3 min read

Acts of Kindness and the impact on Mental Health

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As part of #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek, we asked our Head of HR and Business Operations Kristine Steele to share the ways that Redspire is providing a mentally healthy workplace. She gives her thoughts below on why, especially now, #KindnessMatters. 

Before lockdown, my 2-year-old son was in nursery. When I collected him at the end of each day, his nursery teacher always gave me a rundown of his day. What he learned, what he ate etc and I would always ask the same question in return…” was he kind today?”

For me, kindness is such an important value, in both the workplace and our personal lives. The small ways in which we normally show kindness in the workplace for most of us have gone, for now. Making someone a cup of tea, a hello and a smile as you walk past in the corridor, asking how someone’s day has been, buying biscuits to share. Most of us do these things without thinking about them. We are naturally caring, social creatures. But for someone who isn’t having a great day, these small things can make a big difference.

So, it’s really important now, at a time when many people are feeling isolated and anxious that we reach out and take the time to make colleagues and loved ones feel better. A virtual hug, a thinking of you message, an offer of support and a chat; even to those you may not normally speak to, could really have a positive impact on someone’s mental wellbeing. By showing that you’re thinking of them and that you care.

I am really proud to be part of the Redspire team. Our Managers work hard to support and encourage their teams and we are continuously striving to make Redspire a great place to be. As part of our roadmap prior to lockdown, we had been reviewing the way we do business to ensure our everyday working culture is as mentally healthy as possible. We continue to do this by reviewing training and coaching options for our Managers to give them the tools they need to further support their teams, and we will be creating a hub of resources to encourage all employees to explore and share ways to manage stress, anxiety and mental health.

Our next step is to train a number of team members to become mental health ambassadors. We are currently running mindfulness sessions, introducing wellbeing action plans and continue to organise virtual social events, quizzes and celebrate birthdays and achievements. We’re keen that our teams input on what’s important to them too, so source suggestions of what matters to them. We’re keen that we continue to deliver a great service to our customers, but also make sure our employees have the balance between work and personal life. Especially, as for now, as both are so intertwined.

As well as hands-on team support, our anonymous wellbeing survey helps us measure how successful our initiatives are but also allows staff a voice to talk and allows us to listen. It supports the daily conversations between employees and managers and set benchmarks to measure and improve upon. It’s important as employers and Managers that we talk, listen and really care about supporting our teams. We strive to create a trusting and open environment where people won’t be judged, and we continue to encourage people to speak out and ask for help if they need it. These recent months have been tough on the global community. Everything has changed. That’s what makes it even more important now, to all work hard to get through the new challenges we face.

Be kind to each other, #KindnessMatters 

#MentalHealthAwarenessWeek

Connect with Kristine as she shares more on Redspire’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Roadmap over the months ahead.

For more information on mental health awareness week and where you can get further support visit: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week

8 min read

20 Power Apps features and enhancements in April’s 2020 Wave 1 Update

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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:

  1. 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.

  1. 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,

  1. 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
  1. 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
  1. 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
  1. 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
  1. 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:

  1. 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)
  1. Portal Checker enhancements (First added in Oct 18’ Wave)
  • Additional Scenarios added to help resolve common portal issues
  1. 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

  1. 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

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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
  1. 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
  1. 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
  1. 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.

  1. 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
  1. 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.

  1. 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 info@redspire.co.uk.

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

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.

6 min read

Redspire 2019 Round Up

As we get ready to wave goodbye to an incredible year, we reflect on our successes, partnerships, people and technology in the Redspire 2019 Round Up.

2019 has been an exciting year not just for Redspire but for the business applications we work with too. Microsoft Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform’s wave 2 release has evolved the technology, with over 400 new AI-infused tools. These enhancements allow us to bring tech-driven problem-solving and process improvement to business users of all skill levels. Microsoft have empowered a new generation of in-house teams to become citizen developers. We’ve sent our teams all over the world to Dynamics seminars and events this year to ensure we are first to know about the new opportunities and technologies we can offer our clients.

At Redspire, 2019 seen us expand our client base within the financial services sector. We were shortlisted for three prestigious industry awards – including DIGIT’s Financial Technology Partner of the Year – for our on-going work for CYBG (recently rebranded to Virgin Money). We continued to enhance our working relationship and account-managed partnership with Microsoft, in turn improving the service levels we offer our clients.

Diversity in the workplace

We started 2019 off with four key goals. To be the best partner, be the best supplier, be the best employer and to give something back to the community. We’re proud to have hit these goals, with client satisfaction ratings approx. 95%- 98% across all of our key metrics. This satisfaction is also evidenced by a strong referral programme and repeat business from all of our clients. We pride ourselves on becoming a long term transformation partner, not just a service provider.

We’ve also grown our headcount by over 20% and increased turnover by 11%. As our headcount has grown and key people have returned from maternity leave, we’re very proud that we’ve managed to achieve a gender ratio split of 50:50. We’ve also created new family friendly homeworking policies, expanded the office floor space to provide more quiet and break out spaces and made some key promotions within both commercial and development teams as we’ve grown.

With a commitment to the Microsoft Pledge and reducing the digital skills gap, we’ve sponsored a number of grassroots events this year, including D365 Saturday Glasgow at Strathclyde Business School and Nine Twenty and SmartSTEM’s Insp-Hire event at Glasgow Caledonian University. Our team love getting hands on within the community, but even more so with the younger generation, helping them get an insight into a career in tech.

As we go into 2020, we’ve got an exciting calendar of events coming up, including Scottish Summit on 29th February. With over 90 free workshops on Microsoft technologies in one day, this is simply not to be missed for clients, techies and newbies alike, and we’re thrilled to be a sponsor! Sign up now if you haven’t already. At time of posting over 90% of the free tickets have been taken, so be quick.

