7 min read

2020 Release Wave 1 launches with new apps and over 400 features

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If you’re not a hardcore techy, you’ll be forgiven for the 2020 wave 1 Dynamics 365 and Power Platform release flying under your radar. This year’s release lands during an unprecedented time for global society, whilst businesses navigate new remote working practices and strive to achieve uninterrupted business continuity.

We, along with our partners at Microsoft are providing support and resources for businesses on the frontlines of the global health pandemic and are making seamless business continuity a key priority for our customers using Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform.

The new wave 1 enhancements however are really worth exploring in some detail. The new features and capabilities further unify B2B and B2C customer journeys and user experiences across sales, service and marketing. The automations and virtual enhancements are as slick as they are time-saving, allowing c-suite teams to rethink how departments and teams are set up for operational efficiency.

Considerations for Wave 1 adoption during COVID-19

Microsoft have delayed the mandatory uptake of Dynamics for Customer Engagement and includes other allowances for uptake of the new release, including the ability to defer certain features once before uptake.

Wave 1 release for 2020 however, includes brand new apps and over 400 new features and capabilities across both platforms, many of which by design, can help organisations adapt to immediate challenges posed by the pandemic and ensure you’re well placed thereafter to adapt to operational changes.

Watch Microsoft’s BizApps Virtual Launch

If you have 90 minutes free, it would be a good time investment to deep dive into the detailed demos and use cases on the Business Applications Virtual Launch on demand. If you’re time shy, you can view a summary of the new features on the Dynamics 365 and Power Platform 2020 release wave 1 plans.

The Redspire technical team have immersed themselves in the new enhancements, test driven and summarised their highlights. Have a read and please do reach out on info@redspire.co.uk or connect with the team on their LinkedIn to chat further.

Dynamics 365 for Marketing

If you aren’t using Dynamics 365 Marketing, Analyst Ross McGhee recommends that this is the time to get on-board. The solution has really come of age and can help both B2B and B2C businesses manage customer outreach and engagement through rich personalisation and deep automation. See Ross’s highlights below.

  1. Meet compliance and brand standards by test-sending dynamic marketing emails

Wave 1 enhancements enable users to test-send marketing emails containing dynamic content, highly beneficial to new users as they familiarise themselves with the syntax from which to implement dynamic content.

Now, users can test-send their marketing emails using a sample contact record or seed to ensure dynamic content displays correctly in the marketing email preview. This makes quality checking, compliance and maintaining brand standards fool-proof, in advance of sending to their target audience.

  1. Reach your audience where they are with automated scheduler

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been called to action to help analyse trends based on previous interaction with marketing emails.

Dynamics 365 for Marketing can now automatically send marketing emails to recipients during times at which each contact is most likely to be actively reading their emails, instead of on a timed mass release schedule. This increases engagement and interaction with content, helping produce more volume and higher quality leads.

Like other areas where machine learning is being used, the AI will only get smarter over time with each added interaction, creating more meaningful customer interactions and better understanding of their unique needs.

  1. Increase visibility and credibility with spam checker

The new spam checker feature makes smart recommendations to the avoid marketing emails being flagged as spam, and can confidently assess your content as Low, Medium or High risk.

Utilising this functionality will assure marketers that emails will land directly in customer inboxes and along with automated scheduler consequently produce a higher number of leads.

  1. Close the feedback loop with Microsoft Forms Pro

Forms Pro now integrates with Dynamics 365 for Marketing, allowing marketers to create branded surveys within the platform, automate interactions at various stages of the customer journey and return rich insights. With Voice of the Customer being retired in summer, Forms Pro’s enhanced integrations help marketers create valuable feedback that drives future decision making for campaign delivery, improve audience targeting and build valuable user experiences, whilst aligning neatly with other KPIs served within the platform.

  1. Export rich data to Excel, analyse and act with marketing insights

Marketers asked and Microsoft responded. Rich marketing insights can be exported direct to Excel from Dynamics 365 for Marketing at the click of a button, without having to depend on Power BI. Marketers can monitor campaign success, analyse and report on trends and behaviours and make informed decisions on future activity.

  1. Deliver visually impactful campaigns with the improved email content designer

Content is still King in Marketing. Microsoft have revamped the Design Editor to help users of varying skills level create quality designs faster and more efficiently. Enhanced drag and drop, drag to resize, an improved colour picker as well as more customisation options and email-wide property controls to help marketers create brand consistent output.

  1. Improved Customer Journey Experience

This is our marketing teams hands-down favourite enhancement. Within the customer journey, marketers now have the capability to set static expiration dates for marketing email tiles. This means that time sensitive promotions or activity isn’t being promoted outwith the campaign in-market dates and a big win for compliance in highly regulated industries.

