Dynamics 365 Environment missing in PowerBI Dataverse Connector

Dataverse is the name of the Dynamics 365 Apps database (e.g. Sales, Service, Field Services, etc.). PowerBI desktop comes with a builtin Dataverse connector. However, if you have multiple environments not all of them may show up in the connector.

Dataverse environment missing in PowerBI connector
Dataverse environment missing in PowerBI connector

In order to make the environment visible in PowerBI Desktop Dataverse Connector you have to enable PowerBI Embedded in your environment.

  1. Open Power Apps Admin Center https://admin.powerplatform.microsoft.com/
  2. Select the missing environment
  3. Open Settings (gear icon on the top)
  4. Search for TDS and open the Datastream Endpoint Configuration page
  5. In the group Embedded enable embedded PowerBI visuals
Enable PowerBI embedded visuals to see the Dataverse environment in the PowerBI connector
Enable PowerBI embedded visuals to see the Dataverse environment in the PowerBI connector

Now when you open PowerBI Desktop and use the Dataverse Connector you should see the missing environment.

Missing Dynamics 365 Dataverse environment is now visible in PowerBI Dataverse connector
Missing Dynamics 365 Dataverse environment is now visible in PowerBI Dataverse connector

Proposal for an Artificial Intelligence Act by the EU Commission

The European Commission is working on a proposal of a regulation on Artificial Intelligence. This proposal is origins from many initiatives and statements regarding the digital market and impact of AI on ethics and law. The goal is to create an EU wide effective law which protects rights and values by categorizing, forbidding and or requiring certain standards in Artificial Intelligence applications.

The proposal has a very wide idea on what AI is and what it wants to regulate. It aims on software based on techniques like machine learning, statistics and especially Bayse’ statistics, logic programming, inference and expert systems.

Category 1 : Forbidden

Some Artificial Intelligence applications which contradict rights and values of the European Union and it citizens shall be forbidden. The proposal names the following

  • Social Scoring by government agencies, i.e. scoring the social behavior of persons and creating a negativ impact. Such systems are known from China where non-conforming behavior can result in disadvantages when applying for a living space, university, etc.
  • Manipulate persons through subliminal techniques beyond their consciousness. A phenomenon that was recently shown in US elections where voters have been manipulated by using social media.
  • Remote Biometric Surveillance shall be banned but with very generous exceptions. For example searching for missing children, victims of crime and terrorists.

Category 2: High-Risk

Many Artificial Intelligence applications are considered to put rights of individuals on high risk and require therefore special legal treatment. The proposal lists a wide rang of possible high-risk applications. For example critical infrastructure, education, private and public services, law enforcement, migration, biometric identification.

The proposal states that for these applications require additional precautions like risk management, data quality, documentation, human supervision, hardening against security threats. It is also planned that high-risk applications have to be registered in a database before put to use.

Category 3: Low-Risk

Users of low-risk application needs to be informed that they are interacting with an AI application. For example using a chat bot. AI generated audio and videos also require labeling to prevent deep fakes. Games won’t need such a labeling because it is obvious that they present artificial generated content.

Fines

The AI act proposal suggests very high fines for violating the rules. For example using forbidden AI systems may result in a fine up to 30 Million € or 6% of the worldwide yearly revenue. Violating requirements for high-risk applications may result in 20 Million € or 4% world wide yearly revenue. Wrong or misleading information on national agencies 10 Million € or 2 % of world wide yearly revenue.

Industry statements regarding AI act

Many companies working on AI technology like IBM and Microsoft have handed in their own statement on the act. Microsoft has provided a statement that puts the spotlight on some problems in practice including the following key points.

  • The AI act proposal does not fully cover the complex AI eco-system. There are providers of general purpose AI components like image processing, text analysis etc. In many cases these of-the-shelf components are included in new applications which are then sold to customers and customized by other companies. Which participant in the eco-system has to take care of the requirements defined for high and low risk applications?
  • Some requirements in the act are unnecessary complex and unrealistic. For example article 10.3 requires error-free and complete data sets. This is almost impossible when training natural language or image processing applications.
  • Exception for remote biometric identification should be restricted. The actual proposal lists remote biometric identification as forbidden but gives law-enforcement a wide set of exceptions. For example searching for missing children, searching for victims, looking for terrorists and prevention of crimes. Microsoft states that the application of real-time biometric identification should only be used for serious and violent crimes. Moreover transparency reports should be mandatory for law-enforcement and judical authorities including what techniques were used, which training and test datasets were used, where, when, why and how long was remote biometric identification put to use.