Partnership working

Events collaboration with Microsoft, co-hosted workshops and Hackathons, and a range of immersive webinars and demos help provide a holistic client services, packed with Microsoft expertise and Redspire’s bespoke methodology and consultancy. It’s a partnership that helps our clients get the very best out of the tech and keep pace with digital transformation in their sectors. There’s a limited amount of places left for our education and events programme in February and March 2020. Enquire about taking part at info@redspire.co.uk or call the team on 0845 226 8170 to find out more.

We also commissioned unique access to Forrester’s August 2019 report, The ROI of CX Transformation, to help decision-makers visualise and quantify the hard impact and ROI of CX transformation in their business. We highly recommend downloading!

October’s wave 2 release for Dynamics and the Power Platform

Looking closer at the technology, in October’s wave 2 release, major updates to the platforms meant hundreds of new opportunities to evolve internal processes for our clients.

At Redspire HQ, we’re very excited about Power Virtual Agent and the impact on customer service, satisfaction and experience. Improved with with brand new authoring capabilities, business users can build, test and deploy powerful AI chatbots same day, via a guided, no-code graphical interface -without the need for developers or data scientists. These reactive capabilities can free up front line agents to focus on more complex issues, and also provide deep insights into customer satisfaction and their journey and sentiment.

Another favourite of ours is the the business card scanner within Dynamics 365 for Sales. The scanner analyses the card for information and automatically updates within the correct field or allow the user to overwrite to the correct field. For busy professionals used to a digital experience, this is a highly covetable tool that helps store the information they need to connect and network more effectively.

Similarly, the ability to undertake functions like object recognition and form processing to detect form fields and values is extremely valuable. AI builder is able to read, understand and translate photographs of handwritten notes and convert into word documents, or analyse text from Excel or PDF and feed directly into the appropriate Dynamics 365 fields. The time-saving capabilities of these tools are immense.  Anywhere you can rekey data, you can feed to Power Apps, and AI will read, recognise the data and populate it. This will be extremely helpful for rebuilding and legacy platforms as businesses continue to evolve.

With such meaningful changes to Dynamics and the Power Platform, as expected Microsoft have overhauled the licensing. This puts the power back into organisations hands to license only what’s needed, and expand as their needs grow. Find more information about the Grandfathering Process here.

Moving forward to 2020

Next year is shaping up to be just as busy as this one, and we’ve set some pretty ambitious goals for our business and culture. In Q1 2020, Redspire and Microsoft have joined forces on a co-hosted webinar series that showcases how to put low-code, no code, point and click technologies in business users’ hands with Microsoft Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform. Watch the webinar on-demand now and if you want to see the tools in action, view the follow up demo too.

We love to chat about digital transformation for Customer Experience. If you’d like to find out more about how Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform can support your FSI organisation through its next phase of digital transformation, get in touch with our team of specialists today on 0845 226 8170 or email us at info@redspire.co.uk.

Happy New Year to our clients, colleagues, partners, friends and family!

 

6 min read

Power Apps for Banking

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Since Microsoft released hundreds of brand new AI-infused capabilities for Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform, we’ve focused heavily on the opportunity for automation and process improvement within Banking and Insurance. This article focuses on Power Apps for Banking and the four Power Apps components driving improved Customer Experience in branch and other omni-channel touchpoints.

In The ROI of CX Transformation, August 2019, Forrester’s CX Index shows that in the banking industry, improving customer experience is highly correlated with increasing all three types of loyalty; retention (keeping more customers), enrichment (cross-sell and upsell), and advocacy (word of mouth).

The Power Platform’s new low-code, no-code toolkit is opening up citizen development and empowering business users – often the people closest to a problem or process – to proactively seek solutions and improvements in real-time. What does this mean for improved Customer Experience? Well, it removes the need to engage in costly and lengthy development processes and means the power to continually improve and deliver customer delight lies in the hands of your authorised business users, not just external and internal development teams.

Power Apps for Banking

Power Apps within the Power Platform is a tool that really opens up the capability to deliver incredible experiences within the financial services sector. As we seen in a recent Power Platform for insurance claims scenario, creating customer-facing portals that automate next step actions, integrated with and connected to the valuable data that sits within disparate teams and systems in your business, provides robust processes that give customers confidence and increase satisfaction scores considerably.

One of the key tools within the Power Platform is Power Apps. Power Apps for Banking scenarios allows users to pro-actively and reactively build high productivity custom-apps same day, connecting to existing data and systems and solving specific processes and business needs. Teams across the business – from analysts to developers – work more efficiently together and solve problems with intuitive visual tools that don’t require code, on any device.

The four key components of Power Apps

  • Canvas apps are highly tailored apps that allow you to optimise different tasks and roles. Begin with the user experience to create a bespoke interface with the power of a blank canvas and connect it to up to 200 data sources. Users can build canvas apps for web, mobile, and tablet applications, making use of a wide range of controls like camera and location services.
  • Model-driven apps are more sophisticated than Canvas apps. Begin with your data model and build upwards from core business data and processes in the Common Data Service to model forms, views, charts, Power BI dashboards and other components. Model-driven apps automatically generate great UI that is responsive across all devices.
  • Portals are low-code externally-facing web landing pages that users outside your business – like customers, partners and third party agents – to sign in with a wide variety of identities, create and view data in the Common Data Service, or even browse content anonymously.
  • Common Data Service is the data platform that comes with Power Apps and allows you to store and model business data. Dynamics 365 applications are built on the CDS, meaning if you’re already using Dynamics, your data is Power Platform ready.

The value of the in-branch banking experience in a digital world

The value of resolving a customer query in-branch is immeasurable for gaining trust and loyalty. In a 2019 global survey into the value of bank branches in a digital world, Deloitte found that despite branch density declining, the branch experience influences customer satisfaction more than online or mobile channels. This impact on satisfaction levels was true across all products ranges and surprisingly uniform across generations, from boomers to millennials.

