Common Data Services (CDS), Data Integrator and Dynamics 365, What will you do?

In my post on “My favorite features from the July 2017 update of Dynamics 365 For Finance & Operations“, I highlighted the availability of the Prospect to Cash integration scenarios between Dynamics 365 For Sales and Dynamics 365 For Finance and Operations.

The out of the box integration is probably one of the best things that can  happen to an ERP and CRM platform, where we will now depart from the traditional way of writing custom integrations every time, to be able to connect CRM and ERP systems. With the power of “Common Data Service(CDS) and the new “Data Integrator” feature now available, the integration of Dynamics 365 for Sales (CRM) and Dynamics 365 For Finance and Operations (ERP) is now possible right out of the box in Dynamics 365, with no or not much custom integration needed.

In this post, let us decode some of these new features and terminologies into simple definitions, so that we all can better understand what these are, how they work and what benefits these will bring on to the table for partners and customers.

Common Data Services: The ultimate purpose of Digital transformation initiatives and implementing business applications for an organization is to be able to drive and produce actionable data and then democratize the data for key users to make more sense out of those data from all areas of the business. You can then use the data to create BI dashboards/reports using Power BI or configure business apps using Microsoft PowerApps and share it with others in the business as needed.

At the core, Common Data Services is a Microsoft Azure based Cloud data storage service that allows to surface data from multiple applications (Such as Dynamics 365, Office 365, and other similar Azure or Non-Azure based services), and make them all available at one central place. The data model in the Common Data Services is referred to as the “Common Data Model” that basically contains several out of the box data entities. These entities then contain  the required set of data fields to store the data. Some examples of these data entities are “Customers”, Accounts, Contacts, ERP Sales Orders etc. When you create a new environment in CDS, you will see the readily available entities that you can take advantage of, or you can create your own entities as you need. You can  also modify the standard entities of CDS to be able to store data specific to your business.

Screenshot below shows some standard entities of the CDS and specific data fields of one of the entities.

Common Data Service Entities

Accounts Entoty

Data Integrator: With that high level overview of what is Common Data Service, let’s understand what is the Data Integrator. The Data Integrator is a new feature of the Common Data Services, that lets you build an end to end view of your business data by making Dynamics 365 data available in Common Data Service. It enables you to connect multiple business applications such as “Dynamics 365 for Sales” and “Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations”, by surfacing data from the source app to CDS and then passing it over from CDS to the target app automatically.

This is done through a set of Connection definitions and Connection sets, which are eventually used in the data integrator projects. Connections basically stores the active directory credentials for your target app/system. Connection sets primarily stores the organization mapping info(For example the Legal entities of D365 For Finance & Operations app and Sales Unit/organization of D365 for Sales). We will discuss more about the specifics of the Connections and Connection sets in a future post.

The data that is synchronized to CDS by Data Integrator is currently Read-Only and will not be editable. You can use the CDS data to sync that to other business apps or to create business applications using Microsoft Power Apps and CDS SDK.

Customers can create Data Integration projects by themselves from scratch or use existing templates provided by Microsoft and then set those data integration projects to run on a recurring basis to sync data into the CDS flow the data between multiple applications.

Screenshot below shows some data integration templates that are already available to pass data between Dynamics 365 for Sales and Dynamics 365 For Finance and Operations. These templates seems to be supporting the Prospect to Cash scenario between D365 For Sales and D365 For Finance and Operations, where you can pass Customers/Accounts data from Sales to Operations , pass Products/Items data from Operations app to the Sales app, or pass Sales quotation data from Sales to Operations(Still in preview) via the Common data Services.

Note: I have not configured my D365 For Sales environment yet, so I am not able to test the full experience yet, but it is very obvious how this feature is architected and how the data flow will happen between the apps. I will be able to test this soon, when the environment is ready in coming weeks.

Data Flow Overview via CDS

Data Flow Overview via CDS

Connection Set

Data Integrator

PowerApps and CDS: If you do not know already, think of PowerApps as the front end interface for interacting with the data in your database (which in this case will be the Common Data Services or any other supported services). The configurable data integrator feature of the CDS is the first step towards integrating the Dynamics 365 apps (Such as D365 For Sales and D365 For Finance and Operations). Down the line, all the apps under Dynamics 365 such as D365 for Project Service Automation, D365 for Field Service etc., will be supported for this integration, where we will be able to sync data between all these different purpose built apps using the CDS as the staging database.

