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Organize Your Data with the Common Data Service for Analytics

When implementing any new business intelligence technology there is one question that must be answered: How can I use my data to make informed business decisions?

Microsoft’s Common Data Service for Analytics is being touted as a coming feature of Power BI and is built on the Common Data Model.  Microsoft has released a 200-plus page PDF of the Release Notes for the coming Spring ’18 update and a deep drive on-demand video.  The Common Data Service for Analytics start around the 1:04 mark of the video.  So, what is the Common Data Model and how does it relate to the Common Data Service for Analytics?

Common Data Model (CDM) vs. Common Data Service (CDS)

CDS stands for Common Data Service while CDM means Common Data Model. Roughly speaking, the Common Data Service utilizes the Common Data Model to easily generate cross-platform business reporting.  Microsoft’s CDM bridges the gap between disjointed data repositories, granting easier cross-platform business reporting.

The Common Data Service is the Microsoft Azure-based business application platform that enables you to easily build and extend applications with their business data. The Common Data Service provides a common data schema across the Dynamics 365 services, so you can focus on building and delivering faster insights and process automation with your PowerApps, Power BI, and Microsoft Flow.  The “Common Data Service for Analytics expands Power BI to provide a self-service data lake of business entities stored and manipulated directly within the Power BI Service,” says Microsoft.

In summary, the Data Integration provides the connectors and gateways that make it possible to bring any external data into the Common Data Service and store the data in Common Data Model (CDM) form. This makes it easier for customers to integrate their data in a single place for business applications and analytics. Data Integration is based on Power Query, the same technology millions of people use daily in Power BI and Excel. Let’s look at the details behind this service from the Spring ’18 PDF.

The Details behind the Common Data Model and Data Integration

The Common Data Model is an open-sourced definition of standard entities that represent commonly used concepts and activities across a variety of business and application domains. The Common Data Model offers well-defined, modular, and extensible business entities such as Account, Business Unit, Case, Contact, Lead, Opportunity, and Product, as well as interactions and relationships between vendors, workers, and customers, such as activities and service level agreements.

  • Microsoft’s Common Data Service for Apps and the Common Data Service for Analytics implement the Common Data Model. These services hold data that conforms to the Common Data Model definition. By building on top of these services, packaged applications and analytical solutions can work with well-defined entity shapes and share data, irrespective of where data is originally coming from or mastered. Custom line- of-business apps and analytical solutions can leverage the same entities for data sharing.
  • Microsoft and our partners are committed to building applications on top of the Common Data Service and storing your business data in the Common Data Model form. A large and growing collection of solutions “just work” when data is stored in Common Data Model form, which means you can quickly implement new business processes and gain insights into your business operations without friction or complexity.

Common_Data_Service

  • The Common Data Model simplifies the challenges of data management by unifying data in a known form with structural and semantic consistency across applications and deployments. It helps integrate and disambiguate data collected from business processes, digital interactions, product telemetry, people interactions, and so on.
  • Data stored in the Common Data Service for Apps integrates easily and automatically with the Common Data Service for Analytics for customers who use both services. You can start from enterprise and transactional data you already own (such as leads, campaign information, and previous customer purchases) and combine it with data from other sources (such as weblogs or product telemetry) to get a unified picture.
  • The Common Data Model is also extensible. You can add fields to any of the customizable entities that come with the Common Data Model or you can create your own custom entities. The Common Data Model standard defines a common language for business entities covering the full range of business processes across sales, service, marketing, operations, finance, talent, and commerce, and for the Customer, People, and Product entities at the core of a company’s business processes. The Common Data Model also facilitates data interoperability spanning multiple channels, service implementations, and vendors.

The Common Data Model and Common Data Services provide the following capabilities:

  • Definition of standard entities. The Common Data Model provides a definition of the most commonly used entities across business and productivity applications. The public Common Data Model GitHub repository (https://github.com/Microsoft/CDM) will be continuously enhanced with core entities spanning the entire business process landscape, additional vertical industry data models, and cross- spanning sources such as surveys, search engines, and product telemetry.
  • Data integration. Use Power Query as the built-in web experience to import and transform data from your existing systems, and to combine data from online and on-premises sources with no-code or low- code. Excel and Power BI data transformation skills apply seamlessly. When you import data, you can map it to standard Common Data Model entities or create and map to new entities. Out-of-the-box data integration and mapping templates simplify the process of connecting to common data sources such as Salesforce. Mapping templates are fully customizable and extensible.

Common_Data_Service

  • Extensibility. You can extend the entities without breaking data sharing with other apps.
  • Dependability. Because you can depend on common entities, you can build reusable components that are bound to those entities. The Common Data Model includes a design for extensibility and versioning that protects your development investment.
  • Entity consistency across deployments. Your solutions can connect information from productivity platforms with data from business applications. For example, you can connect a calendar appointment or a Microsoft Outlook task with a sales opportunity.

The Common Data Service for Apps implements the Common Data Model, which facilitates business application development. With the Common Data Service for Apps you can:

  • Take advantage of packaged business applications. Packaged applications, including Dynamics 365 for Sales, Dynamics 365 for Service, Dynamics 365 for Field Service, Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation, Dynamics 365 for Marketing, and Dynamics 365 for Talent are built on top of the Common Data Service for Apps.
  • Customize applications and build native extensions for your needs.
  • Build no code/low code WYSIWYG apps with PowerApps. Use the same shared entities created or used by the packaged applications or by other third-party applications to create stand-alone line-of- business apps.
  • Automate business processes with Microsoft Flow. Use a business process flow to define a set of stages and steps to achieve a desired outcome. 
The upcoming Public Preview of the Common Data Service for Analytics also implements the Common Data Model, supporting data analytics of business data in a standardized form, including:
  • Packaged and customized analytical solutions that use standard data entities. Applications such as the Sales Insights add-on, which tracks historical sales performance, provide consistent insights regardless of where the data was originally mastered, because the data integration experience maps data from other sources (Salesforce, for example) to Common Data Model entity shapes. This simplifies your analytical solution by focusing on the data semantics of well-defined entities such as Leads and Opportunities.
  • No-code/low-code Power Query data integration. Create, populate, transform, and enrich entities using an improved Power Query experience.
  • Bring your own Azure storage. Take advantage of the Azure data stack to make data available to the Common Data Service for Analytics. The entities are stored in the same Common Data Model format recognized by analytical solutions.

Ready to Do Even More with Your Data?

Start organizing, knowing and executing on your data today with Power BI to provide a self-service data lake in the future. KTL Solutions works with business leaders every day in helping them lead their organization into becoming data-driven organization. Need help executing on your data?

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