Monthly Archives: August 2017

How does Dynamics 365 for Sales, Business Edition work?

Microsoft Dynamics Customer Engagement is now available in two editions. The Enterprise Edition, which can be considered as the continuity of Dynamics CRM, and the Business Edition.

The first Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement Business Edition application to be available will be the Sales one. It is currently only available in preview. The Marketing application will come out later, and as of today, no Customer Service application has been announced by Microsoft.
You can learn more about the Sales and Marketing applications in this previous article: To know the future of Dynamics 365… keep an eye open on the Business Edition!

At its core, the Business Edition is based on same platform as the Enterprise Edition. It’s the good old “Dynamics CRM” that we know and love. But for the Business Edition, Microsoft added some sort of simplification layer. This layer actually leverages regular extensibility features of the product (including the use of “App Modules“, that were introduced in 8.2) and also leverages the brand new Unified Interface.

The Unified Interface was developed with accessibility in mind. Its key features are:

  • Reusable
  • Faster Development
  • Deploy once
  • Responsive
  • Accessible
  • Consistent

The rumor has it that with the 9.0 version (the July 2017 Update of Dynamics 365), the Unified Interface will only be available for the Business Edition, and that Enterprise Edition customers will  have to wait for 9.1.

The “Sales Insights Dashboard” within the Sales application

How does the Business Edition work?

The Business Edition is based on 3 core Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement components:

  • The classic Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement platform and database, that remains available through the classic Web UI (that was also refreshed with 9.0).
  • A preinstalled managed solution that:
    • Simplifies many existing features (with new forms, dashboards, security roles, custom automation logic, etc.)
    • Introduces a brand new wizard to setup environment options, users, data, integration, etc.
    • Integrates a new customization tool (form designer, view designer, etc.)
  • An application module based on the Unified Interface (and this app is basically the entry point for actual business users).

How the Sales application of the Dynamics 365, Business Edition works

When developing the Sales Business Edition, Microsoft really had User Experience, Simplicity and Automation in mind.

The Business Edition Sales managed solution

The Mobile and Sales applications, both based on the Unified Interface and third custom one based on the classic Web client.

The Sales application in the Dynamics 365 app launcher, from the classic Web client

To know the future of Dynamics 365… keep an eye open on the Business Edition!

To know the future of Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement, the best thing to do is to keep an eye open on the Business Edition.
It was created by Microsoft to offer a simpler version of the Dynamics 365 Enterprise Edition features to Small and Medium-sized Businesses.

The Business Edition creates a safe space for Microsoft to rapidly deploy and try out new features that do not need to take into account any legacy or complex customization of the platform.

I expect new features, such as the “Unified Interface” or email marketing, to be firstly available to Business Edition customers before being rolled out and offered to Enterprise Edition customers.

What is the Business Edition?

Based on the Enterprise Edition “engine”, the Business Edition is targeted at SMBs that need:

    • Simple environment setup.
    • Easy-to-use CRM, Marketing and ERP features that don’t require complex configuration.
    • Out-of-the-box integration with Office 365.
    • Affordable and scalable business solutions.

Dynamics 365 for Sales, Business Edition features:

Dynamics 365 for Marketing, Business Edition features:

To be noted: Dynamics 365 for Marketing, Business Edition is due to be released in preview in the future and be available in 2018.

Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Business Edition features:

To be noted: the Dynamics 365 for Finance is not based on Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement. It is already available, and you can get more information here.

In short, Dynamics 365 Business Edition is a great turnkey solution for SMBs and startups looking to empower their teams with a first-in-class and extensible platform: Forrester recently recognized Microsoft Dynamics 365 as a leader in Sales Force Automation.

Why is the new Sales Business Edition a great opportunity for Microsoft too?

The Sales Business Edition will enable Microsoft to:

    • Compete against a crowded field of small business solution providers.
    • Develop and rapidly deploy new features before making them available to regular Enterprise Edition customers.

As a matter of fact, since the Business Edition comes with standard features (meant to be used “out of the box”) and little customization options, it is a safe environment for Microsoft to regularly push and update features.

Indeed, in the past, one of Microsoft’s challenges with Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement (CRM) was to limit regressions whenever it shipped a new version of its product.
While the quality of releases has improved year over year, it can still be a challenge to upgrade a complex implementation of Dynamics 365.

The platform being quite extensible, large enterprise deployments had (and still have) a tendency to be heavily customized and to rely on specific developments .
For these customers, it was more complex for Microsoft to introduce new or enhanced features while at the same time making sure that anything previously customized by the customer, partners or ISVs would still run smoothly.
Hence a release cycle that will probably be shorter for Business Edition customers.

