Welcome to Tidbits from the Field, a knowledge base repository to share information, experience, and perspective on the Microsoft Power Platform.

Power Platform, Canvas Apps

They are EASY, so why does it feel like a hike after being locked away for the last six months? 

There is a small, wee bit of learning curve and this is the key. Give yourself the space to learn. 

You can either learn by thinking 100% Canvas or you can start learning by adding a Canvas App to your more traditional model driven Dynamics 365 Power App. 

The first concept. If adding a Canvas App to your Model Driven world. 

Start at http://make.PowerApps.com, The Maker Portal!

The Maker Portal offers a number of options that you might not find in another place. For instance if you have configured Dynamics 365, you can use the maker portal to create and work within a solution. When you work in a solution, you start with a more ALM centric mindset. Also for some of the newer beta features, starting work within a solution is critical. 

So how is a canvas app different?

White-canvas

Well you start with a template or a White Canvas with a specified size. When you start with a white canvas you will want to really understand the numbers behind this canvas. What I mean by numbers, are the position numbers. So where are you in relationship to your canvas.  You are creating everything, so you will want to know where you want to put things such as labels, data, entry boxes, forms, galleries and more. 

The next concept to get your head around is the header on your canvas. The fast way to get your head around a header is to start your canvas with a template and then using the left hand menu, look at how the template header is created. There are key items such as Color, Name, Brand and more.

Now that we have our head around the idea of a Canvas with a header, let's look at our tool chest of awesome. We want to give ourselves a bit of time to think about the tools. 

BuildingApp

and how you access these tools. Take a moment to click around a bit. There are some key areas. You want to realize that different menus are available depending on where you are focusing. You also have functions, positioning, colors and the hierarchy of the layouts. Oh and Data, of course. 

BuildingApp-Areas
 And there are many little helper components. Take for instance the ability to insert a gallery. You insert a vertical or horizontal gallery and tell that gallery where to get it's data. Boom, you have a fully functional feature, but you want to understand what comes with that full function. 

As someone who loves a new software, canvas apps are a whole lot of new. Give yourself the gift of learning with the patience to just put one foot in front of the other. 

Happy Holidays

 


Holiday Themed Power Apps : Power Platform Community Rockin' It

If you want to see a really cool combination of Power Platform Model Driven Apps and Power Platform Canvas Apps you definitely want to listen to the December Power Platform Community Call. 

The Holiday Themed Apps were so much fun!! 

Power Apps Community call closing out 2020 with amazing holiday themed Apps December 16th | Microsoft Power Apps 


Knowledge Sharing Power Platform Vocabularly

One of my favorite ways to learn is to share knowledge. I find that all of the other perspectives I get from this exercise really help me shift and refine what I have learned. 

In the last two years I have been under the fire house learning. It is both exciting, amazing and daunting when we consider how much more there is always to learn. It is also a twist for those of us who have years of experience. The experience makes a huge difference, but it also always has to be continually refined.

One of the first major learning tips is to get your head around the vocabulary quickly. It has served me well to think about the following.

Microsoft EcoSystem with Power Platform

The Power Platform, this is really an evolution to getting closer and closer to using the entire Microsoft Stack of awesome. The long loved deep integration to Office is now 100 times better AND there is also the deep integration to Azure and many of the new Azure functions. 

PowerApp
Microsoft Dynamics 365 "Apps"
are all Model Driven Power Apps on the Power Platform. 

Flow

Power Automate (Flow) The ability to automate, respond and receive responses and an alignment/replacement or stepping stone to both work flows and logic apps and you can learn more here.

Power BI with Name
Power BI Much loved and amazing reporting and business intelligence and analytics and you can learn more here

 

Power Virtual with Name

Power Virtual Bots, Not only bots, but Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and you can learn more here and here.


Why you need a Business Analyst on your Agile or Waterfall Power Platform Project

I love it when I can tap into my years of experience and answer a question such as why you might seriously want to consider including a product platform experienced Business Analysis on your Power Platform or Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement Model Driven App project.

Consider these variables 

1) You might someone who can translate a business users need into a well documented set of Scenarios, and digest these into Features with supporting User stories. People also use the term requirement; however, Features, Scenarios and User Stories provide even more information and future perspective  which is critical for any configuration or development team.

2) You need someone who deeply understands the platform fits and gaps. The Power Platform and EACH individual Dynamics 365 CE model driven app includes within it not only already developed key features and functions, but also layers of maturity for each. IT also includes standards refined from millions of user's feedback. Each of these features was designed with very specific specifications and "fits" and if you don't understand these fits and gaps you can spend a LOT of money extending and maintaining extensions over the years. 

3) Architects are wonderful! BUT architects don't build houses. They design the blue print and offer continued high level perspective. The people involved in building the house (or project) have a daily understanding of the minuet needs of the business and the tiny required changes to get a good fit. 

4) You might think you know what you want, BUT do you really know what is available? An experienced business analyst has usually seen many, many, many similar projects, built on the same platform. They offer a RIGHT or LEFT Shift from "I require this" to "Here are the many, many, many different options to meet this defined need" . First they capture the need and then they help engage the entire team for all of the current and FUTURE options. How can the team develop and deliver the best solution for each tiny need if they actual business processes and scenarios are not specifically communicated aligned? 