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Think about it ! Once your data is available in CDS via the Data integrator from multiple applications, Power users of your organization can write business apps (Mobile or tablet based) using this data and PowerApps and extend the business processes more with this. I explained some of my initial observation about PowerApps and CDS in my earlier post here. In future, Microsoft will surely make it easier by providing more and more out of the box data integration templates for more data integration scenarios and will automate the data sync to CDS automatically at some point, so that the data will be readily available in CDS any time for you to consume and use.

What is next: For customers who have the Plan 2 or Dynamics 365 For Finance and Operations subscription, they have access to Common Data Services and the Data integrator feature right now. Go and explore what you will do with it!!

I will share some real time testing experience of the Prospect to Cash integration scenarios between D365 Sales and D365 Operations with the Data Integrator, Connections, Connection sets etc., once I have my environment for D365 For Sales configured and after I have fully tested it.

Till then, stay tuned, stay current !!

Dynamics 365 For Talent, game changing cloud app for end to end HCM and Talent Management from Microsoft

The date for the general availability for Dynamics 365 For Talent is nearing !! The Technical Preview is out now and you can get your hands on it to realize the tremendous potential and capabilities this new app brings out of the box, to help manage the end to end Human Capital Management (HCM) and Talent management functions of your organization.

D365 For Talent Tech Previewq

I have been evaluating this upcoming app for sometime now and I did play around the Technical Preview environment also. I would like to share some of my observations and how I think it will benefit for customers who already have subscribed to Dynamics 365 Enterprise edition and customers who are evaluating Dynamics 365 for their organization.

Note: In this post, I don’t intent to go deep into exploring features and functionality. I will do that later in future posts after General availability.

Take a quick look at the video below to get an idea of what Dynamics 365 For Talent can do for you.

Here are some of the key points.

  • First thing first ! Dynamics 365 For Talent is a cloud only, true SaaS offering from Microsoft under the Dynamics 365 platform, and it focuses only on core Human Capital Management and Talent Management aspects of an organization. This app is not customizable(as you would expect in other Dynamics 365 apps such as Operations), but it is certainly extensible, to meet customer’s specific needs.
  • Breaking Free from Core Finance and Operations app was a good idea: Many of us may have the question “Why a separate dedicated cloud app for HCM only, when Dynamics 365 For Operations app natively supported a fully integrated HR Module with a lot of native HCM and some talent management capabilities already?”. Well, from my perspective, it was a very bold and good move from Microsoft to break free the HCM component from within core finance and operations app, but still keep them both integrated. HCM and Talent management is key to every organization of any size and having all core HCM and Talent management functions within the Operations app was kind of limiting the scope of all the enhancements, that one can make in the HCM areas. It was also a lot of crowded core HR related sensitive employee data within the Operations app and it made customers spend time to deal with building stringent security configurations to hide these sensitive data.

People Hub

  • The road is now paved to innovate faster and compete with other industry leaders in cloud HCM apps: The separate app for Talent management under Dynamics 365 platform will enable organizations to subscribe and use just the Talent app and also use it in conjunction Finance and Operations, based on what the needs are. This will also enable Microsoft to make this a full fledged HCM/Talent management app by adding new innovation focused specifically on HCM and be able to compete with other  industry leaders . We are already seeing the innovations with the deep LinkedIn integration for Talent attraction and onboarding.
  • Best in class Talent attraction and hiring experience with LinkedIn integration out of the box: With deep integration to LinkedIn, Dynamics 365 for Talent will set itself apart and ahead of the game, when it comes to HCM and Talent Management. It is certainly poised to provide the best talent hunting and hiring experience for your organization. How many companies do you know today that does not rely on Linked to look and hunt for the best talent? So, with the deep integration with Dynamics 365, it will be your one stop shop for all aspects of attracting and retaining top talent. This will be the game changer.

LinkedIn

  • Key HCM related analytics and dashboards are readily available. Microsoft PowerBI being the backbone, Dynamics 365 For Talent also provides various prebuilt PowerBI content packs for all sort of analytics and dashboards you will expect. All out of the box!

Talent People Metrics

Talent Workplace Demographics

  • Extensions and Integrations:  Having Dynamics 365 For Talent as a standalone app and not providing any integrations out of the box with ERP (Finance and Operations apps) will not make much sense. Come fall release later this year, we should start seeing out of the box integration of Dynamics 365 for Talent with Dynamics 365 for Operations app, where all necessary core workers related data needed for managing operations and finance will flow from Talent to Operations app. Let us stay tuned on this.

