Microsoft have announced the new features coming in their October/Autumn 2018 update to Dynamics 365 and one of the new features we’re most excited by is the new connector with Microsoft Teams.
The integration and capabilities that are coming to Microsoft Teams for Dynamics 365 are relatively straightforward, but perhaps one of the most exciting elements of this new feature is seeing the bigger Microsoft picture come together.
The Bigger Microsoft Picture
Microsoft Teams is a key application in the Microsoft ecosystem. While some people will not be using this application yet, the fact that it will later be replacing Skype for Business (a firm favourite in most offices) means that people will no doubt start embracing it soon.
Since the release of Office 365 (over 5 years ago!) Microsoft have been developing their applications and showing everyone that Office 365 is not simply ‘the Office suite’. While many companies still use Office 365 just for Office and email, there is so much more. Many apps are much smaller players, such as Planner, Sway, and Stream; while others are more widespread and established, such as SharePoint and Power BI.
What Microsoft Teams does is surface this data and connect all these applications into one window. Within a Team you can switch to your SharePoint files on one tab, Power BI report on second and tasks within Planner on another. Think of it as your team homepage for key info and latest discussions to springboard you off into the detail.
Microsoft’s key strength is their integration and simplicity – covering the A-Z of apps, which all integrate together and just work. Rather than building custom APIs and connectors to make third party solutions fit together – and later potentially break – Microsoft’s solutions all just fit together. This new Dynamics 365 integration with Teams is another step in this ‘one Microsoft’ journey.
Integrating Dynamics 365 with Teams
At the moment, Dynamics 365 integration with Teams is in private preview and should only be tried on development and test environments, as the integration is likely to change as feedback is received and used to shape the release. You must also be running Dynamics 365 (online) version 9 – please note: everyone is required to upgrade to v9 by 31st January 2019.
With the integration, you will be able to connect Microsoft Teams with Dynamics 365 in two ways; either for your own personal use, or for team use. Each way currently provides different functionality; individual use gives you the option of either interacting with an AI bot or displaying a personalised Dynamics 365 dashboard in Teams, while the teams use surfaces Dynamics 365 records within a Team channel.
To get this setup, you will need to search for the Dynamics 365 app in the Teams store (remember it’s just in private preview at the moment). Here you will have two options to connect for yourself, your team or both – this must be done first below doing the below.
Installing for team use
Within Teams, you can add different tabs to a channel. Some will be pre-defined such as Conversations and Files, while the ‘+’ gives you the ability to add custom tabs. It’s here where you can add the Dynamics 365 tab - simply choose the Dynamics 365 app and connect to your Dynamics 365 organisation, app (i.e. Sales) and choose what record to display. This gives you a fully-functional page, so you can navigate around records – without ever leaving Teams – and you can directly edit, add and save information in Teams that reflects within Dynamics 365.
Installing for individual use
As well as team use, you can use the integration for your own personal use. There are two options here: the personal app bot, and the personal dashboard, which will be set up when selecting the ‘Add for you’ option on installation (above).
When connected to your chosen app (such as Sales Hub), the appbot or ‘Salesbot’ can be found in the Conversation tab and can be used to asked questions and the bot will go off to find and display the information requested. For example, you could ask: “What are my top five opportunities?” or “Show me the orders for <company name>”. The information given back to you can then be viewed and edited in Teams (and automatically reflected in Dynamics 365).
The other option is the personal dashboard. This is displayed within the ‘My Dashboard’ tab and will show the dashboard relating to whoever is signed in (i.e. your dashboard). The organisation and app that it relates to can be changed in the Settings tab. In the dashboard you will be able to view your key information and keep track of your overall activities, pipeline, cases etc - whichever information you track within your dashboards (out-of-the-box or custom).
Why integrate the two?
Increase productivity: Integrating the two systems mean that staff won’t have to switch back and forth between applications, which is a massive time-waster for staff. By embedding Dynamics 365 content within Teams – any quick updates relating to a project or customer can be made within the same windows and automatically updated.
Reduce double-handling of information: Rather than having to do things twice, you can make changes within Teams to Dynamics 365 data and know that this will be automatically updated with Dynamics 365.
Improve data quality: This automatic update across systems also means that you will have far superior data quality, as you will not need to worry that information is different in two systems, nor spend wasted time verifying information. All your data (whether input in Teams, Outlook or Dynamics 365) – is all the same as Dynamics 365 is a central repository that is simply surfaced through other applications.
Gain real-time information: Quickly check on customers, opportunities, cases etc and see real-time information for quick decisions.
Improve visibility: Being able to quickly see data across systems improves visibility for staff and managers to make working easier.
Integrate all your data together: Within one Teams channels you could easily switch between seeing the information from within Dynamics 365, related documents within SharePoint, analytics from a Power BI report, tasks due in Planner and much more thanks to the simple app integration, which can be surfaced in Teams through a few clicks and without any coding!
Keep an eye out for the public preview of Dynamics 365 Teams integration, which should be coming in October 2018. General availability is not yet known but we suspect it will be sometime mid-2019 – and remember to add your suggestions and feedback to the preview, as Microsoft regularly use user feedback to change their applications (either for general release or for later updates), so it’s worth making the effort.
We can’t wait for this to be released! If you’d like a demo or have any questions, please contact us.