CONFIGURATION FIRST 

We have all heard it, from the greatest leaders.

Low code, no code buzz

We have all heard it, from the greatest leaders.

We want or need custom 

We have all heard it, from the greatest leaders.

AND there are times to extend

Do consider that the Power Platform is "CUSTOM", it is just built and designed by the Microsoft product teams with a huge number of layers of configuration choices. Microsoft gives everyone at least 3 choices for everything you want to do. 

The BA understands these choices

The BA understands how to capture business scenarios 

The BA understands how to communicate business process

The BA understands how to document using many different tools (Visio, Power Point, Word, Mural, Azure DevOps, Jira, etc. etc. ) depending on audience and translation need

The BA understands the platform offerings and choices

The BA can present

The BA can write 

"A business analyst (BA) is someone who analyzes an organization or business domain (real or hypothetical) and documents its business or processes or systems, assessing the business model or its integration with technology"

 


Understanding LinkedIn Integration to the Model Driven Sales Hub App in the Power Platform

Many people talk about the integration between Dynamics 365 Sales or The Power Platform Sales Hub Model Driven App and LinkedIn, but not everyone really understands all of the possible use cases.

Here is an extremely well crafted demonstration video on "Relationship Sales" 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KFTzL292JQE&pp=wgIECgIIAQ%3D%3D


Power Platform Resources and Documentation

The Microsoft DOCS team has been incredibly busy over the last numerous months. You will find that many (if not all) documentation found at Docs.Microsoft.com has been updated and has a 2020 associated date. If you are not sure where to get started take a look at this incredibly helpful LINKS list. 

https://powerapps.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/microsoft-powerapps-learning-resources/


One Why | Model Driven Apps | Configurable Role Based Entitlement Security | Who gets to access What

1) Business Unit Hierarchy | The ability to divide the data into isolated silos with bridges of controlled access aligned to the defined.(Security + Performance)

2) Out of the Box Entities | The configuration of entity permissions when the entity is doing backend functionality for the system and not something such as Account, Contact....

3) Management Hierarchy | The ability to give permissions to a manager based on the permissions and data and functions that their child team member has access to.

4) Field Level Security | The ability to mask, encrypt and control who can see a specific field within an entity

5) Entity Security | The ability to control who can Create, Update, Read, Delete, Append, Append to and Share specific out of the box entities or custom entities by Organization, Business Unit, Business Unit Hierarchy or User Ownership. 

6) Flow Context | The ability to control what permissions a flow runs under, either Contextual User or a Defined User such as a system account.

AND there is more so when considering "Building Your Own", consider if you want to recreate the concept of Role Based Entitlement 

  


Five benefits of working remote

Five benefits of working remote

1) You can keep a cat on your desk. Make a place  for them to sleep so they don't sleep on your keyboard. 

2) You can create your own breaks, just like someone coming to your desk and asking a question. A mental shift for a few minutes. This can be a quick walk, taking out the trash, washing a few dishes. changing the laundry (points with the spouses), taking the dog for a quick walk, checking on the garden and dead heading a few flowers. etc. 

3) You can setup a quick place that might be different from your home "desk". A card table can create an entirely different working experience. 

4) You can Change chairs. If you were walking or standing all day I would mention changing shoes at lunch. It is the same concept. It shifts your alignment and changes the muscles you use. We don't get this chance in the office. 

5) If you are in a meeting that makes it easy to stand (no visual presentation), stand during the meeting. Pace, no one is watching and the blood flow can add to the conversation.


What is a Power App?

For those who are familiar with the world of Microsoft Dynamics 365 WELL

Sales is a Power App (Model)

Customer Service is a Power App (Model)

Field Service is a Power App (Model)

Connected Field Service is a Power App (Model)

Marketing is a Power App (Model)

Talent is a Power App (Model)

Portal is a Power App (Portal)

I have also been writing a few little apps or using a few little Canvas apps 

1) A Training Resources App (Canvas) running in Teams that allows a member of a team to quickly enter a Description, a URL and a Why it Matters, that they want to share.

2) A Scavenger Hunt Networking App (Canvas) that allows the user to post networking meetings and indicate a "find" in the person they are networking with. This is also running in teams and was created by the incredible Joy Kirkwood. 

3) An app to capture vacation/out of office that stores it's information on a shared Sharepoint calendar, but it runs in teams so it is easy to update. 

and there are thousands more ! Fun Times 


In this world of many choices, some times some choices are slightly better than others. Needless to say releases continue to be released. 

In this world of many choices, some times some choices are slightly better than others. Needless to say releases continue to be released. 

Take for instance the difference between an Excel Workbook and a Power App. 

More than likely Excel will meet some of the needs. There have certainly been many companies that have used Excel to solve many problems, because it was the tool available. The same applies to cutting down a tree. You can cut down a tree with an Axe or a Saw, but if you have to cut trees every day then you might want a chainsaw. 

Learning to use that chainsaw might be harder than learning to use a saw, but it is worth it. 