  1. In-Place Editing of Email and Forms

Another favourite, allowing marketers to create and edit core marketing records from one place.

The enhancements make it possible to create customer journeys, marketing emails, marketing pages, marketing forms and more, directly from your Customer Journey record. Greatly reducing the amount of clicks back and forth between various entities throughout the application and improving time to campaign go live.

From a technical point of view, this is a great tool to showcase to clients looking to invest in Dynamics for Marketing. This functionality really highlights:

  • the capabilities of the solution for users of all skill levels and
  • the ease of user adoption with the bulk of the marketer’s usage carried out primarily in one single location.

Dynamics for Customer Service

We’ve been talking lots about Dynamics for Customer Service in the past few months. The solution’s automations and integrations with the Power Platform have proven invaluable for managing the spike in customer interactions in frontline services during the global health crisis. Industries like Banking, Travel, Health Service and Education have been able to meet increased demand thanks to the ease of implementing new Virtual Agent managed journeys, connected to knowledge bases and existing content at pace.

The enhancements launched this month focus on three key areas:

  • Agent productivity: Delivering improvements that help agents be more productive such as improved knowledge article search, email authoring, and timeline enhancements.
  • Omnichannel for Customer Service: Expanding the range of supported channels and agent productivity tooling.
  • Connected Customer Service: Linking IoT diagnostics, IoT device updates, and case management to help organizations evolve a proactive and predictive service model.

Top pick new features, directly from the Analyst team

Analyst Colette Rogers shares an overview of her favourite new tools.

  1. The Copy and paste feature in Power Automate is now generally available. This has been incredibly handy in Power Automate, allowing capability to copy actions and paste into the flow as a further action or another branch of your condition. This feature has been available in preview and has been extremely useful when using create or update a record action, with numerous entries of Dynamics content. It saves time when recreating the same step and reduces error in selecting the content for input. It can also be used across flows in the same environment.
  2. Another key feature is instant flow steps in business process flows, now generally available too. In Dynamics 365 and PowerApps, a business process flow provides the user with steps to follow to in each stage of the process. Instant flows can now be used as a step within a business process flow to automate tasks, create approval requests or connect to one of the supported power automate connectors.
  3. Finally, the solution support for User Interface (UI) flows. UI flows allow step-by-step actions such as mouse clicks, keyboard use, and data entry to be turned into intelligent workflows. These automations can now be imported and exported as part of a solution to be used across different environments. This supports the application lifecycle of the UI flows.

This summary is barely touching the surface of the new capabilities. Our technical teams love talking all things Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform. If you’d like to discuss any element of the Wave 1 2020 enhancements in more detail, please get in touch on 0845 226 8170 or email us at info@redspire.co.uk.

Keep an eye on our blog and LinkedIn page for our follow up article on the Power Platform.

2 min read

How to ensure Insurance business continuity between insurance brokers and underwriters during the global health crisis

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Ensure vital communications and business as usual between insurance underwriters and brokers, whilst displaced from in-person meeting spaces and financial district box systems throughout the global health crisis.

Ensure Insurance business continuity

During the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s vital that essential insurance services continue business as usual. Lockdown has closed meeting hubs and box systems like those at Lloyd’s of London, where insurance brokers and underwriters traditionally meet to discuss risk and manage deals.

This displacement has led to inefficient communication across disparate channels and is causing needless missed opportunity.

A virtual hub to schedule, meet, negotiate and close

Microsoft and Redspire have mobilised quickly to digitalise this process with Power Apps Portals, Power Automate and Microsoft Teams. These solutions help both underwriters and brokers manage time and unify communications whilst teams work remotely, across one easy to adopt bizapps process. A secure, quick implementation application has been created to:

  • Direct all users to an established process
  • Connect disparate brokers and underwriters
  • Allow underwriters to set their availability
  • Let brokers schedule time with underwriters
  • Provide secure virtual meeting hubs

These tools and technologies and their benefits include:

Power Apps Portals

  • build apps and self-service scheduling portals, fast
  • create an established process to unify insurance users
  • set underwriter availability with Microsoft 365 integration
  • allows brokers to book or update underwriter timeslots
  • log deal information, set agendas and update remotely
  • connect to wider workflows

Power Automate

  • connect disparate stages of the Portal user journey
  • connect disparate users, departments and organisations
  • unify operations & automates business process flows
  • send notifications to daily calendar
  • posts agenda to Teams meeting spaces
  • limitless enhancement opportunities as users needs grow

Teams

  • a secure virtual collaboration hub to connect users
  • voice, video-calling or chat communications
  • meeting recording capabilities
  • white board and screen-sharing capabilities
  • real time document collaboration
  • tools help ensure user privacy while working remotely

About Redspire

Redspire have particularly strong capabilities in Banking and Financial Services, FMCG, Government, and Third Sector and have worked on the biggest operational challenges facing these industries today. From Small Business Banking improvements at CYBG, client and stakeholder engagement at Money and Pensions Service, our expertise in Dynamics 365 Power Platform helps our clients unify operations quickly, and deliver transformation projects that solve immediate business pain.

