Microsoft has unveiled its 2023 Release Wave 2 plans for Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform.
These include new capabilities that will be rolled out between October 2023 and March 2024.
Here are the key dates for the 2023 Release Wave 2:
- July 18 2023: Release Wave 2 plans published.
- July 31: New features and capabilities are accessible for early access before these are enabled automatically.
- October 1: General availability of the new updates begins.
Keep reading for a summary of over 40 announcements across Dynamics 365 CRM modules and the Power Platform.
To browse the full set of new features, visit the Microsoft release planner or download the official release plans:
As with any pre-release information, all features and dates are subject to change.
One of the most popular updates could be the new functionality to associate an activity with multiple related records. For example, a phone call, meeting or other activity type could be linked to multiple cases, contacts or opportunities. This much-requested feature will be available to preview in August.
An update to Power Automate will allow triggered cloud flows to run for over 30 days. Upon general availability in March 2024, this will remove the need to structure multiple flows for executions beyond 30 days. This is scheduled to be available in preview from November 2023.
Dynamics and model-driven app users will also be able to enable a new interface look and feel, which uses Microsoft Fluent Design elements. The new interface will be available to test in August.
Dynamics 365 Sales
Viva Sales is now Microsoft Sales Copilot
Ahead of the 2023 Release Wave 2, Viva Sales is being rebranded as Microsoft Sales Copilot.
This Copilot is designed to help sellers stay focused on connecting with customers by saving time, boosting productivity and reducing workloads. Viva Sales capabilities are now part of Sales Copilot, available within Dynamics 365 Sales as part of Sales Enterprise and Premium licences. Sales Copilot will be automatically enabled in the Dynamics Sales Hub.
New Sales Copilot features are due to reach general availability during Release Wave 2.
These include AI-generated lead and opportunity summaries that provide an instant snapshot of each potential deal, including changes made since the last sign-in. Easy access to this information is designed to help sellers save time and make informed decisions.
Copilot brings CRM capabilities to where sellers are working. For example, as well as displaying summaries on Dynamics lead and opportunity records, these insights could also be surfaced in Teams when a new Business Chat preview feature is released. Keep reading for more about Business Chat.
Sales Copilot will also include an improved lead qualification experience to map leads to one or more opportunities. As a result, sellers will have extra flexibility if a lead should be pursued as multiple opportunities.
From December 2023, additional Sales Copilot functionality will match emails to leads. Using Copilot, sellers will be able to create new leads directly from external Outlook emails or match incoming emails to existing lead records.
Other new AI features in Dynamics 365 Sales
Sellers will be able to see recommended tasks to follow up on incoming emails within the Up-Next Dynamics widget and the Copilot pane for easy reference.
Copilot AI will also provide a summary of the latest interactions to simplify meeting prep. This will include details of recent contact emails, notes and earlier meeting summaries. Thanks to Bing integration, sellers will also be able to find the latest relevant news about their accounts to help prepare for meetings.
A series of generative AI features for D365 Sales are scheduled to be released in public preview during the upcoming release wave.
These include AI-generated sales proposals using existing data that will be consistent in style and format. Draft proposals are output in PowerPoint format for editing and sharing.
You’ll also be able to quickly gain an overview and understanding of each account using AI-generated account summaries. As an alternative to filtering or scanning through an account timeline, consolidated summaries will save time by covering associated opportunities and cases.
Microsoft has confirmed that the Sales accelerator is now Sales engagement. These capabilities help sellers engage with customers through AI-driven insights about their relationships to accelerate and standardise the selling process.
In the 2023 Release Wave 2, additional Sales engagement features will include:
- Repeated evaluations of sequence steps until exit criteria are met to streamline repeated follow-ups with prospects and customers. This will also allow a different execution branch after the series, depending on the exit criteria.
- New notifications to help sellers notice the incoming leads and opportunities upon successful assignment.
Dynamics 365 Marketing
Dynamics 365 Marketing is now Customer Insights
These will be combined as a single solution named Dynamics 365 Customer Insights comprising ‘Customer Insights – Data’ and ‘Customer Insights – Journeys’. From September 1, only the combined offer will be available for new customers.
The new Customer Insights will combine a unified customer profile with the ability to orchestrate customer journeys in real time, allowing more personalised experiences across customer touchpoints.
Customer Insights – Journeys will focus exclusively on real-time marketing. This won’t include the legacy outbound marketing module. All D365 Marketing customers will be invited to transition from outbound marketing to real-time marketing. Microsoft says no new outbound marketing enhancements will be made.
A new licensing model will support the new Customer Insights offering. If you are already using D365 Marketing, you’ll be able to renew your existing licensing terms for another contractual cycle from September 1 or move to the new Customer Insights licensing model.
Read more about the combined Customer Insights product, its licensing and the transition to real-time marketing:
Copilot AI features in Marketing
Microsoft has announced a series of generative AI Copilot features for Marketing that will reach general availability in Autumn 2023.
These include using Copilot to interpret styles from a website and apply them to emails, forms and landing pages. Buttons, fonts, colours and other elements can quickly be interpreted and applied.
With Copilot text editing, AI can quickly adjust text or the tone of voice for emails, content blocks, push notifications, SMS and other messages.
This can include instantly rewriting text after choosing variants and changing the content tone between engaging, formal, casual, luxury or adventurous styles.
Copilot will also introduce settings to control days or times when customers shouldn’t receive marketing messages.