Integrations

  • 3rd Party Integrations: Not only integrations within Dynamics platform, but this will also make it easier to integrate with external ATS, Payroll Providers and background check providers.
  • Licensing and Subscriptions: Since this is in Technical Preview now, no licensing details are out yet from Microsoft. But we should be fairly assume that Customers who have subscribed to the Enterprise Plan 2 of Dynamics 365 should get access to Dynamics 365 For Talent by default. Stay tuned for more updates on this.
  • What will happen to Customers who have invested in the Core HCM functionality of HCM module in Dynamics 365 For Operations or AX 2012 R3: While we need to wait to see more details around this, it surely looks like many of the core HCM functionality will move away from Dynamics 365 For Operations to Dynamics 365 For Talent in coming releases. I believe the customers who have used the built in HCM module of Dynamics 365 For Operations should be able to migrate most/all of their data to Talent and take advantage of the integration with Operations when it comes out in the Fall or later release. Customers using the HCM module functionalities of AX 2012 R3, can take advantage of the out of the box integration with Talent,  which will come out in coming months and they can move their HCM functions  to Dynamics 365 For Talent. Alternately, they can continue to use the AX 2012 R3 features until they are ready to move to the Cloud fully.

Exciting times ahead for HCM and Talent Management in Dynamics 365. Customers and prospective customers, stay tuned !!

Vendor Prepayments and Revenue recognition of fixed price projects in Dynamics 365 For Operations

Hello, Good to be back here on the blog !!! Jumping straight into topic here today about a new addition of a feature for vendor prepayments in relation with fixed price project revenue recognition !! Issuing large amounts of prepayments to vendors is often a common business requirement for large scale, long term fixed price projects, which involves a […]

via Vendor Prepayments and Revenue Recognition For Fixed Price projects in Dynamics 365 For Operations — Microsoft Dynamics AX Blog

Cloud, Hybrid, On-Premise Deployment Options for Dynamics 365 For Operations, Your business application, Your choice, You control !!

Microsoft Dynamics 365 For Operations is a modern HTML 5,  cloud based, intelligent, true SaaS ERP application built and run in the Microsoft Cloud, accessible anytime anywhere in any device, enables customers to run their end to end business operations. Since it’s launch as New Dynamics AX (AX 7) back in February 2016 till the most recent release back in November 2016, it has seen tremendous success and customer adoption, where more and more customers are willing to move their business operations management into the cloud.

With all the positive buzz around cloud, there has also been a lot of anxiety in the Customer, Partner and Technical community of Dynamics 365 and Dynamics AX regarding availability of a fully On-Premise or even a Hybrid deployment option. While more and more customers are realizing the benefit of moving their business to a fully cloud based true SaaS ERP, there some customers who are still reluctant and are not sure how their cloud ERP journey will look like, while some other customers are limited and controlled by regulatory requirements, enterprise standards, regulatory data security and privacy requirements, geographical constraints etc., and they do not feel comfortable running their operations on a public cloud environment. Microsoft kept a close watch on these scenarios and finally listened to the crowd. Kudos to Microsoft !!!

Back in Summit 2016 held at Tampa Florida, Microsoft announced their intentions and plans of a Hybrid cloud deployment option for Dynamics 365 For Operations. The true meaning of a hybrid cloud deployment is that “Customers will be able to run their business processes and transactions in an environment that are supported by Local application services and their business data will be stored locally on either Customer’s or their partner’s data center, instead of the public cloud (Microsoft Azure), while allowing them to connect and replicate their data and environment to the Microsoft Cloud  to take full advantage of the power of Microsoft cloud for automatic updates, business intelligence, financials reporting, telemetry, artificial intelligence, Cognitive services, Customer insights, PowerApps, Flow and more such surrounding apps and services.

In Summer 2017, Microsoft plans to roll out this Hybrid cloud deployment options which will be called as “Cloud and Edge’. The business process and transactions will be allowed to run at the edges with business data getting stored locally, this will be referred as “My Workplace”. The central Cloud node (Microsoft cloud) will provide a single view of the business across distributed “My Workplaces” with the power of Microsoft cloud, utilizing it’s surrounding apps and services. With this, Customers will get the best of both the worlds, Cloud and On-premise !

This week (on 2/23/2017), Microsoft announced the next chapter is this journey, “The option of a fully On-premise Dynamics 365 For Operations environment”. What this means is, Customers will be able to run business processes and transactions in their local data centers and store business data in their own or their partner’s data center, without the replication and connection of business data into the Microsoft Cloud. Good news is, Customer can simply chose to turn ON or OFF the cloud synchronization of their business data to Microsoft Cloud.  This obviously means that Customers who chose not to replicate business data into the Microsoft Cloud will NOT be able to use the Power of Microsoft cloud such as Machine learning, telemetry, embedded BI and more. This deployment option will be called as “Local Business Data” option and will be available during Q2 of 2017

In the Local Business Data deployment scenario, The application servers and the SQL servers will run on Customer’s own data center, however, they will still need to use Lifecycle Services (LCS) in Microsoft Cloud, for managing their deployment, implementation and monitoring.