What’s in it for partners?

Even if the Business Edition is meant to bring a lot of autonomy to customers to setup and run the Dynamics 365 platform, partners are expected to still have a role to play. Especially in helping customers analyse their business needs, configure the system, perform simple customization and train and adopt the product.

Implementation Best Practice (that are applicable from the Enterprise Edition to the Business Edition) and the knowledge of the Office 365 ecosystem are still key success factors for the project.

Now I expect Microsoft partners to bring new package offers to the market in order to help customers implement Dynamics 365 for Sales, Business Edition.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 + Adobe Campaign: how do they integrate?

With Adobe Campaign and Microsoft Dynamics 365, brands can bring their marketing and sales content, data, processes together to deliver engaging customer experiences across all touch points throughout the customer journey.

You can learn more on the Adobe / Microsoft partnership in this article.

To synchronize data between Microsoft Dynamics 365 and the Adobe Marketing Cloud, you need to make your CRM data flow through Adobe Campaign, the cross campaign management solution of the Adobe Marketing suite.

Understanding the different versions of Adobe Campaign

There are a few things you should  know about Adobe Campaign.
There are two versions of the product: Adobe Campaign Classic (ACC) and Adobe Campaign Standard (ACS).

    • Adobe Campaign Classic (v6 / v7) is a rebranded/enhanced version of Neolane, a cross-campaign management and emailing solution, that was acquired by Adobe in 2013.
      Adobe Campaign Classic works with a rich-client Windows console and is an on-premise software (although it can be partner-hosted or hosted by Adobe).
      You can consider Adobe Campaign Classic to be legacy, although it still gets updates regularly with new features and better integration with the Adobe Marketing Cloud.
      Adobe Campaign Classic has more advanced features than Adobe Campaign Standard, and can respond to more complex use cases regarding data management and personnalisation.
    • Adobe Campaign Standard is the “new” Adobe Campaign. It was rebuilt from the grounds up and tailored for the cloud.
      Adobe Campaign Standard is cloud-only (SaaS) and gets automatic updates as new features are added. It is web-based: no more client console and a friendlier user experience.
      In terms of functional scope, ACS covers more simpler use cases than ACC: email and SMS channels, reports, workflows, audience management, etc.
      Adobe continues to invest on Adobe Campaign Standard to add new features.

Adobe Campaign deployment options

While Adobe Campaign Classic and Adobe Campaign Standard are two different products, the two of them can be combined in a hybrid deployment scenario. This way, you can leverage the complex and more advanced features of Adobe Campaign Classic and enjoy the simpler web interface and better cloud integration of Adobe Campaign Standard. This hybrid model is a bit complex and involves data synchronization between the two products.

What version of Adobe Campaign can Dynamics 365 integrate with?

As of today, Microsoft  Dynamics 365 only integrates with Adobe Campaign Classic (ACC).

Adobe Campaign Classic contains a CRM connector that has been available since Neolane, and that can natively integrate with Salesforce, Oracle CRM On Demand, and Dynamics CRM. Adobe keeps enhancing the Dynamics 365 connector.
The CRM Connectors are an Adobe Campaign Classic option: you should check the license agreement to know if you can leverage it or not.

This compatibility matrix will help you know what version of the Dynamics CRM API is supported.

Dynamics 365 is not (yet?) integrated with Adobe Campaign Standard (ACS), the cloud-based marketing solution.

Integrating Adobe Campaign Classic and Dynamics 365

The CRM connector can synchronize data bidirectionally for the CRM standard entities (lead, contact, account, opportunity…) but also for custom entities and attributes. Synchronization between Adobe Campaign and Dynamics 365 is carried out via a dedicated workflow activity (on the campaign workflow canvas). It enables you to:

    • Import from the CRM
    • Export to CRM
    • Delete objects in the CRM

To configure the CRM integration, you first need to create an External Account in Adobe Campaign (Explorer > Administration > Platform > Externals Accounts) of type “Microsoft Dynamics CRM”:

You then need to open the configuration wizard. Adobe Campaign automatically detects the tables from the Microsoft Dynamics data template. You can then select the tables to be recovered and start creating the corresponding schema, that become available in Adobe Campaign.

Within a campaign workflow, you can for example import data from Dynamics 365 by adding the CRM activity:

The following workflow activity details imports contacts from Microsoft Dynamics, synchronizes them with the existing Adobe Campaign data, deletes duplicate contacts, and updates the Adobe Campaign database:

You can find more on the CRM Connector configuration here, in this dedicated Adobe knowledge base article.

