Three key waves dominated 2020 and continues into 2021. Along with the Covid-19 Pandemic and Brexit, digital transformation has taken centre stage as companies had to adapt to new ways of working and embrace, at pace, the new ways their customers and employees were interacting with their business. 2021 is the year companies need to further ramp up their transformation strategies.
Our team has been driving transformation with our customers quickly and securely this year, BUT what do they personally love about Dynamics 365 and Power Platform?
We caught up with a few members of the Redspire team to find out what gets them excited about the technology.
- “I love the D365 Sales Insights capabilities, but specifically I love the new visual view of opportunity pipeline, which is a prime example of Microsoft’s continuations investment in the Dynamics 365 Sales Insights capability. – Tamara Phelan, Head of Sales
- “Power Automate is what excites me I’m probably not in the minority here. I think most people that come across Power Automate end up taking a huge liking to the technology. I love Power Automate because it’s literally as though the possibilities to automate daily tasks are endless! I’ve used Power Automate to create intense and complex validation algorithms to make business processes more efficient for our clients, and I’ve also used it to quickly set my out of office before starting annual leave. Those are two very different ends of the spectrum! This year, I’m excited to get some time to explore the capabilities of Power Automate Desktop and gain more familiarity with some connectors I haven’t used before so I can bring more value to the clients we work with!” – Ross McGhee, Consultant
- “For me, it has to be the ability to drive insights and branded visual reporting. The market-leading analytical platform Power BI is something I’m excited about, it can allow organisations to build and lead a data-driven culture. All users are given the power to turn data into insightful branded visualisations from a variety of data sources in real time, driving quick and informed decision-making whilst also bringing the data to life”. – Helen Murphy, Marketing and Partner Relations Manager
- “I love the ability to visually gain insights with Dynamics 365 Dashboards these are easy to create, visually appealing and allow you to drill-down on the data displayed to obtain even greater insights! – Conor Brady, Marketing and Business Development Executive
- “Low-Code Capability. I love that D365 & PP can be developed without being required to know any coding languages, meaning that applications can be developed by people who understand business processes.” – Iain Kennedy, Solution Specialist
- “I like Power Apps, it brings a no code, or low-code to a development environment. This can make building applications simpler. There are a number of Canvas Apps and Power Automate templates that can be implemented as they are or enhanced and tailored to fit the business needs.” – Colette Rodgers, Consultant
- “My favourite feature is Power Automate. It can automate many different processes from something very simple to something very complex. It also empowers users to connect to a wide variety of data sources without being an expert in API development.” – Josh Reeves, Senior Consultant
- “Invoicing Capabilities! My favourite aspect of D365 is the invoicing capabilities which allow our project management office the ability to create, edit and send invoices to our partners. Powerful reporting also allows the team, in conjunction with the finance department, to drill down to view the current status and track any outstanding invoices.” – Greg Tierney, Project Coordinator
- “Along with quite a few of my colleagues, it has to be Power Automate. It provides endless possibilities to automate and enhance systems without coding knowledge.” – Ewelina Bredzinska, Junior Consultant
- “I love Power Apps Portals! You don’t need coding to be able to create a cool website that can interact with all the different parts of Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform such as CRM and Power Automate.” – Sohail Rafiq, System Support Analyst
Find out more about what’s happening at Redspire and how we’re helping businesses connect their data, people and processes, build competitive advantage and shape their digital transformation. Visit our blog page or have a read of a few of our customer stories for more information.
Incremental Group accelerates its position in the UK financial services market with acquisition
- Glasgow based Redspire is one of the leading providers of CRM solutions to financial services in the UK
- The combined group becomes one of the largest Microsoft Dynamics partners in the UK
- Incremental’s FY21 H1 revenue is up more than 10%, gross margin up 5 points, and EBITDA up by more than £1m on same period last year
- Incremental continues its journey to achieve revenues of £60m and 500 employees by 2023
- Strong organic growth will be bolstered with further complementary acquisitions
Digital technology services provider, Incremental Group, has acquired Glasgow based Redspire in a deal that accelerates Incremental’s position in the financial services market and makes the organisation one of the largest Microsoft Dynamics partners in the UK.
