Incredible Flexibility

I am working with some incredible technologies, and I am working with the Power Platform and so many cool things that can be done with this incredible engine of growth. 

Consider this: You have an incredible repository of many different data sources. You have an entire team of people who work on "DATA" (and AI and all the cool new in the data space), but you also use one or many of the Power Platform, Model Driven, Dynamics PowerApps (Sales, Field Service, Customer Service, Connected Field Service, Marketing, Talent, Custom and so many more)

Did you know that you can work with a Power BI team to create incredible reports off of your data "repositories" (pulling data from many different places) AND you can then embed these Power BI reports in a Power Platform, Power Portal. Why use a Power Portal over a custom web page or some other option? well there is that little gem of application and/or data access security. Yes, the templates are also incredibly nice, but where Microsoft shines is in the layers of awesome. 

One of the reasons that I continue to focus and grow within the Power Platform is the huge flexibility and pivoting of new technologies to meet the demanding business needs. These needs are met leveraging the same platform and the platform continues to grow and be supported. 

 


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.


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/


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.

 


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/


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/ 

 


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.


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 


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
  


Canvas Apps, Model-driven Apps, Getting started with all the new Power Platform buzz

You have heard all the buzz on the new Power Platform and you have seen many posts on PowerApps/Model-driven Apps and Canvas Apps. You have also upgraded your Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM instance to v9.x either On-Premise or Online, but you are not sure where to get started with apps! 

This might be an interesting path:

1) If you are familiar with configuring Microsoft Dynamics 365 for CRM/CE then you might want to start by adding a Model-driven app to your one of your solution files.

A Model-driven app can be used in conjunction with what you are doing today (the classic menu) and there are some nice little short cuts to getting started. For instance you can create a Model-driven app using your current sitemap and/or a current solution file.

2) Once you get the hang of creating Model-driven apps (and there are some small little tricks) then perhaps it is time to dive into creating your first Canvas App. One of the differences between a Canvas App and a Model-driven app is that Canvas Apps tend to be focused on the Microsoft Stack first (think Microsoft 365) and Model-driven apps tend to be focused from a Dynamics 365 perspective (Think an app within a solution).

If you are empowered from learning online, you can get some nice step by step materials by working through some of the exercises on Microsoft Learning!  

If you prefer an in person type learning environment then you might want to attend the Business Applications Summit in Atlanta on June 10-11th or attend one of the App in a Day seminars in a city near you. 

 


Do you know where your bottleneck is? Microsoft Dynamics 365 for CE

Now that we are running in larger data centers with the power of Microsoft Azure and with hardware technology such as solid state storage (moving away from the limitations of rotating platters) we all want to take a deep breath and make a sigh of performance joy. 

Unfortunately when you eliminate one bottleneck the data moves to the next. Additionally bottlenecks are not just hardware.

Consider a rock wall layered in a stream of water, you remove the rocks blocking the water, and the water rushes to the next barrier. The same concept applies to data. 

If you are working with millions or hundreds of thousands of data records you might want to consider:

  • Performance Tune the Microsoft SQL Server Database (SQL Server gurus can appreciate this one!)
  • Adding MS SQL Server Indexes to your largest Entities.
  • Watching out or reviewing JavaScript (JavaScript is a language that allows developers to inadvertently and easily create application bottlenecks) Luckily OOB Dynamics 365 has been deeply tested for bottlenecks continuously over the years and has continued to pass with flying colors.
  • Consider Latency (Microsoft now offers data center distributed processing for their Worldwide Dynamics Customers, reducing the trips across the oceans)
  • Understand if you have a bottleneck and where it is (Dynamics actually ships with a Diagnostic tool to check latency and bandwidth: Use https://[your crm url]/tools/diagnostics/diag.aspx  
  • If you are hosting your own environment, you can also tap into the Microsoft Professional Field Engineering teams Performance Analysis and Tuning Services (the PFE Sustainability Engineers Rock) or
  • you might consider a powerful tool such as ThousandEyes:  https://blog.thousandeyes.com/monitor-dynamics-crm-performance/ and https://www.thousandeyes.com/solutions/dynamics-365-monitoring 

What are your favorite tips and tricks for performance? 

Oh and as a last note .. there are customers processing 100,000s of data records a DAY with the Microsoft Dynamics platform. The power is incredible with a little love.

 

 

 

 


Dynamics CRMUG FOCUS - Houston - Cracking open the brain with reminders and new tips shared.

The power of the user group is that listening to peers, experts, partners, consultants, business users, financial advisors and so many more, opens the mind to interesting ideas. 

CRM USER GROUP - FOCUS - in HOUSTON

9:49am and here are the first few tips 

1) Have you considered holding your sales team to task by using SLAs on LEADS, measuring when the lead was first contacted or when a lead reached a key milestone in the qualification stage? 

2) GOALS, so under appreciated and yet so powerful. Add goals in unique and creative ways to take full advantage of the complex hierarchy offered from this little feature. 

3) Task Flows : Originally for Mobile Only, but now embedded across the new UI. Take for instance OOB Follow-up to a meeting. A sexy dialog. 

4) DOCK your business process flow on the right side of your form so you can see the fields. Always learning, this is a cool one, although I thought a TAB approach might be useful as well. Some people like that old style form view. 

5) Did you know you can use an Out of the Box action to move a business process flow to the next stage automatically (so your user doesn't have to press next)? 

6) Has your partner added an APP or APPS to your configuration? If not, you are missing out.