Image/table below shows the side by side comparison of the different deployment scenarios.

d365-opr-deployment-scenarios

Image Source: Microsoft Dynamics 365 Official Blog

Stay tuned for more details on this topic at the D365 Technical Conference in Seattle next Month.

Sri Srinivasan, General Manager of Microsoft Dynamics 365 For Operations at Microsoft announced this in a blog post on 23rd Feb, where he provided additional details on licensing options and availability for these deployment options. You can refer the detail of his blog post at the URL below.

https://community.dynamics.com/b/msftdynamicsblog/archive/2017/02/23/the-right-cloud-option-for-your-business

Regards,

Sandeep

Dynamics 365 For Operations Tip: Now you can use Position based hierarchies in all workflows

Using a Reporting manager hierarchy for routing workflow documents has always been possible in Microsoft Dynamics AX and Dynamics 365 For Operations. This worked great in cases where you were required to route all of an employee’s workflow documents, such as timesheets, expense reports, purchase requisitions and more, to the manager they report to.

Now in Dynamics 365 For Operations, you can use Custom configured position hierarchies to route workflow documents. So, let’s say  you have a scenario where you need to route timesheets of an employee to the reporting manager, but route the expense reports to a manager they report to in a specific project hierarchy, you can configure this in Dynamics 365 For Operations ! Let’s see how?

 On the Position Hierarchy Types, you can select the workflows which can use the selected position Hierarchy for outing documents. For example, in the screenshot below notice that the Matrix based hierarchy can be used by the expense report – USMF and Timesheet workflow.

position-heirarchy-workflow

NOTE: Note that a workflow can use only one custom hierarchy.

Additionally, you will notice that, on the workflow setup form, you can now view and manage the associated configurable hierarchies.

manage-hierarchy

On the workflow setup/configuration, you can select the steps to be assigned to a Configurable hierarchy. See screenshot below.

workflow-setup

So, when an employee submits their expense report/timesheet, this workflow setup is going to look for the Matrix Position Hierarchy and assign the workflow document to the worker to whom the employee reports in the Matrix hierarchy instead of the managerial hierarchy.

phierarchy

matrix-workflow

Small, but useful enhancement !! Hope this quick tip is useful.

Meet the All new Dynamics 365 Home page, the new home for all your Business Apps

When the New Dynamics AX/AX 7 was launched back in February this year, it introduced a whole new way of how we interact with Dynamics AX. While that was maturing and users and community were learning to get comfortable with it, Microsoft announced Dynamics 365 at WPC, with the intent of combining the Cloud CRM and ERP offerings under one unified platform called Dynamics 365 and produce the next generation of intelligent cloud business apps. Dynamics 365 is now released and is publicly available for purchase by customers.

Starting 1st NOV, 2016, when you login to you Office 365 home page, you should notice the new Dynamics 365 app on your Office home page. Along with this, you should also see the other surrounding apps such as Flow and PowerApps, as those are now publicly available for use.

office-home-apps

So with this, it is very evident that Microsoft wants to this to be a default landing page. default landing page, from where you can literally launch any application or cloud service that your organization is subscribed to or those which are Free to use. For example, from this Office home page, you can launch Dynamics 365 (Your business applications), Power BI (Your business intelligence app), Flow, powerApps (event automation apps), or even any of the Office apps. Eventually Microsoft will make all these apps work seamlessly with each other, without the users having to notice any significant differences in front end.

We have already started seeing this, where Dynamics 365 talks seamlessly with Office 365 allowing you to interact with Dynamics 365 data from within Outlook. You can also use Flow and PowerApps to build powerful events automation in Dynamics 365. Dynamics 365 already has Office 365 apps and Power BI at it’s core and works very well with these apps too.

In today’s quick post, let us see and experience how the new Dynamics 365 home page looks like.

After you have logged in to Office 365 HERE, select Dynamics 365 app to launch it.