You can use quiet times to prevent emails, texts and notifications from being delivered during evenings, weekends and public holidays. All outbound messages will be checked against quiet time settings automatically. If appropriate, these will be delivered just after the quiet time ends.
Create journeys using out-of-the-box templates for frequent marketing and customer service scenarios. Ready-made examples will include journeys triggered by form submissions, post-event follow-up, and customer nurtures. You can also generate new templates from existing journeys.
Another new Copilot feature will allow marketers to use natural language to create customer journeys. Describe the journey using everyday words, and generative AI will build it.
Combining data in Marketing and Customer Insights will allow greater flexibility to personalise customer experiences. Using a unified profile, personalisations can be based on loyalty, average order, lifetime value and any other calculated measure.
Another new feature will base lead qualification criteria on multiple signals as an alternative to regular lead scoring. Criteria can include engagement and intent to buy based on captured signals that fit an ideal customer profile. Automated actions can be triggered each time a lead meets specific criteria to qualify and disqualify, as appropriate.
Marketing and sales teams will also have better visibility to track pipeline activity with integrated analytics. Connecting with Dynamics 365 Sales, out-of-the-box dashboards will analyse the impact and contribution of journeys, marketing messages, and content at different stages of your sales process. Previously announced in the 2023 Release Wave 1, these dashboards will reach general availability in the upcoming release.
Marketing emails were recently added to contact and lead record timelines. In the 2023 Release Wave 2 release, visibility is improved as users can view exact copies of each marketing email from the timeline, including conditional content and other personalisations.
Dynamics 365 Customer Service
A new preview feature will enable admins to use overflows to handle lengthy wait times for queues. This can automatically transfer work items to other queues or route them to voice mail if wait times are too long.
An improved search control will be available on all forms to simplify the navigation of the subject-tree hierarchy.
And yes, new Copilot features are coming to Customer Service!
These include the general availability of AI-generated support case summaries. Watch a demonstration of the public preview feature to see an example of a concise, natural language case summary.
Conversation summaries will also reach GA in the 2023 Release Wave 2. On-demand, the Copilot will provide auto-generated summaries of chats and transcribed conversations.
Through new analytics, customer service managers can assess the effectiveness of Copilot’s impact on the service operation. Reports will include metrics covering active users of Copilot features and user ratings of Copilot content and features. Additional analytics will include a comparison of where Copilot is and isn’t used. This will include average conversation handling time, average days to close cases and average email response times.
Copilot chat knowledge discovery will also reach general availability. This allows agents to troubleshoot issues using conversational chat and receive responses from knowledge posts and external sources. See an example in our demonstration.
In January 2024, the current preview feature to draft email replies with a single click is expected to be generally available. Copilot uses the context of an email conversation, case notes and knowledge articles to produce personalised emails. Increase responsiveness by selecting from predefined prompts to instantly draft an email before fine-tuning the reply. Watch our demo.
For unified routing, organisations will be able to set rules that route calls to agents who are idle for the longest period. The ‘most idle’ assignment method for voice queues was previewed in October 2022. This will now be generally available as ‘Least Active’ routing.
Dynamics 365 Field Service
New capabilities will allow services teams to generate a work order directly from a quote and connect related activities.
A simplified booking completion process will allow greater flexibility in handling follow-ups by returning word orders to the unscheduled state. This will allow bookings to be completed while preserving the actual end time. To ensure accurate resource utilisation, booking end times will no longer automatically update to the current date and time.
Another Field Service capability that will be generally available from October will make capturing certification documentation for frontline workers in one place more accessible. This can be used to track insurance and licenses to ensure regulatory compliance.
Power Platform Updates
Copilot generative AI capabilities are also coming to Power Apps.
App makers can build and edit apps with Copilot using natural language. Microsoft says the Copilot will handle tasks including adding screens, editing properties and linking to data.
Further updates include writing formulas from natural language to replace earlier functionality through Power Apps Ideas. This includes enabling actions for a website Copilot to complete actions for users to evolve Power Virtual Agents bot capabilities.
Other investments in Power Virtual Agents will make bots easier to create and more valuable by expanding the sources that bots can use to include. This includes using Dataverse and SharePoint content for AI generative answers. For instance, bot makers can connect a SharePoint directory, site or library to retrieve information.
A preview feature will allow bot makers to import existing conversational language understanding resources and use them within Power Virtual Agents.
Finally, Microsoft 365 Business Chat will operate using information backed by Dataverse. As an example, we mentioned earlier how sellers will be able to gain insights about their customers and prospects with less effort by directing questions to the Microsoft Teams Copilot. This is just one of the ways that Copilot combines the power of large language models with data in Dataverse.
Copilot taps into all this data using the same security features as Dataverse and Microsoft 365.
Crucially, the data you use or generate with Azure OpenAI Service is stored encrypted at rest in your Azure subscription. Data is always under system admin control and is not used by Microsoft to train or improve any Microsoft models.
To ensure generative AI is used securely within your organisation, no personal data leaves Microsoft services when creating email replies, and customer data stored is secured by Microsoft’s security and governance policy.
Visit the Microsoft release planner to discover more about these and the many other new features and improvements in the 2023 Release Wave 2.
You can also read more about Microsoft’s investments in generative AI Copilot features at: dynamicspartners.transform.microsoft.com/solution-plays/ai-copilot.
When these capabilities reach general availability or are initially released in preview, please don’t hesitate to contact us if you need assistance configuring these in your Dynamics 365 environment.