Microsoft is also set to release Dynamics 365 Project Operations.
Microsoft has revealed plans to add a first-party voice communications channel to its Dynamics 365 Customer Service offering. Built on the Azure Communications Services platform, the voice capability will bring omnichannel customer support to Dynamics 365.
The native voice integration is among several major new Dynamics 365 features announced at last week’s Microsoft Ignite virtual conference. Now in preview, the voice channels are set to appear in select markets during the first half of next year.
Once enabled, partners can integrate conversational AI with the Common Data Services (CDS) underlying Microsoft’s Power Platform and Dynamics 365. The voice channel will also enable integration of Teams calling or third-party telephony solutions. According to Microsoft, Five9, Genesys, NICE InContact, Solgari, Tenfold and Vonage are among those providing connectors.
Voice communications makes up approximately 80% of customer service interactions, according to Alysa Taylor, corporate VP overseeing Microsoft business applications.
“The challenge for IT professionals has been integrating voice capabilities into their customer service platform,” Taylor told Ignite attendees. “We now removed that barrier. All of your support interactions – including voice – will adhere to a standard data model for simple integration.”
Microsoft’s new voice channel will integrate with the company’s Power Virtual Agents, released last year, and its Azure Bot Framework. Microsoft also announced during Ignite updates to Power Virtual Agents and the Bot Framework that will simplify bot development.
Deeana Sparks, a Microsoft product marketing manager, demonstrated Power Virtual Agents with Dynamics 365 Customer Service during Taylor’s Ignite session.
“To enable consistency, virtual agents are quickly becoming a first line of defense to support your service organizations, especially in today’s increasingly distributed environment,” Sparks said.
“Power Virtual Agents work with CDS to harness data from these cross-channel interactions,” she added. “Since Dynamics 365 also uses CDS, you can quickly bring together new and historical customer support data from your entire application portfolio.”
Sparks noted that the forthcoming voice channel will enhance the utility of Microsoft’s virtual bots.
“As you enable voice, your configured workflows, productivity tools and world-class AI can be immediately leveraged across your new voice channel,” she said.
Jeffrey Goldstein, managing director of Microsoft Gold Certified Partner Queue Associates, expects customers will welcome the voice channel.
“Last year, they announced the customer service bot and this is spectacular,” he said.
Taylor noted the preview is now available. She also said that Microsoft is rolling it out for its own customer service and support operations.
Also at Ignite, Microsoft announced previews of two supply chain management add-ins and its new Dynamics 365 Project Operations. Microsoft plans to release the previews during this Thursday’s Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Power Platform 2020 release wave 2 launch.
The two new add-ins for Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management include Cloud and Edge Scale Unit and Inventory Visibility. The new modules will support high-volume workloads running at remote warehouse or manufacturing facilities to run in tandem.
“The plug-and-play experience delivers seamless scalability during usage spikes to ensure high throughput,” Taylor said.
Taylor said the new Inventory Visibility add-in is great for large retailers and manufacturers that process large volumes of transactions.
“Organizations like Starbucks are using the capability to easily scale to fulfill orders from multiple channels on time, mitigate stock outs and overstocking with seamless integration into third party systems,” she said. “It can scale to millions of transactions per minute and calculate cross-channel inventory in real time.”
The release of Dynamics 365 Project Operations integrates the features of key offerings into one. It includes the existing Dynamics 365 Project Service Automation, Microsoft Project for Web, Dynamics 365’s sales and accounting capabilities.
“It provides organizations everything they need to manage their projects end to end from quote to cash in one single application,” said Mohammad Alam, corporate VP for Dynamics 365 at Microsoft.
Goldstein said that customers have long awaited the release of Dynamics 365 Project Operations.
“A lot of our customers are going to be very interested in this because it provides full-blown project management,” Goldstein said. “It does a lot of things that Microsoft Project doesn’t do, like being able to enter time and expenses and determine project profitability. It really pulls everything together. And then with the integration with Dynamics 365, especially finance and operations through Common Data Services, it provides seamless interaction.”
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