You will then notice the screen below opening up, which is the Brand New HOME page for Dynamics 365, business applications.

d365-home

On this HOME page, you can see all the business apps you are subscribed to under Dynamics 365. For example, if your organization has subscribed to the Dynamics 365 for Sales and Dynamics 365 for Operations apps, then those 2 will appear here on the Apps pane.

apps

You can also launch them from the apps pane on the left hand side. You can obviously access the direct URLs for those apps separately using a web browser, but Dynamics 365 Home is the new way of interacting with all these apps, from one central location.

apps-d365

In the upcoming releases, there will certainly be more and more out of the box integrations between these apps and the UI across these apps will be very unified, so that user cannot really notice any difference when they switch between apps. These apps will also exchange data seamlessly and talk to each other (There already many scenarios of data exchange between Dynamics 365 For sales and Operations apps on the first release that came out on NOV 1st). This obviously achieves Microsoft’s primarily goal of launching Dynamics 365, which is to combine the CRM and ERP offerings under one unified cloud service, so that customers and users can take optimum advantage of these to streamline their sales, marketing and operations, get high returns on investment, at a much lesser cost.

On this Dynamics 365 home screen, you can also see a way to directly launch the Dynamics 365 Appsource, which is the new platform for all 3rd party cloud apps, that are built for Dynamics 365. These are typically add-on solutions from partners and ISVs for addressing specific business needs for various industry verticals.

appsource

appsource-landing-page

One example of such an app in the Appsource is AXIO For Professional Services, from SBS Group, which offers purpose built solutions for advanced contracts and revenue management.

axio-proserv

Last, but not the least, you can also see the Apps that are shared with you from Microsoft PowerApps, which means you can launch the apps from within this. To get an idea what PowerApps is and what it can do for you, you can ready my earlier post HERE.

I wish Microsoft will make this new HOME page for Dynamics 365 to be more informative in the upcoming releases, where it can show user/role specific Power BI dashboards for business insights, predictive recommendations (Artificial intelligence) etc., right on this Dynamics 365 home page, before even user launches a specific app to see the corresponding BI and dashboards or information.

Till next time!!! A lot to digest and learn.

Project Services Automation(PSA) in Dynamics 365, What options are available and what is best for you!

With literally 1 week to go for Dynamics 365 to launch officially, I am sure most of the customers and prospects are anxious and keen to explore more on this and find out what is right for them, which services they should chose within Dynamics 365 to drive the Digital transformation of their organization.

psa-dynamics-365

First thing first! Dynamics 365 is a fully Cloud based SaaS service and has various services/solutions offered under it. You can refer to my earlier post for a brief explanation on what each of these services are and what they really mean. In today’s post, we will discuss on what is the story of Project Service Automation/Professional Service Automation (PSA) in Dynamics 365, what options does customers have for  PSA in Dynamics 365 and which option may work best for their organization.

There are 2 primary options/services for Professional/Project Services Automation in Dynamics 365.

OPTION 1: A Fully integrated PSA solution within Dynamics 365 for Operations.(This was Previously know as New Dynamics AX/AX 7)

  • This is the fully integrated Enterprise ERP solution that supports both project operational and financial automations, all within one solution.
  • Project operational processes such as project management, project accounting, end to end project procurement and end to end project sales & distribution are fully supported in this.
  • For those who are familiar with Dynamics 365 for Operation (Known as New Dynamics AX earlier), this is really the Project Management and Accounting module and it’s built in integration with the other modules of AX.
  • Traditionally customers always had to build integrate Dynamics AX with Dynamics CRM if they wanted to establish the seamless flow of customer and project data from Lead to Project delivery. With Dynamics 365, the built in integration of Dynamics 365 for Operations and Dynamics 365 For Sales/Marketing is already off to a great start and will only improve significantly in future.

OPTION 2: Dynamics 365 For Project Service Automation service/solution, Stand alone solution which can be integrated with Dynamics Financials or any other financials solutions

  • A purpose built, specific solution for stand alone project service automation.
  • This  supports key project service processes such as project management, resourcing, project execution and billing up to some extent (Not Advanced Billing).
  • For those familiar with Dynamics CRM Online, this is basically Project Service Module of Dynamics CRM online, now improved with Dynamics 365.
  • Since this solution was built in traditionally within Dynamics CRM online, the Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation probably integrates more seamlessly with Dynamics 365 for Sales in current state.

The table below shows a high level comparison of the key features of Project Service Automation (PSA) solutions between Option 1 and Option 2 mentioned above.

project-service-comparision

With that said, let us now understand what an organization should really consider while choosing between these 2 options for professional/project service automation solutions in Dynamics 365.

We can think of various deciding factors that can play a role in choosing one of these solutions, however I will mention some of the common factors that I think are crucial to be able to chose between these 2 solutions.

