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The Next Microsoft Wave Begins Now

Microsoft announced sweeping additions and updates to the Power Platform and Dynamics 365, giving manufacturers a robust selection of useful tools – and some will be available for preview as soon as today.

The official launch of this next wave of features will roll out in piecemeal from April to September of this year, and on top of general Power Platform updates, it includes updates to Dynamics 365 Sales, Field Service, Supply Chain Management, Marketing, Finance and Operations, Commerce and Business Central, Finance, Human Resources, Customer Service, and Customer Insights.

I’m including a list of features I think you may consider implementing in your long-term strategy for apps and reporting, as well as smaller new features to be taken advantage of as soon they’re turned on. And since these are release notes, these features are subject to change.

These feature previews are designed specifically for a non-production environment and will give you ample time to test before they go live.

Here are some highlights for Power Apps:

The Model-Driven and Canvas App

Convergence is slowly drifting nearer as both Canvas and Model-Driven apps will begin to run on the same mobile app. Also, more offline capabilities are coming to Model-Driven apps. This means you’ll have a one-stop shop for all Power Apps on mobile, regardless of whether it is a task-based Canvas app, or a Model-Driven app for sales and customer service.

Quick Find Improvements

Whenever you search in a View as of today, Quick Find will remove all added filters and default to an organization-wide search. With the new update, it will search only what’s in your current view. There’s even an option to search all records. This is also a change that will make the feature more intuitive and users will be able to find the needed records faster. This is one of my favorites. A small change with big impact. It simplifies and speeds up searches.

The SAP ERP connector will come out of preview in June. The SAP ERP connector for Power Automate and Power Apps allows you to connect your flows and apps to an SAP ERP system – either SAP ECC or SAP S/4HANA, Microsoft reports. This connector for SAP ERP systems allows you to leverage the Power Platform for developing modern apps and automate their business processes over data in SAP. The SAP ERP connector will provide the following out-of-the-box functionality:

Connection to an SAP ECC or S/4HANA system.

Supports common authentication mechanism of connecting to SAP.

Allows invocation of any standard BAPI and custom RFCs.

Provides dynamic schemas for the input and output parameters for an RFC or BAPI.

Power BI

If you are using Power BI Dataflows, then you can look forward to being able to DirectQuery your data, and essentially bypass the Power BI dataset for a much shorter latency on your data.

We can also look forward to Incremental refreshes being enabled for Power BI Pro users. This was a feature that previously was reserved for Premium customers only. Incremental refreshes allow for faster refreshes, better reliability, and a reduction in consumption of resources.

Both have implications on how data lakes vs. data warehouses can or should be architected.

These are features that hint at how data lakes - which Power BI Dataflows are - can be used as a primary part of data architecture strategy.

Solution Specific

For the Dynamics 365 apps we can look forward to:

Dynamics 365 Sales new forecasting capabilities and a Kanban board for Opportunities. Sales reps will be able to manage their opportunities by dragging and dropping them from stage to stage.

Dynamics 365 Customer Service has another of my favorite additions: An email authoring experience closer to Outlook, including managing images online and copying from Word documents. While details in the release notes here are limited, this sounds like an exciting addition particularly for service scenarios. Manufacturers can now use images, such as screenshots, in the emails they compose to customers while resolving their issues.

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