Better Together: Dynamics 365 & Power Platform

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Dynamics 365 CE has been innovating its capabilities at an outstanding pace over the past few years, and Microsoft has created an ecosystem that helps organizations make smarter decisions and take actions that drive their businesses to new heights. The Power Platform allows these organizations to extend and enrich the functionality of the Dynamics 365 CE solutions by empowering users to collaborate in a low-code environment to analyze data, automate processes and leverage AI to enhance customer experiences while interacting with your organization.

The Scenario

One common question from our clients using Dynamics 365 CE is, how can we implement new communication channels to attract more customers and provide better experiences? Today we will explore how your organization can leverage Power Apps Portals, Power Automate, and Power BI along with your existing Dynamics 365 CE Apps to provide a rich experience for customers without needing a team of developers to build complex integrations or customizations.

The Architecture

power platform

Built atop Azures backbone, the Power Platform provides all the tools you need to build your next great solution.

  • Dataverse: Includes a base set of standard entities that support common business scenarios that connect to Dynamics 365 application data. You can also create custom entities specific to your organization.
  • Dynamics 365: applications, such as Dynamics 365 Sales, Service, and Marketing, use Dataverse to store and secure data used by the applications.
  • Power Apps: You can build apps using Power Apps and Dataverse directly against your core business data already used within Dynamics 365 without the need for manual integration.
  • Model-Driven App: Model-driven app design is an approach that focuses on quickly adding components to your apps. These components include dashboards, forms, views, and charts. With little or no code, you can make apps that are simple or complex.
  • Power Apps Portals: Power Apps portals provide a great way for internal and external audiences to view and interact with data from the Dataverse or Dynamics 365. Through the Power Apps interface, you can build an anonymous or authenticated website that provides them with a branded, personalized, self-service experience. Power Apps portals come with a variety of preconfigured portal solutions that target diverse audiences. Starter portals have many features that add value to the Microsoft Dynamics 365 service apps.
  • Power Automate: Power Automate allows anyone with knowledge of the business process to create repeatable flows that, when triggered, leap into action and perform the process for them.
  • Data Lake: Data Lake Storage provides a repository where you can upload and store huge amounts of unstructured data with an eye toward high-performance, big data analytics.
  • Power BI: Power BI takes the intimidation and hassle out of data analysis and visualization. By connecting to one or more of the hundreds of existing data sources and using a secure, easy to understand interface, you can quickly and simply interact with and understand your data to influence all business systems.

Building Blocks

Now that we understand which components are being used to build our solution, let us explore how it all comes together.

Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement provides great flexibility when it comes to personalizing experiences that help connect and engage with customers in more informed and meaningful ways. We can Streamline business processes across multiple functions, including sales, marketing, customer service and operations. In our scenario, we create a new Model-Driven App to group our custom functionality and streamline your specific business process. Since both Dynamics 365 and your model-driven app are connected to the same Dataverse instance, there is no need for any integration development; all data captured in either App will be readily available.

The same views and forms that we create in the Model-Driven app (or that are already available through one of the Dynamics 365 apps) can be exposed through Power Apps portal, providing an excellent starting point to create a new interaction channel for the organizations customers. Again, all the data is still hosted in the same Dataverse instance, so no need for complex integrations and synchronization headaches. With Power Apps Portal themes, you can customize the look and feel of your portal and ensure you adhere to your branding strategy.

With Power Automate, we build automation flows that streamline your organizations communications with your customers. You can automate the delivery of monthly invoices, new products or services being offered, appointment reminders, surveys, approval requests and more. The pre-existing connectors remove the complexity of integrating different systems and allow data to seamlessly flow between them. These connectors also provide valuable insights for the organization and their customers.

Dataverse can natively export and synchronize data to an Azure Data Lake Gen 2 storage location as raw files. These raw files are then combined into analytic extracts using Data Bricks and placed into an area within the Data Lake for consumption in other tools and processes. This allows Power BI to use the same location to consume the data while the sources refresh, keeping the heavy lifting to a minimum and only in the ingestion and automation layer. With the ability to embed Power BI reports into Power Apps Portal, you can present relevant information for your customers that will keep them coming back to your site and choosing your services. To read more about one of our success stories, check out this story.

 

About the Author
Edgar Valvert is a Dynamics & Power Platform Consultant within the Applied Innovations team in Canada. He has worked within the Microsoft ecosystem for most of his career and has been in the Business Applications function specifically for the past five years. He is passionate about providing value to customers (internal and external) and helping them drive their business with data through the use of the Power Platform. He likes to keep learning and finding new and innovative ways to leverage technology to improve our lives. When he’s not reading about the new Power Platform features or testing some functionality, he enjoys spending time with his family, going on hikes, and playing and watching basketball and soccer.

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