Power Apps for Banking: Transforming the in-branch banking experience

Bank branches can make use of digital tools like Power Apps to meet and resolve customer needs in real time. Moving away from paper based or basic legacy system appointment systems, custom-apps can be built and accessed by greeters in-branch and connected to the Dynamics 365 Common Data Service to identify the best staff member to resolve the query, accurately estimate waiting time and fulfil the customer needs during the visit.

The in-branch Power Apps scenario

  1. Customer enters the branch and is met by a greeter with a Power Apps tablet application connected to the Common Data Service, using Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement contact entities for storing information about queued customers and system users to search employee shift patterns.
  2. Branch greeter enters data and searches the Power App for the customer account and can see which customer service agents are on duty today, who is best placed to resolve the query and even look up who’s on lunch and when they’re due back at their desk.
  3. Using these data sources and Azure functions that constantly read and refresh this information and existing customer handling times, the app can accurately predict how long the customer would need to wait for to be seen, as well as project a per-person forecast about when each waiting customer will be served.
  4. Power App Canvas apps can be set up to manage queue and customer service agent availability data and match customers with the correct agent. The greeter is served with wait time forecasting for new customers who arrive in-branch.
  5. If the customer can’t be seen on the spot, the greeter is able to set up a text notification, powered by Power Automate, which will be sent when the agent becomes available, holding the appointment for the customer too.
  6. Additionally, the greeter can check waiting times and availability in other nearby stores if the customer would like this option.
  7. Data on the customer query can be entered by the greeter and sent directly to the customer service agent, meaning the customer doesn’t need to explain their issue twice and the customer service agent has some preparation time before face-to-face with customer.
  8. The agent can also review previous interactions and transactions on the account or search knowledge articles or playbooks on resolutions to these types of queries.
  9. Data and insights can be shared to constantly updating reports on average waiting times per customer and customer service agent. Heat maps and trigger points can be set up to alert when additional staff are required or need to be redeployed from other areas of the business.
  10. As an extension to Dynamics 365, data risk, compliance and security processes like GDPR are already covered within the solution.
  11. Additionally, customer feedback can be gathered by the greeter and fed back into the system via the app, quickly and easily.

Redspire and the Financial Services Industry

This short scenario is barely scratching the surface of the capabilities of the Power Platform for banking. If you’re ready to explore the tools further, Redspire and Microsoft have joined forces on a co-hosted webinar series that showcases how to put low-code, no code, point and click technologies in business users’ hands with Microsoft Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform. Watch the webinar on-demand now and if you want to see the tools in action, view the follow up demo too.

We love to chat about digital transformation for Customer Experience. If you’d like to find out more about how Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform can support your FSI organisation through its next phase of digital transformation, get in touch with our team of specialists today on 0845 226 8170 or email us at info@redspire.co.uk.

5 min read

Banking on AI: Dynamics 365 Customer Insights and Virtual Agent for Customer Service

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A bank’s AI goals should look beyond cost reduction, welcome though that is. This technology has the capacity to do much more. Indeed, it can completely transform on institution from the core.” (Accenture, Redefine Banking with Artificial Intelligence)


In our recent Banking on AI article, we gave an overview of the rapid pace of AI evolution in the banking sector and looked at the limitless opportunity to automate functions and augment the banking workplace. Microsft’s Dynamics 365 AI solutions feature the most impactful and proprietary AI capabilities in global technology, and support banking organisations to deliver meaningful customer experience. Rich banking data across the business turns into proactive ideas and actions.

Customer Insights and Virtual Agent for Customer Service

In this follow up article, we’ll take a closer look at Dynamics 365 Customer Insights and Virtual Agent for Customer Service for banking. These AI technologies are helping front line sales and service banking agents make better use of their time, enabling managers to use team resources more efficiently than ever and improving satisfaction and experience, no matter which platform customers are engaging on.

In a recent Intelligent Economies survey by Microsoft, AI use is reportedly high amongst banking organisations worldwide. Nearly half (48%) of banking and financial services leaders reported that they’d already implemented virtual agent technology, with more than a third making use of both machine learning (36%) and predictive analytics (38%). Broad examples of these tools in action are:

  • Virtual Agent can be deployed proactively to resolve common service queries and frequently asked questions but can also be configured quickly to react and problem-solve when new, emerging issues arise.
  • Predictive analytics can be used to analyse account behavior and identify the potential risk of lending defaults.
  • Machine learning can monitor account behaviour and highlight any activity or transactional patterns that may suggest fraud or risk.

AI drives market differentiation and competitive advantage

Microsoft’s position on AI is that the technology works best when the people closest to a problem are empowered with the AI tools to solve it themselves. This is made easy with the low-code, no-code point and click technology which is at the heart of their AI development, putting problem-solving capabilities in business users’ hands. When individuals and teams create their own solutions, as and when they need them, it increases team competencies and heightens impact and ownership. Which of course, leads the way to strong differentiation and provides maximum competitive advantage.

Dynamics 365 Customer Insights and Virtual Agent for Customer Service

Which brings us back to Dynamics 365 Customer Insights and Virtual Agent for Customer Service. Together, these solutions provide banking customer service managers with a 360-degree overview of service operations and allow customers to access not only immediate but intelligent responses to each and every request. What’s more service levels are measurable and unified, whether getting in touch by telephone, text, online or via banking apps.

At Redspire, we recommend Customer Insights and Virtual Agent as some of the most impressive tools for delivering enhanced customer experiences to retail and commercial banking customers. The combination of service operations and machine learned insights means users can make use of all the data coming into the system to make smarter decisions on what to optimise and what to automate. A simple overview of the tools in action include:

  1. Data is constantly being fed into Dynamics 365 from omni-channel customer support queries, cases being raised and transactional requests.
  2. Customer Insights AI analyses these support cases them groups them into similar themes and topics to identify potential problems in real-time and inform non-technicaly teams that action is required. For example, a card provider’s hardware outage would lead to query spikes or increased online banking activity, as banking customers are unable to use their debit cards and call to report the issue. Or a branch emergency closure would lead to a rise in transactional calls and online activity.
  3. Before these calls become a drain on front line agents or support staff, business users of varying skill capability can quickly and easily configure automated conversations with a Virtual Agent bot via a web based application. The bot can engage, inform, easily take action and interact with existing systems to transact or problem solve to the customer’s satisfaction where possible, or escalate to a human for higher touch resolution where required.
  4. Throughout these conversations and transactions, Virtual Agent is constantly learning, mining user feedback and getting smarter over time. This continual improvement steers best practice with human teams and recommends future actions to update the bot in the interface to provide the greatest impact.
  5. Visual dashboards and business analytics on the service scenarios report and allow customer service managers to quickly evaluate and act to meet key performance indicators (KPIs) and maintain customer satisfaction levels.

