This week marks the fifth anniversary of Microsoft Dynamics 365's launch. Dynamics has evolved considerably over that time via a long branding, pricing, and packaging road to become the expanding set of modules that handle CRM and ERP tasks that it is today.
At its Ignite IT Pro show this week, Microsoft is making several Dynamics 365 and Power Platform announcements. Unsurprisingly, given Dynamics' history, several of these involve yet more changes to product bundles and names.
Dynamics 365 Connected Store, a service for making retail spaces more efficient, is now going to be known as Dynamics 365 Connected Spaces. There's a new bundle Microsoft has dubbed the "Microsoft 365 Customer Experienced Platform," which brings together existing Dynamics 365 Marketing, Customer Insights and Microsoft Advertising services. And by adding first-party voice services to Dynamics 365 Customer Service platform, Microsoft now has something it's billing as an all-in-one digital contact center. Microsoft is also unveiling a preview of a brand-new Supply Chain Insights module that will allow users to proactively manage their supply chains.
Arguably one of the biggest announcements during Microsoft's Ignite IT Pro show this week -- from a customer and/or partner perspective -- is the introduction of a pay-as-you-go licensing option for Power Apps.
Up until late this year, Power Apps pricing and licensing was incredibly expensive and convoluted. In order to help grow the Power Platform user base, Microsoft announced substantial price cuts for Power Apps. As of October 1, Power Apps per-user plans decreased from $40 per user per month to $20 per user per month. And Power Apps per app plans went from $10 per user/app/month to $5.
Now Microsoft is going a step further and introducing pay-as-you-go Power Apps licensing via Microsoft Azure subscriptions -- a capability now in preview. Up until now, when developers were ready to deploy Power Apps to users, they first needed to buy pre-paid licenses. With the pay-as-you-go option, developers can connect an Azure subscription to Power Apps and pay only for what they use.
"Pay-as-you-go (PAYG) alleviates some of the biggest concerns everyone has had, especially when it comes to broad but light-usage apps requiring premium features," said Jukka Niiranen, Forward Forever Power Platform Advisor. "Paying just for the monthly active users lowers the barrier to try out individual apps before committing to/negotiating a Per User level licensing agreement, in ways that the current Per App wasn't yet able to do. It's also a huge thing from a cost management perspective that IT can now pay for Power Platform functionality in a very similar manner as they pay for Azure capacity."
Microsoft is previewing new collaborative features across these apps so businesses will be able to do things like find business data using Microsoft Search and turn that data into embedded Fluid components (now called Loop components) across Outlook and Teams. Sales teams can use Teams to collaborate on Dynamics 365 sales records within a Teams chat or channel. Sales people can have a "chat now" button pop out from anywhere in Dynamics 365 inbound or outbound Teams voice channels.
Microsoft's also going to extend the Context IQ capabilities it announced today for Microsoft 365 to Dynamics 365. This set of AI functionality, rolling out next year, is designed to predict, seek, and suggest information people need -- right in the flow of their work.
At Ignite today, Microsoft provided milestone updates for its various vertical/industry cloud bundles as well. As previously announced, the Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services is now generally available. The Cloud for Manufacturing is now in preview; Cloud for Nonprofits is generally available; and Cloud for Sustainability is in preview. Microsoft is adding more new features around virtual visits, insights, and bookings to its already-available Cloud for Healthcare.
These industry clouds package together common data models, cross-cloud connectors, workflows, application programming interfaces, and industry-specific components and standards. They are designed for use with Azure, Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, Power Platform tools, and other Microsoft services and are meant to connect front-end productivity tasks to backend data management.