I was fortunate enough to attend Microsoft Inspire last week and in this post I am going to share the top 5 sessions that I found most interesting.

#1. Day 3 Corenote

This corenote, delivered by the man himself, Satya Nadella, was one of my favourite sessions, especially the demonstrations which gave a broad overview of what the Microsoft stack is capable of.

The new capabilities that were demonstrated for Dynamics 365 Sales and Field Service apps were particularly outstanding.  They are hard to explain in a blog so I recommend viewing the corenote session yourself here.  Look out for the Field Service using HoloLens and the Dynamics 365 AI for Sales, very impressive.

There was also a great PowerApps story where, Samit Saini, a security officer at London Heathrow Airport decided to teach himself PowerApps to speed up processes and remove the reliance on paper.  He’s created 17 PowerApps that have saved 11,000 sheets of paper and 288 hrs of manual data entry so far.  A very inspiring story and one that shows that Microsoft is truly “empowering employees”.

#2. New Dynamics 365 Upgrade Policy Roundtable

I was also fortunate to attend a roundtable session to discuss the new upgrade policy that was announced recently here with the Dynamics 365 product team.

Microsoft is moving from the Customer Driven Update model, where customers schedule their own updates and can choose to be up to two versions behind the current version, to a continuous update model.  I think this is a great move and will help lower upgrade costs, ensure customers have the latest features and performance updates and enable Microsoft and partners to provide better support of the Dynamics 365 platform.

Of course, with change there are always a few concerns, especially around the updates breaking things when they are applied.  However, Microsoft have got this covered and after this session I am confident that they will make the new continuous updates a success.

The details of this session are another blog post in itself but my tips for keeping abreast of this are:

#3. Accelerate your digital transformation with business applications

This session was about how Dynamics 365 is helping customers with their digital transformation. It came with the tag line “unlock next” to signify that the Dynamics 365 platform will help customers unlock the next steps on their digital transformation journey.

A new Microsoft graphic was released as part of this presentation which outlines how the Dynamics 365 platform achieves this.  Dynamics 365 is designed to be…

Modern – using components such as mobile, social and mixed reality with modular applications that can be turned on as and when needed during the digital transformation journey.

Unified – through the Common Data Service and PowerApps, data and processes are unified across the platform and reduce the number of siloed applications.

Intelligent – combining data with Azure AI services and Power BI the platform can offer intelligent insights.

Adaptable – the trio of PowerApps, Flow and Power BI have now been labelled the “Power platform” which can be used to tailor and expand existing applications and also create new ones.

 

Dynamics 365 platform

As a Dynamics 365 practice manager my main take away from this session was the re-inforcement that a Dynamics 365 consulting practice should not just focus on the core Dynamics 365 apps but consider the whole Microsoft stack (Power platform, Azure etc.) when designing and implementing solutions for customers who want to truly digitally transform.

#4. Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Customer Service: Changing the game with BOTs and AI

This session was a really impressive demonstration on what can be done with BOTs and AI to enhance the experience of the end customer and the service agents who use Dynamics 365.  It tackles key customer service scenarios such as customer self service, first contact resolution, next best action, cross channel continuity etc.

The solution demonstrated uses the Unified Service Desk solution to combine Dynamics 365, BOTs, call scripts, LOB applications, sentiment analysis and a whole bunch of other components into a single intelligent application for service agents.  Find out more by watching the demonstration here.

Intelligent customer service

#5. Augmenting your existing solution and delivery skills to include AI

On the last day I decided to attend a workshop session to learn more about how we can use AI with our Dynamics 365 implementations and improve on the solutions that we deliver for our customers.  This was a really informative session and triggered some great ideas for enhancing some of our customer’s processes using AI.  I’m looking forward to getting more into this space and providing even further value to our customers.

Unfortunately, this being a workshop session there are no recordings or slide materials available.  However, you can view the session details and presenters here.

Summary

Overall it was another incredible Microsoft Inspire conference.  I got to attend a lot of informative sessions and connect with great people.  I am always impressed how Microsoft staff from all around the world are willing to set aside time in their busy schedules for their partners.  Definitely a conference worth attending for any Microsoft partner, I know that I have come away more Inspired.

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