As aI technology evolves and grows progressively more sophisticated, the complexity of the tasks that bots and virtual agents take on will continue to grow. Virtual agents will collaborate with team members, for example by prompting them to ask the right questions throughout customer calls or will pro-actively serve them with customer data or product information, without the human agent having to search manually.

Redspire: the leading digital transformation partner for Banking and Financial Services

IF you’d like more information on Customer Insights and Virtual Agent for Customer Service get in touch today. At Redspire, when we partner with you to implement Microsoft’s leading AI technologies, we become your dedicated Dynamics partner throughout your whole improvement journey.

We 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 and the AI-driven Power Platform, we help our clients achieve service excellence and deliver transformation projects that promises return on investment.

Contact us today

For more information on the Future of Banking download our Future of Banking white paper. To discuss what Microsoft and Artificial Intelligence can offer your organisation, get in touch with Redspire today on 0845 226 8170 or email us on info@redspire.co.uk.

5 min read

The Power Platform for Insurance: automating car insurance claims with Power Apps, Power Automate and Power BI

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Earlier this week we took a good look at the Power Platform for the Insurance sector. In this third part of our Power Platform for insurance series, we’re looking at automating car insurance claims processes using the Power Platform’s capabilities, and integrations with the wider Microsoft stack.

There are endless use cases and opportunities to Analyse, Act and Automate processes within your own insurance business, in particular with over 400 new capabilities released across Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform this month. This short use case will provide some context for the tools in action, showcasing incredible customer and partner engagement and highlight rich data insights.

A summary of the Power Platform

For those who haven’t read our recent articles on the Power Platform, here’s a short summary before we jump into the car insurance claim scenario.

The power Platform’s capabilities can be summed up in three key words: analyse, act, automate, known within Microsoft circles as the Triple A-Loop. The tools combine the capabilities of three key products, namely:

  • Microsoft Power BI: this analytical platform allows organisations to build and lead a data-driven culture. All users are given the power to turn data into insightful visualisations, driving quick and informed decision-making.
  • Microsoft Power Apps (including Power Apps Portals): these tools allow users to build custom apps same day instead of undertaking a month long development process, connecting to existing data and systems and solving specific process and business needs.
  • Microsoft Power Automate: is low-code / no code functionality that allows users to self-build automated workflows in minutes across hundreds of popular apps and services.

With Microsoft’s proprietary technology, users of all skill-levels, from pro-developers to authorised administrators can analyse, act upon, and automate data in ways that have never been possible before at business user level.

Automating car insurance claims processes using the Power Platform

Although fairly new to market, Redspire are deploying Power Platform capabilities to solve business pain for our Banking, FSI and Insurance clients and automating processes through all levels of their businesses.

In this scenario, we’ll showcase a user journey after automating car insurance claims processes using the Power Platform. The main functionality used here is PowerApps, supported by Office365, Power Automate and Power BI.

  1. A customer has an accident and needs to report the incident to start the claims process. Historically, policyholders would call the claims line to begin the claims process, however, digital natives are increasingly looking for mobile or desktop first reporting methods.
  2. Whether the policyholder has called the claims line and been signposted to the online functionality or logged into their account to begin their claim, a secure Power Apps Portal has been created to begin the claims process. The customer is asked to log in. Secure personal data will be pre-populated and the policyholder can submit the details of their incident within the requested fields, with the capability to upload images of the damage for assessment too.
  3. Using postcode data held against the policyholder, a Power Automate pulls through a choice of local car garages and automate the process of sending the claims data, photo of the vehicle damage and a request for quote (RFQ) to this selection of garages.
  4. Once received, the garages who received RFQ will be able to submit a quote for repair work via a bespoke Canvas App, supported by pre-determined Power Automate functionality.
  5. Once three quotes have been returned, Power Automate sends an automated Office 365 email to a claims processor, who can log in to a Model Driven App to review the quotes for repair work provided.
  6. Once reviewed and authorised for next stage by as assessor, these quotes for repair work are sent along the next stage of the automated process. Confirmation of the accepted quote is sent to the garage and the customer to arrange for completion of work.
  7. The selected garage completes the repair work and provides a completed status on the Canvas App once work is complete, notifying customer and insurer that the work is complete.
  8. Payment for repair work is automated via Power Automate and third part payment solutions.
  9. Power Automate sends out a Forms Pro survey to capture customer feedback on both the garage and claim experience, enriching customer service data and informing satisfaction scores.
  10. Power BI can provide granular reports on customer satisfaction or wider data insight in the volume of claims, costs, types of damage, car models, garage satisfaction rating and so on.

Redspire and the Insurance sector.

This short scenario is barely scratching the surface of the capabilities of the Power Platform for the insurance sector. At Redspire, our delivery team can’t recommend the tools highly enough. We’re leading radical digital transformation in the insurance sector via these new and constantly emerging world-class Microsoft technologies. Together, we’re helping insurers understand and engage customer needs and deliver seamless, proactive and personalised experiences. We’re not just improving the claims process, we’re helping insurers digitise and automate all types of processes from underwriting to broker management.

If you’re ready to explore the tools further, Redspire and Microsoft have joined forces on a co-hosted webinar series that showcases how to put low-code, no code, point and click technologies in business users’ hands with Microsoft Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform. Watch the webinar on-demand now and if you want to see the tools in action in an claims insurance scenario, view the follow up demo now.