Next steps for support  

Secure data infrastructures and unified operations between brokers and underwriters has never been more important as we navigate the unfolding global health crisis. This is the time for rapid implementation to ensure business continuity and connect disparate teams.

The solutions outlined can be deployed at pace over just a few days to make sure your client needs are met and opportunity isn’t wasted. For more information, download the insurance ops briefing, call Redspire today on 0845 226 8170 or email on info@redspire.co.uk.

3 min read

Covid-19 customer contact crisis support with Dynamics and Power Platform

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Overcome immediate overload in call centre operations, fast with Dynamics 365 Customer Service, Power Virtual Agents and Omni-channel Engagement Hub.

Frontline service providers in banking, insurance, health, travel and retail are experiencing huge spikes on call centre operations during the Covid-19 global health crisis. Microsoft bizapps and rapid partner deployments are helping contact centres overcome urgent demand and relieving pressure on distressed call centres. Implement a rapid, tactical solution to the Covid-19 call centre crisis in days and be positioned to overcome evolving challenges ahead.

Overcoming call centre distress with Dynamics and the Power Platform

During the Covid-19 health crisis, clients who provide essential services in industries like banking, insurance, health, travel and retail are experiencing huge spikes on call centre operations. The global pandemic is straining service centres everywhere, with a massive uptick in call volumes, further complicated by many agents working remotely.

Deploy omnichannel capabilities

With omnichannel capabilities for Dynamics 365 Customer Service, Power Virtual Agent and Power Apps Portals, contact centre employees can provide consistent, personalised support while working remotely.

Self-service portals capabilities reduce pressure and urgency from agents and ensure cases are properly distributed across the omni-channel environment. Users are quickly able to deploy chatbots that are trained to respond to the highest volume of inquiring questions while providing consistent levels of personalised support.

The benefits of the tools and technologies

  1. Power Apps Service Portals

– build business apps and self-service portals, fast

– react to live needs to handle query flow

– connect to wider workflows and remote agents

– customers can log, update and self-manage their case

– free up front end agents and reduces call bottleneck

  1. Power Virtual Agent

– create intelligent agents with no code

– connect to existing bots, portals and knowledge bases

– virtual agent fields queries and establishes urgency

– resolves or diverts low and medium touch queries

– reduce impact on frontline agents – allows 24/7 self-service operations

  1. Dynamics 365 Customer Service

– manage, record and resolve customer cases

– connect each stage of the customer journey

– unifies operations & automates business process flows

– monitor and manage call centre volumes – a single source of truth for case communications

– ensures case continuity if agents out sick during crisis

  1. Omnichannel for Customer Service

– a hub for managing case related communications

– provides multiple non-call ways to manage interactions

– extends the reach of Dynamics for Customer Service

– can deploy live agent chat remotely

– reduces dependency on system telephony

– connect cases across the entire customer environment

About Redspire

Redspire have particularly strong capabilities in Banking and Financial Services, FMCG, Government, and Third Sector and have worked on the biggest operational challenges facing these industries today. From Small Business Banking improvements at CYBG, client and stakeholder engagement at Money and Pensions Service, our expertise in Dynamics 365 Power Platform helps our clients unify operations quickly, and deliver transformation projects that solve immediate business pain.

Next steps for Covid-19 contact centre and operational resilience crisis support

Secure data infrastructures and unified operations have never been more important as we navigate the unfolding global health crisis. This is the time for rapid implementation to overcome contact centre distress. Solutions can be deployed at pace over just a few days to immediately relieve the pressure, and ensure internal teams are supported too. For more information, download the crisis briefing, call Redspire today on 0845 226 8170 or email on info@redspire.co.uk.

4 min read

Communication from Microsoft in response to the global health crisis

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Over the past weeks, Microsoft and partners like Redspire have mobilised global and UK teams to support communities and organisations affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Power Platform teams are working closely with organisations on the front lines of the crisis—including financial services organisations, governments, healthcare providers, not-for-profits, and schools and universities. We are also focusing efforts to ensure business communities have the digital capabilities to maintain business continuity and stability, while keeping employees safe and healthy.

