Two New Charts for Unified Interface in Dynamics 365

With the Unified Interface becoming more and more prominent in Dynamics 365, what with the Spring Release ‘18 announcing that there is a Unified Interface app for every module, it is time to start exploring this brand new interface in a little more detail, as well as new components (like newer charts as you’ll see below) that come with it.

In this post, we will look at charts. How do you access charts in the Unified Interface? Notice how there is nowhere you can click to the right of a view to bring in a charts pane.

Well, you click on the “Show Chart” button on the top left!

And guess what happens next? Yes, the charts pane shows up..to the left of the view!

Now, you can start selecting different charts on this pane.

Note: At the time of writing this post, the Unified Interface doesn’t let you create personal charts.

Two New Charts for Unified Interface: Doughnut and Tag

Unified Interface also has two brand new charts that the web interface doesn’t – doughnut and tag.

I, personally, am not a fan of pie charts and there are several others out there who don’t. If you like Doughnut charts better than pie (or are just a fans of it), the Unified Interface lets you create them! If you open any entity in a solution and go to charts, you will notice two charts – doughnut and tag.

The doughnut chart is very similar to a pie chart. Add legend entries and categories to this chart just as you would to any other chart.

Notice how it doesn’t show a preview of the chart.

After saving and publishing, this is what it looks like in the Unified Interface.

Similarly, the Tag chart lets you create tags with a count, sum, average, min or max in parentheses.

 

Just like the Doughnut chart, Tag chart does not provide a preview either.

Once published, this is what it looks like in the Unified Interface.

One thing to remember is that at the time of writing this post, these two charts are only available for the Unified Interface. Switching to the Web Interface does not display these charts.

 

App Designer In Dynamics 365 Makes Creating Views Easier, Quicker And More Fun!

If  you haven’t looked at the “App Designer” in Dynamics 365 yet, you immediately should. The App Designer totally changes the way we approach designing views, dashboards,  charts, and even the sitemap!

The app designer makes creating and editing various components of your CRM a piece of cake. Not that it wasn’t easy to create them before! The App Designer makes everything more intuitive and faster – it saves a bunch of clicks that traditionally can be a tad bit annoying, especially if you are creating several views, charts, dashboards etc.

Let’s look at how you can use the App Designer to create a new System View.

App Designer

In order to get to the App Designer, go to Settings-> My Apps under Application.

The My Apps area shows you all the “apps” you have access to. Think of an app as the traditional Sales, Customer Service, Field Service, etc. modules. Choose the app you want to add a view to, click the ellipses on the top right corner of that app, and select “Open In App Designer”.

 

In the App Designer canvas, you will see a list of all entities, along with blocks that are labeled Forms, Views, and Charts. On the top, you will also see the Site Map for this app, as well as dashboards.

Clicking on  “Views” for a certain entity will show a list of all system views available on the right. What’s nice about this list is that it categorizes all the views so you know what kind of views are available, and how many. Let’s go ahead, and create a new view by clicking “Create New”.

 

The next screen shows you a canvas with three areas. The top lets you set filters the way you normally do. In addition, you also see what the view looks like right below it. By default, it has one column but you can add as many columns to your view from the list of fields to the right (under Components).

There is also a “Search” box you can use to look for a specific field, in case you have hundreds of fields on your entity. Here, we searched for fields that have the text “phone” in them. From the results, we dragged and dropped “Main Phone” to add as a column to our view.

After adding as many columns as you want (or vice versa), start setting your filters. You will notice that as you add more filters, your search results below update instantly. This is different from how it is with the “traditional” mechanism where, when creating system views, you do not get to see what the results look like unless you publish it and go to the view directly.

This short 40 seconds video shows the process. Notice how the results below change as the filters are added on top.

Once you are satisfied with this view, go ahead and give it a name – either right under “Columns” or under Properties. Then Save it.

Bada-bing-bada-boom! Your view is now ready. Go to Accounts, and look at your System Views. This new view will be in that list now.

This is what it looks like in the Unified Interface.

 

Modifying Views

Making changes to columns is super easy too. As you increase and decrease the column width, you can see the results right there and then. Drag and drop columns to rearrange their orders.

 

Conclusion

As you can see, the App Designer brings a refreshingly new, versatile, quick, and easier way of creating views. This makes creating views much more fun, and saves a bunch of clicks, time, and ultimately frustration.

