My favorite new features coming to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales, Marketing, and Customer Service in 2021 release wave 2
A few weeks ago, Microsoft announced the official 2021 release wave 2 plan for Dynamics 365. The PDF of the release comes in at a whopping 371 pages filled with updates, new features and enhancements. In this article, we will focus on the first 100 pages of content, which covers the standard CRM areas of Dynamics 365: marketing, sales, and service.
Overall Themes in This Release
Microsoft Teams has become the preferred mechanism for rolling out new features. If you’re not using Teams with your Dynamics 365 apps yet, this is a great time to get started! At the keynote from Inspire this year, Satya Nadella announced that “today, I’m excited to share that Microsoft Teams customers will receive access to Dynamics 365 data within Teams at no extra cost.” This certainly lines up with the Teams-Dynamics 365 collaboration that we are seeing throughout the release notes.
New enhancements, integrations, features and connections allow you to work well beyond the traditional boundaries of your Dynamics 365 apps.
It’s important to note that the features discussed in the release notes will be rolling out from October 2021 through March 2022. As you scan through the 2021 release wave 2 plan, you will see that each feature may have three different dates:
- Public preview: organizations can opt-in to test-drive these pre-release features.
- Early access: the feature is available to opt-in as part of early access on August 2, 2021. You can learn more about early access here.
- General availability: the feature will be delivered within the month listed.
Note: these dates are subject to change (and they often do).
My 5 favorite marketing updates in this release
There are quite a few updates in this plan for Dynamics 365 for Marketing. There are new vendors to handle SMS that will make a lot of customers happy (Twilio is here!), AI and analytics enhancement, and better personalization engagement for your customers. Check out the full list of marketing changes in the release here. Here are my five favorite updates included in the marketing app:
- Deliver rich customer experiences across Dynamics 365, Office and other apps by augmenting customer journeys with Power Automate. This update is really bringing together the power of the full Microsoft suite to enhance your marketing experience. Your customer journeys can travel well beyond the confines of the Marketing app with this update. Public preview for this is set for November 2021.
- Create email content easily and efficiently with AI-based Content Ideas. Bringing AI into your content development strategy is a fantastic capability. With this new feature, your email editor can suggest relevant, engaging content as an inspiration or starting point when building an email for a specific audience. This update will have early access in September 2021 with general availability in October 2021.
- Create a webinar registration experience in Teams, then design the participants' journey in Marketing with a few clicks. I really love how integrated Teams is becoming with the Marketing app. Seamlessly connect your Teams webinars with Dynamics 365 for Marketing and use Teams data to help design the customer journey. Manage everything from webinar registration to user behaviors within the Marketing app. Public preview will be in October 2021, with general availability scheduled for December 2021.
- Connect Customer Insights and your own data lake with customer journey orchestration. Here’s another great update that extends beyond the Marketing app. Store Customer Insights data in your own Azure Data Lake Storage, then use that data to build segments, specify conditions and personalize your marketing messages to build real-time customer journeys using data outside of the Marketing app. This update is set to hit public preview in December 2021.
- Send SMS messages using Twilio and TeleSign integration. The SMS supported integration list in the Marketing app will be increasing to include bosh Twilio and TeleSign. You can look for this to hit general release in October 2021.
My 5 favorite sales updates in this release
The updates in the Dynamics 365 Sales app are focused around several areas: collaboration with Teams, enhanced connections with LinkedIn, improved productivity tools and forecasting updates and mobility enhancements. The full list of Sales app updates can be found here. Here are my favorite updates included in the sales app:
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