18 April 2011

My Big Convergence Wrap Up

I thought about sending a few notes on some of these items privately but frankly, the good so far outweighs any bad that I’ve decided to make it all public.
Convergence 2011
The Good
  • Much of the keynote was devoted to Dynamics AX. Put your conspiracy theories away. Last year it was all GP with the release of GP 2010. This year it was AX’s turn with the upcoming release of AX 2012. The focus was completely reasonable.
  • It was very cool to see Pam Misialek, my co-presenter from two years ago, on the big stage showing off GP 2010 R2. You rocked Pam.
  • It was also nice to know that Errol’s house didn’t flood. I’m sure there are some GP 6 manuals lying around that could be used as makeshift sandbags.
  • Business Analyzer is a new stand alone app for GP R2 that allows personalized Business intelligence without requiring a full blown GP license. Business Analyzer generated a ton of interest at Convergence.
  • GP 12. The next release is deep in development with Chad Sogge showing off an upcoming web client for GP. I had heard that the team found a way to separate the business logic in GP from Dexterity and it looks like that rumor was not only true, but is being used to create web forms. This is what I want more than the cloud. I want the Outlook or OneNote model with rich clients, rich web clients and options for local or off premise server hosting. I owe Chad and the Dev team several drinks once this gets delivered. If anyone believes that GP isn’t getting dev resources you’re full of hooey.
  • Everything is going to the cloud with NAV first, maybe as early as the end of the year, followed quickly by GP and AX.This is just in time for folks who went to GP 10 and held off on 2010 to get all excited about upgrading.
  • We started a little Twitter based drinking game during the conference based on how often the word “Cloud” was said. It was not pretty.
  • Surprisingly there was still huge buzz over GP 2010 and R2. Folks were in good spirits and engaged. There is always a risk of letdown when you’re showing a minor release and the event is in the same location but there was no evidence of that this year.
  • Folks were very engaged. Sessions were full, Expo booths were packed. By packed I mean regularly 4 people deep waiting to talk to someone and in some cases, you couldn’t get down an aisle.
  • Another example of engagement was the number of people in my sessions. Almost 800 people saw the 50 tips session and it’s repeat. But even my new Excel based sessions saw nearly 700 people come learn about ways to connect Dynamics GP and Excel.
  • Mariano and Dave rocked the house as usual. It seems that they are looking to take their act to Vegas for the GPUG Summit in November. I hear that Caesar's is considering giving them a regular show.
  • The event at I.B.I.S. customer Georgia Aquarium and the World of Coke was terrific. There was plenty of room to move around and see the exhibits. This was a problem at Universal Studios the last time Convergence was in Orlando so it was nice to have some breathing room.
  • Rock N Rave and The Spot continue to get bigger each time. Both events were huge this year with glow in the dark partying and U2 tribute band Elevation.
  • The venue was again terrific. Atlanta did a nice job of not making us walk too far, except maybe for the keynote. Our feet hurt by the end but not like they did in Dallas.
  • The Microsoft Dynamics GP 2010 Cookbook sold out early Tuesday morning forcing people into withdrawal for nearly two days.

The Bad
Nothing is perfect and there were a places for improvement when Convergence moves to Houston in 2012.
  • They wouldn’t play in and out music for my sessions like they did last year. Um, when you have 500+ peeps in an auditorium it really helps to get people pumped before you speak. Please, please, please give me some Metallica or Lady Gaga or something upbeat next year. When I sing, my evaluation scores crash.
  • The food didn’t seem as good this year. The snacks between sessions seemed thinner. One lunch, I got in the line, looked at the food and left. If you’ve met me, you know that I don’t walk away from many buffets.

  • Some of the speakers scores this year were crazy good. The competition at the top for people’s attention get’s better every year. But I heard more complaints about unenthusiastic speakers this year. I don’t know if things are actually worse or if the contrast is just starting to show. I also heard from the speaker coach that of the 25 conferences that they help MS with each year, Convergence has the fewest number of speakers who take advantage of a coach. I do it every year and I have the scores to prove that it works.
The Wrap Up
This was a phenomenal conference all around. Booth activity and book sales seem to indicate increased confidence in the economy. Folks were energized and ready for all of the cool stuff coming in GP 12. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone in Houston, unless of course you come to the GPUG Summit in Vegas first!

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