Exporting Microsoft Flow From One Environment And Importing To Another

If you’ve jumped onto the Microsoft Flow bandwagon, you know already how easy it is to create them. Did you know that you can also export them from one environment, and import them into another? The process is straightforward (As it should be!) but there are a few things you need to keep in mind to make the export and import successful.

First, let’s look at the two environments. In the environment below (let’s call it Environment A), I want to export the first Flow into a different environment, where it doesn’t exist yet.

The second environment (let’s call it Environment B), where it needs to be imported, looks like this (sans the RSS/LinkedIn Flow).

Now, in order to export from A, we will click on the three ellipses on the desired Flow, click Export, and choose Package (.zip).

You would think that selecting that option just downloads a .zip file for you. Instead, it brings you to a different screen where you give the package a name, and an optional description. At the bottom, notice the “Import Setup” column.

The Import Setup for the Flow defaults to Update. What it means is that it assumes this Flow exists in Environment B already, and that it will just update it with any changes it may have. Click Update, and choose “Create as new” so that a new Flow is created in B. Click Save to exit the screen. Finally click Export to download the .zip package file.

 

Export DONE.

Now, go to Environment B. Go to My Flows, and click “Import”, and upload the .zip package.

Here, notice the red ! next to the Flow and connectors required. Even though in our Export process, we had setup the “Import Setup” to Create New, it still defaults to Update. Click Update, change this to “Create New”, and Save. Now notice the red ! disappear.

For the connectors, click on them one by one. If a Connector exists already, it will show it to you in a list from where you select it. If it doesn’t exist, it will ask you to create it (by clicking “Create new”).

After you click Save, and take care of the Red ! for the connectors, click Import. A successful import shows the following screen with green check marks.

After the import is done, you will see the new Flow in your new environment, already turned on!

Create Records In CRM For Dynamics 365 By Pressing A Physical Button! (Using Flic & Microsoft Flow)

What if your customers could just literally press a button to solve their problems? Picture the following scenarios:

– Your clients, who use your products or services, are having trouble with them. Something’s not right! They press a button and immediately get a call from your support staff.

– You run a coffee shop or a restaurant. You notice that you are low on supplies (Coffee beans? Beverages? Ketchup?). You press a button which sends an email to your supplier telling them to restock supplies.

– You run a roofing company. Your staff is up on one of the roofs fixing things. Once they are done, they press a button that creates a record in CRM, notifying office staff that the job has been completed.

That would be pretty awesome, right? (no? aww okay :/)

In case you didn’t know, Microsoft Flow can now be triggered by “Flic” – a physical button that connects to various services like Uber (to order a cab), Sonos (to control music), and Philips Hue (to control smart bulbs) to name just a few.

With Flic now working with Microsoft Flow, we can use this combination to create records in CRM for Dynamics 365, and perform various actions. For example, in the video below, I show how a customer, whenever they have an issue with our product or service, can just press Flic once, which will create a case record in our CRM.

Benefits

So what are some benefits of automation tools like Microsoft Flow, especially when they are combined with smart buttons like Flic?
  1. It makes initiating a process or action much easier and convenient.
  2. It encourages people to follow the process because everything is already automated.
  3. It brings convenience to your employees with disabilities because just pressing a button performs various tasks for them.

The Flow

This is what my Microsoft Flow looks like. Easy peasy!

Explore:

Flic

Microsoft Flow

Microsoft Dynamics 365

Embed Power BI Dashboards in CRM For Dynamics 365 With Just One Click

So, you have some really amazing and insightful dashboards in Power BI (like the one below) based on your data you have in CRM for Dynamics 365, and you use them regularly to see what’s going on with your business, institution, facility or wherever that you work.

image shows a dashboard with three charts in power bi.

 

Ideally, you would want to have these dashboards in CRM so that you have access to all these valuable insights in just one place. But how would you go about doing it?

Enabling and embedding Power BI dashboards in CRM is literally just a click away.

Go to System Settings (under Settings->Administration) and open the Reporting tab. Under that tab, set “Allow Power BI visualization embedding” to Yes.

image shows System Settings window  in CRM for Dynamics 365. The image shows that clicking the "Reporting" tab and setting the option "Allow Power BI visualization embedding"  to Yes enables power bi dashboards in crm.

 

Uhhhh that’s pretty much it.

Now, if you go to your Dashboards and click the chevron next to “New” , you will see a new option for “Power BI Dashboard”.

in the dashboards area, a new option "Power BI dashboard " is displayed when the chevron next to the "New" button is clicked.

