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If you look around at your physical and digital environments, data is everywhere. Despite this abundance, organizations have struggled to capture and scale observational data, leading to less visibility into their physical footprint than their digital channels. Powered by the intelligent edge and the intelligent cloud, AI and computer vision are transforming the way we observe, understand, and act on data in our physical environments. Looking into the future, we will continue to unlock new data sources like cameras and sensors, to better understand the way we shape our customer and employee experiences. Microsoft is helping break down barriers between the physical and digital worlds to help organizations keep up with today’s competitive and fast-paced landscape.

We are excited to announce the preview version of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Connected Spaces, previously Dynamics 365 Connected Store, signaling our expansion from retail scenarios to all spaces. Now, with Dynamics 365 Connected Spaces, your organization can harness observational data with ease, use AI-powered models to unlock insights about your environment, and respond in real-time to trends and patterns. As an out-of-the-box solution, Dynamics 365 Connected Spaces is built to be extensible, customizable, and seamlessly work with your existing hardware. The preview will be available in early December 2021.

Set up existing cameras and unlock data with AI-powered skills

Observational data, or the data we generate as we move throughout the world, has been historically difficult to scale and derive insights from, but with Dynamics 365 Connected Spaces, the process for collecting insights is made easy. With a simple set-up experience, add existing hardware and unlock new data with a turnkey software as a service (SaaS) application. Following deployment, simply turn on AI-powered models, known as skills, to help understand specific scenarios such as customer behavior at a promotional display, traffic patterns, and insights unique to your space. With the power of your existing cameras, harness computer vision and pre-built skills to help complete the picture—giving a new perspective into people, places, and things.

Connected Spaces product’s user interface that shows camera set-up.

Connected Spaces product’s user interface that shows selection of skill type.

Pre-built skills help generate actionable insights

As a part of this announcement, the following skills will be available for preview:

Shopper analytics—using cameras pointed at entry and exit locations, receive counts and trends for footfall in the store, and how they change by the hour and by day. You can also identify the busiest day of the week and use that to plan shifts.

Connected Spaces product’s user interface that shows drawing skills.

Dashboard view that shows shopper analytics.

Display effectiveness—measure the effectiveness of displays (end caps in your store) to get an understanding of how many people walked past the display, and how many have actively engaged with it. Use this data to do A/B testing to determine the best locations to put your promotional content or to simply understand how the display is doing.

User interface that shows drawing display effectiveness skill.

Dashboard view that shows display effectiveness scenario.

Queue management—measure the customer wait time experienced in queues, use the data to plan to open additional queues, and achieve a better understanding of business lost due to queue abandonment.

Dashboard view that shows queue management skills

Product user interface that shows drawing queue management skill.

At the core of this solution is responsible AI. These scenarios are powered by computer vision technology for people counting and dwell time measurement without individual shoppers being identified or having their facial characteristics analyzed.

Empower your employees and improve in-store customer experiences

Coupled with innovative skills scenarios, Dynamics 365 Connected Spaces comes with built-in alerts for each scenario, enabling managers and employees to respond to important interactions with ease. Triggered by real-time activity, alerts are sent to Microsoft Outlook or Microsoft Teams when a threshold is met such as maximum wait time, maximum store occupancy, maximum display dwell time, and more. Gone are the days when you had to rely on counting shoppers with a clicker—employees can now spend time on activities that drive real business value.

Additionally, the Dynamics 365 Connected Spaces dashboard provides a one-stop for employees to quickly tap into new perspectives. With charts, graphs, heat maps, and alerts, employees can adapt to pinpoint trouble areas, improve the customer experience, and better visualize patterns that impact operations.

Frontline workers in manufacturing talking and using tablet to collaborate on the job.

Looking forward

Built to be extensible, the pre-built retail skills are just the starting point. Dynamics 365 Connected Spaces will continue to expand with skills in a variety of industries and key scenarios to help improve visibility, enhance employee and customer experiences, and drive operational efficiencies. Here are a few use cases we are excited to see come to life in the future:

  • Anomaly detection in manufacturing: Detect errors in real-time to help improve accuracy and avoid unnecessary waste.
  • Tools and materials: Ensure that tools, materials, and items are in the right place for important workflows, reducing inefficiencies.

Ease of use is at the center of our product experience and we’re excited for the potential to use low-code capabilities to enhance pre-built skills to accommodate your business use cases and account for the unique nature of your spaces. Looking forward, employees will be able to easily adapt, train, and improve skill accuracy. Using simple box and labeling features, employees will be able to guide skills to capture only what’s most important, and ultimately, be more proactive.

Over time, Dynamics 365 Connected Spaces becomes the partner at your side, providing intelligent insights and enhancing real-time understanding. From retail to manufacturing, we’re excited to empower organizations to transform their operations and customer experiences with improved visibility in your spaces. The benefits to unlocking the power of observational data are immense and with a turnkey, easy-to configure solution, organizations can begin to bridge the physical and digital and gain a new perspective.

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