You should chose the fully integrated Project Service Automation solution, i.e. Dynamics 365 for Operation if,

  1. Your organization’s strategy is to have one unified ERP system to manage projects end to end, along with Financials and Operations (Procurement and Supply chain), all in the same application.
  2. Your organization’s focus is more on having coverage of features and business processes in areas such as Project management, project procurement, project supply chain, project financials accounting and human capital management, all in one application.
  3. Your organization is decently large in size and has project based operations with focus on project based distribution/engineering/project based manufacturing.
  4. Your organization is a Hi-tech consulting and service provider/AV integrator having the need to fully streamline the project financials and the complex project/contract revenue recognition, all in one integrated ERP.
  5. You are professional services organization and you have complex billing and accounting requirements for your projects.

You should chose the stand alone Project Service Automation solution of Dynamics 365 if,

  1. Your current financials system (Dynamics or non-Dynamics) works fairly well and is well set for the organization and you are not really looking to revamp the financials and accounting processes of your organization. You can chose the Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation and integrate it with your current financials system.
  2. Your organization is keen on deploying a specific, purpose built, targeted solution to solve issues related to Project services only (Project management, time and expense, billing etc.). You can deploy Stand alone Project Service automation and integrate with your existing financials solution.
  3. Your organization is in the Small to Medium in size and does not have very complex project management and accounting needs. In this case, you will probably be better off choosing Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation and Dynamics 365 for Financials.

I would like to reiterate, the above analysis is just my opinion and what I think are some of the key factors differentiating the 2 key Project Service Automation solution options in Dynamics 365. I am sure we all can count on several other factors and probably argue several alternate possibilities. Feel free to comment or contact me if you would like to discuss.

Regards,

Sandeep

 

Microsoft Unveils the Next chapter of Dynamics Cloud Business Apps, Dynamics 365

With the launch date now getting near(1st November 2016), Microsoft unveiled the First look and shared more information regarding Dynamics 365, the next generation intelligent business apps in the cloud. Right now, there are obviously a lot of excitement, questions, confusions, concerns among existing customer and user base of the legacy On premise applications (GP, SL, NAV & AX) as well as prospective customers and the partner community. All of us probably are wondering how our investments is Microsoft Dynamics is going to shape up in the new Dynamics Cloud era .

In this post today, let us understand and decode some of the key facts about Dynamics 365, that were unveiled and discussed in Summit 2016 held at Tampa, FL.

d365intro

Microsoft unveiled the First Look of the next generation cloud business apps, all under one unified platform called Microsoft Dynamics 365. Below are some of the key take away from the first look.

  • Microsoft Dynamics 365 is the next generation of intelligent business applications that enable organizations to grow, evolve and transform. These applications unify CRM and ERP capabilities by delivering new purpose-built applications that work seamlessly together to help manage specific business functions across Sales, Customer Service, Operations, Financials, Field Service, Project Service Automation, Marketing, and Customer Insights.

  • This perfectly aligns the Dynamics business segment with the Cloud First, Mobile first strategy of Microsoft and puts the Dynamics platform and business applications in the forefront of the Cloud and mobile innovation by Microsoft. This means customers will see faster and continuous innovations in the business applications and will get feature updates frequently, and get capabilities connected to the entire breadth of Microsoft Cloud apps such as Office 365, Azure, Cortana Intelligence Suite, Power BI, PowerApps, Flow, IoT, Machine Learning and more.

dynamics-cloud

  • Dynamics 365 integrates the Dynamics CRM and ERP products into one unified Cloud Service and delivers end to end business application functionality as a SaaS service in the Cloud. These apps can be consumed separately and together based on your needs. So you pay only for what you use.

unified-cloud-service

  • Let us  now understand what each of these business apps really  are under Dynamics 365.

Dynamics 365 For Sales: It is the Sales component/module of Dynamics CRM Online.

Dynamics 365 For Customer Service: It is the Customer Service/module component of Dynamics CRM Online.

Dynamics 365 For Field Service : This is the Field Service component/Module of Dynamics CRM Online.

Dynamics 365 For Project Service Automation: This is the Project Service component/module of Dynamics CRM Online.

Dynamics 365 For Marketing: Microsoft recently announced that it fully will integrate Adobe Marketing cloud with Dynamics 365 and make it the preferrable marketing app for Dynamics 365.

Dynamics 365 For Operations: This is the New Dynamics AX (AX 7) ERP that we all are familiar with. This is where most of the customers/prospects might get confused. The name “Dynamics 365 For Operations” misleads a little bit. This business app  is really  targeted for the enterprise customers and obviously includes full advanced Financials functionality as well of AX 7. With this app, customers do NOT need to buy other Financials apps such as “Dynamics 365 for Financials”. “Dynamics 365 for Operations has everything you need to manage your Operations, including Core Financials. Hopefully Microsoft will rename this app to “Dynamics 365 For Operations & Financials” at some point :).

