2021 release wave 2 plans for Dynamics 365 and Power Platform now available
Mo Osborne - Corporate Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Business Applications Engineering
On July 14, 2021, we published the 2021 release wave 2 plans for Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Power Platform, a compilation of new capabilities that are planned to be released between October 2021 and March 2022. This second release wave of the year offers hundreds of new features and enhancements, demonstrating our continued investment to power digital transformation for our customers and partners.
Highlights from Dynamics 365
- Dynamics 365 Marketing is improving experiences and capabilities for creating moments-based and segment-based customer journeys that span all customer touchpoints taking personalization to the next level. Marketers will be able to create segments for leads and custom entities in the new segmentation builder experience using natural language to build segments and target audiences quickly and easily. Quickly generate email content using GPT-3 AI and then optimize with our streamlined AB testing tools.
- Dynamics 365 Sales launches the general availability of Deal Manager, a new, modern workspace for managing your pipeline, as well as enhancements to the integration between Dynamics 365 Sales and Microsoft Teams, including more collaboration tools and calling capabilities. Seller productivity investments include LinkedIn integration enhancements for easy access to Sales Navigator, forecasting updates, and guided selling improvements with Sales Accelerator. Several new capabilities are also coming to the Dynamics 365 Sales mobile application, now available in the iOS and Android app stores.
- Dynamics 365 Customer Service enhances knowledge authoring with AI-suggested keywords and brief descriptions for knowledge articles. The intelligent routing service uses a combination of AI models and rules to assign incoming service requests from all channels (cases, entities, chat, digital messages, and voice) to the best-suited agents. Additionally, we are investing in routing diagnostics for supervisors, machine learning-based rules for classification such as sentiment analysis and effort estimation, and improved historical analytics.
- Dynamics 365 Field Service continues down the path of providing easy customer engagement: a new customer portal will incorporate existing capabilities such as technician locator and new general availability capabilities such as self-scheduling and appointment management to enhance service and customer communication. Additionally, a refreshed work order form will enhance user productivity.
- Dynamics 365 Finance launches the general availability of Finance Insights to focus on data-driven insights empowering customers with out-of-the-box machine learning for their financial operations. To ensure that financial activities close on time, we are enabling our customers to increase productivity when it critically matters the most: we are bringing enhanced usability and performance around fixed assets, year-end close, and financial dimensions. We continue to enhance our globalization offering with additional localizations and the general availability of our Tax Calculation service.
- Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management invests in enabling a resilient supply chain with enhancements in key areas such as resource planning, manufacturing, and warehousing. We will enable businesses to optimize their usage of available material and capacity to avoid stockout situations and keep the business flowing. New manufacturing execution scenarios are included to allow integration between Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management, common manufacturing execution (MES) solutions, and shop floor automation systems for our customers to be able to adopt and integrate new business models with ease.
- Dynamics 365 Project Operations delivers functionally rich experiences to create and manage subcontracts with vendors for projects, as well as task scheduling enhancements.
- Dynamics 365 Guides will be updated to further leverage the hand tracking capabilities available on HoloLens 2, making Dynamics 365 Guides an easier to use and more intuitive application. While users will still be able to operate a guide with hands-free interactions, core application workflows will be simpler and faster with a touch-enabled holographic interface.
- Dynamics 365 Human Resources continues to enhance Benefits management capabilities by investing in a simplified setup and configuration user experience. We are continuing our journey to bring capabilities to employees in their flow of work and enhancing the current capability set as part of our Dynamics 365 Human Resources app for Microsoft Teams. Employees can submit, edit, and cancel their existing leave requests using the Teams app. We are also enhancing the manager’s ability to view more details about their direct reports’ leave balances and have better visibility of the team and company calendar.
- Dynamics 365 Commerce prioritizes customer segmentation and targeting using site builder to target customer segments with specific page layouts and content as well as improved understanding for how end-users interact with pages across sites, including mouse-action recordings, heatmaps, and analytics by integrating with Microsoft Clarity.
- Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection will have multiple new features that enhance Payment Service Providers (PSPs) ability to offer Fraud Protection as a value-added service to all their merchants. PSPs will be able to integrate Fraud Protection easily into their existing infrastructure to manage PSPs taxonomies that encompass many merchants and multiple hierarchies within each merchant entity.