Power Apps give more and there are different levels of learning and different levels of delivery. 

A "Canvas" Power App, potentially a lower learning curve, but a great fit for the person who might just use Excel to solve a problem. A Canvas App can even be an App using data in Excel.  

A "Model" Power  App, higher learning curve, but meets the needs that can take months and months of green field development. What custom developer wants to build Role Based Entitlement and Complex security? 

A "Portal" Power App, a model app PLUS portal offering both the complexity meeting needs that model delivers and the SEXY user interface that users crave. 

The key in the world of the Power Platform and the key to any technology is to understand what comes with the offering and what it was designed for and where the gaps are that the developers continue to refine. 

The Power Platform might be new to you, but it is not new. The offering includes a variety of maturity layers and is no longer just a sparkle. It is the new agile, it is the platform to deliver empowerment and solutions at the speed that is needed for today.

 


Branding

I have long been known as the CRMLady in the communities and industry since 2005, but over the last couple of years, as my skills have continued to build, I have been debating how to shed the old "CRM" terminology. I have shed it from my conversations and from my postings and have had many an Enterprise debate on the concept, for we have long ago gone past only relationship management in our tools. 

We now have predictive analysis and interactive technologies and remote assist and engagements far beyond a database of linked information. 

It is not that "Relationship" management is not important. It is just important today as it was 40 years ago when people either used Index cards, or Mainframe databases, but there is so much more.

I finally have come to the conclusion that my new branding will be #TechLadyinEnterprise. This allows me to continue to embrace the entire Microsoft Stack of awesome while also continuing with the heartbeat of awesome in my Power Platform journey. 


Patterns, Patterns and more Patterns

What happens when you work on many projects using the same platform? You start to see the patterns and you can anticipate many of the questions. We still keep an open mind, we still continue to learn, but learning on a base of experience and knowledge is a little different. 

We can't underestimate the incredible gift that experience brings to a project and we want to make sure that in these crazy times we don't loose this perspective.

We can train, we can certify, we can share, but first hand experience is hard to explain and is hard to teach.

 


Microsoft Office 365 to the new world of Microsoft 365

If you have not noticed there is a small change or perhaps a big change happening in the world of Microsoft Applications. The worlds are converging! In the old worlds of Dynamics CRM we had a great platform story and we used it successfully on many small and large projects; however, as the platform has continued to mature it has started to increase the grey lines. 

We now have the Power Platform that offers both the fancier integrations of the past, but also the new much more seamless integrations of the future.  The transition has been fascinating to watch. 

Power Apps with Power Automate sending e-mails through Outlook 

Canvas Apps with creative data sources such as an Excel List

and the transitioning of the required structure and compliance of applications like finance and operation into dual write and shared data with CDS. 

Given all the remote work, we are also seeing the accelerated usage of Microsoft Teams as the go to world for each individual person rather than only e-mail and the Power Platform has a ton of TEAMS features, so cool.

 

 


Power Platform - Model App Configuration

I was doing a little bit of work this weekend and I could not figure out what happened to BULK EDIT in some of my entities. Given that we are always getting new updates I thought that perhaps it was a feature in transition. 

After a little more thinking I realized what happened.

When you turn on EDITABLE GRIDS, you loose the more traditional BULK EDIT. 

 


Microsoft Documentation

A big kudos to the Microsoft Documentation Team for the Power Platform Documentation. Any and every time I need to reference a bit more depth or details on a feature in Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations, Sales, Service, Marketing or many other applications I have found that the documentation has been reviewed and updated in 2020.

This was a huge undertaking and one that is often not well appreciated so today I am saying a big green (for success)

Thank You 

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/power-platform/


Thought of the Day | Change is hard, BUT

Thought of the Day | Change is hard, BUT
 
  • Change creates new knowledge
  • Change creates new experiences
  • Change creates new adaptions and adaption techniques
  • Change generates new innovation
  • Change creates Opportunity 
  • Change offers solutions to tough problems that people were blocked on before
  • Change solves problems that some didn't realize we/they had 
  • Change offers different perspective 
  • Change forces habit(s) review 
  • Change supports creativity 
  • Change is subtle
  • Change is dramatic
  • Change is constant
Embrace Change, find the new paths

Getting Started with the Power Platform : A new Offering from Julie Yack

If you really like some hands on virtual training and your are ramping up your team, then  you might want to know about this new offering from Julie Yack, MVP. She really does offer some interesting training using a variety of learning techniques. Techniques that help you remember and retain. 
 
"If you are looking for an entry point for learning the Power Platform…

If SharePoint has been your only data source so far…

If you’ve made canvas apps, but never a model-driven app…

This is the course for you! In this hands on lab based course you will learn model-driven essentials and build a fully functional custom model-driven app. You will build out the data model, user experience, form automation and process automation.

And there’s puppies.

Seriously, the app you are building is for a doggie daycare.

#powerplatform #powerapps
 

VOCABULARY, It matters -> Dynamics 365 Sales, Dynamics 365 Service, Dynamics 365 Marketing these are all Power Apps.

One of the huge transitions for the Dynamics 365 CRM world is a shift in vocabulary and terminology and aligning what the experienced resources know (Dynamics 365 CRM or Dynamics 365 CE) with all the new buzz and development options.