The combined group now has run rate revenues exceeding £20m and 180 employees across the UK. Redspire will continue to operate as an autonomous business within Incremental.
Redspire provides Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM and Power Platform solutions to financial service providers and works with customers including Virgin Money and Beazley Insurance.
Discussing the acquisition, Neil Logan, CEO of Incremental said: “I am delighted that despite the pandemic our market continues to grow, the pace of change is accelerating in businesses and the scale of transformation projects we are seeing is increasing. Microsoft and our customers are increasingly looking to work with larger but agile partners who can better deliver for and support them. The acquisition of Redspire strengthens our ability to do this.”
Billy Lyle, Managing Director at Redspire said: “We’re excited to continue on our growth journey, delivering real value for our customers now and in the future. Financial Services is showing real resilience and determination, with transformation key to building adaptability and innovation. Joining with Incremental provides Redspire with access to additional resources and expertise. Redspire is extremely well placed for an exciting future, it’s a great opportunity for everyone involved.”
Incremental helps public sector, not for profit and commercial organisations digitally transform with Microsoft technologies. It is in the top 1% of Microsoft Dynamics partners worldwide, and also provides Microsoft Power Platform, Modern Workplace, Azure and data services. Its customer base includes Admiral, Little Greene Paint & Paper and the NHS. With a growing customer base in public sector, not for profit, manufacturing and professional services, Incremental is also increasingly seeing success in the financial services market, which this acquisition further accelerates.
Incremental Group was launched in November 2016 by a group of Scottish technology industry executives. It is backed by private equity from Dunedin.
Simon Rowan, Partner at Dunedin, commented: “The acquisition of Redspire is an important milestone in Incremental’s buy and build strategy. The company is committed to offering its customers the highest quality range of services, and this customer service philosophy very much underpins the acquisition. The strategies of both companies are closely aligned, which will allow Incremental to continue to increase its scale and market reach, particularly in the financial services sector.”
Incremental’s FY20 revenue was £13.2m, with a normalised pro forma EBITDA of £0.9m. Business performance has been strong throughout the pandemic resulting in further growth and improved profitability through the current financial year. Comparing H1 FY21 (April – September 2020) with H1 FY20 (April – September 2019), revenue was up more than 10%, gross margin up 5 points and EBITDA up by more than £1m returning a double-digit EBITDA margin.
The group is targeting £60 million revenue by 2023, a workforce of more than 500 and plans further acquisitions over the next couple of years. Neil Logan said: “While we are focused on continuing to drive strong organic growth, we are working to identify further value accretive acquisitions as part of our buy and build strategy.”
Redspire and Virgin Money have announced a new strategic FinTech partnership, which will support the development of the Bank’s digital proposition for the new Virgin Money Business current account.
The collaboration supports the development of new digital solutions, brought to life upon Microsoft Cloud Business Applications capabilities. It forms part of Virgin Money’s commitment to the recent £35m award from the Banking Competition Remedies (BCR) Capability and Innovation Fund.
Virgin Money has created a ‘Working Capital Health’ proposition which transforms its existing business current account offering into a financial wellness tracker for SMEs. The offer combines dynamic views across an SME’s working capital cycle, with a set of working capital solutions; all backed up by proactive relationship management and a unique ecosystem of capability partners.
Redspire is the second of the Bank’s partners to be announced, and they will also work alongside the Bank’s key strategic technology partner, Microsoft.
Billy Lyle, CEO at Redspire, and engagement lead with Virgin Money, said “We’re delighted to be announced as Virgin Money’s technology partner, alongside our own partners at Microsoft. It’s been a year like no other for all businesses in the UK, but Virgin Money have shown real adaptability and resilience, as well as commitment to delivering for their customer base. Years’ worth of digital transformation has taken place in months rather than in years in 2020. My team is excited to continue to drive meaningful change with the limitless power of the Microsoft stack.”
Gavin Opperman, Group Business Director at Virgin Money, followed: “Following our successful application to the BCR Capability and Innovation Fund, we have been moving forward with Virgin Money Business, which will be ready for launch early in 2021.
