The News: On October 1st, 2020, Microsoft announced new technology innovation for Dynamics 365 Customer Insights including:
- Introduction of a new cross-channel analytics capability called “engagement insights” that enables deeper understanding of customer intent and behavior across websites, mobile apps and connected devices.
- New integration with Dynamics 365 Customer Voice to bring a new dimension and enrich customer profiles with sentiment and customer feedback data through Microsoft’s enterprise-grade feedback management solution.
- New AI capabilities for Dynamics 365 Customer Insights including out-of-the-box ML templates for turnkey insights, and continued improvements to integrations with Azure Synapse Analytics for advanced analytics.
- New capabilities that help to strengthen data governance and loss prevention so that organizations can easily configure policies to classify, label, and protect data based on its sensitivity, all hosted on Microsoft Azure – the world’s most trusted cloud.
Read the full article from Microsoft.
Analyst Take: Microsoft continues to lean into its strengths with enhancements to its Dynamics 365 Customer Insights offering. As the customer data platform (CDP) discussion gains momentum, I’m encouraged to see Microsoft investing in delivering a CDP solution that focuses on meeting the customer where they are, be it a full stack Microsoft user or a company looking to layer more sophisticated CDP capabilities on top of existing software and data.
This wave of updates focuses on two new capabilities. First, is the generally available audience insights and the second is a new offering called engagement insights. Audience insights, in addition to existing capabilities under Customer Insights, is designed to enable organizations to connect, unify, and govern customer data to deliver intelligent insights that are activated across systems of engagement, analytics, and ad platforms.
Engagement insights, which is set to go GA at the end of October, is designed to help organizations understand customer interactions and usage across all channels (web, mobile, and connected devices) and automatically enrich customer profiles with a broader set of signals than what is currently utilized. Engagement insights is being positioned to support organizations needs to deliver improved CX by enabling the integration of customer profiles with customer interactions from websites, mobile apps, and connected products.
Microsoft Targets Outcomes From More Complete View to Simpler AI Deployments
In its announcement, the company focused a lot on how these updates will deliver a more complete customer view enabled by Engagement Insights, which is something I would broadly expect from a CDP but I also felt the company made some key enhancements in areas like AI, Automation and challenges related to Privacy and Security.
- AI and ML: One of the impressive capabilities from these announcements is the broader integration with Azure and specifically its native integration with Microsoft Azure Synapse Analytics. This provides organizations with access to prebuilt AI templates for important AI use cases including churn prediction, product recommendations, and customer lifetime value. This provides companies faster time-to-value and the ability to adopt AI at scale without the time and cost related to specialists like data scientists.
- Next Best Action Integration, and Automation: Customer Insights is built to support a wide swath of third-party integrations that make it easier to share insights with any application, be it Microsoft or third-party platforms. As I alluded to above, this is a solid example of the company’s more agnostic approach making Customer Insights more flexible–built and designed for ingesting data from any source to activating insights on multiple destinations. The company used the following examples as third-party integrations. (AutopilotHQ, Bing ads, dotdigital, Facebook, Google Ads, HubSpot, LiveRamp, Marketo, Mailchimp, SendGrid, and more)
- Data privacy and Security: Data privacy and security are both a key focal point. Covid-19 has put even more emphasis on this, but growing compliance and regulatory requirements are also adding to the pressures of marketers trying to meet this increasing demand. Microsoft is able to address this by applying what it calls Microsoft Information Protection, allowing organizations to configure policies to classify, label, and protect data based on its sensitivity.
Why Microsoft’s Updates to Dynamics 365 Customer Insights Are Noteworthy
Companies are facing a challenge as software and data sprawl add complexity to truly understanding the entire customer (360 degrees).
I believe with the updates to deliver Customer Insights with a tailored focus on Audience and Engagement, companies will be able to more effectively realize value in a shorter period of time from their investments. Perhaps what I like the most is that Microsoft is approaching this with an agnostic approach–whether you are a Dynamics user or not. Even if you use Salesforce, Adobe or SAP, you can benefit from Customer Insights. I firmly believe this is the right approach in the modern IT era as lock-in becomes an increasingly obsolete model.
Futurum Research provides industry research and analysis. These columns are for educational purposes only and should not be considered in any way investment advice.
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