Dynamics 365 For Financials: This is the new Financials app of Dynamics 365(Earlier known as Project Madeira) and is primarily targeted for SMB customers in most cases. This does not include any of the advanced Operations functionality such as Manufacturing, E-commerce(Retail), advanced supply chain etc.   When we say, this is targeted more for the SMB customers, we might argue whether Microsoft thinks that SMBs do not have “Operations” ? Of course some of them do and Microsoft is probably thinking those customers should chose Dynamics 365 For Operations app instead of the Financials app. We will have to wait and see how this shapes up.

  • Dynamics 365  provides a unified user experience across all different apps and seamless transition. So you don’t have to spend more time navigating between systems. These apps are also seamlessly integrated to exchange data and play nicely with each other. For example when a Sales rep creates a Sales order from a confirmed sales quotation in the Dynamics 365 for Sales app, it will create the Sales Order automatically in the Dynamics 365 for Operations app. Very powerful. I am excited to test more scenarios and how the data flow looks between these apps !

ui

ui-apps

  • A brand new HOME page showing you a view of all apps you own under Dynamics 365 and a direct access to Microsoft Appsource. Appsource is where you can go explore more purpose-built industry solutions(Apps) built by various Microsoft partners. When you discover new business apps, you can also see partners that are capable of implementing those apps.

home-page

And Probably a new LOGO for Dynamics ? The Dynamics platform is most certainly getting a new logo which may look something like below.

d365-logo-small

  • Power BI is embedded throughout the Dynamics 365 experience. As a result, you will get business insights for each of your business areas at one central dashboard page, still powered by Power BI.

powerbithroughout

  • Dynamics 365 is inherently MOBILE with full offline mode support! (For Windows, android and iOS). This is probably one of the biggest feature update of Dynamics platform. With Dynamics 365, Customers can have mobile apps (Several Out of the box) and can create apps literally for any area/App. You can check my earlier post HERE to learn more about the mobile apps framework of Dynamics  365 for Operations (Dynamics AX).

mobile-screens2

mobile-screens1

  •  Integration of Dynamics 365 and Office 365 Better than ever before. Traditional On-premise business apps (NAV, AX, SL etc) always had integrations with Office 365 and could exchange data with Microsoft word, excel outlook. But the scenarios and capabilities were somewhat limited. With Dynamics 365, the integration goes to a whole new level and provides users a full-blown integration. For example, you can drill into the details of a customer record of Dynamics 365 from within your Outlook email and even see further details such as associated sales opportunities, and launch the Dynamics 365 for Sales app/Other apps from within the email. Sleek !! A lot to explore and learn.

office-integration

  • Artificial Intelligence in Dynamics 365. Microsoft and other big companies like Google, Amazon and more are betting their future on Artificial intelligence. With Artificial intelligence built-in in Dynamics 365, you can now get product recommendations, have your office 365 data(Such as email communications and more) automatically populated into Dynamics 365 Sales or even get proactive automated personal sales assistance with warnings and recommendations when needed . This certainly involves a good learning curve for me and understand what are various things we can do with it.

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  • New SaaS service called “Dynamics 365 for Customer Insights announced under Dynamics 365. This app/service is built on top of core Azure and Cortana Intelligent data services and it can connect to your Dynamics 365 data and literally any other data source, to help you build a 360 view of your customer and better understand and engage with your customers in real-time.

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Question: Do customers need to pay to use this Service ? I do not know and we will need to wait and watch.

  • What will happen to the existing customers using AX 2009 or AX 2012 On-premise versions: There is no immediate impact for these customers. Microsoft will continue to support AX 2009 until 2018 and AX 2012 for even longer time(2021, Find more info on my earlier post). There may also be feature updates released for AX 2012. However, Microsoft also revealed upgrade plans for existing customers. You can learn more in detail at the blog post by MSDynamicsWorld.com HERE.

Long story short, customers using AX 2009 can start evaluating their upgrade options with assisted upgrade tool for AX 2009. These tools are in preview now and when released, it will have the capabilities to do the heavy lifting for you for the upgrade. I assume, while the tool can help these customers to a great deal, there will still be good amount of work that needs to be done to make these upgrades successful.

For Customers using AX 2012, the upgrade path will be comparatively easier given the fact that schema and underlying business logic of AX 2012 and AX 7 are pretty much same. The upgrade assisting tools for AX 2012 may be available around March of 2017. Need to wait and watch.