“Collaboration is key to our success and I am pleased to welcome Redspire onto our extended team. We have a strong relationship with Redspire and place great value on their agility and ability to respond to our needs. I look forward to working with them as we continue to build our Working Capital Health proposition.”
Andrew Falconer, Programme Sponsor at Virgin Money added: “Redspire typify the kind of business we aim to partner with. Focused entirely on the customer, they bring creativity and imagination to the development of solutions, and have shown an enormous degree of flexibility and commitment to supporting Virgin Money change the landscape for SME banking in the UK.”
The launch of Virgin Money Business will mark the arrival of the Virgin brand into the business current account market for the first time. Alongside additional large-scale investment, it will enable the Group to become a true disruptor in the SME banking market and offer UK customers a meaningful alternative to the incumbent banks.
About Virgin Money
Virgin Money is the new disruptive force in UK banking. Bringing together the combined history and expertise of Clydesdale Bank, Yorkshire Bank and Virgin Money, they are the only bank outside the ‘Big 5’ that boasts a genuine full-service personal and business banking capability.
The Bank serves 6.5 million customers across the UK through a digital-first approach that offers leading online and mobile services, supported by telephone and branch banking, including a national network of branches and business banking centres.
Virgin Money are structured around three divisions – personal, mortgages and business – offering a full range of products and services for consumers and small and medium sized businesses, delivered through our leading technology platform to deliver a consistently world class experience for customers. Their overarching ambition is to disrupt the status quo in UK consumer and business banking.
As part of the Microsoft account managed teams, Redspire work collaboratively to drive future-proofing digital transformation, improved processes and help businesses understand and engage with teams, customers, clients and partners. With particularly strong capabilities in Financial Services, Redspire’s client base includes the Money and Pensions Service, Beazley and Virgin Money.
Read about our previous client success with CYBG/Virgin Money.
Want to talk all things Power Platform or Dynamics 365? Get in touch with us by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The hires meet planned growth targets for the year, despite COVID-19 interruptions and challenges to mid-year on-boarding.
Expanded teams will help meet increasing demand from new and existing Financial Services clients.
Redspire, a Microsoft Gold Partner announced 18 new hires today, to support continued growth within their Financial Services business units.
The Glasgow and London based firm, led by CEO and founder Billy Lyle has secured a number of significant new client wins in Banking, Insurance and Capital Markets groups this year.
Today’s announcement comes on the tail of their year-end results which highlight 39% turnover growth on previous year.
The firm commented that strategic, on-going transformation continues to be a prime focus for their FSI clients, despite the very real challenges faced by the sector due to coronavirus.
Since March, the firm have also led a number of tactical projects to support business continuity throughout the pandemic. These include a partnership with Beazley, the specialist Insurer, to help Brokers and Underwriters stay connected when lockdown closed the Lloyd’s of London trading floor.
CEO Billy Lyle said: “It’s been a rollercoaster of a year for all businesses in the UK but our clients in Financial Services have shown real resilience. We’re very fortunate to be working through these challenges with them, making best use of the tech available and to be able to grow the team and offer employment opportunities during the pandemic, when many people are looking for work.”
He continues: “Right now, years worth of transformation is happening with every month that passes. The demand for strategic, continuous transformation is greater than ever, in addition to the at-pace projects that are helping the sector meet new and evolving challenges the pandemic poses. The Microsoft cloud and suite of business applications has risen to the challenge.”
“Now, that the market has adapted to new ways of working, we’ve turned our focus back to investing in talent in our technical, delivery and commercial teams. This ensures we have the capacity to meet the strategic requirements our clients’ like Virgin Money and Golden Charter have in 2021 and beyond.”
Services Director Steven Brown said: “Like many businesses, these past few months haven’t been without their difficulties. However, we’re working hard with our clients through times of uncertainty and shifting technology needs to support their people, customers and operations.
“Like many technology-first companies, we’re fortunate to have the infrastructure to be able to switch to remote working practically overnight and help our clients maintain service levels. Now, we can now focus our attention on growing our team and hitting the ground running with strategic projects as we head into 2021.”