Note: Make sure to click the chevron to get this option. Clicking the New button  defaults to creating the traditional CRM dashboard.

When you select that option, you will see a dropdown that will show you all of your dashboards in Power BI. Choose the one you want displayed in CRM. Click Save.

Note: Make sure to check the “Enable for Mobile” checkbox if you want to access this dashboard in your Dynamics 365 mobile app.

a new dialog shows all the dashboards in power bi in a dropdown. The user chooses which one they want embedded in this dashboard.

 

That Power BI dashboard is embedded in CRM now!

Power BI dashboard shown embedded in a CRM dashboard.

Questions? Let me know!

Product Recommendations in CRM For Dynamics 365 Using Machine Learning

If you are a company that sells various products and/or services, and you use CRM for Dynamics 365 for your selling operations, it’s highly likely that you use the Product Catalog, and also link up your products for cross selling opportunities. If you haven’t linked them yet, there’s good news – machine learning can do it for you! Based on patterns that it finds in historical sales transactions, CRM, with the help of the Recommendations API, can now provide product recommendations to cross sell for your sales people as they pursue opportunities.

Have you manually linked up your products for cross selling in CRM already?  There’s good news. You don’t have to keep doing it anymore! Why? See above.

But how does this all work?

Here’s the basic premise:

  • You have historic transactions that consist of products that have been sold by your sales team. Many of these products are cross sold, which means that if one product was being considered, at least another product was recommended in that sales opportunity as well.
  • There may be ways for you to look at historic data and see which products are more successful than others, but there is no easy way to see which products are recommended as cross sell products during a sales opportunity when a certain product is being considered.
  • That’s where machine learning comes in. The Recommendations  API looks at all of your historic data, and finds patterns of recommended/cross sold products. Then it rates those products.
  • Based on those ratings, you create your recommendation model. For example, when I am selling product A, recommend other products to cross sell. (Duh!) However, these recommended products  must have a rating greater than, let’s say 0.5 (ratings are between 0 and 1).  A higher rating means the recommended product has been in many historic “won” transactions.

Product Recommendations

Note: You will have to connect Recommendations API to CRM before proceeding. Read this article first.

When you go in to Product Recommendations in CRM for Dynamics 365 (Settings->Product Catalog), there are certain things you’ll see – In the Details area, perhaps the most important field is the “Minimum Recommendations Rating”. This is the rating that is generated by the Recommendations API when it looks at our historic data. Here, we are saying that we want only those products to be recommended for cross selling that have a score of at least 0.50. Anything below it will not be recommended.

 

Digression: This is what the ratings look like in case you are wondering:

Let’s come back to the Recommendation Model.

 

Basket Data Entities

These are the entities for which historic data is present. By default, three are included – Opportunity,  Order, Quote. You can add your own as well.  Here, you can also tell the Recommendations API to look at very specific set of historic transactions. For example, we can set a filter that makes the  API look at only Won Opportunities in the last 12 months. (double click the Opportunity line item in the subgrid below)

Recommendation Entities

These are the entities for which recommendations are available. They also default to Opportunity, Order, Quote.

 

As you get more historic data, you can build various versions of your recommendation model. To do so, set your Minimum Recommendations Rating (see above) and click Build Model Version.  This is where the algorithms start learning from your historic data, find cross sell patterns, and rate products.

Note: The build will take a while. I only had sample data and it took 6 minutes to complete the version build.

You can test your model also by clicking “Test Recommendations”. Choose a product, and a version. Click “Show Results”. This will show you a sample of what products will be recommended if a certain product is being considered in an opportunity.

If you see recommended products with scores attached, it means that you have an up and running recommendation model!

Note: I want to quickly talk about “Precision”. Precision represents the frequency with which sales people pick suggested products.  Higher the precision, the better. Try multiple models over a course of time and see how the precision changes. I have 0 because I have very minimal data in my demo org.

Now, let’s see the recommendation model in action!

First, though, let’s look at some older opportunities we have won so that we can see what the product recommendations will be based on. In the past, whenever we’ve sold the Southridge Laptop 19W Xq980 laptop, we have also cross sold a few more products with it.

Historic opportunity 1:

Historic opportunity 2:

Now, let’s see what our recommendation model recommends to us when we create a new opportunity for the same laptop. After adding the product, we click Suggestions.

