On July 14, 2021, Microsoft published the 2021 release wave 2 plans for Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Power Platform, a compilation of new capabilities that are planned to be released between October 2021 and March 2022. This second release wave of the year offers hundreds of new features and enhancements, demonstrating a continued investment to power digital transformation.
Highlights from Dynamics 365
- Dynamics 365 Marketing is improving experiences and capabilities for creating moments-based and segment-based customer journeys that span all customer touchpoints taking personalisation to the next level. Marketers will be able to create segments for leads and custom entities in the new segmentation builder experience using natural language to build segments and target audiences quickly and easily. Quickly generate email content using GPT-3 AI and then optimise with streamlined AB testing tools.
- Dynamics 365 Sales launches the general availability of Deal Manager, a new, modern workspace for managing your pipeline, as well as enhancements to the integration between Dynamics 365 Sales and Microsoft Teams, including more collaboration tools and calling capabilities. Seller productivity investments include LinkedIn integration enhancements for easy access to Sales Navigator, forecasting updates, and guided selling improvements with Sales Accelerator. Several new capabilities are also coming to the Dynamics 365 Sales mobile application, now available in the iOS and Android app stores.
- Dynamics 365 Customer Service enhances knowledge authoring with AI-suggested keywords and brief descriptions for knowledge articles. The intelligent routing service uses a combination of AI models and rules to assign incoming service requests from all channels (cases, entities, chat, digital messages, and voice) to the best-suited agents.
- Dynamics 365 Field Service continues down the path of providing easy customer engagement: a new customer portal will incorporate existing capabilities such as technician locator and new general availability capabilities such as self-scheduling and appointment management to enhance service and customer communication. Additionally, a refreshed work order form will enhance user productivity.
- Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management invests in enabling a resilient supply chain with enhancements in key areas such as resource planning, manufacturing, and warehousing. Businesses will be able to optimise their usage of available material and capacity to avoid stockout situations and keep the business flowing. New manufacturing execution scenarios are included to allow integration between Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management, common manufacturing execution (MES) solutions, and shop floor automation systems for our customers to be able to adopt and integrate new business models with ease.
- Dynamics 365 Customer Voice focuses this release wave on facilitating actionable insights for survey owners to act on feedback. Survey owners will be able to get feedback insights quickly and use Power Automate to define custom workflows to engage the right person at the right time.
- Dynamics 365 Customer Insights audience insights capabilities enable every organisation to unify and understand their B2C and B2B customer data to harness it for intelligent insights and actions. For this release wave, in the B2B area, in addition to churn predictions for individual customer records, audience insights will predict the likelihood of churn for accounts using the same straightforward guided experience. Data ingestion enhancements in Customer Insights include additional Power Query connectors and improvements to the data ingestion process. Engagement insights (preview) in Dynamics 365 Customer Insights enable individual and holistic interactive analytics over web, mobile, and connected products customer journey touchpoints. Engagement insights expand to multichannel analytics over data from other channels for richer customer analytics, downstream actions, and optimisations.
Highlights from Microsoft Power Platform
- Power BI continues to invest in three key areas that drive a data culture: empower every individual with AI-infused insights, empower every team with BI woven into the fabric where teams work, and empower every organisation to meet the most demanding enterprise needs. Power BI Pro continues to invest in creator experiences with new report authoring tools. Consumer experiences continue to evolve, both in the Power BI service and the Power BI mobile applications. This includes improvements to Excel export from table and matrix visuals and easy creation from Microsoft Dataverse and Dynamics 365. Lastly, Power BI integration in Microsoft Teams continues to evolve, deepening the integration in channels, chats, and notifications within Teams. Power BI Premium continues to invest in the following areas: Auto-scale and pay-as-you-go pricing to scale beyond resource capacity without drops in performance. Interactive experiences over big data by making reports highly performant automatically on big data sources such as Azure Synapse Analytics.
- Power Apps brings significant improvements for developers of all skill levels, improving the sophistication and usability of apps that can be created across the web and mobile devices. Developers can now take advantage of intelligent authoring, using AI in Power Apps Studio to generate code using natural language for rapid app development. Power Apps portals is focused on enhancements in the areas of portals platform, new capabilities for pro-development, and increased developer productivity. Several new capabilities are being added with a specific focus on pro-development such as the general availability of portals support for Power Apps component framework as well as support for continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) using Power Apps command-line interface (CLI)—the first step toward a comprehensive Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) story for developers and ISVs.
- Power Automate continues to invest in several areas including Cloud flows with templates for Microsoft Teams and further integrations enabling administrators to push solutions that contain flows across the teams in their organisation. Document automation, an end-to-end solution for processing documents at scale for document data extraction, becomes generally available during this release wave. Power Automate Desktop brings more WinAutomation actions to Desktop flows as well as new RPA-enabled scenarios for more Dynamics 365 applications, and it will be possible to use Dataverse and over 475 API connectors directly from Desktop flows.
- Power Virtual Agents brings improvements in the authoring experience with topic suggestions from bot sessions, Power Apps Portals integration, data loss prevention options, proactive bot update messaging in Microsoft Teams, and more.
- AI Builder will focus on providing new functionalities centered around intelligent document processing experiences. New functionalities will include the ability to extract a broader set of content types in documents such as checkboxes, signatures, typed fields like date and currency, as well as support for more prebuilt models in the Document Automation solution (for example, receipts and invoices). Integration of AI Models will also be supported through the Power Apps formula bar.
Early access period
Starting August 2, 2021, customers will be able to validate the latest features in a non-production environment. These features include user experience enhancements that will be automatically enabled for users in production environments during October 2021. Take advantage of the early access period, try out the latest updates in a non-production environment, and get ready to roll out updates to your users with confidence.