If you’d like to find out more about how the Power Platform’s Triple-A-Loop can support your Insurance firms through its next phase of digital transformation, get in touch with our team of specialists today on 0845 226 8170 or email us at info@redspire.co.uk.

9 min read

Power Platform for Insurance: Power BI, Power Apps and Power Automate

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There’s been a lot of excitement coming from Camp Microsoft and the Partner community regarding the potential of Power BI, Power Apps and Power Automate in the last year and we’re seeing some excellent use cases of the tools in action within the Financial Services sector.

At Redspire, we can’t recommend the Power Platform for Insurance firms highly enough. Microsoft, as always, is leading the way in the evolution in the insurance sector, bringing over 400 enhancements to Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform in the most recent release. The tech giant’s investment in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and low-code, no-code technologies directly support insurance businesses through the on-going digital skills gap and enable business users of varying capabilities to build apps, visualisations and workflows and improve business performance via simple point-and-click technology.

At Redspire, we’re working closely with our insurance clients to maximise use of the latest releases. Our clients in the insurance sector have undergone rapid digital transformation with Microsoft Dynamics 365 business applications in recent years. Progress has been made to shatter barriers between departments and insurers no longer approach each policy, person or departments as standalone but part of a connected universe of data that provides valuable insights to business performance. The Power Platform – with it’s integrated AI-infused technologies and the recent announcement of Wave 2 enhancements – opens up unlimited opportunity to harness the power of that data-unification. With hundreds of data connectors and a toolkit built on a common data language, insurers can achieve peak productivity, maximise engagement and provide data-driven decision making to manage their brokers, customers, products, policies and claims.

Yet across Banking, FSI and Insurance, many of the new clients we meet are unsure about the Power Platform and how it can be deployed granularly within their organisations. And more importantly, just why they should invest.

So, what is the Power Platform?

Power platform can be summed up in three keywords: analyse, act, automate. Known within Microsoft circles as the Triple A-Loop.

The toolset allows users to automate processes across the Microsoft stack and beyond. It ensures that everyone with permissions within your insurance organisation has the ability to build rapid business solutions, and solve all types of daily or organisational business pain.

The Power Platform combines the capabilities of three key products – Power BI, Power Apps (including Power Apps Portals) and Power Automate, which was formerly know as Flow. With Microsoft’s proprietary technology, users of all skill-levels, from pro-developers to authorised administrators can analyse, act-upon, and automate data in ways that have never been possible before.

The tools have been developed upon the Common Data Platform and are designed to work together for maximum business value. All users within the business with suitable permissions can quickly and easily build custom apps that solve immediate business pain, automate complex workflows to improve business productivity, and analyse data for insights – no matter their technical expertise or capabilities.

Act with Power Apps for Insurance

Power Apps allows everyone from developers to business users within your insurance business to create interactive apps that support with specific business scenarios from Claims processing and renewals to risk and compliance. Tying onto a specific  Dynamics 365 use case or standalone, your in-house teams will be able to react quickly to ever-changing customer, partner, product, claims and compliance needs, all without writing a single line of code. Or having to engage with a developer partner. Integrating neatly with Dynamics 365, the Common Data Service, other line of business systems and accessible by Power BI and Power Automate, users across the organisation can carry out tasks and complete processes quickly and efficiently on their device of choice, with the information flowing back into the CRM. Supported by hundreds of point-and-click Power Automate connectors, the data captured within the apps can be used to automate processes and drive insight like never before.

Power Apps puts the power to automate back in the hands of the insurance business and solve challenges in real time by creating focused journeys. To summarise the benefits of Power Apps you can:

  • Easily build apps within a full feature low-code/no-code point-and-click platform
  • Connect to all of your valuable data with a suite of pre-built connectors or custom connectors
  • Put your data to work with the Common Data Service for Apps
  • Integrate neatly with Office 365, Azure, Dynamics 365, Power BI and Power Automate
  • Make use of strong enterprise governance & security
  • Access Pro-develop extensibility

Sample use cases for Power Apps for Insurance include:

  • Improve and complete policyholder on-boarding in real time with bespoke Power Apps and Power Apps Portals, designed to capture the required data for each scenario. Connect this data to the next step action in the process and automate risk and compliance controls too.
  • Automate task-led business process flows like renewal processes or escalations for medical underwriting.
  • Manage the claims process more efficiently. Provide loss adjusters or even customer access to a front-facing app where they can answer the required questions, capture and attach jpeg or png photo evidence or PDF and Microsoft Word supplier quotes for repairs. Feed their responses directly back in the CRM and automate to next stage with one of 250 out of the box Power Automate connectors.

Recent enhancements for Power Apps in Insurance

Recent announcements from Microsoft include the wide release of AI builder for Power Platform. One of our top picks from the functionality is object detection. This provides the capability for AI to read, understand and translate photographs of handwritten notes and convert into word documents, or analyse text from Excel or PDF and feed directly into the appropriate Dynamics 365 fields. The time-saving capabilities of these tools are immense.  Anywhere you can rekey data, you can feed to Power App, AI will read, recognise the data and populate it. This will be extremely helpful for rebuilding and legacy platforms.

Analyse: Power BI for insurers  

Power BI is Microsoft’s market-leading intelligent business analytics solution. With familiar Excel-like controls, with Power BI, users can connect a multitude of data sources – legacy on-premise, in the cloud or elsewhere –  to gain valuable insights, analyse trends and make rapid, data-informed decisions. Data is visualised helping teams share insight, collaborate and report across the entire organisation, on any device. With in-built governance and security, sharing customised dashboards and interactive reports with the right teams at the right times becomes process-led, with the right risk controls in place to protect the sensitive information in your business.   

