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In 2019, IDC put Microsoft in the Major Players category for worldwide SaaS and cloud-enabled ERP applications. And Nucleus Research positioned Microsoft Dynamics 365 in the Leader category of their ERP Technology Value Matrix.

Microsoft and its Dynamics 365 products are steadily gaining recognition for their ERP and CRM solutions, and businesses of all sizes are using them to manage core business functions from end to end. But what makes Microsoft Dynamics 365 different and how can it help your company grow?

What is Microsoft Dynamics 365?

Microsoft Dynamics 365 is a suite of Microsoft applications that are designed to support business operations in the cloud. These applications revolve primarily around ERP and CRM functions, but there are several other modules available for other key business processes.

Businesses can work with third-party providers like Columbus to find the right combination of Dynamics 365 applications that suit their preferences. They can easily add, remove and scale their custom Microsoft Dynamics 365 package as their needs change.

Prior to the release of the Dynamics 365 products, Microsoft offered several Dynamics ERP solutions as well as a separate Dynamics CRM solution. The ERP options included Dynamics NAV and Dynamics GP, which were designed to fit the needs of small- to medium-sized businesses, and Dynamics AX, the solution for larger companies and organizations.

Many businesses still operate with these products and Microsoft continues to support them. However, there can be significant advantages to migrating from the earlier versions to Dynamics 365—Microsoft’s more seamless, convenient and integrated cloud-based solution.

How does Dynamics 365 work?

With Microsoft Dynamics 365, you build a portfolio of applications and modules for core business functions as you see fit. These apps and modules fall under categories including supply chain management, finance, service, field service, marketing and sales. Each has powerful capabilities to help you digitize, automate and enhance processes. And when you add intelligence and analytics, you can develop a forward-thinking strategy that will keep you growing as the market changes.

The Dynamics modules and applications integrate easily with other Microsoft applications, as well as third-party applications. They have a consistent look and feel with other Microsoft products, which makes for a more seamless workflow, and their connectedness translates into simple and efficient data sharing across functions.

Dynamics 365 Applications

Business Central is the Dynamics 365 ERP solution for small- and medium-sized businesses. With it, companies can manage:

  • Inventory and supply chain logistics
  • Financial data, performance, reporting and forecasting
  • Project planning, budgeting and execution
  • Sales processes and lead qualification

Finance is the financial management application that allows for better reporting, forecasting and automation. With it, companies can find opportunities to reduce costs and improve their strategies.  

Supply Chain Management gives you visibility into your inventory and warehouse, allows for automation of certain supply chain processes, and can be implemented with AI to improve efficiency across the supply chain.

Finance and Supply Chain Management used to be Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations, but that application was recently divided into the two separate applications—Dynamics 365 Finance and Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management. Together, these function as an ERP solution for larger, more complex businesses.

Project Service Automation is the project management module which allows for greater efficiency in planning, costing and execution. It also features automation and forecasting capabilities. With it, companies can manage every aspect of a project, including resources, estimates and billing.

Customer Service helps you streamline and improve the customer experience by centralizing the data and service information for each individual on easy-to-use dashboards. Customers will also have the convenience of contacting you via multiple channels, including chat, SMS and email.

Field Service enables end-to-end management of field services, with capabilities for predicting and detecting problems, resolving those problems remotely, improving technician assignments and scheduling, and collecting customer insights. There are also functions that help technicians to work more effectively, such as mixed reality tools and mobile work order management.

Sales enables your sales teams to allocate their time and resources more effectively through automation, lead scoring, data collection, engagement suggestions and reporting. Your sales team will have enhanced tools for targeting leads, catching at-risk customers and strengthening relationships.

Marketing allows you to improve and manage your marketing strategy through automated, multi-channel campaigns, more personalized customer experiences, and a stronger connection between marketing and sales. It can also generate insights to help you plan for, and manage, future marketing efforts.

Commerce provides a centralized platform for managing your commerce operations—from building your "digital storefront," to managing sales cycles and gaining visibility on your inventory and finances. It improves the customer experience by providing multiple engagement and purchase options. Additionally, its forecasting capabilities can help you plan ahead to meet demand.

Human Resources makes HR processes simpler and more convenient. Your employees have access to their profiles, where they can easily make changes and access important documents. It also centralizes programs like benefits, payroll, training, certifications and recruiting.

Intelligence and Analytics

You can enhance the functions of the above modules and add other capabilities unique to your business with Microsoft’s AI- and analytics-based applications.

Insights applications use data and AI to make determinations about trends, optimize processes and highlight both risks and opportunities within various business functions. In the Microsoft Dynamics 365 collection of products, there are Insight products either available, or in the works, for:

  • Dynamics 365 Sales Insights
  • Dynamics 365 Customer Insights
  • Dynamics 365 Customer Service Insights
  • Dynamics 365 Virtual Agent for Customer Service
  • Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection
  • Dynamics 365 Connected Store
  • Dynamics 365 Market Insights
  • Dynamics 365 Finance Insights
  • Dynamics 365 Product Insights

Virtual Agent for Customer Service provides more expedient customer experiences and resolutions, and it allows you to optimize time spent by your internal resources.

Fraud Protection uses intelligence and data to identify and stop fraudulent activity, which can strengthen your reputation for reliability and security.

Product Visualize allows you to show your products to potential buyers virtually, so they can see exactly what you’re offering and make highly informed decisions.

Remote Assist optimizes technicians’ time and processes with remote capabilities and improves collaboration with hands-free video calling.

Guides can be used with several modules and enables your employees to learn through virtual reality tools and in-depth, hands-on training.

Microsoft Power Platform

In addition to your Microsoft Dynamics 365 modules and applications, there is the Microsoft Power Platform which lets your team members analyze and use data no matter their skill level. Two of the most popular functions in the Power Platform are Power Apps and Power BI.

Power Apps enables you to create your own applications where you have a need. The process is quick, and you won’t have to understand code to design or change the apps for optimal use. For instance, a seven-person team at a Pepsi distributor was able to design impactful apps for essential processes without having any prior experience in app development.

Power BI pulls data from within your infrastructure to produce high-quality visuals in easy-to-use dashboards that your team members can use to track KPIs and make better decisions.

Proven benefits of Microsoft Dynamics 365 products

The Total Economic Impact of Microsoft Dynamics for Finance and Operations, a Forrester study released in 2018, found surveyed companies availing the following benefits:

  • Savings in millions for operational efficiency and employee productivity
  • Savings in millions in increased wholesale and retail profits
  • Savings in millions in legacy cost avoidance
  • Improved user experiences and system performance
  • Greater agility and scalability
  • Improved security

To know more about the benefits:

Curious about the fine print? Check out these five FAQs about Microsoft Dynamics 365.

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