Earlier this month, the Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Power Platform Release Wave 1 was officially launched, providing users with hundreds of new capabilities and feature updates across a six-month rollout period.

In our previous blog, we previewed some of the highly anticipated features, from new customer insights capabilities to market-leading sales tools that would empower organisations to better understand their customers and spot emerging trends.

However, there are many more improvements promised as part of Release Wave 1, which businesses can look forward to in the months ahead.

In this blog, we will answer some of the most frequently asked questions regarding the update cycle and provide an overview of some of the other significant improvements, so that businesses can prepare for what lies ahead.

Who does it apply to and how does it work?

Firstly, it is important to note that the 2021 Release Wave 1 will only affect Dynamics 365 and Power Platform customers and does not apply to on-premise users.

As an ongoing update cycle, the features will be automatically applied to online environments, meaning businesses do not have to manually install these updates.

Whilst small bug fixes and minor improvements take place in the background throughout the year, the key updates associated with the update cycle are split into two major releases; Wave 1 in April and Wave 2 in October.

The specific capabilities and features included within both releases are typically revealed 2-3 months before the rollout occurs, so businesses can preview the updates and make the necessary adjustments to their existing processes.

How to prepare for the rollout

For those businesses already working with a Microsoft Dynamics 365 partner, the upcoming updates should already be on your radar, and the partner you are working with should be managing the Release Wave accordingly.

However, if your business is managing its own systems internally, an early access option is available to validate the upcoming capabilities, before they are automatically enabled in environments once the rollout begins. By the end of this month, all instances will have had Release Wave 1 features applied.

From a user perspective, the automatic installation of new capabilities and features makes it easier for them to oversee the rollout, as the tools can be utilised immediately without having to wait for businesses to manually implement them.

General availability for the updates included in Release Wave 1 began earlier this month, with rollout expected to continue until September 2021.

Dynamics 365

The plans for Release Wave 1 focus on two key offerings; Dynamics 365 and Power Platform. The hundreds of new capabilities across the Dynamics 365 applications will transform businesses, allowing them to deliver better results across the board.

The updates will impact a range of Dynamics 365 applications and areas, including sales, marketing, service, finance and operations, human resources, commerce, fraud protection, SMB, Dynamics 365 customer insights and customer voice.

With these new tools, employees will be able to access important information whilst they are on the move, offering a flexible user experience that is compatible with a long-term culture of remote working, which has become the new normal.

Meanwhile, Sales KPIs and manager dashboards have also been introduced, allowing businesses to organise sales goals and encourage productivity by giving employees clear targets to aim for.

Power Platform

As many of you will know, the Power Platform comprises of four products; Power BI, Power Apps, Power Automate and Power Virtual Agents, along with two additional features known as AI Builder and Power Apps portals.

A range of exciting updates have been implemented to enhance the entire Power Platform offering, including a quick create feature for Microsoft Power BI that shows users how to connect to data and create reports without the help of an experienced analyst.

From a Power Apps perspective, users will benefit from an improved apps discovery and selection experience on mobile, with incline swipe gestures making it easier for people to add favourites or pin apps for future use.

Another significant update introduced as part of Release Wave 1 allows users to create flows that trigger when an action is performed in Microsoft Dataverse, providing a more integrated experience for businesses to enjoy.

Riding the wave…

In the months ahead, businesses will benefit from the hundreds of exciting improvements that have been promised as part of Release Wave 1.

Designed to enhance the user experience, this update cycle addresses customer feedback by implementing features that businesses want and need, so they can streamline processes and deliver a more complete service to clients.

Details on Release Wave 2 will be published later this year, so stay tuned for more info as we will explore the proposed updates once more information has been released.

In the meantime, if your organisation would like to implement a Power Platform or Dynamics 365 solution, then contact our in-house team for advice and guidance.