One way to think of this shift is that all of the modules in Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement are "potentially" their own Power App. So it is true you can combine sales, service, marketing, talent, etc. into one app, but basically the thinking trend is that each module is a Power App.

The other way that I have found that people quickly grasp the concept is to mention MOBILE and get them in a mobile mindset. I can then say, you can create any number of mobile apps to access your Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement data. Each mobile app is a PowerApp. 

And as such the Power Platform offers the potential for hundreds of Power Apps, as well as other complimentary technologies such as Power BI, Power Automate and Power Virtual.  


SPA - Seattle PowerAppers

I had the chance to attend the Seattle PowerAppers meet up on Saturday and what a gift. The subject of the meeting was backing up your Power Apps into GitHub. Definitely very geeky and the session was intermediate to advanced, but because it was presented so well I was able to keep up and learn. I learned more about Github and the source code repository and about the difficulty of pulling/extracting the source code from a Power App. 

Samples were not only shared, but we walked through updating, using and adding to our own Power Platform library. 

If you want to get access to all the goodies you can find them in GitHub https://github.com/SeaDude/seattlePowerAppers 

For those of you in the Seattle area that are NEW to Power Apps, the group also has a session each month on GETTING STARTED WITH POWER APPS, the BASICS. Signup for the Meeting Up Group here https://www.meetup.com/Seattle-PowerAppers/members/115970512/ 

 


Customizing Opportunity Close - System Settings

Sometimes all the greatness doesn't make it to the release notes. In fact there are often little gems that have been long requested, but not available. Here is a little gem that you might not know about. In System Settings you can choose to allow the configuration team the option to configure the Opportunity Close Dialog. 

 

Opportunity Close System Settings


New Dynamics 365 features focus on AI and mixed reality enhancements

Originally posted at https://www.avanade.com/en/blogs/avanade-insights/business-apps/new-dyn-365-ft-ai-mixed-reality

The Microsoft product teams have finalized a huge list of new wonderful features for the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Applications stack.

James Phillips, corporate vice president of business applications and one of the most authentic stage presenters there can be, prepared and presented part of the October 2019 Business Applications Virtual Launch.. You can watch the virtual launch event presentation for free, but they do ask that you register so they can keep track of total views and interests and use those numbers to drive even more wonderful.

This time around, it is all about proactive data, data collected from devices, data streaming in from a huge number of sources and data impacting our long-held habits. The systems are not waiting for us to enter data, such as in the old days, systems are providing us with data and waiting for us to react. Habits need to change. The habit of waiting to enter the data and then getting results is old news. We now have the data; we need to react to the data and the automated results.

The systems must be masters of understanding and filtering the data as floods of data pour in. They must be automated to interpret, filter and surface and have more and more embedded artificial intelligence. They must also understand the automation and as such the bots that can be built must be built with handoff at the right times, to the right systems or humans. A chatbot can help many, but not all and the chatbot must know when to “involve” a service person.

The new systems must deal with duplication of data in a way that no previous system had to deal with. Authoritative sources must be determined not once and for all, but dynamically depending on business user decisions or business rules. Duplication requires merge and as such merge features must be more mature and more automated.

Additionally, we are no longer only using siloed or small defined and pointed integrated systems, but fully interacting systems and applications. Applications that react to what is happening in other applications all interlaced together with business rules and different scenarios. The October features show the movement into these new ways of working.

Our business worlds have never been simple, and now we can see the dawning of and adoption of even more revolutionary digitization of these often complexly changing worlds.

Check out the complete list of new features in the October 2019 Business Applications Wave 2 release.


Infrastructure: Forests, Tenants, Orgs, Environments, Software as a Service, Infrastructure as a service .. the Vocabulary noise is high

In case the world wasn't confusing enough we have new vocabulary and technical terms expanding at an ever increasing pace in the world of the Cloud. 

This causes even more noise when you start talking about Software as a Service and empowering the business user with their own "environment" or offering them a shared environment or simply adding to the default environment. 

What is an Environment

"Each [Power Platform] environment is created under an Azure AD tenant, and its resources can only be accessed by users within that tenant. An environment is also bound to a geographic location, like the US. When you create an app in an environment, that app is routed to only data centers in that geographic location. Any items that you create in that environment (including connections, gateways, flows using Microsoft Power Automate, and more) are also bound to their environment’s location." https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/power-platform/admin/environments-overview

Now come to the table with the perspective of Azure IaaS,  Infrastructure as a Service. A technical team that has numerous Azure VMs and an IaaS footprint. How do they add Software as a Service to their world and include connection between their new SaaS environment(s) and their existing IaaS environments?

In the world of IaaS on Azure you have access to the Azure Resource Manager and Administrator portal.

What is the Azure Resource Manager? "Azure Resource Manager is the deployment and management service for Azure. It provides a management layer that enables you to create, update, and delete resources in your Azure subscription. You use management features, like access control, locks, and tags, to secure and organize your resources after deployment." https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/azure-resource-manager/resource-group-overview

In the world of SaaS the resourcing of azure is managed by the SaaS offering. 