  • More news on Common Data Model and surrounding Apps: Many of us probably know what is the Common data model and the role it has to play in the new Dynamics era. CDM basically is intended to surface data that is stored within Dynamics 365 across all the different business apps (Sales, Marketing, Operations etc.) into a set of data entities that can model the data between these different apps. It can also connect to entities outside Dynamics 365 such as Office 365 and more. As Microsoft clarified further in AXUG conference, think of CDM as a parallel data repository and will sync with Dynamics AX and other database of different business apps of Dynamics 365.Then services like Microsoft PowerApps and Microsoft Flow can use this to create powerful events automation and business apps connecting multiple applications and services.

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  • What is coming in Dynamics 365 For Operations and it’s roadmap: There are a whole lot of new features and capabilities coming to the Dynamics 365 for Operations(Dynamics AX 7) app in the fall release (November 2016). Below are some of the key features that you will see in the fall release.

Courtesy : MS Dynamics World News

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Hope this was a good summary of Dynamics 365 announcements at Summit this year. We all have  a long way to go and learn the cool new features and services and be ready to sail through the cloud era.

Best,

Sandeep

Dynamics AX is now supported in Microsoft Flow for events/Tasks automation in Dynamics 365

With Dynamics 365, realizing the true power of the intelligent cloud platform is going to be possible very soon for customers. Along with Dynamics CRM Online(For Sales/Project Services), CRM Online/Adobe Marketing cloud (For Marketing) and Dynamics AX (For Operations), some of the other significant components of the Microsoft Dynamics 365 cloud are the surrounding apps, such as the Microsoft PowerApps, Microsoft Flow, Power BI, Office 365 and more.

Making use of all of these surrounding intelligent business apps in the cloud, for automating data or events in CRM Online (Sales) or in Dynamics AX (For operational data) can prove really beneficial and open up new possibilities.

Interacting with Dynamics AX is now supported in Microsoft Flow in the September release of Flow.

So let us say if I were to create a flow where I want to create/Update a customer automatically in Dynamics AX, when a Customer is created/updated in Dynamics CRM Online, Or “Create a contact record in Dynamics AX when a contact is created in Common Data Model” and more scenarios like this, I can create my Flow to do it automatically now !!

You can refer to my earlier post on Microsoft Flow for step by step guidelines on to create and setup the flow (Create Powerful event automation in Dynamics 365). For this post, I just wanted highlight the fact that Dynamics AX is now supported in Microsoft Flow for events automation.

For example, first step of my flow is ‘When an Employee record is created in Common Data Model”.

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The Action is to Create a new employee record in Dynamics AX. You can see in the screenshot below that various actions for Dynamics AX are already available in Microsoft Flow.

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AS the intention of this post was just to highlight that Dynamics AX is now supported in Microsoft Flow under the Dynamics 365 umbrella, I am not explaining the process end to end. You can explore it more and try your own scenarios to interact between different applications and create powerful event/task automations.

Regards,

Sandeep

Microsoft Dynamics 365-Enterprise Edition will be available as the Enterprise ERP cloud Starting November 1st, 2016

Hey Folks,

Check out the below update regarding Dynamics 365 in Customer source.

https://mbs.microsoft.com/customersource/northamerica/AX/news-events/news/Dyn365ax

Some Key Points:

  1. Dynamics 365 – Enterprise Edition will be available as the Enterprise cloud ERP starting 1st November, 2016.
  2. Microsoft Dynamics AX (AX 7) will become the Operations application for Enterprises within Dynamics 365(Enterprise Edition)
  3. Ongoing updates to the cloud ERP service will be releases, like any other Microsoft Service gets updates.
  4. Along with the Microsoft Dynamics AX (AX 7), Check out some of the other significant offerings in Dynamics 365Enterprise edition. which are Dynamics CRM online, Common Data Model, Microsoft PowerApps, Microsoft Flow etc. and evaluate what they could mean to you.
  5. With Dynamics 365, customers will have the option to either adopt the cloud , or for customers willing run the ERP in their own data centers, they will have the option of a Hybrid cloud deployment (Important Note: The availability of the Hybrid cloud is still TBD and dates are yet to be confirmed by Microsoft). Good news is, customers willing to run their operations in their own data centers will still have the power to connect to the cloud services such as PowerApps, Flow, Power BI, IoT and more.
  6. Mainstream support for Dynamics AX 2009 available till April 2018.
  7. Mainstream support for Dynamics AX 2012 R3 available till April 2021.

Regards,

Sandeep