We are hearing from organisations across industries and around the world that have an immediate need for cloud solutions to rapidly respond to quickly changing needs using custom apps and automated solutions, support remote workers, and engage customers in need. We are providing offers and support to rapidly ramp up in these areas:

Coordinate and automate emergency responses

Microsoft Power Platform was designed to empower everyone, regardless of their technical ability, to collaborate and solve problems fast. The idea that rapid, valuable innovation can come from virtually anywhere drives our development of the Power Platform, and the realisation of that idea has never been more impactful than in this time of crisis. The Power Platform team is currently supporting urgent deployments for first responder organisations, government agencies, schools and universities, and other essential service providers including the release of two Power Platform solutions to enable customers to coordinate information and resources in times of crisis, and a Microsoft Power Virtual Agents bot to manage crisis response.

  • Healthcare Emergency Response Resource Tracking—the Power Platform team worked with a US hospital to create apps and dashboards to provide visibility into available beds and supplies like masks and ventilators. Any healthcare provider can now implement the Emergency Resource Tracking solution to manage emergency responses and equipment inventories, beds and staffing needs, and emergency leaders can leverage the decision support dashboard to make decisions. Read more about the solution and get the full instructions to implement it.
  • Crisis Communications—a low-code solution that combines Microsoft Power Apps, Microsoft Power Automate, Microsoft Teams, and SharePoint to coordinate information sharing and team collaboration in response to evolving conditions. Employees can report a work status and make requests, and admins can use the app to push updates, news including RSS feeds from the World Health Organization (WHO), The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or local UK authorities, and emergency contacts to different locations—all accessible on the web, mobile, or in Teams. Read more about the solution and get instructions to implement it.
  • Power Virtual Agents Crisis Response Bot—the Power Virtual Agents team has released instructions to build Virtual Agent Crisis Response FAQ Bot that helps people get to the information they need quickly in a chat interface you can embed on any website. For example, a Crisis FAQ bot can help you address questions that employees are frequently asking, freeing time for managers to focus on other priorities.

Help contact centres support unprecedented demand

The global pandemic is straining service centres everywhere, with a massive uptick in call volumes, further complicated by many agents working remotely. With omnichannel capabilities for Dynamics 365 Customer Service, contact centre employees can provide consistent, personalised support while working remotely. Organisations are taking advantage of the ability to gain insights into case volume topics, ensure agents are properly distributed across channels, and quickly deploy chatbots that are trained to respond to the highest volume of inquiring questions while providing consistent levels of personalised support.

Microsoft and partners can also:

  • Help retail business continuity
  • Keep first-line workers connected to experts
  • Ensure educators and students are connected.

To empower organisations to take advantage of the solutions above, Microsoft are making Power AppsPower AutomatePower Apps portals and Power Virtual Agents available for a free six-month product offer, that includes all premium capabilities for customers in the healthcare, education, not-for-profit, and government sectors. Qualifying conditions apply.

Reach out for assistance

We’re here to support you during the global health crisis. Please contact Redspire on 0845 226 8170 or email us at info@redspire.co.uk for specific guidance to help you solve or signpost you to the right partner to meet your business-critical challenges.

Original article can be viewed at: https://cloudblogs.microsoft.com/dynamics365/bdm/2020/03/26/resources-and-support-for-our-global-customers-impacted-by-covid-19/

2 min read

COVID-19 statement from Redspire

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In response to guidance and events surrounding  COVID-19 (Coronavirus), we would like to share the measures we have taken to ensure we continue to deliver secure, consistent services, whilst maintaining safe working environments for our teams.

We recognise our obligation to ensure we continue to provide uninterrupted services to your business, and that you may be facing heightened corporate pressures, as well as concern for your own customers and loved ones.

Like other businesses that can, with immediate effect, and until further notice, we will be operating a working from home policy across the entire Redspire group.

At the forefront of digital transformation, our business infrastructure has been built upon significant and continual investment in cloud technologies. As standard, we have collaboration systems that ensure all staff members can continue to work, irrespective of location.

Additionally, we have a mature and robust business continuity plan which has recently been put into action within test conditions to ensure effectiveness. We are happy to confirm that the business remained fully operational across all services whilst every member of the organisation worked from home.

The importance of secure, digital infrastructures – both customer facing and internally – will be highlighted over the coming weeks and months. It’s business as usual for us in terms of service delivery, business continuity and service level standards.

Our client base may face new challenges as the situation unfolds. We remain active, here to support you via the usual channels. Please do reach out as and when you need us, above and beyond our usual scope of work if needed. Our switchboard remains open, and we are accessible as normal via email, Microsoft Teams and on the usual mobile numbers.

We remain committed to delivering unparalleled levels of support and consultancy services and will monitor the situation very closely, providing regular updates as and when appropriate on our website and social channels.

We are all in this together, and will get through this together.

Stay healthy,

Billy Lyle, Rick Lyle, Steven Brown, Kristine Steele,