In the Power Platform world we access most of the Azure management through the new Administrator Portal on Azure found at https://admin.powerplatform.microsoft.com or through each of the individual component/module administrator centers (https://admin.powerapps.com/environments, https://admin.flow.microsoft.com/environments, etc.)

 What is an Azure Forest? 

"A forest contains domains, and domains contain other types of objects. This reference architecture creates an AD DS forest in Azure with a one-way outgoing trust relationship with an on-premises domain. The forest in Azure contains a domain that does not exist on-premises. Because of the trust relationship, logons made against on-premises domains can be trusted for access to resources in the separate Azure domain."

SO when working with IaaS and SaaS it is helpful if you get them configured in the same domain.

What is an Azure Domain?  

"Azure AD DS integrates with your existing Azure AD tenant, which makes it possible for users to sign in using their existing credentials. You can also use existing groups and user accounts to secure access to resources, which provides a smoother lift-and-shift of on-premises resources to Azure.

Azure AD DS replicates identity information from Azure AD, so works with Azure AD tenants that are cloud-only, or synchronized with an on-premises Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) environment. The same set of Azure AD DS features exist for both environments.

  • If you have an existing on-premises AD DS environment, you can synchronize user account information to provide a consistent identity for users.
  • For cloud-only environments, you don't need a traditional on-premises AD DS environment to use the centralized identity services of Azure AD DS."

 

How about that! 

Software as a Service = An application or set of applications that is hosted (such as hosted on Azure) as a software offering. The infrastructure and hosting is mostly managed by the SaaS company. 

"Software as a service (SaaS /sæs/[1]) is a software licensing and delivery model in which software is licensed on a subscription basis and is centrally hosted. It is sometimes referred to as "on-demand software", and was formerly referred to as "software plus services" by Microsoft.[2] "

Infrastructure as a Service = A hosted infrastructure (such as a domain in an Azure Data Center) where a company might have many services, virtual machines, and other functions, but most is managed by the purchasing company.

"Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) is an instant computing infrastructure, provisioned and managed over the internet. It’s one of the four types of cloud services, along with software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and serverless.

IaaS quickly scales up and down with demand, letting you pay only for what you use. It helps you avoid the expense and complexity of buying and managing your own physical servers and other datacenter infrastructure. Each resource is offered as a separate service component, and you only need to rent a particular one for as long as you need it. A cloud computing service provider, such as Azure, manages the infrastructure, while you purchase, install, configure, and manage your own software—operating systems, middleware, and applications." https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/overview/what-is-iaas/

Org or Organization = An individual instance of a Dynamics 365 for CE database


Let's Change this number : Page Views 289,849

The CRMLady Blog started in 2004 when I shifted to focusing exclusively on the Microsoft CRM Platform.

The product has continued to mature over the years into Microsoft Dynamics 365 and now as part of the powerful MICROSOFT POWER PLATFORM (Power Apps, Power Automate, Power BI, Power Virtual)

Dynamics 365 now is considered a set of Power Apps (sales, service, field service, connected field service, Talent, Finance, Operations, Marketing, Connected field service, CUSTOM, and more)  A great way to communicate this new full stack usage concept and to clear confusion on the term Power Platform.. 

I am glad I have been able to share my personal knowledge base with you.

I will continue to strive to add content. Learning is a daily event in my world. 

 


Have you voted today? Vote on Power Platform Ideas -> https://experience.dynamics.com/ideas/

For many years ideas would drop into the difficult vortex of millions and millions of requests. We are seeing some significant changes and solutions to this Vortex problem. 

Go take a look at the ideas. EVERY IDEA has a status and a response from the product team AND you can vote on ideas if they are important to your use of the system.

Voting has a big impact so please go vote. 

Here is an example

Ideas


Data, Data, Data -> Visualize, Clean, Mash, Visualize and, using your voice, ask questions

Deep diving into the world of Power BI

Getting data for Power BI to work with:

  • Free (OOB) type apps like the Dynamics 365 APP
  • Lightly customized content packs (apps) - 3 customized content packs using ODATA options in Github, Fits/Gaps (option set Ouch)
  • More extensive content packs (apps) - Change the data source from ODATA to CDS, reduces linked tables, fix visualizations
  • Other approaches and tools - Watch for new apps and content packs weekly, they are coming out this fast!!

Purvin: Professional listener of rants, 24 years in the CRM/ERP community.

Let's see that means that his ears have probably heard my name a few times over the last 15 years. Why?

I have 15 years of deep dive focus on Microsoft Dynamics 365/CRM.
I have been known to question, to ask questions and to care which sometimes creates noisy energy when things are not trending well for customers. Reacting to Reactive.

I have aged, I am humbled, I have experience, regrets and even a few scars. I still have a lot to learn.

Community, What a gift to Learn!


A great time was had by all at the Power Platform Seattle Q4 User Group meeting. Interesting insights on UCI what's new and a nice presentation on all things marketing module. 

My clearing the confusion comment of the day, Dynamics 365 is A Power App. 

Kicking it up a notch plowing through the mud, soaking up the richness of the dirt. 