How to bridge the gap between sales and marketing and offer a full 360° view of the customer in Dynamics 365?

Adobe Campaign data can be displayed in Microsoft Dynamics 365 in dashboards and on record’s forms:

Adobe Campaign dashboard in CRM

Adobe Campaign email options on a lead in CRM

Adobe Campaign history of interactions on a lead in CRM

To be noted: the CRM rendering of Adobe Campaign data is not documented today. I still have the following questions:

  • Is Adobe Campaign data such as deliveries are also stored in the CRM database? (I assume not).
  • Does a dedicated Adobe Campaign solution exist for Dynamics 365? (To facilitate displaying Adobe Campaign data on Dynamics 365 dashboards and forms).
  • Is Adobe Campaign Standard used (in a hybrid scenario) to display Adobe Campaign data in iFrames?
  • Do CRM users must also have an Adobe Campaign license to display its data?

All about MultiSelect Option Sets in the latest version of Dynamics 365

With the July 2017 Update of Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement (v9.0), Microsoft introduced a long awaited feature: MultiSelect Option Set. As a matter of fact, it was not possible, until now, to select multiple values in a pick-list.

MultiSelect Option Sets are available for both the Enterprise Edition and the Business Edition of Dynamics 365, although they look a bit different (more on that later).

From a customization perspective, they are simply a new type of field:

What you need to know about MultiSelect Option Set

  • They cannot be used to sort a view.
  • They cannot be calculated fields or roll-up fields. So their field type is read-only and always “simple”.
  • They can use existing Option Sets. This means that global Option Sets can be used by both regular and MultiSelect Option Sets.
  • In a view, for a record, the options they contain are ordered by the Option Set value, disregarding the set order of the options.

Look-and-feel differences between the Web Client Visual Refresh and the Unified Interface

On the new “Unified Interface” (available with the Business Edition), they look like this:

When their values are edited, they look like:

In views, only the first alphabetical option is shown to the user, and “+ X more” is displayed.

On the the regular “Web Client Visual Refresh” (only supported user interface in the Enterprise Edition), they look slightly similar on forms:

In views however, you can display all selected options:

What about the Advanced Find?

They are quite similar to regular Option Sets, but you now have to distinguish between the “Contain Values” and “Equals” operators.

The “Contain Value” operator in the query will return any results that contain at least the selected options. So in the following example, all records that contain A (even if they are set to A and B)

The “Equals” operator will only return results that offer an exact match: this means the exact same set of options selected.

Understanding the Microsoft – Adobe partnership, its current state and its impact on partners

Microsoft professionals are looking more and more into Adobe since the announcement of a strategic partnership between the two editors.

Last May, I attended the Adobe Summit EMEA conference in London, and I was impressed by the very advanced vision Adobe had on customer experience. Many C-levels & VPs (from T-Mobile, BMW, Coca-Cola, Adidas,…) shared testimonials and success stories that reinforced Adobe’s leadership in the Digital Marketing space.

On top of their vision, Adobe built (or acquired) a powerful set of interconnected solutions that meet their clients’s marketing and experience management ever-growing needs. These solutions are offered under the “Adobe Experience Cloud” umbrella.

Summary of the facts:

On September 26th, 2016 Microsoft and Adobe announced a strategic long-term partnership. Adobe brought in its expertise and leader position in Digital Marketing while Microsoft brought in its Cloud experience (Azure) and its Business Applications (Dynamics 365).

Adobe and Microsoft partnered because they share a vision for the future of the enterprise. A vision organized around the following themes:

  • Cloud-first
  • Mobile-first
  • Exceptional experiences

Microsoft and Adobe have come together to create a long-term strategic vision and plan for the era of the empowered digital consumer. This vision and plan enable companies to:

  • Bridge the worlds of the CMO and CIO, by bringing together content and data in one end-to-end platform.
  • Create a unified global platform for customer engagement and experiences across sales, services, and marketing.
  • Help enterprises embrace digital transformation and deliver compelling, personalized experiences through every phase of their customer relationships to strengthen their brands.

What have Microsoft and Adobe committed to with this partnership?

Adobe will make Microsoft Azure its preferred cloud platform for the Adobe Marketing Cloud, Adobe Creative Cloud and Adobe Document Cloud.

Microsoft will make Adobe Marketing Cloud its preferred marketing service for Dynamics 365 Enterprise edition. This is especially targeted at customers for which solutions such as “Dynamics 365 for Marketing” (Business Edition) or from ISV (like ClickDimensions) are not sufficient in terms of capacity or functional coverage.