- Dynamics 365 Business Central delivers new capabilities designed to simplify and improve the way our partners administer tenants, and the way administrators manage licensing and permissions. Application enhancements expand the integration with Microsoft 365 and add country and regional expansions with over 10 new markets.
- Dynamics 365 Customer Voice focuses this release wave on facilitating actionable insights for survey owners to act on feedback. Survey owners will be able to get feedback insights quickly and use Power Automate to define custom workflows to engage the right person at the right time.
- Dynamics 365 Customer Insights audience insights capabilities enable every organization to unify and understand their B2C and B2B customer data to harness it for intelligent insights and actions. For this release wave, in the B2B area, in addition to churn predictions for individual customer records, audience insights will predict the likelihood of churn for accounts using the same straightforward guided experience. Data ingestion enhancements in Customer Insights include additional Power Query connectors and improvements to the data ingestion process. Engagement insights (preview) in Dynamics 365 Customer Insights enable individual and holistic interactive analytics over web, mobile, and connected products customer journey touchpoints. Engagement insights expand to multichannel analytics over data from other channels for richer customer analytics, downstream actions, and optimizations.
Highlights from Microsoft Power Platform
- Power BI continues to invest in three key areas that drive a data culture: empower every individual with AI-infused insights, empower every team with BI woven into the fabric where teams work, and empower every organization to meet the most demanding enterprise needs. Power BI Pro continues to invest in our creator experiences with new report authoring tools. Consumer experiences continue to evolve, both in the Power BI service and the Power BI mobile applications. This includes improvements to Excel export from table and matrix visuals and easy creation from Microsoft Dataverse and Dynamics 365. Lastly, Power BI integration in Microsoft Teams continues to evolve, deepening the integration in channels, chats, and notifications within Teams. Power BI Premium continues to invest in the following areas: Auto-scale and pay-as-you-go pricing to scale beyond resource capacity without drops in performance. Interactive experiences over big data by making reports highly performant automatically on big data sources such as Azure Synapse Analytics.
- Power Apps brings significant improvements for developers of all skill levels, improving the sophistication and usability of apps that can be created across the web and mobile devices. We are launching the unified, modern Power Apps designer to quickly build modern apps leveraging the best of both canvas and model in a single app. Developers can now take advantage of intelligent authoring, using AI in Power Apps Studio to generate code using natural language for rapid app development. Makers will also be able to configure apps for offline use using a reinvented maker experience. Power Apps portals is focused on enhancements in the areas of portals platform, new capabilities for pro-development, and increased developer productivity. Several new capabilities are being added with a specific focus on pro-development such as the general availability of portals support for Power Apps component framework as well as support for continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) using Power Apps command-line interface (CLI)—the first step toward a comprehensive Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) story for developers and ISVs.
- Power Automate continues to invest in several areas including Cloud flows with templates for Microsoft Teams and further integrations enabling administrators to push solutions that contain flows across the teams in their organization. Document automation, an end-to-end solution for processing documents at scale for document data extraction, becomes generally available during this release wave. Power Automate Desktop brings more WinAutomation actions to Desktop flows as well as new RPA-enabled scenarios for more Dynamics 365 applications, and it will be possible to use Dataverse and over 475 API connectors directly from Desktop flows.
- Power Virtual Agents brings improvements in the authoring experience with topic suggestions from bot sessions, Power Apps Portals integration, data loss prevention options, proactive bot update messaging in Microsoft Teams, and more. We’re also building on our Power Automate integration with enhanced error handling and new topic trigger management to improve your bot’s triggering capabilities.
- AI Builder will focus on providing new functionalities centered around intelligent document processing experiences. New functionalities will include the ability to extract a broader set of content types in documents such as checkboxes, signatures, typed fields like date and currency, as well as support for more prebuilt models in the Document Automation solution (for example, receipts and invoices). Integration of AI Models will also be supported through the Power Apps formula bar.
For a complete list of new capabilities, please check out the Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Power Platform 2021 release wave 2 plans.
Early access period
Starting August 2, 2021, customers and partners will be able to validate the latest features in a non-production environment. These features include user experience enhancements that will be automatically enabled for users in production environments during October 2021. Take advantage of the early access period, try out the latest updates in a non-production environment, and get ready to roll out updates to your users with confidence. To see the early access features, check out the Dynamics 365 and Power Platform pages. For questions, please visit the Early Access FAQ page.