In 2011, Microsoft introduced Office 365. By doing that, Microsoft began shifting from selling products to selling software as a service (SaaS). Office 365 is sold on a subscription-based model to provide Microsoft’s productivity tools and cloud storage. It also includes exchange online (Outlook), SharePoint, Yammer, Cortana, PowerBI and Skype for business.
Five years later, Microsoft moved in a similar direction for its business solutions. They decided to take their product group (Dynamics CRM, Dynamics NAV, Dynamics AX) and combine them under one parent product ‘Dynamics 365’. Similar to Office 365, Dynamics 365 is sold on a subscription-based model and provides different plans for users to pick from.
There has always been integration between Dynamics products and Microsoft products like Word, Excel, and SharePoint. Now that all of them are hosted in the cloud, integration has become easier with each iteration. The ability to use different functionalities and features in one place is undoubtedly giving Microsoft an edge in the business solutions market. Let’s take a look at how both of these products integrate and how they can benefit users.
What are the different Office 365 integrations with Dynamics 365?
With the rise of Artificial Intelligence, Microsoft is pushing Cortana (its AI-powered assistant) to integrate with all of its products. When Cortana’s integration with Office 365 is switched on, it can add a lot of functionality in your Dynamics 365 organization:
• Relationship Assistant:
This assistant monitors daily actions and interactions and generates action cards accordingly. These cards show up directly in your Dynamics 365 organization and provide you with actionable insights.
• Email Engagement:
Emails can be tracked and prioritized based on engagement.
Dynamics products and Outlook have one of the longest standing relationships. Even the earlier versions of Dynamics CRM had an Outlook integration set up to track emails and link them to CRM records. As both products grew, their integration became stronger and better.
Dynamics 365 App for Outlook allows users to track emails, apply templates from Dynamics 365, attach KB articles, create tasks and access D365 records all from your Outlook app.
Easily one of the most (if not THE MOST) used integration with Dynamics 365. Every business uses documents to store their data. This could be Word documents, Excel, PDF…any type of file. These need to be stored somewhere. Of course, Dynamics 365 has the option of storing attachments in the ‘Notes’ area, but this has a lot of drawbacks (DB size, maximum file size supported, lack of structure). SharePoint was made to store documents and having it integrated with Dynamics 365 should be a no-brainer for anyone looking to store documents against D365 records.
SharePoint has cheaper storage and provides features (versioning and approval workflows) that clearly makes it the number one choice for Document Management.
While SharePoint is great to manage documents for every Dynamics 365 record, OneDrive allows you to work privately. When documents are pushed to SharePoint, anyone in your organization with permission granted to the SharePoint library can get access. Sometimes you might be working on unfinished documents, and sales drafts…these can be stored in OneDrive. They will be automatically synced to your Desktop and mobile devices running OneDrive allowing you to view and modify them on the go.
Another form of document we all are familiar with is OneNote. It’s one of the biggest productivity tools Microsoft provides allowing you to store loads of data types like text, photos, videos, voice recordings…all in one notebook. With the Dynamics 365 integration, you can now have a OneNote tab for every individual record allowing you to attach unstructured notes and share them with anyone you like.
Similar to Outlook, Excel has a long-term relationship with the Dynamics family. Integration with Dynamics 365 allows for data export/import, creating Excel templates from existing data, and refreshing Dynamics CRM data directly from Excel using Pivot Tables and Dynamics worksheets.
Microsoft PowerBI is one of the top business analytics tools. It can gather data from different sources and use it to generate rich visualizations and interactive reports. The PowerBI-Dynamics 365 integration gives you the option to easily embed PowerBI visualizations into your personal D365 Dashboards. Or it functions the other way around by using Dynamics 365 as a source to generate reports and share them with non-D365 users.
Delve uses Azure Machine Learning to search your organization for documents and show you what’s trending at the moment based on document creation, views, edits, and shares. It can be integrated into your Dynamics 365 Dashboard to save you the trouble of searching for relevant documents.
Office 365 groups
As the name suggests, Office 365 groups mainly targets group work by joining emails, conversations, files, and documents all under one workspace. It’s the perfect tool for teams collaborating on one project to keep everything in one place. With the Dynamics 365 integration, Office 365 groups are accessible on any entity (including custom ones). This allows you to have one consolidated location to track any activities or files related to the current entity.
We’ve arrived at a point where everything is interconnected. So much work that was completed manually not long ago is now automated with software services and integrations.
While the number of integrations is rapidly rising, we should also note that they’re getting a lot smoother with time. To integrate Dynamics CRM with Outlook a couple of years ago, you needed a connector and a technical person. Today, it’s as simple as following a cooking recipe.
Microsoft has a vast portfolio of products, and it is capitalizing on that to dominate the enterprise market. Office 365 is finding huge success on its own; so is Dynamics 365. Combining both can boost productivity to a whole new level while staying in the same ecosystem.