2021 release wave 1 plans for Dynamics 365 and Power Platform now available

Today, we published the 2021 release wave 1 plans for Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Power Platform, a compilation of new capabilities that are planned to be released between April 2021 and September 2021. This first release wave of the year offers hundreds of new features and enhancements, demonstrating our continued investment to power digital transformation for our customers and partners.

Highlights from Dynamics 365

  • Microsoft Dynamics 365 Marketing focuses on deeper personalization to engage customers, more channels to reach customers with the right messages, and analytics to improve results and achieve your business goals.
  • Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales is adding enhancements to save time so sellers can focus on selling, to provide more access to data insights, and to enhance the mobile experience for sellers on-the-go. Look out for updates to automation and sequencing, Conversation Intelligence, and many exciting updates to the mobile app!
  • Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Service is delivering the all-in-one contact center, now with first-party voice built on Azure Communication Services and intelligent, skill-based, omnichannel routing across channels. In addition, we are enhancing agent productivity capabilities in knowledge management, timeline, email, and agent dashboards.
  • Microsoft Dynamics 365 Field Service introduces a comprehensive experience for customers that will allow them to self-schedule service and rate technicians to ensure the maximum satisfaction. These investments matched with enhanced productivity capabilities for technicians through the new knowledge management module will enable the best technician and customer relationship.
  • Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance brings our intelligent cash flow offering to preview with automation based on predictive results. Users will experience out of the box machine learning showing when customers are predicted to pay, forecasting what budget should be, and viewing forecasted cash positions. We continue to expand localizations; this release adds Egypt, extending the number of out-of-the-box countries and regions to 43 and the number of languages to 48. We are also shipping the general availability of Electronic Invoicing Add-on for Dynamics 365—the first configurable globalization microservice that extends existing capabilities in Dynamics 365 Finance, Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management, and Dynamics 365 Project Operations. This will provide better scalability and agility for customers to adapt to changing regulatory requirements.
  • Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management provides a unified real-time view across finance, manufacturing, supply chain, warehouse, inventory, and transportation management in one single application for running a business. The cloud asset management software leverages scale units in the cloud to run mission-critical processes without interruption. Advanced predictive analytics and Power Platform tie-ins have allowed us to optimize and automate asset management, IoT, machine telemetry, planning, warehousing, material sourcing, and logistics. Other notable features for this release are in the areas of rebates, inbound landed cost, and global inventory accounting.
  • Microsoft Dynamics 365 Project Operations delivers rich new experiences with the ability to forecast, use, and invoice non-stocked materials on projects and enables the ability to setup contractual commitments like billing methods and chargeability rules by task or a work breakdown schedule element. Customers using Dynamics 365 Project Service Automation will be able to upgrade to Dynamics 365 Project Operations when upgrade scripts become available.
  • Microsoft Dynamics 365 Guides is focusing on intelligent workflows. By taking further advantage of data captured with Microsoft HoloLens as well as AI innovations, users can get to work and confirm their results faster and simpler than ever.
  • Microsoft Dynamics 365 Human Resources continues to broaden the Human Capital Management (HCM) ecosystem through integration APIs and strategic partnerships. The employee experience expands to support additional enhancements for benefits management such as notifications, summary statements, and a consolidated view of employee’s enrollments.
  • Microsoft Dynamics 365 Commerce has released new capabilities that are now available in preview to support B2B operational flows for the e-commerce channel. This B2B offering provides our customers with an integrated B2B and B2C e-commerce offering in a single commerce solution with unified merchandising and site management capabilities enabling a wide range of business models across industries and verticals. Also, generally available in this wave are multiple functional and usability enhancements to the existing buy online, pickup in store (BOPIS) processing flows. These new BOPIS enhancements will allow organizations more flexibility to offer their shoppers multiple pick-up delivery options and allows for configuration and selection of pickup timeslots.
  • Microsoft Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection adds behavioral and mobile fingerprinting improving the accuracy of fraud management rules.
  • Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central delivers a set of new features designed to simplify and improve the way our partners administer tenants, and the way administrators manage licensing and permissions. Application enhancements expands the integration with Teams and adds country and regional expansions.
  • Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Voice expands the capabilities to collect feedback with pre-filled answers, file upload support, drill down question type, and customized survey header. Additional capabilities designed to improve survey response rate includes pause and resume survey to enable users to complete the survey on a different device, automated survey reminders for recipients who have not filled the survey, and over-surveyed management to avoid sending too many surveys to the same person within a given period. Finally, creating a follow up action workflow is made easier with Microsoft Power Automate survey response trigger.
  • Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Insights audience insights capabilities enables every organization to unify and understand their customer data. Audience Insights added support for on-premises data ingestion including new Power Query connectors, additional controls for AI-based data unification, new first- and third-party enrichments like Experian, new predictive models for transaction churn, and support for new first- and third-party activation destinations like Marketo. The engagement insights capability (preview) in Dynamics 365 Customer Insights enables organizations to interactively understand how their customers are using their products and services—both individually and holistically—through their website, mobile apps, and connected products touchpoints. Engagement insights expands to multi-channel analytics over data from other channels for richer customer analytics, downstream actions, and optimizations.