A new blog post has been added into the world of the Power Platform buzz

A new blog post has been added into the world of buzz: IT starts like this and you can follow the link to read even more 

"The Microsoft product teams have finalized a huge list of new wonderful features for the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Applications stack.

James Phillips, corporate vice president of business applications and one of the most authentic stage presenters there can be, prepared and presented part of the October 2019 Business Applications Virtual Launch.. You can watch the virtual launch event presentation for free, but they do ask that you register so............"

                          READ MORE HERE 


No Code, Low Code, Extend: PowerApps and MS Flow

If you have not heard about PowerApps, Microsoft Flow, the Common Data Model (CDM) and Common Data Service (CDS) then it is time for a bit of reading. Imagine an explosion within the world of Microsoft Technology where the entire Microsoft Stack of Applications become your tool set. OH Wait, the explosion continues and pulls in 100s of other non-Microsoft applications as well.

Now you get it.

What adds an interesting twist is this concept of "No Code" so business users can now put together building blocks to deliver their own mobile applications without having to jump into the world of GitHub or Visual Studio or pick your language of choice.

Developers, don't freak out, you are still loved and needed.

The grey area becomes the space where a relatively simple business user story, is not necessarily easy from a PowerApps or Microsoft Flow delivery. This is where understanding the fits and gaps is important.

Fits - Everything can be done with no code.

Gaps - Everything can be done with no code or low code 

Big Gaps - Everything can be done with no code, low code and an extension.

So what does this really mean? 

 

 


Dynamics 365 Relationship Sales and LinkedIn's Sales Navigator

One of the huge shifts and benefits for a sales person is when technology gets aligned so that keeping data current falls to the most logical location. Consider for instances a prospects name, company and job title. A shift is when this information is kept current by that specific prospect rather than the sales person following that prospect. The prospect updates their name, role and company information because it is beneficial to the work that they are doing. The sales person who has a relationship with this person, or who is following them, can then be a straight consumer of data managed by a logical source.

Now this isn't perfect .. not everyone updates their information even with the power of a product such as LinkedIn and Sales Navigator so technology still needs to take another step in validating that the data is current. A futuristic option on this will be when AI technologies can tap into larger or the largest data repositories and filter out what they need to validate a person's name, role and company. If we take this one step further we add address, telephone numbers, historical information.

Data exists, we can purchase this data, but we are not quite to the point where the data on a person is 100% transparent when we need it AND there are many reasons why this also sends chills up many a spine. 

If we circle back to what is happening in the world of Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales we find that Relationship Sales is a combination of the knowledge within LinkedIn and the Power of the Dynamics 365 platform. 

Unifying the best of both worlds to further empower the business sales teams. It also uses AI Technology in addition to the combination of data. This takes this one step further.

Take a Peek 


The Power Platform: Keep Learning

If you have ever been to SourceForge.net and taken a look around, you have a good perspective as to the overwhelming feeling of the available paths and options for learning in the world of technology.  You can also add taking a visit to Microsoft Learning 

In technology we quickly learn that you take one bite a day of learning and keep learning. The pace of new has changed, but the fact that new is available has not. 

We each have our own prefer consumption methods. Some like to listen to podcasts, some like to read and others require hands on practice. We also have brains that sponge up material when an animated storyteller shares their world with community forums or at conferences. There are many differences and many brains. We all get hit with all options. 

So here is an interesting question: In your profile, do you have listed how you like to learn? Do you share this with others you are working with? Is it part of your career path? 

When it comes to Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement and anything Relationship Management my brain is like an onion. There are years of layers. I have been lucky, the Power Platform has matured with time rather than being replaced with time. Certain pieces have been replaced and that layer of onion has been peeled off and recycled, yet the model and great structure has survived the test of time allowing me to layer my knowledge and yet there is always more. 

I must admit I have had a good time swimming in the training material for the newer exams. There are areas where it is smooth sailing and others where I have to shift left or shift right to absorb a new fact or two. There are areas that I will never use on any project, but are part of the core. There are other areas where I have used the material on all projects for the last numerous years. 

It is just what it is.  

For those tackling the MB-200 or any of the Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement exams. Mark has written a good summary of some great resources here. 

And Remember Pass or Fail you will be learning and that is the point. Have more knowledge tomorrow than you had yesterday. 

 

 


Common Data Service - Data "un" Limits

I was having an interesting conversation the other day about some of the configuration and customization we have seen on the Dynamics 365 Platform. The conversation mentioned an example where the total number of fields added to one entity was rather significantly large. While catching up on the training in the new Microsoft Learn environment I found this statement and thought it might be a good one to share. 

"Maximum Number of fields in an entity:" REFERENCED From

  • "There is no hard upper limit on the number of fields that you can have in an entity, but there is an upper boundary due to limits in how much data you can store in a single record. It is difficult to provide a specific number because each type of field can use a different amount of space. The upper limit depends on the total space that is used by all the fields for the entity.

  • As a rule, you should have less than a few hundred fields in an entity. If you have more than a few hundred fields in an entity, then you should look at restructuring how you have designed the entities in your solutions and try to split the entity with an excessive number of fields into more than one entity." Referenced from 

 

One last note : In the world of technology everything changes so before you groan or run around and tell your friends about this. Tomorrow it could all be different. This is the beauty of Azure! 