Some sample use cases of Power BI for insurers 

  • Power BI allows users to visualise real time insights and analysis of losses from insurance claims. This constant feed of data empowers business users to highlight trends across the business and leverage underwriting data to make prudent business decisions, minimising future losses. 
  • Create visual reports to analyse your brokers, agencies and intermediary performance levels. Understand which relationships are working well or which may need urgent attention. Visually view gross written premium per broker and understand the cost of each new policy or renewal.  
  • Closely analyse policy and product performance. If a product is performing particularly well within a certain demographic or geographical area, this may inform a reactive marketing campaign or a review of the policy price point.  

Recent enhancements for Power BI in insurance  

Within the latest Power Platform release, Power BI improvements focus on four critical areas that drive a high performance data culture. Largely AI focused, these are: intuitive experiences, a unified BI platform, big data analytics, and pervasive artificial intelligence.  

Automate with Power Automate for Insurers  

Microsoft’s Power Automate – again, low code, no-code, point and click functionality –  puts power to create complex workflows within your organisation. It uses over 250 out of the box connectors to automate all types of processes and removes the risk for human error stalling a journey’s progress. Once the Power Platform has been implemented and adopted by your workforce, Power Automate removes the need for developer support to create workflows, heavily reducing costs and implementation time for new business critical or improvement processes.   

Like the rest of the Power Platform, Power Automate provides point and click functionality that connects legacy technology infrastructure. Out the box connectors integrate not only with Microsoft tools but less well known systems too. Secured within the Microsoft cloud, these workflows provide the functionality to move your insurance business forward.  

Some sample use cases of Power Automate for insurers 

  • Power Automate can connect sales journeys, policyholder on-boarding and renewalsClients or intermediaries complete front-facing Power Apps Portals forms are then connected to the next stage of the process for action, review, risk, approval, decline. With data feeding directly into the CRM, a risk audit trail is created, productivity maximised and data accuracy maintained.  
  • When call centre activity spikes – for instance, regarding storms claims when the UK has been hit with bad weather – Power Automate can be connected to a quick deployed bot that can direct clients towards self-service options for lodging the claim or answering frequently asked questions 

Recent enhancements for  Power Automate in Insurance 

Power Automate’s new functionality creates smarter, more meaningful experiences in three key areas. Users – again with varying levels of expertise – can leverage world-leading business process capabilities, work off-line and make use of rich administration tools that drive connectivity across the insurance business.  

Why invest in the Power Platform?  

A recent Economic Impact study of Dynamics and the Power Platform highlighted that the average cost of app development is reduced by 70% with Power Apps and Power Automate, with £2.9 million avoided in application development and management costs. These types of cost savings are indicative of the costs and productivity savings that can be made with each individual solution within the platform. Combined with no-code capabilities that drive high user adoption, it’s clear that return on initial investment is high. And with the tools included within the standard Dynamics 365 licensing, it’s easy to get started with Power Platform today.  

Redspire and the Insurance sector.  

At Redspire, we’re leading radical digital transformation in the insurance sector via world-class Microsoft technologies. Together, we’re helping insurers understand and engage customer needs and deliver seamless, proactive and personalised experiences. We’re improving underwriting processes, loss ratios and policy lapse rates whilst reducing customer churn. In the new, differentiated marketplace, everything is to play for.  

Redspire and Microsoft have joined forces on a co-hosted webinar series that showcases how to put low-code, no code, point and click technologies in business users’ hands, with Microsoft Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform. Watch the webinar on-demand now and if you want to see the tools in action, view the follow up demo.

If you’d like to find out more about how the Power Platform’s Triple-A-Loop can support your Insurance firm through its next phase of digital transformation, read how the Power Platform can automate a claims scenario, get in touch with our team of specialists today on 0845 226 8170 or info@redspire.co.uk.   

6 min read

Microsoft Dynamics Licensing Updates October 2019

In September, members of our Commercial Team attended the Microsoft Dynamics Licensing Updates Bootcamp at Thames Valley Park in Reading. Here, the team received a detailed presentation from Microsoft on their Dynamics licensing updates for October 2019 and were able to discuss these proposals further with the Microsoft team. This provided our team with first-hand insight into Microsoft’s current approach and plans for Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform in FY20.

Now that the updates have been confirmed, we are delighted to present a break-down of the key updates from the October 2019 Release and what this means for your business.

This blog will focus on the recent updates to Power Apps and Flow* (Power Automate) licensing. Specifically, it will take detailed look at the recent updates to Power Apps licensing, to move from Dynamics 365 Portals to Power Apps Portals, the recent updates to Flow licensing, the grandfathering processes for existing customers currently purchasing each licensing type, and finally the recent updates to the Use Rights of Power Apps and Power Automate within Dynamics 365.

(*since this blog was released, Flow has been renamed Power Automate)

Power Apps Licensing Updates

From 1st October 2019, Power Apps will be available to license on either a ‘Per App’ plan or a ‘Per User’ plan. The ‘Per App’ plan will allow individual users to run application for a specific business scenario, based on the full capabilities of Power Apps. This plan will give licensed users access to 2 Power Apps and 1 Power Apps Portal and will be available for £7.50 ($10) per app per month. The ‘Per User’ plan will equip users to run unlimited applications based on the full capabilities of Power Apps. This plan will give licensed users full access to all Power Apps and Power Apps Portals and will be available for £30.20 per user per month. Essentially, what this means for your business is that if any one user has more than six Power Apps to run, then it is more cost-effective for them to be licensed via the Power Apps ‘Per User’ plan.

Additionally, any user who already holds a license for one of the Dynamics 365 Applications will have the right to access any Seeded Power Apps which have been configured to extend and/or customise that application.

Regardless of the Power App plan type chosen, users will have the rights to run flows within the context of the Power App. However, the use rights won’t extend to enable users to run standalone flows. Standalone flows would be required to connect to other areas outside of the Microsoft stack and would require a standalone flow license in order to be utilised with the Power App.