Industry accelerators

  • Dynamics 365 education accelerator adds a marketing and communications feature which will allow districts and ministries of education to effectively take a proactive communication approach with various stakeholders such as educators, community members, and parents.
  • Dynamics 365 media and communications accelerator further expands on the “fan engagement” theme adding additional support for virtual events and health and hygiene at physical venues. This release includes features to aid in registering and participating in virtual sessions and Teams-based events as well as additions for importing content metadata enabling search personalization and other key enhancements.

Highlights from Power Platform

  • Microsoft Power BI continues to invest in three key areas that drive a data culture: amazing data experiences, integrations where teams work, and modern enterprise BI.
    • Power BI Pro delivers AI infused insights to help everyone easily discover insights. We will also continue to make authoring Power BI content easier than ever through the new Quick Create experiences while continuing to evolve our advanced capabilities like small multiples and composite models. Power BI will further expand the integration with Teams with new experiences in Teams channels, meetings, and chat.
    • Power BI Premium continues to deliver features that help organizations accelerate the delivery of insights at scale, meeting the most demanding needs of an enterprise. This release adds flexible licensing models for organizations to choose between per user and per capacity licensing options.
    • Power BI Embedded delivers a new generation of the product helping customers increase their ROI, scale rapidly, and get up to 16x faster performance. Customers will also get visibility into utilization at the workspace level, enabling consistent utilization analysis and cost management. In addition, Embedded Generation 2 introduces a lower entry level for paginated reports and AI workloads—start with an A1 SKU and grow as you need!
  • Microsoft Power Apps combines the flexibility of a blank canvas that can connect to any data source with the power of rich forms, views, and dashboards modeled over data in Microsoft Dataverse. This release adds Monitor for end-user app debugging capabilities, printing support (one top ask from our maker community), and mixed reality capabilities for canvas apps. We are also enhancing the global relevance search experience and adding in-app notifications for model-driven apps. Power Apps portals enhances Power BI integration to support Microsoft Azure Analysis Services live connections and enables the ability to send custom data objects, which provide additional context for personalizing reports and dashboards for end users. On the Dataverse for Teams front, we added the ability to share apps with colleagues outside a team and enabled editing of table data in excel.
  • Microsoft Power Automate enhances cloud flow integration with other Microsoft products. For example, there is a new trigger when an action is performed in Microsoft Dataverse. This feature improves working with the common events model and provides better integration with Dynamics 365 Finance + Operations. Power Automate Desktop was released to general availability in December 2020, and it enables makers to automate the diversity of applications on their desktops. Going forward, we will provide migration for existing Softomotive and UI flows customers, secure credential management, and much more. Finally, there are improved experiences in Process advisor, a process mining capability in Power Automate that reveals insights into how people work, provides rich visualizations where users can identify repetitive, time-consuming processes best suited for automation.
  • Microsoft Power Virtual Agents brings improvements in the authoring experience with topic suggestions from bot sessions, image and video support, and new topic trigger management to improve your bot’s triggering capabilities. For Power Virtual Agents (PVA) bots authored in Teams we are adding the “@mention” capability, and the ability to share your bot with a security group. We are also building on our Power Automate integration with better error handling. Finally, we will acquire PCI and HITRUST certifications and support for the government cloud.
  • AI Builder, a Power Platform capability, will introduce new AI functionalities in preview as well as form processing improvements. New capabilities include new region availability and signature detection in form processing in order to detect if a signature is present at a specific location in a document.

For a complete list of new capabilities, check out the Dynamics 365 and Power Platform 2021 release wave 1 plans.

Early access period

Starting February 1, 2021, customers and partners will be able to validate the latest features in a non-production environment. These features include user experience enhancements that will be automatically enabled for users in production environments during April 2021. Take advantage of the early access period, try out the latest updates in a non-production environment, and get ready to roll out updates to your users with confidence. To see the early access features, check out the Dynamics 365 and Power Platform pages. For questions, visit the Early Access FAQ page.

We’ve done this work to help you—our partners, customers, and users—drive the digital transformation of your business on your terms. Get ready and learn more about latest product updates and plans, and share your feedback in the community forum for Dynamics 365 or Power Platform.