How is this partnership technically implemented today?

From an integration perspective:

  • Integration of Microsoft Dynamics 365 with Adobe Campaign (the entry point in the Experience Cloud).
  • Use of the Data Visualization (DataViz) capabilities of Microsoft Power BI with Adobe Analytics.

Form a platform perspective:

  • Hosting of the Adobe Experience Cloud, Creative Cloud and Document Cloud Adobe on Microsoft Azure.
  • Establishment of an industry-standard semantic data model to provide a common language for understanding and driving real-time customer engagement.
  • Collaboration and investment in advancing the state of the art in areas of deep learning and artificial intelligence (AI) as it relates to customer journey
    experiences and applications.
  • Integration of the Adobe’s developer platform with Microsoft’s developer platform to drive a combined developer and ISV program.

Adobe and Microsoft continue to extend the integration of their solutions and their for roadmap for 2017 / 2018 will bring many new features and enhancements.

What next?

As a conclusion, one can wonder how current Microsoft and Adobe partners are going to position themselves on the market to offer end-to-end solutions to Dynamics 365 and Adobe Marketing scenarios.

As a matter of fact, as of today, few of them cover both technologies. And even if Microsoft and Adobe respectively opened their training portals to their partners (Dynamics Learning Portal for Microsoft and the Solution Partner Portal for Adobe), both technical universes remain complex to master for new-comers.

Some, such as Avanade and Accenture Interactive, already have the teams that can cover the full technical and functional spectrum of these editors, but they still have to train architects to design end-to-end solutions leveraging Dynamics 365 + Adobe Marketing.

Coming soon: an article dedicated to the integration Dynamics 365 with Adobe Campaign!

A history of Dynamics CRM certifications

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 1.0 came out in 2003. A the time, it was named “Microsoft Business Solutions Customer Relationship Management 1.0” (learn more about the Dynamics CRM history in this article by Fiona Bond).
CRM Certification Exams came out shortly after in 2004 with version CRM 1.2.

Since then, certification exams were always organized in these main categories:

  • Customization and Configuration
  • Applications (the functional ones, now being spit between Sales and Customer Service since CRM 2016)
  • Installation / Deployment (with a strong focus On-Premise deployments but not available after CRM 2016)
  • Extending (focused on specific developments, but not available after CRM 2013)
  • Online Deployment  (introduced with CRM 2015)

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 1.2

  • MB2-185: Microsoft CRM Customization v.1.2
  • MB2-186: Microsoft CRM Applications Professional v. 1.2
  • MB2-184: Microsoft CRM Installation and Configuration V.1.2

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0

  • MB2-422: Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 Customization
  • MB2-423: Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 Applications
  • MB2-421: Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 Installation and Configuration
  • MB2-498: Extending Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0

  • MB2-631: Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 Customization and Configuration
  • MB2-632: Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 Applications
  • MB2-633: Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 Installation and Deployment
  • MB2-634: Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 Extending Microsoft Dynamics

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011

  • MB2-866: Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Customization and Configuration
  • MB2-868: Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Applications
  • MB2-867: Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Installation and Deployment
  • MB2-876: Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Extending

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013

  • MB2-703: Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Customization and Configuration
  • MB2-700: Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Applications
  • MB2-702: Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Deployment
  • MB2-701: Extending Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015

  • MB2-707: Microsoft Dynamics CRM Customization and Configuration
  • MB2-704: Microsoft Dynamics CRM Application
  • MB2-708: Microsoft Dynamics CRM Installation
  • MB2-706: Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online Deployment

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016

  • MB2-712: Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 Customization and Configuration
  • MB2-713: Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 Sales
  • MB2-714: Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 Customer Service
  • MB2-711: Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 Installation
  • MB2-710: Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 Online Deployment

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement

  • MB2-716: Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customization and Configuration
  • MB2-717: Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales
  • MB2-718: Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Customer Service
  • MB2-715: Microsoft Dynamics 365 Online Deployment
  • MB2-877: Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Field Service

Other related certifications

On top of these regular CRM Certifications, Microsoft also published exams on the Sure Step methodology and Dynamics Marketing (both being retired now):

  • MB5-858: Microsoft Managing Microsoft Dynamics Implementations
  • MB5-705: Managing Microsoft Dynamics Implementations
  • MB2-720: Functional Application in Microsoft Dynamics Marketing
  • MB2-709: Microsoft Dynamics Marketing

Now my question for you is: what was your first CRM certification?
Mine was MB2-866: Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Customization and Configuration.