On March 21 the Amsterdam Arena was the centre of the Microsoft universe for one day. This was where the Microsoft Business Forward Event took place, which for the most part, was dominated by the new release of Dynamics 365. James Phillips, Corporate Vice President of the Microsoft Business Applications Group, presented the highlights of the new release in his keynote. Bas van Sluis, Dynamics 365 specialist at Microsoft, talks to HSO:

Q: Bas, you are an expert in CRM and customer engagement. What do you think are the most relevant improvements in this area in the new release?

A: “The 2018 release definitely contains a number of truly striking innovations. My top three: on one the launch of Dynamics 365 for Marketing. The first fully-fledged own marketing app from Microsoft. A second highlight is the development of the Dynamics 365 user interface. And thirdly, the launch of the PowerApps and the Common Data Service for Apps. This will offer companies many opportunities to combine data and the intelligence of the Dynamics platform”.

Q: First of all, Dynamics 356 for Marketing, what does this app have to offer?

A: “In the past, we already offered marketing functionality in Dynamcis 365 with add-ons. Now Microsoft has its own Marketing app that includes all essential marketing functionality. Such as email campaigns, landing pages, webforms, event management and intelligent segmentation. The biggest advantage of this app is the direct integration with the total platform. You are therefore always connected to it as a user”.

Q: Your number two, the improvements in the user interface, can you tell us more about that?

A: “This development is more about the user experience. Dynamics 365 is developing enormously in the area of ​​the user interface. The apps increasingly have the same user interface and the same uses, whether you work via your web browser, mobile or tablet. This offers users much more convenience and possibility no matter where or how they are used. In addition, it is very easy to optimise the Dynamics 365 user experience without a code via a drag & drop interface. That way you get even more value from the system”.

Q: That sounds good. But I think you are most enthusiastic about the launch of the renewed PowerApps and the Common Data Service for Apps, is that right?

A: “Absolutely. This can really bring a lot of benefits for companies. In fact, many customers are already working hard on this. Thanks to this technology, users can build apps themselves, based on the Common Data Service. The Common Data Service contains standard integrations with many Microsoft applications. And with the help of more than 200 connectors, data from other frequently used systems can also be accessed. Because the time-to-market for products is getting shorter, marketing and sales teams, but also product developers want to be able to quickly adapt their systems. So, an app that allows you to automate business processes quickly can be extremely useful. Let me give some examples. Take an app to register and classify leads. Or, if you want to make an inventory in a supermarket, a PowerApp can help. The information from the app is processed directly in the Common Data Service, so that the data is immediately available to everyone in the organisation. No longer are you solely dependent on the IT department to build this functionality for you. You are now able to fully develop apps yourself based upon your ability.

We also have a fantastic case study from an auto repair shop, which has fully automated checking and completing the toolboxes with an app. The box has been recreated in the app. If you scan the box with the app in the workshop, the app will immediately recognise which bolts, nuts and other parts need to be completed. ”

Q: So, if I understand correctly, ‘digital transformation’ remains the theme?

A: “Absolutely. All developments at Microsoft are focused on innovation, on data and especially on smart and intelligent use of information from customers, products and the market. So that companies can serve their customers better and better, with better products and better service”.

Want to read more? Click here to read James Phillips keynote.

A brief summary can be found here: – Highlights of the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Spring Update

Bas van Sluis has been working with Dynamics CRM for almost 15 years, now Dynamics 365. First in various positions with partners and since a few years at Microsoft itself. His job title is officially ‘Technology Solution Professional’, but he himself prefers to call himself Dynamics 365 expert, specialising in Customer Engagement and Field Service.

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