Looking back at 2018 in Microsoft Dynamics 365 can make you miss a breath. It’s been a long year, with events in—and outside—tech taking place you wouldn’t always believe…. That said, for Dynamics 365, 2018 has been a year of maturity, of new features, and new outsider considerations. Here’s our year-end round up of events for Dynamics 365 professionals.
In the first part of 2018, we saw the Online upgrades to Dynamics 3565 v9.0. This meant that multi-select option sets, virtual entities and security updates, amongst other features, became fully integrated with Dynamics 365. More impressively, we think, is that we also saw a new fully Unified Interface (UI). While a lot of people were initially concerned about changing such a fundamental part of Dynamics, the new UI is a general significant improvement.
Dynamics 365 for Marketing
Early 2018 was also a special moment because the new D365 for Marketing app finally entered production, producing a set of new embedded marketing automation tools for customers to integrate into their systems.
Developed on Microsoft’s latest Power platform, the new marketing automation tools use the very latest Microsoft Dynamics tech, and thanks to the new UI, it is embedded really nicely into Dynamics 365. New capabilities include lead scoring, customer journeys, audience segments and a dedicated event management module that has participants, sponsorship, event logistics post event comms, venue management and an events portal. In other words, it’s a pretty substantial upgrade to the existing Dynamics 365 platform that adds a whole load of new functionality.
Changes in release cadence
Until 2018, Microsoft had always released new features for Microsoft Dynamics in two large updates split throughout the year. In 2018, Microsoft changed all that, redefining their release cadence with a significant number of smaller important developments. These included:
- Removal of the legacy Dynamics roadmap site
- Microsoft will provide early notification about upcoming major releases. An early example of this was the publication of the October 2018 release guide in mid-July while the April 2019 guide will be published on 21 January.
- Major releases will be timed to arrive in April and October each year
- These are now heavyweight release guides (200+ pages!) packing a lot of detail about the next upcoming major release
- These release guides are not purely about Dynamics 365 but cover the wider Business Applications / Power platform so also incorporate: Power BI, Flow and PowerApps
- Weekly releases are providing bug fixes, performance improvements and introducing minor new features that don't significantly alter the end user experience
- Dynamics 365 Online is moving to a continuous release cycle where all users are on the latest version with effect from the April 2019 release
- All users will have immediate access to Dynamics improvements and new features as they are released
- Potentially disruptive new features and changes will be disabled by default
- To ensure all Online instances are on the same version, production updates will automatically be applied if these have not been previewed and scheduled by admins
- Beginning with the April 2019 release, Microsoft announced its upgrade timeline will include the opportunity to preview releases in a sandbox environment before mandatory updates are applied to production instances
We’ve written about the impact that GDPR could have on your Dynamics CRM and 365 systems if you are trading in or with the EU, but for us, it has been really great to see Microsoft rise to the challenge and work alongside partners and customers to ensure all necessary GDPR data compliance commitments are being honoured.
Our favourite example of this is Microsoft’s new Trust Centre page, where individuals, teams and organisations of all shapes and sizes can get stuck in, and take a look at what’s going to be required of them in our new data-compliant future. They can then work out what sort of strategy their business is going to need to implement in order for them to remain compliant. Check out the resources that center around Microsoft 365 and Dynamics 365 features.
A big surprise in 2018 was the announcement and release of the new edition of On-Premise, the last of which was released back in 2016. Given the number of features we’ve just discussed above, it’s easy to see why people were interested to see a new release of On-Premise, and 2018 delivered, with the new launch in October. Features include a unified interface for Sales and Service apps, new mobile task flows, relationship assistant embedded intelligence and more.
This is really just the tip of the iceberg. We could write a book about how much has happened this year in the world of Microsoft Dynamics. If you’re interested to hearing our thoughts one on one, get in touch with our teams in the US and UK here and we’d be happy to speak with you about your Dynamics needs, be it finding new resource for your project, or finding that next job with a company you’ll love. For now, let’s look forward to another great year of Microsoft Dynamics updates.