Software

New apps and services heading to Microsoft Power BI and Dynamics 365

Services designed at helping businesses to extract useful insights from big data will be available from April.

Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • Microsoft is adding new apps and services to Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Power BI from April.
  • The new applications are aimed at generating useful insights from the raft of data that modern businesses collect.

Microsoft has revealed a tranche of new apps designed to help firms extract useful insights from the growing amount of data they collect.

These new products and services cover Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Power BI and, in general, will be available from April.

"It's really an evolution of bringing forward modern applications that are unified across Office, LinkedIn and Dynamics, as well as our third-party ecosystem, and then building embedded intelligence throughout the application," said Alysa Taylor, general manager for business applications and industry at Microsoft.

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April 1st will see the release of Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Marketing. Currently in public preview, this is a marketing automation application for companies that is designed to help create leads, align sales and marketing and get better ROI from decisions, while also being customizable.

Taylor said it will complement Microsoft's partnership with Adobe but that Adobe's campaign cloud and experience cloud will continue to be its flagship enterprise offering.

"Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Marketing will be centered on those that want to go beyond basic email management to a system that connects their marketing, automation and journey mapping into the sales environment," she said.

Microsoft is also adding a new sales application SKU, Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales Professional, which is designed to streamline sales force automation. The service is based on the Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales Enterprise platform, but is targeted at smaller teams, for example SMEs or individual departmental use. The service will handle opportunity management, sales planning and performance management, with a view to helping optimize sales processes and productivity.

Taylor says these new services will offer new AI-assisted tools designed to simplify day-to-day tasks by scouring data in other Microsoft products and services, ranging through Outlook, Teams, SharePoint, Stream video, Azure, LinkedIn and Bing.

For example, Dynamics 365 for Sales includes auto-capture within the Outlook mail client, which helps sellers find messages relevant to specific accounts and then lets them track those messages, while the email engagement feature helps sellers prioritize the most promising contacts by extracting insights from emails with customers.

Finally, Microsoft will also release Dynamics 365 for Business Central, an ERP service which is aimed at smaller organizations that want to upgrade from basic accounting software and is designed to offer what Taylor calls "end-to-end management of their environment". It will include financial accounting and management software but also a lightweight sales service capability.

All of the new Dynamics 365 services will be generally available on April 1st.

New to Power BI

Alongside the new Dynamics 365 offerings are Microsoft Power BI Insights apps. These new apps will be tailored to the needs of various business departments, covering marketing, sales, service, operations, finance and HR. They will be designed to tap into a variety of Microsoft data and third-party data — relating to everything from business transactions to professional networks — and extract useful insights for each department.

The first of these new apps to launch will be Power BI for Sales Insights and Power BI for Service Insights, which will be available in preview this Spring, with apps covering marketing, HR, finance and operations due to be released at a later date.

Power BI for Sales Insights will extend the capabilities of Dynamics 365 for Sales: offering a range of services including summarising the health of relationships between sales personnel and customers as a score — calculated from data including transactions, customer sentiment, and messages, together with the frequency and type of customer interactions on Dynamics 365, email, and social networks. Another new feature will be predictive lead scoring, which will generate forecasts aimed at helping sales to prioritize quality leads.

Alongside these first-party Power BI apps will be third-party offerings, such as a credit union app built by insurance and investment business CUNA Mutual group. Businesses will also be able to tailor Power BI apps to meet their requirements, using tools ranging from self-service customization options to Azure Databricks.

Power BI will also gain the Common Data Service for Analytics, which will help firms integrate data from multiple sources by providing an extensible business application data schema. Pre-built connectors for common data sources, including Dynamics 365, Salesforce and others from Power BI's catalog, will be available to help organizations access data from Microsoft and third parties. The service is available in public preview and planned to ship in Fall. The Common Data Service for Apps that ships with PowerApps will also be upgraded to allow for more sophisticated business modelling.

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Image: Microsoft

About Nick Heath

Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic. He writes about the technology that IT decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

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