2020 was not quite the year we were expecting it to be (to say the least!). Still, the Earth keeps spinning, the software world keeps evolving and you need to keep up the pace! It is definitely a critical time for businesses, and you don’t want to fall behind. Now is the time to prepare yourself.
If your company uses Microsoft Dynamics, there are several trends to keep an eye on in 2021. These essential trends will shape your professional landscape in 2021 and beyond, so insights into what to expect and where to invest your efforts can prove useful.
We will provide specific examples so you can get to grips with the latest tech and understand what it means in a living, breathing business context.
So, What Are the Essential Dynamics Trends for 2021?
2021 has a host of exciting innovations in store, many of which are yet to reveal their full potential. To keep your finger on the pulse, let’s get started and focus on the top tech trends for Microsoft Dynamics users in 2021:
- AI, the Slow but Strong Trend
- Use Blockchain to Prove a Document’s Authenticity
- Integrate with Microsoft Teams for Better User Adoption
- IIoT Meets Dynamics 365
- Guarantee Security for Software Integrations
- Beware of your Dynamics 365 Storage Options
Read on and make sure that you take the right turns as the new year dawns!
Trend #1 – AI, the Slow but Strong Trend
AI has been a promising trend for at least 30 years now. We keep hearing AI is going to be the next big thing – over and over again. As we enter 2021, I think it is time to realize AI is not a big burst trend – it is more of a continuously growing trend that enters more and more areas of our daily lives. We currently see significant improvements in machine vision, automated speech recognition (ASR) and natural language processing (NLP) that will facilitate the structuring of unstructured data such as images or emails.
In the big world of Dynamics 365, we see AI coming into very distinct areas, from Dynamics 365 Virtual Agent for Customer Service to Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection. The area where we expect the biggest impact of AI will be in Dynamics 365 Customer Insights, with AI helping to define segments and predictive models.
Trend #2 – Use Blockchain to Prove a Document’s Authenticity
Exciting and futuristic, Blockchain has been a buzzword for some years now. Most people associate it with cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin. As Blockchain use evolves into 2021, experts predict that it will become less about cryptocurrency and more about using it for a totally different purpose: prove a document’s authenticity.
When you use Blockchain technology distributed and security features to prove a document is untampered, that means you have trustworthy data to base your strategic business decisions on. That makes all the difference.
Stefano Tempesta, two times MVP, Regional Director of Microsoft and advisor to Australia's National Blockchain Roadmap, believes that “With blockchain, you can imagine a world in which every agreement, every process, every task, and every payment would have a digital record and signature that could be identified, validated, stored, and shared. Intermediaries like lawyers, brokers, and institutions like notaries might no longer be necessary. Individuals, organizations, and machines would freely transact and interact with one another with little friction.”. In a recent article on the future of Blockchain, he discusses possible uses of a solution for SharePoint documents that is already out on the market and that can be easily integrated with Dynamics 365. We will certainly hear more about that in 2021.
Trend #3 – Integrate with Microsoft Teams for Better User Adoption
Microsoft Teams has become ubiquitous, thanks in large part to need of remote work and remote events. Not even Microsoft would have guessed it would reach 115 million daily active users of Teams like it did back in October 2020.
This makes the integration with Microsoft Teams a plus for other products and also a way to help drive other products’ user adoption. All Microsoft 365 business fully links all Office apps with Teams and also SharePoint. The level of integration for Dynamics 365 is not yet the same, but the trend is for Dynamics 365 is more and more integrated with Teams. Currently, you have the Dynamics 365 app available for Teams. Besides the normal use of the app within Teams, you can “chat” to get the info that you need from Teams, and you can also access customer engagement app records by adding a Dynamics 365 tab into a Microsoft Teams channel. This way, you can collaborate with your team on one or multiple records (Accounts, Contacts, Opportunities, and many others).
If you have bespoke applications that are important in your daily routine, you can take this trend one step further and consider surfacing them in Teams. This new and evolved means of getting new users – and even perhaps existing users – to use the applications more.
Trend #4 – IIoT meets Dynamics 365
Dynamics 365 offers businesses or organizations across industries the ability to know their customers as well as their own organizations. The idea is always to enable predictive insights and smarter decisions.
Next on our big rundown of Dynamics trends for 2021 is the trend to enable this in manufacturing and industrial settings with connection to shop floor information. By leveraging data from sensors and machines and getting it where it makes sense for the organization, in 2021, we will be evolving from reactive decisions to proactive analytics that can support the decision process.
Arguably the most industry-specific trend on the list, the fact is that for this industry, this trend is game-changer. By making these analytics and insights accessible throughout an organization through Dynamics, great things will happen.
There are many interesting use cases for combining IIoT with business software like Dynamics. You can go for remote monitoring and stay informed in real-time and view the information with the right detail level. You can go for predictive maintenance and avoid machine breakdowns before they occur by monitoring the condition and your machine’s performance during regular operation and spotting early signs of the problem. You can improve in terms of production planning because you have all the relevant information right where you need it, and you can finally make production planning more information-based and much more straightforward.
As you can see, IIoT meeting Dynamics covers a range of possibilities and concepts, giving it a variety of use cases. As such, it’s one of the 2021 trends you can’t afford to ignore.
Trend #5 – Guarantee Security for Software Integrations
The next trend in our rundown is security related. There is an increasing need to share data while maintaining privacy and security. It is not going to stop in 2021.
In our hyper-connected digital age, the trend for 2021 is to guarantee security when software integration is involved. Truth be told, it is easy to assume that, if you are already using two separate pieces of software, there is no danger in putting them together. The problem is, that assumption is wrong.
Let’s say you use Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Microsoft SharePoint. One day you discover that Microsoft provides an integration between the two. You can have the documents you previously had piled up in Dynamics neatly transferred to SharePoint but still easily accessible from Dynamics. It sounds like a great idea!
You could very easily overlook the fact that the privileges for the documents that you had carefully set up in Dynamics are not going to be transferred to SharePoint. Everyone can see everything from the SharePoint side! Unknowingly, you would have created a privacy and security threat.
Fortunately, the fact that there are more integrations than ever before also means the solutions for these integration security problems are showing up – and this trend will be stronger throughout 2021.
For example, for the Dynamics and SharePoint integration problem above you now have, not only a solution, but also an add-on to that solution that ensures that the documents on SharePoint are neatly organized.
Trend #6 – Beware of your Dynamics 365 Storage Options
The last in our essential rundown of Dynamics trends for 2021 is storage. Dynamics 365 admins often looked for alternative storage for documents and attachments to save on costs and increase performance. Alternative storage locations were frequently SharePoint or Azure Storage.
In 2021, we see security becoming one of the primary motivators for using alternative storage. Because of this trend, we are already seeing new providers emerging in a market that felt consolidated - up to now. For example, in the German-speaking countries, Dracoon is getting strong and will release the possibility of integrating with Dynamics 365 in Q1 2021.
By embracing these powerful trends in 2021 and using them to your advantage, you will accelerate the growth of your business in a landscape that is ever-changing.
You can hit the ground running as a new year dawns!
Talk with our experts if you want help in putting these trends to practice in your organization. They will be more than happy to answer any questions you might have or show you on a quick call how all this can work.
Read more in our Dynamics 365 posts
About the autor
By Ana Neto, technical advisor at Connecting Software.
I work at Connecting Software as a technical advisor. I am a software engineer since 1997, and I love integration solutions that make your life easier.