Power Apps Portals Licensing Updates

Another feature of the 2019 licensing updates is the move from Dynamics 365 Portals to Power Apps Portals. From October 1st 2019, access to Power App Portals will be dependent on the user type. For Internal Users, access rights will be granted via either their D365 App license or Power Apps (per plan or per user) license. Access rights for External Users will now be chargeable depending on whether the user has gained Authenticated or Unauthenticated access to the Power Apps Portal. Access for authenticated users will be paid for per portal login, at a charge of £150.80 ($200) per 100 logins of each portal. New logins are registered every 24 hours, therefore users who login to the portal multiple times within a 24-hour period will only be counted as one login to the portal during that period. Access for Unauthenticated Users will be paid for per portal page view, at a charge of £75.40 ($100) per 100,000 page views of each portal.

Each Dynamics 365 instance with 10+ users will qualify for one free portal instance, with additional instances available for purchase at £377.10 ($500) per portal instance per month (as of July 2019). Additionally, capacity add-ons for both Power Apps and Power Automate can be purchased for £37.70 per unit per month, which provides an additional 10,000 daily API requests.

The transition from D365 Portals to Power Apps Portals should be seamless for partners and customers alike, with no action from partners required to move existing customer portals onto a new platform and existing Portal customers able to remain on their existing license type for the remainder of their current agreement.

Power Automate (Flow) Licensing Updates 

Power Automate (Flow) will be available to license on either a ‘Per User’ plan or a ‘Per Business Process’ plan. The ‘Per User’ plan will allow individual users to build and run an unlimited number of flows. This plan comes with 5000 monthly API requests and will be available for £11.30 ($15) per user per month. The ‘Per Business Process’ plan will enable an unlimited number of users to run this flow and comes with 15,000 monthly API requests. This plan will be available for £75.40 ($100) per business process flow per month, however it does require a minimum purchase of 5 Business Process Flows.

Power Automate licenses will also be available to license via Seeded Flows, whereby licenses to run flows within Dynamics 365 applications are included with the users’ license of that application.

Grandfathering Processes 

The Grandfathering Process for existing customers onto the new licensing structure will be dependent on whether you are purchasing your licenses via CSP/Web Direct/MPSA or an EA/EAS/EES agreement. For CSP/Web Direct/MPSA customers whose licenses are due for renewal between 1st October 2019 and 31st March 2020, you may choose to renew your Power Apps and Power Automate licenses onto either the old or new licensing structure. However, if renewing from April 2020 onwards then you will only be able to renew onto the new licensing structure.

For EA/EAS/EES customers, you may continue on your current licensing structure for the duration of your agreement. If your agreement ends before March 31st 2020, then you may renew the Power Apps and Power Automate licenses within your agreement onto either the old or new licensing structure for the duration of your new agreement.  Essentially, what this means for your business is that if you are renewing your EA/EAS/EES before 31st March 2020 then you will have the opportunity to continue on your existing licensing structure, and subsequently the same pricing model, for a further 36 months. However, all agreements renewed after this date will be renewed onto the new licensing structure.

Use Rights within D365

Additionally, Power Apps and Power Automate Use Rights within Dynamics 365 have changed. Currently, full use rights to both Power Apps and Power Automate are included within Dynamics 365. From October 2019 onwards, under the new licensing structure, Power Apps needs to map to the Dynamics 365 application context. Essentially, this means that the Power App must either customise/extent the Dynamics 365 application or run as a standalone application within the same environment.

For Power Automate, under the new licensing structure, flows have to trigger from or connect to data sources within the use rights of your Dynamics 365 application. When flowing outside of the Dynamics 365 application app context, a flow license will be required.

Under the Grandfathering Process for Power Apps and Power Automate Use Rights within Dynamics 365, existing customers will be able to continue on their existing licensing structure until their licenses are due for renewal or 1st October 2020, whichever is longer.

If you have any questions on the Dynamics licensing updates and how it impacts your business, please get in touch with us directly on info@redspire.co.uk or call Head Office on 0845 226 8170

 

8 min read

Banking on AI with Microsoft Dynamics 365

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“Artificial intelligence isn’t going to replace bankers. It’s going to optimize how banks work by helping them become more agile, make smarter decisions, and, ultimately, stay more competitive.” (Banking on AI, Microsoft, 2019)

With the October wave 2 release for Dynamics 365 featuring 400 new updates and capabilities across Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform (more about that soon), as well as brand new AI-infused, industry-specific capabilities included in the release, our attention at Redspire is on how AI (Artificial Intelligence) is evolving banking and financial services . Should the c-suite be banking on AI to drive product and service innovation and steer customer excellence? The short answer: yes. It’s rapidly becoming clear that current and emerging artificial intelligence has the power to transform FSI, far more than any other technologies have done in recent years.

Microsoft investment in AI insights

Microsoft’s continued investment in AI is helping the banking sector turn valuable agent, customer, product, sales and competitor data into proactive ideas and action. Existing AI insights are already revolutionising product and service delivery for early adopters of the capabilities in banking. Yet as we hone and develop new and exciting use cases for our FSI clients with the features like AI builder, the opportunity to transform operations is immense. AI-driven agents, rapid implementation model and line of business apps and problem solving bots used alongside constant machine learning will boost team productivity, solve immediate business or operational pain and drive experiences with the sharpest of precision.

Out of the box Dynamics 365 AI tools for banking

The three main pre-packaged AI tools that are really allowing our banking clients to predict customer needs and provide services when the customer wants, just how the customer wants it are:

These insight apps, particularly when powered by Azure AI, enable bankers to apply artificial intelligence within line of business workflows that slicken operations and steer customers to the right channel for their needs. That could be a knowledge centre bot to answer a simple, frequently asked question or a rapidly deployed bot that’s been set up to respond to an emerging complaint theme. This sort of client self-service frees up Relationship Managers and gives them almost superpower like abilities to drive more personal and well-rounded customer experience. Teams can provide tailored, value-driven communications through a 360-degree view of their customer, across all business departments. Predictive intelligence analyses data touch-points like buying habits, financial aspirations and emphasis on income-proportionate savings, and can help banks better understand the customer sets that will respond better to specific and targeted offers, and create hyper-tuned cross-sell opportunities based on the information gathered and analysed by the AI systems.

