6 Things To Know About New Microsoft Dynamics 365 Applications

Organizations increasingly are using Dynamics 365 -- from ExxonMobil in the energy industry and Virgin Atlantic in transportation to the Miami Heat professional basketball team in sports, according to Alysa Taylor, corporate vice president of Microsoft business applications and global industry.

Getting Dynamic

Microsoft today debuted new Dynamics 365 applications to help companies improve their online and brick-and-mortar retail businesses and rolled out other apps and features adding artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities to the cloud-based, business management software platform.

Launched in 2016, Microsoft Dynamics 365 combines enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management and productivity applications.

Organizations increasingly are using Dynamics 365, from ExxonMobil in the energy industry and Virgin Atlantic in transportation to the Miami Heat professional basketball team in sports, according to Alysa Taylor, corporate vice president of Microsoft business applications and global industry.

“The common thread in our customers’ success is the power of a comprehensive, connected business cloud, drawing on unified data and applied intelligence to help customers make proactive decisions to positively impact their business,” Taylor said in a blog post announcing the Dynamics 365 additions. “Customers have seen a transformative shift from a siloed to a proactive way of doing business.”

Dynamics 365 Commerce And Dynamics 365 Connected Store

Two new applications -- Dynamics 365 Commerce and Dynamics 365 Connected Store – are designed to help businesses bridge and improve their digital and physical store retail experiences with observational data sources.

“Mobile and digital platforms have enabled customers to have access to information and shopping experiences that were not even possible just a few years ago,” Taylor said. “Consumer expectations have evolved so much that historical models of operation are no longer good enough. Ninety-one percent of customers are more likely to shop with brands that recognize, remember and provide relevant offers and recommendations.”

Dynamics 365 Commerce is an omnichannel application for online and brick-and-mortar retailers that unifies back-office, in-store, call center and digital experiences to help companies improve their customer experiences, build brand loyalty and optimize operations and supply-chain efficiencies.

Woodinville, Wash.-based Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, the third-largest premium wine company in the United States, today announced plans to use Dynamics 365 Commerce as its omnichannel customer engagement solution for its digital and physical direct-to-consumer retail channels.

Dynamics 365 Connected Store helps brick-and-mortar retailers improve the in-store experience by analyzing data from video cameras and internet-of-things (IoT) sensors to provide real-time, predictive insights for store managers and employees. It uses observational data gleaned from customers moving through the store and the status of store equipment and merchandise, and generates employee alerts to improve efficiency.

“Connected Store can improve the checkout experience by triaging extra cashiers via instant notifications, based on sensor or camera data,” Taylor said. “Fluctuations in the condition of store equipment such as freezers and refrigerators can put product quality at risk. Connected Store, supported by Azure IoT Central, utilizes IoT sensors to monitor temperature and humidity, which can quickly highlight any anomalies to protect inventory.”

Connected Store also tracks long-term retail trends to identify patterns and opportunities, updating employees through automated emails and a web application.

British multinational retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S) is using Connected Store at its London flagship store to help it become a “digital-first” retailer, according to Taylor.

“Store managers report that Connected Store gives M&S employees a real-time understanding of what is happening within their retail space, allowing them to work more efficiently and provide a more personalized customer experience,” she said.

Dynamics 365 Product Insights

Another new application, Dynamics 365 Product Insights, was created to deliver insights from connected physical products and give organizations visibility into product performance and customer interactions to improve engagement.

“Organizations on the quest to digitally transform their entire customer journey realize the important role product telemetry can play in terms of monitoring and learning from interactions a customer may have with connected products or services,” Taylor said. “These lessons help organizations better understand customer expectations and then deliver more personalized experiences.”

Ecolab, a St. Paul, Minn.-based provider of water, hygiene and energy technologies and services to the food, energy, healthcare, industrial and hospitality markets, has been working with Microsoft since the early development stages of the application to help it improve operational efficiencies at some three million customer locations in 170-plus countries.

The company has been struggling in the “signal collection” phase with disjointed data sets that made data integration more challenging and required an end-to-end solution for reactive and proactive repairs of its products, according to Taylor.

Dynamics 365 Product Insights will help it unify development, deployment and usage data to get a clear view of its products and better market, sell and support them, and be more proactive in improving customer experiences.

“Looking at just one example -- its internet-connected commercial dishwashers -- Ecolab will now be able to use Dynamics 365 Product Insights to identify anomalies like an unexpected drop in water usage for a certain model range, and then analyze that data in real time to narrow down to a specific model and firmware,” she said. “Now, in a matter of minutes, it’ll be able to identify a solution to a product performance issue that used to be very time-consuming or even impossible to uncover.”

Dynamics 365 Customer Insights

Introduced this past spring, Dynamics 365 Customer Insights helps companies maximize customer value with a prebuilt and customized customer data platform (CDP) that provides insights and personalized customer experiences.

New features announced today extend Dynamics 365 Customer Insights from business-to-consumer to business-to-business applications to help organizations track leads and contacts to buying groups and accounts.

“Any organization, in any industry -- from amusement parks to retailers and manufacturers -- can see a 360-degree view of their customer faster with a ready-to-go CDP that infuses business applications and processes with insights that can be acted on with minimal training and IT (information technology) assistance,” Taylor said.

Dynamics 365 Virtual Agent For Customer Service

New Dynamics 365 Virtual Agent for Customer Service features will help organizations’ customer service teams more easily create and deploy virtual agents that engage in personalized conversations with customers without writing any code.

“We’re releasing new authoring and web-publishing improvements that will enable teams to deploy a virtual agent on a demo website for testing and stakeholder feedback before deploying on the external-facing website,” Taylor said. “Once deployed, new AI-driven insights will allow managers to monitor performance metrics for the virtual agent.”

A new customer satisfaction dashboard allows customer service managers to view overall customer satisfaction scores and bot topics driving those scores. They also can now view “hours saved” metrics -- the return on investment provided by bot sessions versus typical resolution times when handled by employees.

Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management

Microsoft has added new IoT intelligence to Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management, giving companies insight into product quality before the products leave manufacturing facilities.

The new IoT capabilities connect IoT signals from business-critical assets with business transaction data, allowing manufacturers and distributors to proactively manage production and stock in real time, leverage predictive analytics to forecast maintenance needs for equipment before downtimes, boost equipment performance and increase throughput, minimize waste and improve business performance, according to Microsoft.

“Organizations need a level of visibility and insight into shop floor and equipment operations -- an end-to-end solution that provides real-time visibility of production and inventory by leveraging the power of AI, machine learning and mixed reality,” Taylor said.

General Availability Of Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection

Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection, which focuses on payment fraud protection and helps increase bank acceptance rates for customer payment transactions with e-commerce merchants, will be generally available later this year.

The application combats payment and account-creation fraud with AI technology that continuously learns and adapts to evolving fraudulent patterns, Taylor said.

Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection will include a new opt-in transaction acceptance booster that addresses wrongful declines of transaction authorizations by participating banks.