Benefits of Common Data Service

If you’ve ever had to use data from multiple systems and applications together, you know that a common data store with common data elements can save effort, streamline development, and enable faster analytics. Without being able to share and understand the same data easily, each application, or data integration project requires a custom implementation, which can consume a lot of time, cost a lot of money, and require repeated effort.

Common Data Service, using the Common Data Model, simplifies this process by providing a shared data store and language for business and analytical applications to use. This sharing enables data and application interoperability spanning multiple channels, service implementations, and vendors.

Common Data Service is a shared data store that can be access by Dynamics 365, Power Platform, and custom applications. This shared store allows all the applications to use the same data set and avoids the problems created by duplicate and different data stores.

Benefits of the Common Data Model

The Common Data Model standard defines a common language for business entities, covering the full range of business processes across sales, services, marketing, operations, finance, talent, and commerce and for the Customer, Employee, and Product entities at the core of a company's business processes.

The graphic below illustrates the Common Data Model.

Graphic of Common Data Model

An entity is a set of records used to store data, like how a table stores data within a database:

  • Unified: A single view of data built on one data model.
  • Intelligent: Supporting AI-driven insights.
  • Enhanced: Allowing more powerful applications and services.

The Common Data Model offers these benefits:

  • Structural and semantic consistency across applications and deployments.
  • Simplified integration and disambiguation of data that’s collected from processes, digital interactions, product telemetry, people interactions, and so on.
  • A unified shape where data integrations can combine existing enterprise data with other sources and use that data holistically to develop apps or derive insights.
  • Ability to extend the schema and Common Data Model standard entities to tailor the model to your organization.

You can use the Common Data Model to create data repositories that use the Common Data Model metadata system, and you can also transform your existing data into the Common Data Model standard schema. Either way, the efficiency that you get from standardization can expedite and streamline whatever you do next with your data.

Its metadata system enables consistency of data and its meaning across applications and business processes such as PowerApps, Power BI, Dynamics 365, and Azure, which stores the data.

In addition to the metadata system, the Common Data Model includes a set of standardized, extensible data schemas that Microsoft and its partners have published. This collection of predefined schemas includes entities, attributes, semantic metadata, and relationships. The schemas represent commonly used concepts and activities, such as Account and Campaign, to simplify the creation, aggregation, and analysis of data.

This graphic below shows some elements of the standard entities.

Graphic showing Common Data Model entities

Common Data Service contains a Common Data Model, consisting of standard entity definitions such as:

  • Foundation: The Foundation entities contain information that is relevant to nearly every other entity group. This group contains entities such as Address and Currency
  • People, organizations, and groups: These entities encompass a rich set of people and organizations that you might interact with, including employees, contractors, donors, volunteers, fans, alumni, and families.
  • Purchasing: The Purchasing entities let you create purchasing solutions.
  • Sales: The Sales entities let you create end-to-end sales solutions, from tracking leads and opportunities, to following through with contacts, to accepting and delivering orders, to sending invoices.
  • Case management: The Case Management entities manage issues from your customers, including tracking, escalation, and documentation.

Benefits of Common Data Service

Common Data Service manages business data that support interconnected business application and processes, and lets you securely store and manage data that's used by business applications.

The graphic below outlines the benefits of Common Data Service.

Graphic showing Common Data Service benefits

Common Data Service is a business data engine that enables rapid application creation, integration and automation. It is built on several Microsoft cloud data storage technologies and leverages them as appropriate based on the data and processing needs.

Some other key benefits of Common Data Service are:

  • Easy to manage: Both the metadata and data are stored in the cloud. You don't need to worry about the details of how they're stored.
  • Easy to secure: Data is securely stored so that users can see it only if you grant them access. Role-based security allows you to control access to entities for different users within your organization.
  • Access your Dynamics 365 data: Data from your Dynamics 365 applications is also stored within the Common Data Service allowing you to quickly build apps which leverage your Dynamics 365 data and extend your apps using PowerApps.
  • Rich metadata: Data types and relationships are leveraged directly within PowerApps.
  • Logic and validation: Define calculated fields, business rules, workflows, and business process Power Automate flows to ensure data quality and drive business processes.
  • Productivity tools: Entities are available within the add-ins for Microsoft Excel to increase productivity and ensure data accessibility.

It is easier to bring your data together and quickly create powerful apps using Common Data Service, a compliant and scalable data service and app platform that’s integrated into Power App.

Common Data Model vs. Common Data Service

The standard entity design in a Common Data Service database is based upon an open data model standard called Common Data Model. Common Data Model is a logical design that includes a set of standardized, extensible data entities and relationships, that Microsoft and its partners have published in an industry-wide initiative called the Open Data Initiative. This collection of predefined entities, attributes, semantic metadata, and relationships form the basis of Common Data Model.

