3 ways to enhance your Microsoft 365 licenses 

Unlocking the Power of the Dataverse

Did you know there are several ways you can enhance how you use your Microsoft 365 licenses? You’re probably using your license for email, Teams, and document storage in SharePoint. But for just a few more dollars a month, you can harness the latest and most powerful features of Microsoft’s Dataverse.

Microsoft Dataverse (previously known as Common Data Service or CDS) is a cloud-based solution from Microsoft that allows businesses to securely store and manage data. It serves as the data platform for Dynamics 365, Power Platform (including Power Apps, Power Automate, and Power Virtual Agents), and other Microsoft cloud services.

Key features of Microsoft Dataverse include:

Data Storage: A secure, scalable relational data store organized with tables, columns, and rows, much like a traditional database.

Data Modelling: Users can define and manage schema, relationships, and business rules. The schema includes tables (formerly entities), columns (formerly fields), and relationships.

Business Logic: Create business rules and workflows directly within Dataverse for automation and data layer logic.

Security: A strong security model ensures data integrity and privacy with user roles, field-level security, and auditing capabilities.

Integration: Seamless integration with Power Platform. Easily pull data from Dataverse into Power Apps and access connectors for many other platforms and services. 

Built-in AI: The AI Builder lets users construct and deploy machine learning models using Dataverse data. 

Rich Data Types: Beyond standard text, number, and date fields, Dataverse supports more complex data types, like images, emails, and addresses, making it versatile for various applications. 

Environment Management: It allows for environment management, which means organizations can have development, testing, and production environments, ensuring safe deployment of changes.

How We've Leveraged Microsoft Dataverse

We’re big fans of Microsoft Dataverse and here are three ways we’ve assisted our clients in leveraging its capabilities to cut costs, boost productivity, and streamline workflows:

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Automation

Microsoft Dynamics 365 is a suite of ERP and CRM software applications designed to automate processes, enhance customer relationships, and drive data-informed decisions across sectors like sales, customer services, finance, HR, and marketing.

CHAP (Community Health Accreditation Partner) had 14,000 clients and a need: automate correspondence. They transitioned from a custom-built portal to Microsoft 365 Dynamics and the Power Platform. With our intervention, they saved hours of manual work and thousands in fees. We deployed an API in Azure, enabling automation, better data use, and increased customer engagement. The result? Improved insights and efficiency for CHAP.

"Since using Cloudwell’s document generation automation API, not only can our accreditation team see all the emails sent on their behalf, but they have reported a significant increase in customers engagement."

An alternative solution to Power Apps

Power Apps, a part of Microsoft Power Platform, lets users create custom apps without coding. While powerful, its $20/user/month price can be steep for large organizations.

However, there is an alternative way of using your data in the Dataverse. We’ve recently built one client, with 1,500 employees, an app that can essentially emulate the Power Apps functionality, but at a fraction of the cost. 

By leveraging the SharePoint Framework, we built a forms solution that wires into SharePoint lists and libraries that can do many of the same things that Power Apps developers accomplish with customized SharePoint forms.

This includes support of complex features including repeating fields, calculated tables, cascading fields and even connections to external data sources (without premium connectors!).

For our client, they were able to utilize our custom form solution to build over 50 fully custom forms with external data connections without needing to use expensive PowerApps licenses. 

Power Pages for Customer Portals

Power Pages, a new addition to the Microsoft Power Platform, allows site building using shared business data in Microsoft Dataverse. They can serve as customer interfaces, connecting clients with their CRM data.

For example, if you’re an organization that collects data on your customers – such as their name, email, address, and phone number, you can give your customers a way to securely login your system, view their information associated to their record, update it if needed or upload documentation, such as renewals or invoices, without your employees having to intervene.

While this is the theory, in reality developers are finding Power Pages hard to customize. They’re needing to dust off their JavaScript code to make any customizations. Plus, with no source control management over the customization, they’re finding it frustrating to use as one wrong move can ruin everything.

This is where our expertise comes in. We’ve built a Power Pages plugin, that lets your developers customize Power Pages in the development language their natively comfortable working in.

The plug-in allows developers to use React, TypeScript, and automated Release Pipelines, and have it all just work in the system, without having the headache of learning new code or getting lost in code…

Your developers can work in the way that they’re used to doing with other applications. For example, they can use build and release pipelines and the cloud.

And because the plug-in lets developers track source control, track changes, publish approval processes and guidelines and go to dev and QA production all in a very safe way, it’s very simple to create customizations.

Interested in enhancing your Microsoft 365 licenses?