Redspire is an IT Consultancy, specialising in Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Power Platform technologies. As part of the Microsoft account managed teams, Redspire work collaboratively to drive future-proofing digital transformation, improve processes and help businesses understand and engage with teams, customers, clients and partners. With particularly strong capabilities in Financial Services, their client base includes the Money and Pensions Service, Beazley and Virgin Money.
When the developer team aren’t deep in Redspire client work, we’re usually found over at the Virtual Power Group (VPG) developing our technical skills and growing our network. The VPG is a Community Forum for Power Platform and Dynamics 365 users of all levels to come together to share knowledge and best practice.
Staying on top of the ever changing platform and their twice yearly updates is a mammoth effort. Lucy’s session gave us a major leg up, with her run through of the features coming to the stack from October onwards.
There are two major releases of functionality to the Microsoft stack in a given year. One in April (Wave 1) and one in October (Wave 2). You can opt in to these features early, or preview in a trial instance. Though please note, once applied it cannot be removed so exercise caution. For existing implementations, it is advised to apply in a Sandbox environment and test that your solutions are not negatively affected by any conflict with new (or potentially retired) functionality. If you want support with this, reach out to a VPG Admin to discuss.
These major release waves do not launch all this new, cool shiny stuff immediately in to your environment – though there will be some. October 1st marks the beginning of the release wave and this functionality is launched – some elective – landing over the coming months up to the next release wave in the following April/October.
During her session, Lucy gave us a fantastic introduction to Power Apps for Teams and a rundown of the major highlights. Some of these were showcased in real-time alongside announcements at Ignite, adding a little extra excitement.
Here’s my highlights from across the main products:
- Mobile Experience Changes
- Forecasting and Gamification
- Usability enhancements
- Sales Insights Updates
- Natural Language Segment Editor
- Enhanced Customer Journey Canvas
- Form Submission Enhancements
- Improved Email Customization
- and more…
- Agent Productivity Dash (Multi Session Experience)
- Omnichannel for Customer Service
- Integrated Insights with Built In AI
- Native Call Functionality in Omnichannel Framework
- Insights Dashboard
- Customer Voice Survey Integration
- Proactive Service Delivery
- Scheduling experience improvements
- Technician Success and mobile app enhancements
- CDS Integration improvements and various Cross App Capabilities
- Document and Electronic reporting enhancements
- Major updates to SCM
- PayPal Integration for Commerce
- And upgrade path plan for PSA to Proj Ops
- AAD Integration enhanced
- CDS Integration with Skills, Certificates, Performance and Benefits
- Teams Self Service GA and further enhancements
Power Apps and Power Automate
- Power Virtual Agents available within Power Apps Portals
- PCF control support in Power Apps Portals
- LOADS of RPA Capabilities in Power Automate (direct quote)
- Power Automate Visual in Power BI
This is a session that I’ll not only watch again but be recommending to colleagues and clients to stay ahead of the tsunami of features scheduled to land this October. Watch the replay below.
As ever, I’m so excited to be working in this field where, as it was said on the call tonight, “change is the only constant”.
The insurance sector in the UK is built on rich traditions and face to face operations. Just a few months ago, 7000-plus industry specialists walked in and out of Lloyd’s of London market place each day to exchange risk propositions, discuss policies and close deals on the 300-year old trading floor.
The coronavirus lockdown closed the doors to the Lloyd’s underwriting floor and forced these deals into living rooms and home offices, driven by the latest cloud technology. For a sector notoriously resistant to replacing valuable in-person operations with digital processes, insurers pushed their own limits and embraced new ways to transact, meet and close deals. In fact, our clients across the Financial Services sphere responded to the crisis with real creativity and imagination to keep the cogs turning, with long-term positive impact on their businesses
One such example is how Microsoft’s Power Platform technology allowed Redspire client Beazley to work with us to being a solution – Beazley Booking – to market, in days and weeks instead of the months and years strategic projects can often take.
Let’s take a look at the Power Platform for insurance use case for the booking app.
