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Unlocking innovation with Dynamics 365

Sep 29, 2020

“Unlock next”. With this simple baseline, Microsoft points to the virtually endless possibilities for innovation and optimization offered by Dynamics 365. In fact, the plethora of options can be so overwhelming that organizations risk missing vital opportunities hiding in plain sight. delaware expert Niels Matthys offers a practical framework to making the most of your Dynamics 365 environment, starting today.

“Dynamics 365 has been a game-changer for companies in many ways,” Niels starts. “The platform provides a set of integrated applications covering ERP, CRM, HRM and ecommerce needs. No silos, no wall between operations and support – a flow of information, data, and insights across the organization, creating new opportunities for meaningful innovation and improvement that were previously unimaginable.”

From reactive information to proactive insights

To unlock the value contained in that wealth of free-flowing data, Dynamics offers myriad out-of-the-box applications – equipped with powerful artificial intelligence capabilities. “By connecting all that data, applications like Customer Insights can build a complete 360-degree view of the customer and predict when to contact him or her or recommend certain products,” Niels explains. 

“Another example is the IoT intelligence that is integrated with Dynamics 365, which allows for real-time monitoring and direct employee actions to prevent machine downtime. These kinds of proactive insights are a clear break from the reactive information organizations had to work with in the past.” 

Minimal effort and maximum result with Power Platform

To allow as many people in the organization to benefit from the full potential of Dynamics 365 as possible, Microsoft introduced Power Platform. Within this platform, tools such as Power Apps and Power Automate allow business users to build personalized solutions without writing a single  line of code or having a technical background. Niels: “With minimal effort and time, people on the business side can create their own applications to solve everyday problems and optimize processes. I’ll give an example.

“Let’s say that everyday an employee needs to process customer return forms received by email and translate this in to return orders in Dynamics 365. By leveraging the integration between Dynamics, Power Automate and Office 365, this process can be entirely automated. Power Automate has a built in AI form processing model that can extract the data from the PDF and process this further into return orders, without any need for coding skills. As an employee you can decide what part of your daily tasks can be automated and what part requires a human interaction. In this way, you’re empowered to avoid tedious tasks and focus on where you have a real impact.

“What’s more, Power Apps and Power Automate are mobile-friendly and out-of-the-box. This means that even those employees who don’t have access to a laptop or computer can use them as well. Someone in the warehouse spotting a defective product could, for example, take a picture with their smartphone by using a Power App which will automatically add the picture to the quality order in Dynamics.”

Establishing a culture of innovation

This ‘citizen development’ effect leads to a much better understanding between IT and business. “It used to be very challenging for the business to translate their needs and point of view into terms recognizable to the IT department, and vice versa,” says Niels. “Now, the business can start building solutions themselves, while the IT department provides the governance and security required to keep things running smoothly.”

The net result is an overall acceleration of an organization’s digital transformation on two fronts. Niels: “On the one hand, you open the door to powerful ‘bottom-up’ innovations, as people start looking for ways to optimize the processes they deal with every day. On the other hand, the business will be much more easily convinced to use tools that impact their efficiency directly and provide immediate results. In this case, the acceptance rate for these new tools is a lot higher than when tools are implemented and pushed through from the top.”

Beyond the buzz with Dynamics 365

Dynamics 365 is about more than creating apps and automating processes. “Many technologies that generate a lot of buzz, like AR, VR, IoT, and machine learning are already incorporated into Dynamics 365 today. The challenge for businesses is when and how to use them to their full potential,” Niels says. Here are just a few examples:

  • Dynamics 365 Remote Assist is a powerful AR solution that allows experts from anywhere in the world to provide remote assistance for maintenance, or when on-site visits are inadvisable, e.g. during a pandemic.
  • Dynamics Guide provides an accelerated learning path for employees who need to build new skills. A virtual assistant guides employees via HoloLens on how exactly to execute their tasks. 
  • IoT capabilities are offered by Dynamics 365 as well, giving organizations accurate predictions of machine performance and downtime based on sensor data. This enables employees to schedule maintenance or service in advance. The platform can even predict what the impact of an intervention on the supply chain will be, and, ultimately, what that means for the customer.
  • Dynamics Finance Insights enables finance departments to look well into the future with accurate predictions based on payment behavior, giving a clear view of what the cashflow will look like on a short and long term.
  • Customer Voice supports service agents in their interactions with customers by listening to the conversation and proactively providing feedback to the agent to help him or her in providing quality customer service.

Taken together, all of the above serves to accomplish one overarching goal: to foster a culture of innovation. The examples and scenarios in this article hardly cover the full range of possibilities Dynamics 365 brings to the table. “The main purpose of the Dynamics 365 team at delaware is to help companies unlock that potential to the fullest,” Niels concludes.

Interested in leveraging the innovation power of Dynamics 365 in your organization? 

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