Microsoft's Dynamics 365 April '19 Update: What's new

Microsoft's 315 pages of release notes about its coming April '19 updates for its various Dynamics 365 apps and Power Platform tools details what's coming next from Microsoft on the ERP, CRM and HCM fronts.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor
Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft made available today its 315 pages of release notes for its Dynamics 365 April '19 update, outlining new features it will roll out for its ERP, CRM, Mixed Reality and Power Platform between April and September 2019. The notes mention "hundreds of new capabilities" across the various Dynamics 365 modules, with a special focus on those features Microsoft labels as "artificial intelligence."

The preview of the first of these April '19 capabilities will be available on February 1, 2019. On February 21, Microsoft officials are planning to update the release notes with Project Service Automation and other so-far-undisclosed "additional apps and capabilities." On April 5, the April '19 update will be availbale to customers for production deployment. 

Microsoft announced last year its plan to put Dynamics 365 users on a twice-yearly update schedule (in April and October), similar to the one that Windows 10 is following.

Microsoft is continuing to add more capabilities to its handful of AI-enhanced Dynamics 365 apps. AI for Sales is getting predictive forecasting and more call-intelligence capabilities. AI for Customer Insights will become generally available as of the April'19 release. It will support integration directly with Salesforce, Zendesk and ServiceNow; and provide a single dashboard for analytics across human and virtual agents. AI for Market Insights will add the ability to suggest relaetd topics while creating searches and start correlating Bing search data with information found on social media.

The company also is adding more features to the Dynamics 365 Layout and Dynamics 365 Remote Assist mixed-reality apps in this release, including real-time collaboration and editing in Layout; and new annotation, group calling, screen sharing and integration with Field Service for Remote Assist.

On the Dynamics '19 Marketing front, Microsoft is making a number of incremental updates in areas including optimizing for target segments; personalized marketing; easier onboarding; and integration with the module for various vertical scenarios. The Marketing app also is getting more social-marketing capabilities beyond the current social insights and analytics.

The April '19 update also will allow marketers to add mixed-reality content to their emails and marketing pages.

On the Sales front, Microsoft is adding more data providers; tighter integration with Teams; simplified forecasting and first-run experiences and new features for Microsoft Relationship Sales (Dynamics 365 for Sales plus LinkedIn Sales Navigator).

In the Customer Service (CRM) module, Microsoft is adding live chat as a support channel; making its Omni-Channel Engagement Hub generally available; and adding new features to knowledge base authoring and analytics. Microsoft also is working to improve general usability, extensibility and fundamentals across the module.

In the Field Service module, Microsoft is adding deeper integration with IoT Central; and introducing various scheduling and service enhancements.

With the April '19 release, Microsoft is bringing together its finance and operations users on a single version (Version 10) of Finance and Operations. New capabilities will be "persona opt-in-enabled," meaning users can implement new features on their own cadence. Microsoft is adding new features and making some that have been in preview generally available across financial management, product and warehouse management, sales and procurement, manufacturing, and globalization areas.

With the April '19 release, Finance and Operations users will be able to link seamlessly to the Common Data Service (CDS) for Apps. CDS (for Apps and Analytics) are Azure-based services for more tightly integrating Dynamics 365 and  Microsoft's Common Data Model to analytics and other developer tools. 

Microsoft is adding more features to its human-capital management/HR Talent module by making its Attract and Onboard applications more powerful and feature-rich, according to the release notes. Microsoft also is making more HR data available in CDS for Apps and more tightly integrating its Talent apps with LinkedIn.

On the Dynamics 365 for Retail front, Microsoft will be focusing on differentiating a retailer's brand; enhancing in-store experiences; beefing up omni-channel capabilities; and making available more core capabilities like extensibility; compliance and other features part of the April '19 update.

Users of Microsoft's NAV successor -- a k a Business Central -- are going to see a refreshed interface in both the browser and "modern" Windows app versions of the product. Microsoft is adding support for more keyboard-centric scenarios, more personalization capabilities and ease-of-use features to the product.

PowreApps users are getting incremental platform and tooling updates in the April '19 release. A common unified interface will become the default experience for CDS for Apps with this release. Flow also gets a bunch of incremental new features, including integration with Microsoft Learn, OneDrive for consumers and tighter integration with Teams. Power BI is getting unfied access to data between it and Azure Data Lake Storage and better self-service data-preparation functionality. A connector for LinkedIn Sales Navigator and Power BI Desktop is coming in June in public preview form.

The April '19 Dynamics 365 release notes, available today, January 21, contain lots more specifics about the features and schedule for them.

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