Power Platform for Insurance booking app: solution overview
The solution is built on three key processes and scenarios:
- Power Apps for Underwriter Availability Management.
Underwriters assign their availability in the Power Apps Model Driven App which is then visible to the brokers to review.
- Broker Portal for Booking a Timeslot
Brokers log on as external users to the Broker Power Apps Portal, see which underwriters they want to meet, see time slots available and can create an agenda, attach documents like insurance slips and submit the booking.
- Power Apps for Booking MI
Underwriters and brokers time is automatically booked out in their Outlook diary for the meetings, which can be set up on Microsoft Teams and WebEx. Booking MI is available to view in the Power App.
Process 1: Power Apps for Underwriter Availability Management.
Built on a Power Apps model driven app for internal users, including Underwriters and Underwriting Assistants.
Contact Record with custom fields
- Created contact records for underwriters within the internal Model Driven App.
- Custom fields created to enable the booking process, including insurance type drop down, contact details, time zones, WebEx or Teams meeting ID
- On tab 2, Underwriters and Assistants can manage their time, and set timeslots, length of meeting and availability throughout the working week, and set exceptions for unavailability for things like other meeting types, personal appointments, focus time and annual leave.
- Power Automate takes all of this information and creates a range of timeslots for Brokers to view and choose, displaying date, time, length of appointment and time zone; important working across multiple geographies.
- Built on the Common Data Service, information and data is now available within the portal and available to Broker and other external users.
Underwriters can set their availability
Process 2: Broker Portal for Booking a Timeslot
Within the outward facing Broker Portal, built on a Canvas App, external users can view their forthcoming bookings with Underwriters, book new appointments and add documents to upcoming bookings.
External user portal view
When an external user logs into the Portal, they’re taken directly to a view of all of the bookings they currently have with their chosen underwriters at a glance.
- Key meeting information is displayed via Subject, time slot, booked by, underwriter, insurance type and link to video-conferencing fields.
- Each appointment is also sat in each user’s calendar, sent by Power Automate.
- Within this view, external users can also book a new timeslot via the book timeslot button in a simple three step process.
- Step 1 – select insurance type to filter available underwriters from that business area. Select underwriter from the drop down menu, before adding subject.
- Step 2 – the system surfaces the available time slots for the user to choose from. When a time slot is selected, users can add agendas and upload documents like insurance slips to allow the underwriter to gain context to the meeting and prepare accordingly
- Step 3 – here you can review all information submitted and make any amendments before submitting the booking request.
- Upon booking the timeslot, there are two actions that take place. The timeslot is created in the Underwriter’s Model Driven app and Power Automate will send a calendar invite to both parties with the high level information, videoconferencing link, agenda and any attachments.
- My time slot Portal front page will now show the new appointment in the view.
- Back in the Underwriter’s Model Driven app, the management information will show the new booking and the meeting sits in their Outlook calendar, with no need to respond to the sender.
Booking an Underwriter appointment
Process 3: Booking MI
Booking MI is the Underwriter’s go-to view to prepare for the week ahead and mange their workloads and opportunities.
- Go into management info tab within the Underwriter’s Model Driven App.
- Three charts to provide high level info to underwriter on their week ahead by broker, by attempted timeslot bookings and active timeslots, thus allowing them to plan for the week ahead.
- These insights allow Underwriters to understand which brokers are booking and how often, to gain visibility on the brokers attempting to book and to measure where their time is being spent for maximum efficiencies.
- MI is fully extensible to additional integrations to fit wider business needs or to evolve with future iterations or augmentations.
Management Information within the Model App
Power Platform: no limits extensibility
Beazley’s CTO Mark Moerdyk says: “Beazley Booking uses the Microsoft Power Platform to improve the quality of interactions with brokers and ensure that our underwriters have access to data that can help improve service in the future. This is not only a system that improves our service during this period of social distancing but also has the capability to provide long-term support as the market adapts to a more efficient and flexible model.”
