AI at the Center of New Microsoft Dynamics 365 App Launch

The News: Last week, at a gathering of press and analysts in San Francisco, Microsoft introduced a series of new features and applications for Dynamics 365, spotlighted by AI-driven insights that empower organizations to take informed actions and improve customer experiences. In addition, the company presented its vision for retail, brought to life by two new applications—Dynamics 365 Commerce and Dynamics 365 Connected Store—that will help organizations transform the retail experience.Read the full announcement from CVP Alysa Taylor on Microsoft.

Analyst Take: Microsoft quietly spent the day announcing a plethora of high impact tools and applications to continue to propel Dynamics 365 forward. Here I give my quick take on each feature and app announcement as well as some overall impressions.

New App Announcements

Dynamics 365 Commerce enables retailers and e-tailers to transform the way they do business by unifying the back-office, in-store, call center and digital experiences.

Analyst View: An important omni-channel play. To deliver best of breed experiences from online to in-store it takes sophisticated capabilities. This solution is designed with that specific application in mind and it offers more complete solution than it has in the past.

Dynamics 365 Connected Store provides insight into the retail space, helping physical retailers understand and improve the in-store experience by analyzing disparate data from video cameras and IoT sensors to provide real-time and predictive insights that help store managers and employees make better decisions.

Analyst View: We’ve been hearing a lot about how IoT and other sensor based technologies like heat mapping, facial recognition and capturing facial expressions can lead to better sales conversions. This application is set to enable retailers to execute on this promise while getting critical real-time data to improve business performance. 

Dynamics 365 Product Insights brings insights from connected physical products and gives visibility into product performance and customer interactions so that organizations can build richer relationships and improve engagement.

Analyst View: With diverse product mix being part of most organizations, it is critical to be able to garner data from each line item to understand performance. Historically a company could see product data, but with connected products there are ways to better understand everything from product attribution to product interaction. Product Insights is designed for this unique, but important use case of deeply understanding specific connected product performance. 

New Features Announcements

Dynamics 365 Customer Insights has new capabilities to address complex B2B journeys by mapping leads and contacts to buying groups, accounts, and account hierarchies giving customers the ability to build segments and measure the relationship between an account and contact.

Analyst View: Journey mapping is critical to successful analytics and AI implementations. New features empower companies to improve journey mapping activities. 

Dynamics 365 Virtual Agent for Customer Service is now generally available with new features, including the ability to create and deploy virtual agents that engage in personalized conversations with customers without writing a single line of code.

Analyst View: The key here is “Without a single line of code.” Bots are going to have a big role in the future, especially for customer service. Microsoft is democratizing this capability for companies that have no programming knowledge leveraging the company’s bot framework. 

IoT Intelligence for Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management has new capabilities that bring a new level of visibility and insight into shop floor and equipment operations, including proactively managing production and stock in real-time, predicting maintenance needs before downtime occurs, boosting equipment performance and increasing throughput, minimizing waste, and improving business performance.

Analyst View: Supply Chain continues to pick up steam as an important investment area for software companies and users. I see blockchain also playing a big role in this area in the future. Short-term, solutions like this that can use analytics and incorporate AI to increase equipment uptime and maximize productivity are crucial investments that can quickly show an ROI once implemented.

Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection: at this week’s Sibos event, we are announcing that Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection will be generally available on October 1, 2019. This cloud-based solution is designed to decrease fraud costs and help increase acceptance rates for customer payment transactions with e-commerce merchants. The solution combats payment and account-creation fraud with AI technology that continuously learns and adapts to evolving fraudulent patterns.

Analyst View: This one is as simple as it is necessary. Company’s need to have the most sophisticated tools possible to decrease fraud while making it easy for customers to pay. A wonderful use case for AI, I will be interested in hearing about how it works and any success metrics that follow in the next few quarters. 

Overall Impressions of the New Dynamics 365 Announements

Microsoft continues to build and deliver a more expansive Dynamics 365 environment. As the offering delivers more services in areas like supply chain, commerce and customer service, it becomes increasingly apparent that Microsoft has its eyes on gaining market share from its staunchest competitor Salesforce.

As I’ve said on countless occasions, Dynamics 365 today is a whole different solution than it was in its early days when Salesforce was able to so quickly win customers seeking a SaaS based solution. With the proliferation of Power Platform as well as Azure’s well documented success, I see continued wins in the future for Microsoft Business Applications. Today was a small moment in what I expect to be a bright future for Dynamics 365.

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Futurum Research provides industry research and analysis. These columns are for educational purposes only and should not be considered in any way investment advice.

Daniel Newman

Daniel Newman is the Principal Analyst of Futurum Research and the CEO of Broadsuite Media Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise. From Big Data to IoT to Cloud Computing, Newman makes the connections between business, people and tech that are required for companies to benefit most from their technology projects, which leads to his ideas regularly being cited by CNBC, Barrons, Business Insider and hundreds of other sites across the world. A 7x Best-Selling Author including his most recent “Human/Machine.” Daniel is also a Forbes and MarketWatch (Dow Jones) contributor. MBA and Graduate Adjunct Professor, Daniel Newman is a Chicago Native and his speaking takes him around the world each year as he shares his vision of the role technology will play in our future.
Daniel Newman