The summary on the artificial intelligence act was created as part of the course “Algorithm, Discrimination and Law” at JKU Linz Winter term 2021.

Migrate Azure Analysis Services to another Tenant

Azure Analysis Services are SSAS as a Service hosted and managed in Azure. We recently had to migrate an analysis model from one tenant to another. Here is a video that illustrates how this can be done:

Find more videos in my Youtube Channel.

Towards Trust in Complex Cloud-based ERP Systems ​by Informing Users about the System Status

Modern cloud-based ERP systems are complex distributed software applications. These systems became more powerful over the last decades and provide more features to satisfy user needs than previous generations of ERP systems. Furthermore, they are integrated with other cloud-based systems. [Question/problem] The resulting increase in complexity leads to a higher probability of failures within this integrated system. This makes it difficult for users to fully understand these systems and even qualified key users don’t have an overview of possible system issues anymore. As a result, the number of support calls and diffuse support ticket requests have increased in the last years. Moreover, ERP partner organizations such as insideAx experience that users lose trust in their systems. [Principal idea/results] The goal of our work is to foster the trust of ERP users in cloud-based ERP systems and to reduce the number of unnecessary support requests, by enhancing existing user feedback and monitoring mechanisms and provide a visualization of system health indicators to users. Overall, these visualizations and explanations of the system health status need to be easy to understand by users. [Contribution] In this workshop paper, we provide insights from industry on how to foster user trust in complex software systems and depict a conceptual solution which makes use of system monitoring data to communicate the system status to users in a simple and understandable way. Our conceptual solution, for which we also provide a first implementation architecture proposal, foresees that simple modifications to the software and ambient light devices allow to build such visualizations.

The 5th International Workshop on Crowd-Based Requirements Engineering (CrowdRE’21) https://crowdre.github.io/ws-2021/

Dynamics 365 Customer Voice template for Field Service Work Orders

Dynamics 365 Customer Voice is a great tool to create surveys. It also comes with a set of integration templates for other Dynamics 365 products like Customer Service and Field Service. The service order template is using a flow in Power Automate to send a satisfaction survey to the primary contact after a work order in Dynamics 365 Field Service has been completed. This video shows how to setup the template and what it looks like in practice:

Windows 365

Microsoft released a new offer: Windows Cloud-PC. You can choose between two licensing types, Windows 365 Business for small companies and Enterprise for larger ones. Technical speaking, Windows 365 is nothing more than a Windows 10 VM running in Azure providing access via RDP and RDP Web Client. This means you can operation your Windows from almost any device with a Browser e.g. a Tablet or shared PC. Windows 365 is integrated within Office 365. You can assign a cloud pc to a user from within the Office 365 admin panel. Users can access the cloud pc from Office 365.

A Cloud-PC can be accessed using a web browser from your Office 365 portal

In contrast to a typical Azure VM, Windows 365 comes with a fixed price you pay per month depending on the sizing. Unfortunately, you can only choose from different configurations based on CPU and RAM but not storage technology. For example, if you select a cheaper one with 2 cores and 4 GB RAM you will get a HDD instead of an SSD.

Cloud-PC: Windows 10 as a Service

In theory you can use a Cloud-PC from a tablet, like in my case from a Samsung Galaxy Tab. But in practice it turns out that it is very buggy to use. The on-screen keyboard pops up very often. The full-screen view resizes many times. Calling the Windows start menu triggers strange actions. One opportunity for Windows 365 could be to provide Home-Office users a workplace.

Dynamics 365 FO – New Grid Control in Action

New Grid control in Dynamics 365 Finance & SCM

The new grid control in Dynamics 365 FO comes with some cool new features. Watch the video on my YouTube channel to see it in action.

  • Copy&Paste data from Excel into Dynamics 365 FO
  • Faster data entry due late field validation
  • Easily Drag&Drop reorder columns
  • Pin columns on the left while scrolling
  • Use formulas in numeric fields
  • Calculate totals for numeric fields

How to choose the right BI and reporting strategy for Dynamics 365 Finance

Dynamics 365 for Finance and Supply Chain Management offers a broad range of reporting and business intelligence options. You can utilize the integrated Power BI dashboards, link the Power BI report gallery within Dynamics, use integrated SSRS reports or develop Power BI reports and dashboards that connect to Dynamics 365. Sometimes it can be hard to decided which one to choose. Here is a guideline which one to choose depending on the reporting requirements.