Less code, more power: 86% of Fortune 500 companies use Power Apps
With 86% of Fortune 500 companies using Power Apps, there’s never been a better time to modernise your data and harness the power of the Power Platform and Microsoft Dynamics 365. No-code, low code capability is here now and can augment your legacy systems to fit the new normal in days and weeks. Want to hear more?
About Redspire and the Microsoft
Redspire are a CRM Consultancy and Microsoft Gold Partner, specialising in Dynamics 365 and The Power Platform. We partner with the UK’s leading Financial Services organisations to lead them through powerful digital transformation, improve operations and process automation with Microsoft’s suite of business applications. Interested in the awesome power of Power Platform? Find out more about Power Apps and Beazley booking on the Connecting Brokers and Underwriters webinar with Megan Meneely, Billy Lyle and Beazley’s Mark Moerdyk.
Want to talk all things Power Platform or Dynamics 365? Get in touch with us touch on 0845 226 8170 or email us at email@example.com.
Power Apps is a high-productivity development platform for business apps, and has four major components:
- Canvas apps
- Model-driven apps
- Common Data Service
Microsoft Power Apps is a suite of apps, services, connectors and data platform that provides a rapid application development environment to build custom apps for your business needs. Using Power Apps, you can quickly build custom business apps that connect to your business data stored either in the underlying data platform (Common Data Service) or in various online and on-premises data sources (SharePoint, Excel, Office 365, Dynamics 365, SQL Server, and so on).
Apps built using Power Apps provide rich business logic and workflow capabilities to transform your manual business processes to digital, automated processes. Further, apps built using Power Apps have a responsive design, and can run seamlessly in browser or on mobile devices (phone or tablet). Power Apps democratizes the custom business app building experience by enabling users to build feature-rich, custom business apps without writing code.
What is a Model Driven App?
Model-driven app design is a component-focused approach to app development. Model-driven app design doesn’t require code and the apps you make can be simple or very complex. Unlike canvas app development where the designer has complete control over app layout, with model-driven apps much of the layout is determined for you and largely designated by the components you add to the app.
Model-driven app design provides the following benefits:
- Rich component-focused no-code design environments
- Create complex responsive apps with a similar UI across a variety of devices from desktop to mobile
- Rich design capability
- Your app can be distributed as a solution
What is a Canvas App?
Canvas apps start with your user experience, crafting a highly tailored interface with the power of a blank canvas and connecting it to your choice of more than 200 data sources. You can build canvas apps for web, mobile, and tablet applications.
Canvas apps give you the flexibility to arrange the user experience and interface the way you want it. Allow your creativity and business sense to guide how you want your apps to look and feel.
You can start to build your app from Microsoft tools where your data lives, such as:
Creating a canvas app is easy; with Power Apps, you can find or create your app in several ways:
What is Power Apps Portals?
Portals help you create external-facing websites that allow users outside your organization to sign in with a wide variety of identities, create and view data in Common Data Service, or even browse content anonymously.
What is the Common Data Service
The Common Data Service is the data platform that comes with Power Apps and allows you to store and model business data. It’s the platform on which Dynamics 365 apps (such as Dynamics 365 Sales, Customer Service, Field Service, Marketing, and Project Service Automation) are built. If you’re a Dynamics 365 customer, your data is already in Common Data Service.
Common Data Service allows you to securely store and manage data within a set of standard and custom entities, and you can add fields to those entities when you need them.
Power Apps and Redspire
Interested in exploring new ways that processes can be engineered and how modern tools like Power Apps can be applied within your business? Get in touch today or watch the on demand Power Apps in Insurance webinar. Respire and Microsoft have partnered to provide a number of hands-on workshops to FSI organisations. For fresh ideas and access to some of the UK’s top solutions architects, get in touch with Redspire today on 0845 226 8170 or email us via firstname.lastname@example.org.
April has been a big month for Microsoft Dynamics and the Power Platform, with new apps and over 400 new features and enhancements released. Solutions Architect, Richard McAtamney shares his insights on the new capabilities.
As a Power Platform aficionado with nearly 17 years within the Financial Services sector, I’m really interested in the new Power Apps and Power Apps Portals capabilities.