D365: Multi-Channel vs. Omni-Channel

  • "Multi-channel: A multi-channel solution offers two or more channel experiences to customers. Data isn't necessarily shared across channels, and the experience isn't consistent.

    • For example, a customer starts a support request via chat but is then transferred to an agent. The customer then has to provide all his or her information again.
  • Omni-channel: An omni-channel solution offers two or more channel experiences to customers, and the customer experience is consistent across channels. The context of the case and customer is used to streamline the experience across apps.

    • For example, a customer starts on a self-service portal but then starts a chat conversation. All the pages that the customer has opened are available to the agent." Reference 

D365 Online and Azure Logic Apps: Just a Few Basics

Definition:  "Azure Logic Apps gives you pre-built components to connect to hundreds of services." Reference Logic Apps can be used to automate business process and to schedule key steps within processes to occur at key times or when certain conditions are met. 

Logic Apps can combine predefined existing services or components or they allow you to create your own components or services. 

Logic Apps work with "Connectors". A connector uses the external service's REST or SOAP API to connect components or services. For instance a connector can call a service's underlying API. There are existing connectors such as a Twitter Connector or a D365 Connector and custom connectors can be created. 

Why would Logic Apps be considered in the world of D365 Online? 

Take for instance the need to batch process data within a time frame such as every day at 4pm process data from System A, clean the data and push it into a D365 Online Instance.  In this particular example Logic Apps can be used to bridge the need to schedule a process from an external system into D365. 

There are many other examples as well. 

You also have the ability to work with TRIGGERS and ACTIONS within the world of Logic Apps. 

  • "A trigger is an event that occurs when a specific set of conditions is satisfied. Triggers activate automatically when conditions are met. For example, when a timer expires or data becomes available.

  • An action is an operation that executes a task in your business process. Actions run when a trigger activates or another action completes."  Reference

 

Defining Triggers and actions and creating your Logic App is all done within the Logic Apps Designer. A graphical tool for creating your Logic Apps workflows. 

Logic Apps are not always the answer, but are one of the many choices in the world of Microsoft Azure and Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement. Take a minute to read up on Logic Apps using the reference links above. Also for a quick peek into when to use Logic Apps,  here is the decision tree. Reference

When to Use Logic Apps


D365 for Sales, Products and OneNote Integration

Companies that sell complex products often include detailed spec sheets for their products. These spec sheets will many times include pictures, tiny type, videos, specifications and pop out messages. This type of format is not always the easiest to translate into text within a database. Shift your thinking .. 

In the world of Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales you have some interesting options. Take for instance the Office 365 integration to OneNote. A OneNote page can align to a product in the product catalog. OneNote easily allows you to capture the specs, add pictures, include URLs and more.

Just paste in the Specs 

Pump Specs
  


Products, 3D 360 Degree Mixed Reality and Product Visualize

At the Microsoft Business Applications Summit this week I had a chance to take a look at and discuss Microsoft Product Visualize. I loved seeing how it worked, but more importantly I had dug into the details of where data is stored and how is it created. 

So first What is Microsoft Visualize? 

Consider the Microsoft Dynamics Product Catalog. You have a list of products associated with an opportunity and each item has a description. This doesn't really offer the most efficient way to quickly grasp all that you want to know. We then consider the flat, 2D ability to add a picture. Great! Wonderful, but can we do more? This is where Product Visualize for Dynamics 365 comes into plan. 

I have my Tablet (Surface/iPad/etc), I am at a client site and I am discussing an opportunity that includes a number of products. I might even have two similar products, because my prospect or client has not decided on what they want.  Product Visualize offers not only a 3D Image of the product, but it offers the ability to show a full 360 Degree 3D View of the product depending on how the "user" (myself, the prospect or customer) moves the tablet. 

So how does Product Visualize technically do this? 

Product Visualize uses a product .glb file stored in an integrated SharePoint library. The library that can be configured when Dynamics 365 is setup and configured. The file contains the 3D model saved in GL Transmission Format (glTF).  gITF offers the ability to store such information such as node hierarchy, cameras, materials, and animations and a GLB file is the binary version of .GLTF files.  

Note: For those of you who are old hands at gITF and glb, please feel free to expand on this.. 

BUT how do we actually get the images and the data for the GLB file? 

I have my product and I have Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement, but I don't have a glb file. This is where the growing momentum in partnerships between the new worlds within the graphical industries and the ever evolving world of customer engagement becomes a huge win/win.  

 


Dartmouth Lake Sunapee Linux Group Meeting (DLSLUG)

The first Thursday of the month the Dartmouth Lake Sunapee Linux Group meets over at Dartmouth to share knowledge and to geek it up a bit. They kick off their meeting with a meet up at Ramunto's in Hanover, NH and then the group wanders on over to a very cool room on Campus. (White Board, Black Boards, Projectors, Ivy League Classroom) 

Over pizza we discussed NTFS, FAT16, FAT32, files with embedded metadata and general buzz in the world of tech in the Upper Valley. We really do need more opportunities to do more of this around here. There are SO MANY hidden disconnected gems.

