by Larry Mead, Kate Kompelien and Kurt Schroeder
This year’s Microsoft Business Application Summit hosted over 4500 members of the Microsoft community in Atlanta to showcase amazing customer stories along with their vision for the future. Major announcements were made on topics such as the Power Platform, Dynamics 365, and Microsoft Marketing.
To share our excitement, we’ve put together a list of what we believe are the Top 10 announcements coming out of this year’s Business Application Summit.
Number 10: Microsoft Marketing – Supports for Surveys Using Microsoft Form Pro
With support for surveys using Microsoft Forms Pro, you can create and use surveys to measure customer sentiment and satisfaction. With survey responses, you can make use of customer feedback to make data-driven decisions and automatically include the responses in the criteria for segmentation, lead scoring, or branching a customer journey.
Number 9: Dynamics 365 for Sales – Soft Phone Dialer
Using the channel integration framework in Dynamics 365 for Sales, the soft phone dialer can easily be integrated with a customer engagement app. This will allow sales reps to make calls directly from the contact record using their telephony provider without ever leaving the form.
Number 8: Dynamics 365 for Marketing - Email A/B Testing
With A/B email testing built into the Marketing product, marketers can create alternative versions of a message and define what their business goals are. A few small test groups will be determined by the system based on their target segments with different versions of the message being delivered to group. Automated statistical analysis determines which design has the best results based on the pre-defined business goals and sends the winning design to the rest of the segment.
Number 7: Dynamics 365 for Sales – Simplified Lead Management Experience
Since the release of CRM 2013, there has not been an out of the box method for qualifying a lead without an opportunity. Thankfully, this is about to change! Microsoft will be adding an organization-level setting that can be configured by admins, that when enabled, gives the ability for users to be prompted for which records they would like to create when the lead is qualified.
Along with this feature, they will be adding the auto-population of the contact and/or company-related fields when a sales rep selects an existing contact and/or account at the creation of a new lead.
Lastly, notes and attachments that were captured by a sales rep on the lead will now be shown on the opportunity record after the lead is qualified.
Number 6: Power BI Receives a Ton of New Functionality
Some of the biggest changes coming to Power BI out of this year's Business Applications Summit are directly aimed at larger organizations. While PBI has always been a great tool for all sized businesses, many are looking for finer grained control. The most recent updates enable that control.
- Shared and Certified Data Sets are now in public preview. This means that an organization can create a data set that represents a tightly controlled, single source of truth, and then report developers, BAs, and others can create reports knowing the data is approved.
- Related to the above, DataFlows is a new way to centralize data preparation. There are new, big-data friendly improvements coming that will enable organizations to centralize data prep for all sizes of data.
- Security is a big priority. Microsoft has released Bring Your Own Key (BYOK) as a preview feature. Now organizations can control the encryption key used when storing data at rest. This is another way Microsoft is bringing control to customers.
In addition, the ability to bring AI to Power BI was already good, but has gotten a whole lot better (and easier!)
- Azure Cognitive Services and Azure Machine Learning are now ready for production level release! Through visualizations and other tools, organizations can easily extract insights, find meaning in text (e.g. sentiment in customer feedback), find key data drivers, and more.
- Power BI's integration to these services now enables data scientists and other data modelers to create tools for easy use directly in Power BI, making the process nearly seamless.
And finally, there is a new Q&A visual that looks fantastic.
- Q&A enables any user to use natural language to create visualizations. You can type, "Opportunities opened last month by owner." The visualization will then update with a new chart showing your results. This new and improved implementation of Q&A will help users really explore and find meaning in their data.
Number 5: Dynamics 365 for Customer Service – Integration with Dynamics 365 Virtual Agent for Customer Service
With the Dynamics 365 Virtual Agent for Customer Service integration with chat, an organization can automate routine conversations, allowing agents to have more time to focus on high-value interactions.
Incoming chat requests can be routed to virtual agents that have been created with Dynamics 365 Virtual Agent for Customer Service, while allowing seamless escalation of conversations to a human agent.
In the event of escalation, while the human agent is engaging with the customer, the complete context of the interaction is made available to the human agent through the full transcript of the virtual agent conversations.
Number 4: Dynamics 365 for Field Service - Mixed Reality Guides for Field Service
One of the longstanding issues with augmented and virtual reality experiences has been the need for a way to easily create content. The Dynamics 365 Guides PC app, enables employers to easily create interactive, customizable training experiences to empower employees by allowing them to learn with step-by-step instructions while on the job. Dynamics 365 Guides can be seamlessly integrated within the Field Service experience, allowing for incident types to have associated guides that can be accessed by technicians directly on the job site.
Number 3: Dynamics 365 for Sales - Customization of Opportunity Close Dialog Box
With the October 2019 update, administrators can now enable a customizable form experience for the opportunity close process. Instead of the standard prompt with limited options that is shown when closing an opportunity, users can now be prompted with a quick create form that is customizable to include additional information for why the opportunity is closing. This will allow businesses to gain insights and build new strategies for improvement based on past losses and successes.
Number 2: PowerApps – Portals
Power Apps Portals gives the ability to build low-code, responsive websites that allow external users to interact with data stored in the Common Data Service, while merging the capabilities offered by Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement portals.
Organizations can create websites that external users can access either anonymously or through login providers such as LinkedIn, Microsoft Account, or other commercial providers. Websites can also be created for employees that can connect using their corporate Azure Active directory account.
The portal designer makes it easy to build pixel-perfect websites, manage webpages, sitemaps, and templates, and add custom website branding using bootstrap themes.
Power Apps Portals can also be integrated with other Microsoft services, such as Power BI embed, Microsoft Flow, Microsoft SharePoint, Azure Blob Storage, Azure Active Directory B2C, and Azure Application Insights.
More complex business processes can be accommodated using pro dev extensibility, which allows for the same capabilities as the Common Data Service platform and Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement Portal. This includes templates, code plugins and workflows to help cater to more complex tasks for your website.
Number 1: PowerApps – AI Builder for Power Platform
The AI Builder is a low code artificial intelligence platform that supports the Power Platform.
Key capabilities of the AI builder that have been announced so far include:
- Binary Classification: Use historical data to predict whether new data falls into one of two categories. Binary classification is an AI model that learns to associate historical data patterns with historical outcomes in order to predict a yes/no business outcome. This model can be used to explore any business question that is answered with one of two available options, like yes/no, true/false, and pass/fail.
- Text Classification: Use text classification to tag text entries with labels which can be used for sentiment analysis, spam detection, and routing customer requests. AI Builder text classification can also be integrated with other PowerApps tools and Microsoft Flow to automated business processes.
- Object Detection: You can use this model to extract information from pictures that have been taken with a camera, such as counting, locating, and identifying objects within the image. This can be used for things like inventory management and allowing technicians to lookup a manual for a piece of equipment for a machine they are working on.
- Business Card Reader: You can use the Business Card Reader component within PowerApps studio to extract contact information from pictures of business cards taken from your mobile phone.
- Form Processing: Form Processing allows you to extra text from form documents. Once five form document examples are provided, text can be extracted from any matching form.
We hope you enjoyed our list of the top 10 announcements to come out of the 2019 Microsoft Business Application Summit. If you would like to discuss anything from this year’s Summit or connect with one of our experts, please feel free to reach out.