Major announcements in the form of Mixed Reality in Power Apps, which tentatively present a number of new use cases and innovations in the bank branch network and the general availability of AI Builder have a huge positive impact on team productivity, improved user experiences and slickened customer journeys.
Additionally, Microsoft have worked hard to make improvements that:
- make the build slicker for in-house and development teams
- which integrate meaningfully with other technologies
- translate to innovative customer experiences and improved operational workflows for in-house teams.
Here are updates and key features from the Power Apps and Power Apps Portals release:
- It’s now possible to create Apps directly from Microsoft Teams, using existing SharePoint Data.
This allows you to:
- Drives deep integrations with productivity apps and advanced capabilities in azure
- Makes it easy to create Apps in teams with existing business data
- Create applications within your channels
- Automatically generate first few screens from data already within the Teams SharePoint site.
With Teams now the virtual workplace of choice for over 75 million global users, teams of varying skill levels can now create applications that use the context of the space they’re embedded in, bring applications to Teams mobile and give users a context that enhances productivity.
- Additionally, later this month, personal Power Apps apps will be available on the Teams mobile client. This functionality allows users to:
- Pin applications to the bottom their Teams navigation bar and open directly within the Teams setting.
- Provide quick access to mobile apps.
- Drive quick collaboration in crisis or rapid response situations, for example for frontline workers during the global health pandemic
This functionality can also have multiple uses within business and customer facing settings,
- Enhanced capabilities and experience in Model Driven Apps Offline mode
The need for enhanced offline functionality has never been more apparent than in the last few months. Systems have been overloaded with the business community shifting to remote working and frontline workers needing to communicate in the field or on the go.
Microsoft are continuously working on improving features in off-line mode. Enhancements to Model Driven Apps Offline include:
- Model driven apps are faster & more reliable in offline mode
- Entities such as currency will be available in offline mode
- Better communication & more actionable error messages
- Barcode Scanner control also now available in offline mode
- Power Apps mobile has all your apps on a single application
The preview of Power Apps mobile application allows user to launch canvas and model driven apps together from a single point, removing the user pain of two separate apps and creating a unified experience. Key highlights include:
- Canvas and Model-driven apps now run on a single mobile application
- All Model-Driven and Canvas Apps available in a single mobile App
- Makers can deliver a targeted experience to users on a single application
- Pixel perfect, task-based Canvas App or declarative metadata driven model-driven app.
- Canvas & Model-driven apps will appear together in a single list of apps in the PowerApps Mobile App
- Canvas App Monitor Tool now generally available
This feature is now generally available, allowing users to diagnose and troubleshoot issues with applications quicker. Key highlights include the capability to:
- Diagnose & troubleshoot applications quicker
- Import and Export Log files
- Share Diagnostic sessions, Inspect, Interpret and filter results
- Visualise event timelines
- Identify Problem areas and fix in App
- Modern Solution explorer gets a make over
For users who want to to spend less time searching and transitioning between designers and more time on making apps, this update will help create a more intuitive user journey. Key call outs are:
- Secondary navigation added
- Recent items 1 click away
- Remember settings from previous session
- PowerApps Test Studio for Canvas Apps is now generally available
For users who have canvas apps within solutions or projects, how are they usually tested? Power Apps Test Studio for canvas apps builds on the preview release and is now generally available with support for all controls and integration into the build and release pipeline. The features:
- Fully supports all Power Apps custom controls and components
- Allow new capabilities to run tests automatically
- Establish Quality Gates and efficient test automation
Some key improvements in Portals include:
- Web API’s for CRUD Operations on CDS entities
- Adds Web API’s allowing users to create, read, update and delete operations across all CDS entities (Based on User & Community Feedback)
- Portal Checker enhancements (First added in Oct 18’ Wave)
- Additional Scenarios added to help resolve common portal issues
- Power BI Embedded component in Portal Designer.
- First party integration with PowerBI, using liquid tags
- Simplify Integration
- First class component in Portal designer experience, similar to forms and list
- Remove complexity of liquid tags
- Add PowerBI report or dashboard in Portal as a component using Portal designer property panel, without having to worry about liquid code.
