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Microsoft announced more than 400 features for Dynamics 365 and Power Platform to come in its 2020 Wave 1 release today, with a host of internal and third-party data connections to Customer Insights, its customer data platform, leading the way.
The features will make their way into the cloud platforms between April and September, wrote James Phillips, Microsoft president of business applications, in a blog post. Customer Data Insights users can connect the CDP to audience intelligence tools within Dynamics, as well as third-party data sources, covering demographics and interests, firmographics, market trends, product and service usage data.
The Microsoft CDP, released quietly last year, will also connect to Azure Synapse Analytics, an AI-enhanced BI platform announced late last year. Combining the two, users can blend customer data with enterprise and streaming data to enrich customer profiles and run analytics, as well as build custom machine learning models to inform customer-facing marketing campaigns, personalization and ad targeting.
It's good that the Microsoft CDP emphasizes data assembly and leaves data activation to other applications, said David Raab, founder of the CDP Institute. Other CDP vendors sometimes add data-activation features, such as marketing campaign orchestration or analytics to CDP functionality, which needlessly "confuses the heck" out of IT buyers about the CDP's place in technology stacks, he added.
"With the suite guys [Salesforce, Oracle, SAP, Adobe], the CDP is just one little piece of a much larger puzzle," Raab said. "Microsoft is focusing on the CDP as the thing that builds very rich profiles, but that's where the CDP ends. They don't muddy the waters by talking about activation and other things outside of the scope of the core CDP."
Beyond the Microsoft CDP: Sales forecasting tools on way
Microsoft also will roll out Dynamics 365 Customer Insights to its Government Cloud environments, "to better understand and interact with citizens, empower employees and transform cities at scale," Phillips wrote.
David RaabFounder, CDP Institute
Other features of note in the Dynamics 365 2020 Wave 1 release include new manual and automated predictive models for sales forecasting in Dynamics 365 Sales and Dynamics 365 Sales Insights. These features help salespeople shed more light on salespeople's pipeline and predict future performance of those pipeline leads without deputizing data scientists, according to Phillips.
Another feature in Dynamics 365 Sales, the engagement center for inside sales reps, offers a dashboard to triage, research and engage new leads or opportunities. Included in its capabilities is daily personalized work queues for sales reps that prioritize leads based on predictive scoring from Dynamics 365 Sales Insights.
Microsoft will offer more specific details on these new features April 2.