Business Applications – October Release Review Pt1

So we’ve had the Business Applications summit recently and had a wealth of updates on where the business applications platform is going and its going to be a little bit awesome.

We have 238 glorious pages of what’s coming and updates in the October 2018 release notes coupled with the on-demand sessions going into deeper detail and crucially some great demos of new and improved features.

So let’s take a look at some of the cool bits of the update and a bit of a view on how they may change things.

Dynamics 365 for Sales

Dynamics 365 for Sales has largely remained a very similar and consistent platform for a number of years with the main changes previously having been the relationship insights/assistant. That’s about to change with some interesting core features and changes that should really move on the feature set significantly.



New feature alert! 

Playbooks are a new capability to provide repeatable, automated and event-driven sales activities based around templates. Microsoft give the example of a product champion leaving during the sales cycle, something that could potentially derail the deal. Playbooks would kick in when this event occurs providing a standard set of actions/activities to remedy the situation. The following could be a typical set of actions in this scenario.

  • Contact the customer base – notifying them of the change in personnel to the new sales lead
  • Booking an initial phone call with accounts

Playbooks sound like a cool feature to really nail a common business issue on what to do when something major happens in a sales cycle such as staff leaving or a new contact coming in at a prospect or perhaps when a prospect has to go to tender.

Who knows whom/Talking points/Quick actions


Who knows whom is a new control as part of the lead process to help you determine if people within your organisation have pre-existing relationships with new leads such as do they know them directly or can they connect you to someone who knows them. It seems to be predicated on the exchange relationship insights feature so is an opt in requirement for users. It allows you to request an introduction from your colleague notifying them that you need help with getting an icebreaker with this lead.

Quick actions work alongside who knows whom to give you quick create controls for common scenarios. Microsoft showed the capability by typing a note saying “Create an appointment to review budgets” which when saved shows the quick action control suggesting to actually create an appointment, not just a note to say to do that. Small things really but useful in the busy, fast paced world of sales. Any time you can make it easier for your sales team to use D365 is a massive plus as this data is massively useful but sometimes seen as an impediment to the sales team to just get on and do their thing.

Ice breakers are seemingly a new type of relationship insight, again utilising exchange data to review the last known interaction and suggest the next best course of action. In the example shown, an email from the client has suggested they’ve just come back from ‘Vacation’ (Summer holibobs for the brits) and had a wonderful time. Great way to remind you of the little things that can really help bring focus on the relationship with that person and help build the key sales power play of ‘rapport’. Having a solid rapport with your prospect inevitably puts you in a good place, so any tools that help kick you into gear with timely reminds will be very useful in the fast paced sales world.


Updated Sales controls

Sometimes, it’s the small things that count and in “Sales automation and productivity with Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales” session, the following slide was revealed.

NewSales Controls

Product grids have been a bit legacy feeling for some time so some enhancements especially with the Unified Interface feel overdue. Seems to suggest an easier way of interacting with individual product line items and an easier view of product recommendations to show up/cross sell and replacements.

Hierarchy controls give us an easier way of showing hierarchical relationships with multiple child and grandchild records. Not earth shattering but really bloody useful. I love these small, useful updates that don’t kick down the walls but just show some care for people who use the platform to make business simpler.

Dynamics 365 AI for Sales

So in the last major D365 release we had (finally!) Dynamics 365 for Marketing and in the October release we get a supplementary sales app called Dynamics 365 AI for Sales.


Dynamics 365 AI for Sales is designed at Sales Managers to give them a single look view at team performance and the general pipeline health. Using Natural language based Q&A to allow managers to ask questions and get contextual answers relating to the data in Dynamics. This will give Sales Managers answers to import questions such as

  • How healthy is my teams pipeline
  • What should my forecast be for the quarter (This could be seriously cool as it should be based around machine learning driven experience of opportunities likely to come in)
  • What are my star players doing well? (Again massively cool, what sets apart our A-lister sales staff from the rest? Do they book more calls or send more emails etc)


Really interesting new app that I can’t wait to get my hands and really kick the tyres 🙂

Next time

In my next post, we’ll look at the new features and changes coming with in the Dynamics 365 for Customer Service arena which has some great new stuff coming with a big focus on true omni-channel capabilities.

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