And this is what we get. (We want recommend products with a score > 0.50)

From these suggestions, you can pick whatever you want and update your opportunity with more products!

Advantages

So what are we really doing here besides making suggestions easier for our sales team? After all, we could set these recommendations manually anyway in CRM, right?

First of all, you are utilizing your historic transactions to determine what really sells. Not only that, you are also scoring the effectiveness of each product when it comes to cross-selling. Just that infuses good confidence in your salesperson to include more products in their opportunities and ultimately bring in more revenue.

Second, it automates the whole process, which means that your analyst or customizer, who painstakingly set up all those product relationships (and probably ended up with arthritis from all those mouse clicks) doesn’t have to keep doing it manually anymore. Instead, with all the time saved now, they can probably learn a new skill to help you with your business operations.

Third, piggybacking on the first advantage listed above – if there are products that have lower rating, you can probably think of retiring them or getting them from a different manufacturer.

So, give Product Recommendations a shot, and see how well it works for you! Remember, this is still a preview so don’t screw around with it in your production environment! 😉

Enabling Machine Learning in CRM For Dynamics 365

The machines are taking over!

We hear a lot about how machine learning is being used in many applications, and CRM for Dynamics 365 is no exception to that sentiment. There are several features in CRM for Dynamics 365 that utilize Microsoft Cognitive Services – a very powerful set of tools/APIs that use the power of machine learning. For Example:

– Keyword matching, similar cases, topic analysis, and knowledge article suggestions, require a Cognitive Services Text Analytics connection.

– Automatic product recommendations while creating opportunities and adding opportunity products requires a Cognitive Services Recommendations connection.

So, does that mean in order to use automatic product recommendations, keyword matching, automatic knowledge article suggestions, etc., we need to integrate Microsoft Cognitive Services with CRM for Dynamics 365?

Correct.

Before you do that though, you would want to enable the “Product Recommendation” and “Text Analytics” previews in your settings first. (Yes, they are still previews)

Go to Settings->Administration->System Settings, and click the (last) Preview tab.

Under Preview, set “Cross-sell Product Recommendations Preview” and “Text Analytics Preview for Case Topics analysis, Suggest Similar Cases and Suggest Knowledge Articles” to Yes.

 

Next, go to http://portal.azure.com and login with a Microsoft Id.

Once in, we will be looking for two specific Cognitive Services APIs – Recommendations and Text Analytics. Let’s start with Recommendations API.

Note: Calls to these APIs are not free. Having said that, Microsoft gives you 5,000/10,000 etc. calls per month for free depending on what API you choose. If you are likely to exceed these calls, Microsoft will prompt you to upgrade to a paid account.

Recommendations API

In the Azure portal, click the “+” button on the top left corner-> select “Intelligence + analytics” in the next pop up menu, and then Cognitive Services APIs (preview).

On the next “Create” screen, give the service a name, choose Subscription (start with Free), choose API type “Recommendations API (preview)”, Pricing tier f0, and create a resource group. Click Create.

On the next screen, you will see a bunch of tabs to the left. Under Overview, make note of Endpoint, then choose Keys. When you do, you will see a couple of keys to the right. You will use one of these keys to connect this Recommendations service to CRM for Dynamics 365.

Now head to CRM for Dynamics 365. Go to Settings-> Administration->Azure Machine Learning Recommendation Service Configuration.

Fill in all the self explanatory fields. In the “Azure Service URL” field, enter the Endpoint that you noted above. In “Azure Account Key”, enter one of the two keys from the Keys section above.

Save and Test Connection. Once successful, click Activate.

That’s it. You are now ready to start building your Product Recommendations in your Product Catalog. (More on that later)

Note: It is possible that your connection to the Recommendations service may not be successful at the first go. If one key doesn’t work, try the other. You may even want to regenerate the keys if you keep getting connection failure errors.

Text Analytics API

Well, you know the drill. Do what you did above in the Azure portal. This time, when you create a new  service, you will choose Text Analytics API.

Back in CRM, go to Settings ->Administration->Azure Machine Learning Text Analytics Configuration, and do what you did above with the Endnote and Key.

Now you are ready to create “Advanced Similarity Rules”. (More on this later)

That’s it!

Thanks for making it this far! Hopefully this article gives you an idea of how to get started with the basic building blocks of enabling machine learning for CRM for Dynamics 365.

Question or comments? Let me know.