Term Definition
Application/app A defined collection of features and data on the Dynamics Power platform. Microsoft has several first-party applications like Sales and Customer Service. Makers can design and build entirely custom solutions on the Power platform, and they can also customize the first-party applications offered.
Business Unit Business Units provide structure for grouping users and are often used to mimic an organizations department structure.
Data model A data model is the definition of the data and its relationships within the Dynamics 365 Power platform.
Entity An entity is a container for data, similar to a table in a traditional database. Each entity contains a set of attributes.
Environment Environments are containers that you can use to manage data, apps, flows, connections, and other assets; along with permissions to allow organization users to use the resources.
Field A single piece of data for an entity, several types are available from text to currency and numeric values. Sometimes called an attribute.
Form A form is an element of the user experience in Dynamics. A form can contain many elements designed to allow a user to see and interact with data in Dynamics.
Metadata The definitions for the entities, attributes, and the relationships between the entities within Common Data Service are collectively described as metadata. Metadata contains all the information necessary for Power platform to use underlying entities and data.
Records A record is how a user sees data in Dynamics, often this is via a form or a view.
Region As a cloud service Dynamics is deployed globally in various locations, or regions. Feature rollout and products updates are often staged for deployment based on regions.
Security Role This is the definition of a user’s access and privileges in Dynamics. A user’s experience in an application is the result of the combined privileges of their collection of security roles.
Sitemap The user’s navigational experience is defined by the Site Map.
Solution A solution is a collection of customizations that can be moved from one instance to another. For example, you can create a solution in your test environment and move it to production.
Tenant For Dynamics 365 a tenant is the account you create in the Microsoft Online Services environment when you sign up for a Dynamics 365 subscription. A tenant contains uniquely identified domains, users, security groups, and subscriptions and can contain multiple Dynamics 365 instances.
User A user is a licensed individual that can interact with data in Dynamics.
View A view is sometimes also referred to as a grid or a list. It is the collection of records of a single type in Dynamics. Views can be read-only or editable. Views respect the user’s security roles and only display the data the user has privileges to interact with.
Web resource Web resources are building blocks often used in the building of forms. These web resources can be a single image file, or also a custom HTML page or component.

Here we looked at the Common Data Model and its applications to the Power Platform via Common Data Service. The Common Data Model provides a standard common language and data model with the goal of unified, intelligent, and enhanced data that communicate across channels, environments, and business processes. Within Power Platform you will commonly work with Common Data Service, which supports Dynamics and Power Apps.

Analytics

Common Data Service allows you to connect directly to your data using Power BI Desktop, mobile or in a browser to create reports and publish them to Power BI. From Power BI, reports can be used in dashboards, shared to other users and accessed cross platform on Power BI mobile apps.

Extensibility

Easily adapt and extend the Common Data Model schema using the same metadata system to describe entities, relationships, and semantic meaning. Use the open source standard definitions alongside your customized schema to meet your unique business need Common Data Service is the underlying data platform for Power Apps that contains the core functionality such as server-side logic (plug-ins and workflows), business process flows, a highly sophisticated security model, and an extensible platform for developers to build apps.

While it is possible to build an application with code using Common Data Service as your data source, most projects will use either model-driven apps or canvas apps to generate the experience that people will use.

Model-driven apps are built on Common Data Service and can only connect to a Common Data Service environment. All the data that defines a model-driven app is stored within Common Data Service.

Because Common Data Service includes many capabilities for people to configure custom business logic without writing code, developers can contribute by filling in the spaces between existing features, which may not provide the functionality you need to meet a requirement. Fortunately, Common Data Service provides many points for developers to extend the common functionality using code.

Interoperability

Building an app typically involves data from more than one source. While this can sometimes be done at the application level, there are also cases where integrating this data together into a common store allows for an easier app building experience, and a single set of logic to maintain and operate over the data. Common Data Service allows data to be integrated from multiple sources into a single store, which can then be used in PowerApps, Power Automate, and Power BI along with data already available from the Dynamics 365 applications.

  • Scheduled integration with other systems: Data which is kept within another application can be regularly synchronized with Common Data Service to allow you to leverage other applications data in Power Apps.
  • Transform and import data using Power Query: Transforming data when importing into Common Data Service can be done through Power Query from many online data sources, a common tool used across Excel and Power BI.
  • One-time import of data: Simple import and export of Excel and CSV files can be used for a one-time or infrequent import of data into Common Data Service.

Dynamics 365 model-driven applications are built on the Common Data Service, and other applications can use it as part of their integration and extensibility efforts. Common Data Service along with the Dynamics 365 applications implement the Common Data Model.

Common Data Service data can be imported from other data sources using Power Query to transform the data. Data from Common Data Service can be exported including the ability to export to both Azure SQL and Azure Data Lakes for further processing.

Business events can be published from Common Data Service allowing more near real-time integration with other systems. Business triggers for Power Automate also allow orchestrations of automations across Common Data Service and any number of other systems and services using the public connectors or custom connectors.

Consistency

Data within Common Data Service is stored within a set of entities. By defining a set of over 200 standard business entities and growing, the Common Data Model makes it easier for both you and third parties to build apps. You can tailor the model to your specific business needs by extending with custom entities and fields.

An entity is a set of records used to store data, like how a table stores data within a database. Common Data Service includes a base set of standard entities that cover typical scenarios, but you can also create custom entities specific to your organization and populate them with data using Power Query. Application makers can then use Power Apps to build rich applications using this data.

The standard entity design in a Common Data Service database is based upon an open data model standard called Common Data Model.

The open data initiative is a jointly-developed vision by Microsoft, Adobe, and SAP. This initiative resulted in the Microsoft Common Data Model that is already supported in Common Data Service, Dynamics 365, Power Apps, Power BI, and upcoming Azure data services, directly accruing value towards the Open Data Initiative.

This collection of predefined entities, attributes, semantic metadata, and relationships form the basis of the Common Data Model.

Now let's turn out attention to reporting in Dynamics 365.