The News: At this year’s Microsoft partner event, Inspire, the company announced a series of important updates to dynamics 365 and the Power Platform. Read the full blog from Alysa Taylor for all the updates from the Business Applications Team.
Analyst Take: Microsoft continues to rapidly expand its business applications business and at this year’s Inspire event, the company made several important announcements that span Dynamics 365, Power Platform and MS Teams. Let’s quickly unpack the announcements and analyze their impact on the product/service portfolio.
Announcements From the Business Applications Team
Microsoft had several announcements as well as a new “Return to Work” solution built on Power Platform that we will cover more in depth in the next day or so. In terms of Dynamics 365, the announcements included updates to Connected Store, Fraud Protection, Customer Voice and Customer Insights.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 Connected Store announced that it will soon offer store traffic and curbside queue as features, increasing shopper safety as stores reopen in accordance to regulations.
Take: I believe that these capabilities are important right now as the retail industry attempts to recover. The utilization of enhancements in AI/ML, IoT and other integrated technologies will help retailers remain below capacity limits and design stores to improve customer safety. The solution is also dialed in on improving the curbside order experience by using computer vision and other technologies to signal the arrival of vehicles as they approach the store. A winning set of new features for the return of retail.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection also received updates at Microsoft Inspire. With such a rapid growth in the volume of transactions (especially online), the new offerings are designed to help protect retailers, public sector entities, credit issuers, and their customers. The solutions focus on two areas, Account Protection and Loss Prevention. The first for online revenue and reputation management and the latter to reduce shrinkage via fraud on returns and discounts.
Take: Fraud protection is growing in importance as omni-channel expands and transactions become more electronic and in greater volumes. The ability to identify fraud earlier can make a material impact to the business’s bottom line. It can accelerate the weeding out of internal fraud, which is often greater in prevalence than most businesses realize. It can also enhance other fraud schemes where large volumes of transactions can be troublesome for systems to manage.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Voice received an update focusing on enabling brands to more effectively listen, understand and respond to customers. The updates included an enterprise-grade feedback management solution to capture and incorporate real-time feedback into a unified view of customers and drive action in the moments that matter.
Take: I feel that the updates to Customer Voice, while incremental, are important as companies seek a way to integrate customer feedback into everyday applications and workflows. The solutions are designed for faster deployment, which is important for real-time and near real-time data collection through the availability of ready-to-use templates–this should improve uptake from customers.
While Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Insights didn’t focus on specific enhancements to the product at this time (it has throughout the year), the company did dial into a few of its marquee customers including Walgreens, which has turned to Microsoft D365 Customer Insights and its broader customer data platform (CDP) to drive better personalization and shopping experiences for its customers.
Teams and Power Platform Also Have News
Microsoft Inspire also came with news for Power Platform and Teams.
Power Platform announced the introduction of Microsoft Dataflex, Microsoft Dataflex Pro will be the new name for the Common Data Service (CDS), and Microsoft Dataflex is the newest iteration of this technology in Teams. Microsoft Dataflex empowers nearly all employees or users to easily build and deploy apps and intelligent chatbots in Teams using a Teams-native Microsoft Power Apps and Microsoft Power Virtual Agents experience.
Take: I’m bullish on enhancements in Power Platform as I see a big swing toward low code and no code tools to enable companies to more rapidly build important applications and tools. However, data is the great equalizer in these types of tools., but Microsoft has seemingly answered the call here as Dataflex gives users access to a built-in flexible database with a range of data types including relational, image, and file. This enables Dataflex users can create business apps and processes within Teams without having to deal with the typical technology challenges and integrations to broad data portfolios across the enterprise landscape.
Overall Impressions of MS Inspire Updates to D365, Power Platform and the Biz Apps Portfolio
I firmly believe that Microsoft is in a unique position to gain market share and strength in its business applications BU. Over the past few quarters, the growth of this part of the business has been encouraging and the continued updates and strategic integrations across Azure, Teams, M365 and the Power Platform give it a. unique advantage that arguably no other business applications provider can compete with.
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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