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6 New Microsoft Product Previews Launching In April

Wade Tyler Millward

Microsoft is debuting a range of product previews in April including new capabilities for Teams, Dynamics 365, Azure Active Directory and Viva.

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New Microsoft Product Previews

Microsoft is unveiling a slew of previews for new products and features this month that channel partners should know about. The Redmond, Wash.-based tech giant’s April releases include more supply chain and marketing capabilities for Dynamics 365 users, along with more integrations between Dynamics 365 and the Microsoft Teams collaboration app. Microsoft is also previewing updates for industry-focused clouds, the Viva employee engagement platform and Teams.

The preview phase allows users to try out an update to a product while knowing that the update is actually coming--which is more helpful than a beta, when an update or feature can change drastically before entering general availability, said Michael Goldstein, president and CEO of LAN Infotech, a CRN Security 100 managed service provider based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

“It’s like when a car dealership lets you take something home for the weekend,” said Goldstein, whose customers include government agencies, law firms and nonprofits. “Tech changes so quickly. So for Microsoft to put something in preview instead of going live, it can be meaningful.”

The upgrades to Teams and new integrations between the app and other Microsoft products — from Dynamics to Viva — furthers the tech giant’s goal of making Teams the one business application that businesses can’t do without, Reed Wiedower, global alliances leader and CTO for the Cognizant Microsoft Business Group, has told CRN.

In terms of generating revenue from Teams, working with customers that were among the first to move to the app is a good strategy because they tend to be the most cloud-friendly and the most willing to dig into their business to find areas that can be automated, Wiedower said.

What follows are the details on six new Microsoft product previews launching in April.

Dynamics 365 Intelligent Order Management Arrives

A new Intelligent Order Management application for Microsoft Dynamics 365--aimed at helping customers manage orders from intake to delivery--enters public preview in April and becomes generally available in July.

The application automates order fulfilment with a rule-based orchestration system to manage delivery capacity, Microsoft said. Users can see real-time omnichannel inventory data that pulls from order sources including e-commerce, marketplace and mobile apps, and users can fulfill the order from warehouses, stores or drop-ship with vendors, according to the company. The application comes with pre-built connectors from more than 200 Microsoft Power Platform connectors.

The application is integrated with Microsoft’s distributed order management (DOM) commerce service, with DOM being the single point of fulfillment determination, the company said. It is also integrated with order capture to take orders into the Microsoft Dataverse platform.

Most organizations expect more than half of their sales to come from digital channels in the next couple of years, and the pandemic has hurt supply chains, Manoj Swaminathan, general manager of Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management and Manufacturing at Microsoft, wrote in a recent blog post. “Dynamics 365 Intelligent Order Management adapts quickly and meets future order and fulfillment complexities while supporting contemporary methods like buying online for in-store or curbside pickup,” he said.

New Dynamics 365 Marketing Capabilities

This month, Dynamics 365 Marketing launches a public preview of new real-time personalized customer experience capabilities. Customer interactions across marketing, sales, commerce, customer voice, digital events and service will inform the new capabilities.

Dynamics 365 Marketing will have built-in recommendations for content, channels, customer segmentation and analytics. An updated email editor will help select and deliver the best image, video, document and fragment, Microsoft said. A centralized asset library will allow search, versioning, managing and tagging of digital assets, according to the company.

“Connecting with people has never been more important, and customer expectations have never been higher,” Lori Lamkin, Microsoft vice president of Dynamics 365 Marketing, said in a recent blog post. “Customer tolerance for disjointed experiences, or even worse, tone-deaf communications is unacceptable. Organizations that deliver better end-to-end customer experiences (CX) are taking share.”

Despite a “decade of discussion” about the importance of customer experiences, “many companies have failed to elevate their experiences to the level desired,” Lamkin wrote. “Beyond the human value of great experiences, elevated experiences are critical to driving business value—enabling growth and driving brand equity, preventing churn, and enabling higher marketing and customer engagement return on investment.”

New Viva Learning and Well-Being Features

Microsoft plans to launch a public preview in April of Viva Learning and new personal well-being features in Viva Insights. The two Teams apps are part of Microsoft Viva, the company’s recently launched employee experience platform with tools for employee engagement, learning and well-being.

Viva Learning provides a central hub for learning from content libraries across an organization, Microsoft said. Viva Learning will aggregate content from LinkedIn Learning, Microsoft Learn, Microsoft 365 training, third-party content providers and custom content on SharePoint. Users can simplify onboarding of new employees, track completion of tasks, according to Microsoft.

Viva Insights will gain a “virtual commute experience” within Teams, with reminders to close out tasks, remind yourself what’s planned for tomorrow and use the meditation app Headspace. Viva Insights will also gain a “home” tab to stay on top of pending tasks, reflect on feelings and send praise to colleagues within Teams.

Updates To Teams Retention Functionality

Microsoft is planning to advance several updates into preview in April for Teams, the company’s widely used collaboration app. A Teams Export API will allow exporting of Teams messages with attachments, emojis, GIFs and mentions, Microsoft said. Meanwhile, a Microsoft data centers encryption capability will extend to customers’ keys for Teams, as well as Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and OneDrive, according to the company. A new integration with Microsoft 365 compliance center will help investigators find compliance policies for remediation actions, Microsoft said. And additionally, an update to the compliance center will allow for organization-wide application of retention policies to Teams private channel messages, the company said.

New Business Central Integrations

A public preview launches in April of a new integration between Microsoft Power Platform and the Microsoft Dataverse platform. To further integrate Business Central virtual tables into native Microsoft Dataverse solutions, users will have added relations between native and virtual tables and pagination on data from virtual tables, Microsoft said. In addition to this update, users will gain the ability to create Power BI reports and dashboards through Business Central APIs, both built-in and custom, according to Microsoft.

New Protections With Azure Active Directory

Updates this month to the Azure Active Directory cloud-based identity and access management service include the ability for administrators to turn on code match for multi-factor authentication notifications in Authenticator--and then apply the behavior by user and group. Users will also gain the use of temporary access passes, or TAPs, Microsoft said. These time-limited passcodes for phone sign-in and passwordless FIDO2 should make recovery easier when a user has lost or forgotten their authentication methods and needs to register new ones, according to the company.

This month, select users gain the ability to designate which region Application Proxy service connector groups use, Microsoft said. Choosing the closest region can improve performance and reduce App Proxy latency, according to the company. Users can refine zero-trust policies for least privileged access while minimizing user friction through conditional access authentication context within an app, Microsoft said. And verifiable credentials allow organizations to confirm information without collecting and storing personal data through digital versions of physical badges, loyalty cards and government-issued paper documents, according to the company.

Wade Tyler Millward

Wade Tyler Millward is an associate editor covering cloud computing and the channel partner programs of Microsoft, IBM, Red Hat, Oracle, Salesforce, Citrix and other cloud vendors. He can be reached at wmillward@thechannelcompany.com.

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