Dynamics 365 Power BI and Reporting strategy

Decision Tree for Power BI / Reporting in Dynamics 365 Finance & SCM

Report Format:

What is the purpose of the report? Is it an interactive report / dashboard or is it a static list or document like artifact? For example, sales analysis is typical an interactive report while a collection letter is a printed document. Power BI is great for interactive data analysis, SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) is the right tool for lists and page oriented printable documents.

Real Time:

Do you need to see transactional data as soon as it is generated in Dynamics? For example posting and invoice and immediately printing the document. If so, you need to access the transactional database (AxDB). There are two ways: Use integrated Reporting Services or query entities via OData. However, using entities allows you to access the AxDB but Power BI doesn’t support Direct Query mode for OData, i.e. you have to hit refresh in order to get the latest data.

Multiple data sources:

Is Dynamics 365 Finance the only data source for your report, or do you need to integrated external data sources as well? An example could be to develop a revenue analysis which includes actual sales data from Dynamics 365 as well as demographics and household income. Integrated Power BI dashboards in Dynamics 365 use direct query to access the AxDB and cannot integrate other data sources. It is also not recommended to load external data into Dynamics 365 AxDB because you have a limited cost free database size in your subscription. Additional SQL storage has to be paid.

Additional licenses:

Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply Chain Management includes the rights to view the integrated Power BI dashboards. No additional Power BI license is required. Reports developed using the integrated SQL Server Reporting Services technology are also covered by the Dynamics license. External Power BI reports, dashboards and paginated reports require additional Power BI licenses. At least Power BI Pro for reports and dashboards, Power BI Premium Capacity or Premium per User for paginated Reports.

Examples:

An interactive custom Power BI Report viewed in Dynamics 365 Finance via the users Report Catalog option

Production Performance is part of Dynamics 365 Finance & SCM and directly connects to the entity store (aka. AxDW)

A paginated report in Power BI (Premium)

A static SSRS paginated report in Dynamics 365 Finance and SCM

Conclusion

Before you start working with a certain product, make sure to understand the requirements. Identify the data sources and how to access them. Then choose the right tool for the job. Don’t try to make a printable Power BI or fancy SSRS. By leveraging the full reporting and BI potential you can deliver a great user experience that adds value to Dynamics 365 Finance and SCM.

Use Data Entities in Dynamics 365 Finance & SCM to expose Business Logic

Entities in Dynamics 365 Finance & Supply Chain are not only good to access data. Entities can also be used to execute X++ business logic from 3rd party applications like Power Automate.

For example a table contains shipping carrier records. A Carrier has a Name and Description. The name is the primary key. The combination of Name and DataAreaId makes a record unique at the database.

Carrier Table

There is also an entity to access the data.

Carrier Table Entity

An Action is a piece of X++ logic exposed via entity. This example sets the Carrier as default value for a customer:

public class DMOCarrierTableEntity extends common
{
/// Set as default
/// Customer Account
[SysODataActionAttribute('SetDefault', true)]
public void approve(CustAccount _custAccount)
{    
    ttsbegin;
    CustTable custTable = CustTable::find(_custAccount,true);
    custTable.DMOPreferredCarrier = this.Name;
    custTable.update();
    ttscommit;
}

Such an action can be called via Power Automate:

Call custom action via Power Automate

Mini Webcast Series: Dynamics 365 FO Connector for Power Automate

Power Automate (aka. Flow) is a great solution for process automation. It is very useful to realize cross-application processes. Power Automate features a wide variety of tasks and connectors. It also comes with a connector for Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply Chain Management. It can be used to trigger a flow, interact with data and execute business logic in D365 FO from within a flow. You can find all videos on my YouTube Channel.

Part 1: Trigger a Flow with Business Events

Business Events in Dynamics 365 Finance and Supply Chain Management are use to interact with other systems. For example you can send message to Azure Event Hub but also to Power Automate. There are some specific events but you can also use change-based alerts in Dynamics. This video shows how to trigger a flow using such a business event.

Business Events can trigger Power Automate flows

Part 2: Interact with data in Dynamics 365 Finance and SCM

The Connector for Dynamics 365 FO uses entities to interact with data in the ERP system. You can create new records, read, update and delete records. Here is an example where Power Automate receives data from Forms Pro and create a new customer in Dynamics 365 FO.

Create new records in Dynamics 365 FO from Flow

Part 3: Execute Business Logic in Dynamics 365 Finance and SCM

The Dynamics 365 FO Connector in Power Automate supports to execute business logic by calling actions on entities. Here is a video how to approve a Bill of Materials in Teams and execute the Approval logic via Flow.

Execute Business Logic from Flow