Sophisticated Apps on a Unified Platform
- Build responsive, reflowing Canvas App pages
App developers and makers can now build pages that are carefully tailored to needs of end users and responsive on various screen sizes.
- Build pages fully responsive to changes in screen size and orientation
- Automatic re-flow as the available real estate on the screen changes.
- Supports all existing canvas concepts and custom components
- Can be built in Power Apps Studio or Power Apps Component framework
- Build fully custom and responsive experiences into Apps
This functionality was requested by the PowerApps Community and is a huge step towards unifying App types
- Enabling Printable pages in Canvas Apps
A huge plus for field service type scenarios, this feature allows
- makers to configure a printable page within the canvas app and create a PDF.
- End users to print, email or file docs in a whole range of use cases, for example loss adjusters and claims inspectors in insurance.
- Using existing concepts to create, capture and print a page.
This functionality was a top request by the PowerApps Community.
- Enable creating and editing data in forms displayed as modal dialogue without navigating away
Users no longer need to navigate away from a form to create or edit a related record.
- Create or edit a related record within a form
- Open a main form in a dialogue directly from another main form
- Will also be available in the navigateTo Api
- Can be used in the command bar, event or plug-in to open a main record in dialogue experience
This new functionality hugely increases productivity, reduces clicks and removes unnecessary navigation across forms.
- Improvements to model-driven apps
These improvements are designed to enable end user productivity and reduce time to get started on a session. Highlights include:
- Remember last used app, reducing need to choose from an App list
- Last App will be used if an App isn’t specified within a URL
- Reduces click and increases productivity
- Visuals for existing App message bar to align with Form message bar experience.
- Model Driven Apps now have API’s to show App level messages, which remain visible while navigating
- API allows for flexibility in message Type – Eg: User Dismissible or not dismissible for permanent messages
- API support removing specific messages if they don’t apply
- Save is always visible in the command bar on edit forms
- Save and Save and Close options in command bar are now visible when editing a record.
- Previously both were hidden if autosave was on. Save was only visible in the footer
- View selector usability enhancements
- Drop down is wider and longer
- Personal views are separated from system views, shown higher on the list
- Header and Label Highlighting styles applies
- Pinning made easier and icon alignment
- Improved Data Source experience and Common Data Service view are generally available
- Speed of access to Common Data Service now greater than 50%
- The feature & speed now make this the preferred way of connecting to the CDS over the Dynamics 365 Integrator
- New Data Sources pane
- Entity View Selection
- Change CDS Environment
- Improved Data defaulting
Microsoft continue to focus investment and attention on the Common Data Service as a robust platform for apps of any scale.
- Auto generate web apps on top of your existing data
- Makers can now create Canvas Apps in landscape rather than just phone layout
- Easier to make Canva Apps for web and tablet Scenarios
- Use existing SharePoint, Excel, SQL and CDS Data without having to build it from scratch.
- App from Data Templates will now be responsive
- Generate App Once for both Phone & Tablet
- Large File & Image Support in Model-Driven Apps
- File & Image entity attribute can be added to any part of the form
- Files can be uploaded up to 128Mb
- Images can be uploaded up to 30Mb
- Attachments in forms ssed to be limited to 5MB – Limiting ability to add large files eg: PDF, Images & Videos
Now users can easily work with large images and files from CDS in any Power App.
- Improved themes in Power Apps
Introducing improved themes for both canvas and model-driven apps that reflect modern Microsoft Fluent themes. Canvas apps also have new control sizing introduced to allow makers to build apps with controls sized for web-based and mobile scenarios.
New themes made available for model-driven app as a preview.
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 email@example.com.
Keep an eye on our blog and LinkedIn page for our follow up article on the Power Platform.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 email@example.com.
Keep an eye on our blog and LinkedIn page for our follow up article on the Power Platform.
Have you moved to a single customer view yet? With the latest release of #Dynamics365 and #PowerPlatform, we’re excited to see how the new updates help to make the single customer view a reality for users and clients.
Find out how in our latest video: http://ow.ly/vGgK50FzMUt
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