The Grinch’s Heart Grows with a Little Help from the Dynamics 365 Relationship Assistant

Shortly after the Grinch stole Christmas, he gave it back and he wanted to befriend all of the Whos in Whoville. He wanted to rebuild those relationships but because he was so out of practice, he needed to look somewhere for help. If only he had the Dynamics 365 Relationship Assistant to help keep an eye on his daily action and communication by providing suggestions of who to reach out to, for what reason, and when to do so.

Suggestions that Could Be Made

Suggestions are displayed to users on “cards” that are displayed in various places around Dynamics 365. Grouped into several categories, these offer several types of assistance:

  • Base cards – displayed based on explicit dates, such as due dates and close dates, on records in Dynamics 365 (available on-premises and online)
  • Email cards from Exchange – displayed based on information culled from Microsoft Exchange
  • Relationship analytics cards – displayed based on a lack of recent activity (see image below)
  • Email engagement cards – displayed based on details from the new email engagement feature
  • Productivity cards – displayed based on location and schedule information

Under Settings->Relationship Insights, an administrator sets which of the card types that will show, along with the options for each one as appropriate (not all card types have options to set).

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Figure 1 – Some of the available card types and options available

While some of these, like the ones in the image above, are pretty understandable based only on the name and available options, others need a little more explanation. After some searching I was able to track down this help page which includes reference documentation for each of the different card types (but doesn’t yet include a high level of technical detail for each).

What has me particularly excited about these is that so many of these things address longstanding business requirements that I’ve run across over the last 15 years—yet we haven’t before had a straightforward way to address them with out-of-the-box functionality. As a few examples:

  • I want a reminder to reach out and make contact if I have an account that I haven’t engaged with in the last month
  • I want to know which other prospects/clients are around me so I can reach out to fill my calendar with another appointment
  • I want to know, before I call a contact, whether they have an important email they sent me (that I might not have seen or tracked in CRM)
  • I want a simple list of the contacts I’m meeting with today

It’s been very possible to address these with user training & process along with a combination of configuration, workflow, emails, dashboards, reports, alerts, and sometimes even code to address these needs. This marks a key evolution where these more abstract needs are addressable using standardized functionality from the Dynamics platform itself!

Suggestions Come to You, When You Need Them

Part of the value of the Relationship Assistant is that the cards aren’t stuck in a single location—they’re surfaced through many different means. One such place is on a mobile device like a phone or tablet in the “Today” page in the new Dynamics 365 mobile app.

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Figure 2 – The “Today” page of the Dynamics 365 mobile app (shown on Android, available on iPhone, iPad, and Windows)

Another is in the context of a specific record, such as an individual contact:

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Figure 3 – An individual contact record in Dynamics 365

These aren’t the only places either—other locations for these Relationship Assistant cards includes dashboards (above the “What’s New” wall), accounts, cases, opportunities, etc. Long story short: as a user I’m not stuck having to go to a specific place to find this information. It is intelligently suggested at various places around Dynamics 365 where they are thought to be the most relevant.

On the Subject of Requirements

First and foremost—this is a preview feature at the time of this blog’s writing. This means that an administrator will need to enable this preview feature in order to make it available within the system. Preview features may not be perfect, in fact they’re not guaranteed, but historically I’ve seen value in preview features as long as people are aware that it is, in fact, a preview feature.

By enabling the relationship assistant, some data from exchange (email addresses, sections of emails) are retrieved by Dynamics 365 (but not stored). If the cards for News or Stock/Ticker information are selected then that information will be requested from other Microsoft services (Bing and Money). These types of items should be considered at the time of implementation and all matters of data privacy are relevant to consider.

While there are certainly considerations to weigh, this is a very exciting step forward in helping grinches everywhere with their relationship development.

Ready to talk with someone about what Dynamics 365 can do for your business? Contact us today!