Once over at campus Lloyd presented nifties, first on what he has been doing with Python and (dare I mention the word, Microsoft) Azure. It is so thrilling for me to see these two worlds starting to bubble together in the quest for empowering great technology. There were questions, discussions and mind shifts, but good discussions. Even little old me was able to offer contributions.

We also discussed Jupyter .

"Project Jupyter is a non-profit, open-source project, born out of the IPython Project in 2014 as it evolved to support interactive data science and scientific computing across all programming languages."

With a heavy bent on large, concurrent, mathematical and statistical analysis needs. I was not able to add much to the discussions, but I love a chance to push myself out of my comfort zone. My Mom had her doctorate in statistics so in my baby years the word SAS often kicked around our household.  

Other Tidbits Shared 

Information on BASE

More Python Tips

working with distributed data and

using Selenium for things other than testing web applications. 

 


What's New: Microsoft Office 365, Outlook and LinkedIn

Given my curious nature in the world of what is new in technology, I regularly try to put some time into the new features, products and offerings coming out with the Microsoft Office 365 Offerings. 

They slide in these features so fast that I am often delightfully surprised. 

Today I took a look at http://Office.Live.Com/People

Microsoft made it easy for me to see a few of the items that were new by offering a "What is New" button on the top of the screen. I immediately noticed that I can now connect to my world of contacts on LinkedIn. I must admit I was delighted. It really is not easy to keep up with all the changes in everyone's quickly changing world. 

So if I open a contact in OUTLOOK,  I now have a tab for Linkedin, Click on the tab and if we are "linked" I can see information from Linkedin. I created a contact card for myself to show you what it looks like.

AnneinOutlook with Linkedin

 


Simplicity in the face of Complex business needs

There is a reason that "Google" quickly became the go to for all things search. A simple white screen with one box. Type what you are looking for and a million results will follow. 

People do not need to be trained to use Google. (in general)

On the other hand if you do get trained in some of the search techniques or advanced search techniques amazing extra value is delivered (for instance, filtering occurs). What you don't want a million results? OK, fine tune your search criteria. What? There is a trick to that? Yes, there are advanced Google skills.

Now apply this same concept to the speed of technology change. OUCH!

"Everything is changing"

"I can't keep up"

"I learned something yesterday that is slightly different today"

These are some of the biggest challenges that business leaders face today. How do they manage the impact of change on their processes, their staff and with the technology products they so depend on? Change Management is one thought and change management is starting to be part of most all projects, BUT change management techniques also must adjust to the speed of today's change. 

Similarly to the shift from traditional marketing, to marketing with the impact of social. Change Management must also adapt to the world of the cloud and Software As a Service (SaaS). The technology world went from 2 year major upgrades to 1 year major upgrades to 6 month major upgrades to was there an upgrade? The SaaS drip, drip, drip software growth utopia.

Business needs software that can manage their complex needs, but they also need software that can be simplified and flexible. This is one of the interesting beauties of the Microsoft Dynamics 365 platform approach. The foundation is solid technology, proven technical, coding, database and design best practices, and the details are configurable. 

Can you purchase configured modules? Yes

Do you still want to configure them? Yes

Just as each user uses Outlook slightly differently, there are choices for how you might want to approach even the canned modules.  So how do you really get to that place of simplicity? This is where working with people becomes quite interesting.  In an ideal team, each team member contributes how they might approach a given problem and then the team and team leadership figure out the solution that makes the most sense for the audience. This ability to listen to how others might approach a problem is a key skill to keep in mind and one not always found.

I remember a side conversation with one of the geniuses I had the gift of talking with. He said it best .. When building an application sometimes we have to remember to build for the average person, not the vocal and more advanced member of the project team or solution matter expert (SME) audience. The person who is busy, who is focused on their work and who perhaps just wants to be empowered in their position without a lot of heavy training. 


So much new! Doing a Sandbox Reset

There is so much new; although, there is huge value in deeply understanding all that is old. Something I really, really appreciate about the Microsoft Platform. 

Anyway, I decided with so much new that it was time to do a really clean rebuild of my CRMLady instance. I have long used this ORG for various experiments, testing, and knowledge reinforcement. I also use it to totally understand how Microsoft communicates to their CRM Online customers. I am a customer.

The ORG has been a bit beat up over the years and it was showing it's wear and tear. Data was not much of a challenge in this ORG so I decided to do a full replace and start fresh. I wanted to do this without having to create a support ticket so I did a bit of reach out and research.

Low and behold the team over at Power Objects actually have a great blog post on the subject, complete with the steps on how to reset an ORG. I love the CRM Community, so much knowledge share and empowerment!!

So the first step was I needed to switch my Production ORG to a Sandbox ORG.

I did this through the new Microsoft Online 365 Azure Administration Center (https://portal.microsoftonline.com) which now allows you to pick from a selection of administrator centers. I went to the Dynamics 365 Administrator Center, Picked Instances, picked my instance and set it to a Sandbox. Once this was done I had the ability to choose the RESET button.

 Isn't it great when you want to get something done and you can just do it without a lot of hassle?