But what does this look like in action?

Dynamics 365 AI for Sales Insights

If we had to pick a tool from the Dynamics suite that’s absolutely vital to the success of banking sales performance and levelling the playing field for incumbent banks and challengers, this is it. Steering opportunity propensity to close and measuring the sentiment of communications to serve you insight on how the relationship is going is only scratching the surface of the capabilities of the AI. For example, the sales insight tool listens to calls and can provide slick, in-depth feedback and a wealth of learning from the call, such as:

  • Conversation analysis: Did the sales agent provide enough information in line with the customer’s needs? Did they talk too much or too little? This can really hone individual sales capabilities and help create sales playbooks for future opportunities.
  • Sentiment analysis: Cognitive AI measures and reports back on customer mood within the conversation. Were they upset, excited? This can be used to turn the sales opportunity around by recommending next best action if the propensity to close has decreased and also be used by sales and relationship managers for future coaching.
  • Keyword and trends analysis: AI can measure and pick up on keywords and report on an individual level or a collective department or organizational level if there are any keywords that are trending up and down. For example, a banking competitor or new lending product is being mentioned more often than usual. This is reported to the sales manager who can then create sales battlecards to overcome the threat before the competitor has had a chance to steal market-share. Similarly, this tool can report back if there are recurring queries or objections that salespeople are having to overcome and create solutions, collateral or playbooks to support.

With AI for Sales Insight’s predictive lead and opportunity scoring, salespeople are provided with valuable AI insight to prioritise the right relationships, to help close faster and win more business. Sales Managers can analyse individual, team and third party performance and view rich sales activity reports and view pipelines at the touch of a button. This is just a few examples of the tool in action. Get in touch today if you want to chat Sales for AI with our consultants.

Dynamics 365 AI for Customer Service Insights  

Of course, it isn’t all just about selling. With customer experience a key differentiator in banking and competition levels fierce, delivering impeccable customer service is vital in both retail and commercial banking environments. What does AI infused customer service look like within a banking? Like Sales Insights, Dynamics 365 AI for Customer Service Insights can use predictive analytics to provide actionable insight into business critical performance metrics. AI analyses operational and customer contact data to group cases and provide trends in real time to highlight and create instant solutions – before issues get out of hand. In-house teams receive reports that action is required and they can then create an easily configurable bot to respond and answer basic questions, measure their sentiment and pass the complaint to a team member if they require higher touch interaction. Throughout the entire process the AI and bots are collecting constant feedback and feeding continual improvement Built-in reporting dashboards, interactive visual charts and reports provide views into support operations data across channels, highlighting improvement and best practice that will have the greatest impact. Customer service managers can quickly evaluate and act to meet key performance indicators (KPIs) and maintain customer satisfaction levels.

Dynamics 365 AI for Market Insights  

So you’ve got your sales and service performing with AI. What’s next? Understanding your own and your competitor brand position with AI for Market Insights. Interpret what your customers say, do and feel about your organisation online and measure their sentiment against your bank in comparison to key competitors. Are you delivering on brand promise and customer excellence? AI for market insights is also valuable to when managing third party relationships in the banking environment. Are your stakeholders getting what they expect from the relationship?

How safe and secure is AI for Banking?

Machine learning functionality provides a comprehensive analysis for deeper insight into risk and operational models, as well as real-time response to the intelligence gathered for an enhanced risk management procedure – specifically tailored to suit and meet any regulatory requirements like GDPR or advanced AML checks.

The data collected is safely and securely stored in Microsoft’s award-winning Azure cloud infrastructure, with multi-factor authentication, continuous monitoring, increased transparency and digital privacy protection to ensure all sensitive data adheres to any industry, domestic or global standards

The future of AI and overview of the new release AI tools

By 2021, Gartner estimates that AI augmentation will generate about $2.9 trillion in business value and recover about $6.2 billion in worker productivity

On top of the existing AI capabilities, the October 2019 release brings a whole host of AI-infused capabilities that will help the banking sector thrive. Dynamics 365 Product Insights connects product telemetry to Microsoft Business Applications, bringing valuable in-branch or ATM insights and give visibility into product and service performance and customer interactions.

Enhancements to Dynamics 365 Customer Insights extends the reach of the tool further from mainly B2C scenarios. Additional features allow banking organisations to generate powerful insights into complex B2B commercial banking journeys and understand and serve leads and accounts better.

We’re very excited about Dynamics 365 Virtual Agent for Customer Service, which is currently still in preview. This is a vital tool for all banks and financial services firms, and is enhanced with new authoring capabilities. This allows users to test and deploy AI-powered chat bots with greater speed, freeing front line agents to focus on more complex issues, and providing deep insights into customer satisfaction and

Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection provides a formidable fraud protection solution,  decreasing fraud costs and helping increase acceptance rates for customer payment transactions.

Finally Microsoft have enhanced the Microsoft Banking Accelerator, released earlier this year, with use cases for retail banking and sample APIs for interoperability with the Banking Industry Architecture Network (BAIN). These enhancements enable banking and financial organizations to rapidly build intelligent, data-driven solutions across retail and commercial lines of business, accelerating time to value for a range of customer scenarios.

Banking on AI?

It’s an exciting time to be in banking! Implementing Artificial Intelligence has the power to transform the industry in ways we’ve never seen before. Cost saving, improving the speed and efficiency of decision-making, identifying and supporting new cross-selling opportunities for new and existing customers and most importantly, working towards the full and uninterrupted retention of all current business across the various departments and services. All whilst growing revenue and boosting the bottom line.

For more information on the Future of Banking download our Future of Banking white paper. To discuss what Microsoft and Artificial Intelligence can offer your business. get in touch with Redspire today on 0845 226 8170 or email us on info@redspire.co.uk.