Drive your own digital transformation with Dynamics 365, CDM and PowerApps

Drive your own digital transformation with Dynamics 365, CDM and PowerApps
May 21, 2017 No Comments Dynamics 365,Microsoft Flow,Microsoft PowerApps Yuriy Raskazov

In this post, we continue to explore Common Data Model (CDM), its roadmap and integration features with Dynamics 365 as well as a reference to some examples of how to apply this technology in a variety of Service industries (such as IT Consulting Services, Legal Services or Advertisement services). See our previous introductory post about what is CDM here.

Common Data Model designed to be a backbone for all business data for new Dynamics 365 and all things that integrate with Dynamics 365. CDM can provide real-time synchronization interface with other cloud services by setting predefined connectors and data gateways. In addition, it comes with a set of tools allow your power users, people who understand their business needs best, to build automation, analytics and apps quickly and without writing code.

Therefore, overall solutions to deliver so-called by Microsoft “intelligent business cloud”, built by the following main building blocks:

  • Dynamics 365 (with modules such as Operations, Project Services Automation, Customer service, Marketing, Sales and Field Services)
  • Office 365
  • Power BI and Cortana Intelligence
  • Other Line-Of-Business applications built in-house

Third party business applications

In those solutions, CDM can work in two main ways – as an Operational Data Store (ODS) for Dynamics 365 and as a Transaction-Processing Store (TPS).  In Operational Data Store, you can pull data from other systems so you can work on a composed version of that data. These other systems are typically multiple systems of record, which are typically read-only.  In TPS, data is represented by updatable entities (support read and write operations) and can be used for transaction based data changes in CDM.

In a big enterprise, there are a multiple sources or data feeds, which compose a common data set required for your business application, workflow or BI. An example would be a customer record that needs to be shared across multiple legal entities (companies) within your business process, apps or analytics. Many big international service-oriented corporations will have this problem when implementing a global finance or CRM solutions. There often be cases where they have multiple legacy systems holding a set or subset of master data like customer or vendor record in all sorts of different formats.  However, what even more important, they would typically want to be able to sell services across all of their companies (subsidiaries) to the same customer and record it under the same global project sub-ledger making it transparent for consolidated corporate management reporting. Add to this a classic problem with pay-when-paid scenarios, which by the way appears to be even a statutory requirement in some countries. Those scenarios are much easier to handle with the common data model for your main master data like customers, vendors, and services shared across systems and legal entities.

The key principles of using CDM data model solution for those scenarios:

  • Bulk and asynchronous synchronization of data (in-flow of data from two external systems)
  • Transformation of external entity schema into CDM entity schema
  • Usage of staging table to detect duplicates and other data cleansing processes
  • Use non-sync entities for reading and writing (Orders TPS)
  • Read only from synchronized entities (Customers and Packaged services ODS)
  • Link entities as needs based on available keys



To look at it from a technical point of view, we can highlight the following key points:

  • Staging entities, as well as data integrity verification in CDM, are built by similar to DIXF framework technology which is already familiar to AX consultants and developers;
  • Role base security is similar to AX security model as well, with CRUD permissions at the entity level, field level, and record level; with easy opt-ins and outs for test and dev environments;
  • System data of record can be Dynamics 365 for Operations, AX2012, Dynamics CRM or any other external system;
  • Dynamics 365 for Operations has data management improvements – specifically, new data source (connector) for CDM is available out of the box; standard AX data management tools such as data projects can be used by developers to export predefined entities right into the CDM (manually or by the automated periodic batch job);


Another interesting example of utilizing CDM solution with service industry would be so-called social listening and service/product insights. With a number of connectors available for CDM already (see list here) and growing, we can start getting data from a variety of social media feeds,  as well as from any sort of telemetric equipment, from field engineers and so on. With all these data, you can provide business with match better insights of users’ feedback and customer satisfaction. That data then can be put in finance perspective by adding costs and perhaps proceeds, as well as operational planning perspective by adding a service/product types, categories, and hierarchies. Putting all that into the graph, breaking down each service/product by its components and attributes, which can visualize and help with planning and allocation of resources.

In conclusion, building modern business applications with CDM and Dynamics 365 can bring a synergy of analytics, user experiences and automation to any service related industry. We will look more into those capabilities dive deeper into the technical aspects in our next blog posts.


About The Author
Yuriy Raskazov Microsoft Certified Professional, experienced in application development, solution design and consulting for business solution implementations based on Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations

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