April 2019 Release launches with new AI, mixed reality, and 350+ feature updates
James Phillips - Corporate Vice President, Business Applications Group
Today, we officially kick off the release of a six-month wave of more than 350 new capabilities, feature updates and applications across Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform.
This update continues our commitment to deliver two major releases per year—in April and October—with new capabilities and innovations to help you stay ahead of rapid changes in your business and industry. These biannual updates are supported by our monthly improvements, helping to ensure continuous delivery of exceptional stability and performance of a modern SaaS service (read more about our One Version service updates).
At this morning’s Virtual Launch Event (streaming live at 8:00 am PST, then on-demand), we’ll provide a preview of feature releases over the next six months, spanning some of the latest applications we are bringing to market in the next few months, including Dynamics 365 Customer Insights, Dynamics 365 Virtual Agent for Customer Service, Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection and Microsoft Forms Pro. We’ll also show new mixed reality applications and the continued innovations coming to the Power Platform.
Connecting customer experiences with the power of AI
Enabling a world-class customer experience, this update introduces AI-driven applications that produce deeper actionable customer insights and personalized experiences, while giving sales teams more integrated collaboration and buyer insights for a modern, relationship-focused approach to selling.
The trifecta of apps starts with Dynamics 365 Sales Insights, which gives businesses insights that help them drive effective sales coaching and personalized engagement with buyers. Dynamics 365 Market Insights tracks web search data and social conversations to help companies know what their audience is saying, seeking, and feeling about products, brands and topics important to their business. And Dynamics 365 Customer Insights, unifies data sources to provide businesses with a single view of their customers and discover insights that drive personalized experiences. For instance, Tivoli, the world’s second oldest amusement park operator, is using Customer Insights to help personalize everything from marketing outreach to frontline, on-property guest experiences. Here is a video with Tivoli talking about their experience:
The ability to connect data and then apply intelligence to it to deliver a transformed customer experience extends to customer service as well. Dynamics 365 Customer Service Insights provides actionable insights into critical performance metrics and emerging support questions, enabling managers to proactively train agents on new emerging topics, create new materials or automate responses through the virtual agent, so they can resolve customer issues quicker. Dynamics 365 Virtual Agent for Customer Service automates common service requests and issues to let call center agents focus on the more complex topics. It empowers customer service teams—the people closest to the customers and experts on how to engage effectively—to be proactive as well as customize and maintain virtual agents without the need to write code or be an AI or ML expert.
We’re introducing Microsoft Forms Pro, a comprehensive survey solution that makes it easy to collect feedback across customer touchpoints, correlate the feedback with business transactions, and derive actionable insights from the combined data.
We are also excited to highlight Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection, a product built from Microsoft’s deep experience managing billions of ecommerce transactions. This public preview product offers state of the art fraud protection based on connected knowledge, industry leading AI and operations research to help businesses shield themselves and their customers from payment fraud.
Mixed reality: on-site field training goes mobile
In October, we introduced the first set of mixed reality apps for HoloLens, including Layout and Remote Assist. The April ’19 release includes a new wave of innovation that extends Dynamics 365 mixed reality to HoloLens 2 and mobile devices, as well as provides step-by-step Guides that enhance training and on-site guidance for technicians. These new mixed reality applications help to empower front line workers, transfer skills, and reduce the time it takes to train new employees in a fundamentally different and more experiential way.
We’re also introducing Dynamics 365 Product Visualize that allows sellers a new way to convey the true potential of products in a customer’s actual environment so they can interact with and understand the product. This mixed reality business app is available for preview on iOS today.
Power Platform: upgrading the power of three
The Microsoft Power Platform – Power BI, PowerApps and Microsoft Flow – keeps getting better with every release, and the April ’19 update is no different, offering exciting updates across all three products.
As I recently explained in-depth, the Power Platform enables business users to Analyze, Act, and Automate in ways that can make a big impact across the business. It creates a digital feedback loop that harnesses data sources to build a continuous stream of insights—a perpetual engine for business automation and intelligence. Any business user, from the CEO to frontline workers, can gain insights from data using Power BI, create intelligent business processes via PowerApps without writing code, and then leverage Flow to automate workflows between apps and services.
The April ’19 release enables citizen app makers to build higher-quality PowerApps more easily. Flow helps organizations automate and extend processes directly from business and productivity apps like Microsoft Teams, Excel, and OneDrive. Power BIhas been updated to further empower organizations to create a data culture—enabled by major new capabilities to support large scale enterprise BI deployments, adding pixel-perfect paginated reports, and new AI capabilities that make it easier to extract insights from data.
The best way to understand what’s possible with the Power Platform is to see it in action. Take a look at how Arriva, one of the largest providers of passenger transport in Europe, is giving non-technical users access to PowerApps to do anything from optimizing routes to better servicing buses.