is, as long they all have an internet connection. As offices are expensive to maintain, and working from home is for a lot of people an attractive benefit, Dynamics 365 could allow for a system that works to everyone’s advantage.

The deployment of Dynamics 365 is remarkably fast. Its online provisioning means that you don’t have to carry out an entire scoping project with your IT team to purchase servers, reserve rack space, and install the software.

The cost of licencing Dynamics 365 is also a lot more flexible, and could well be much cheaper. By moving to a subscription model, you can remove a significant capital expense and turn it into a monthly operational cost. Dynamics 365 also removes the need to buy a licence to cover all roles, as you can purchase subscriptions by role with the software. This means that your team can just be subscribed to the work that they do. Your marketing team only requires a marketing module instead of an entire CRM licence. As the subscription is monthly, the ability to turn licences on and off when necessary improves licencing scalability dramatically, so you only need to pay for what you want.

Microsoft Common Data Model

Microsoft Common Data Model (CDM) is an out-of-box business database that allows you to consistently define your data across your entire enterprise. This can be achieved through CDM, which offers a baseline data model that is compatible with both Dynamics 365 and Office 365. The CDM is extensible, so that your unique data and processes can be maintained in the CDM across all your processes.

Microsoft have also designed tools which are built on the Common Data Model, such as Microsoft Flow and PowerApps. Flow allows a user to react to an event in one service, such as SharePoint Online, and use that data in another service, such as Twitter. This mean someone can add a document to a SharePoint library, then send a message to a Slack channel.

PowerApps are purpose-built mobile applications that do not need to be made with developer intervention. They are a ‘no code’ means of creating forms for viewing and editing your data. PowerApps can read the data source you specify and select the best template to use based on the data’s format, though you can also manually select a template. You also have the option of building an application from scratch if you have the relevant app development proficiency.

PowerApps can produce practical mobile apps from data sources such as Excel, Salesforce, Slack, Twitter, Google Drive, Microsoft Azure, and other Office 365 applications. When you have finished creating your app, you can publish it and share it with the rest of your business, or with specific people or groups. You can either publish your app online or as a mobile app usable on iOS, Android or Windows devices.

Artificial Intelligence

Dynamics 365 has two main artificial intelligence (AI) features installed into it specifically for sales and service personnel: Customer Insights and Relationship Insights. Customer Insights is a stand-alone Cloud service which lets users utilise various internal and external data sources. Users can integrate this data with internal metrics (KPIs) to drive automated actions based on this data. The solution contains partner data from sources such as Facebook and TripAdvisor.

Relationship Insights provides sales people with up-to-the-minute information about the status of their customer relationships. It’s built on the Cortana Intelligence Suite, which uses tools such as sentiment analysis to examine the likelihood of the deal closing and what the best action to take next is.

This kind of technology is still in its infancy, and we can still only imagine where these advancements could lead to. This intelligence could eventually be added to bots and other delivery methods to conceal the complexity of the underlying solution, directing users to an answer. Eventually AI could substantially increase productivity.

The removal of physical infrastructure, the flexible licencing, the advantages of CDM and its tools, and its intelligence features all give Dynamics 365 huge potential to streamline line-of-business, improve business agility, and cut costs. Microsoft’s decades of research and investment have culminated in a system that combines ERP, CRM and BI to transform your business.

 

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