Today was the last day of Microsoft Convergence 2013 EMEA. Microsoft’s own conference for Dynamics customers. This year is the first time for some years where the conference is back in it’s “old” multi-day format in Europe. The last couple of years it has been arranged as single day events in multiple difference cities in Europe. In the US, it has always been a multi-day event.
It’s my first Convergence for years as I have not participated in the US Convergence since 2005 and I skipped the one-day Convergence completely as I didn’t find it worth the travel. But this year it’s back as a big and well-visited conference taking place in beautiful Barcelona.
The first day, November 4th., was a user group day arranged by the Federation of Dynamics User Groups (FoDUG) together with Microsoft. FoDUG is a group of many different Microsoft Dynamics user groups, so far the Dynamics User Group (http://dynamicsuser.net), German MBuf, the Dutch Dynamics User Group and Dynamics Communities (NAVUG, AXUG and CRMUG). The content of the UG Day was all directed towards end-users and all lead by either end-users or Dynamics MVP’s within all three products. Dynamics GP is not available in Europe so is not covered by Convergence EMEA.
First I was in a “roundtable” discussion regarding international Dynamics NAV deployments together with Michael Horn (Voith Turbo), Yohei Ujita (Nissin Foods), Peter de Bruin (SAASplaza) and Andy Hafer (NAVUG). It was a session where we discussed the different issues companies have when doing international/multisite NAV implementations, such as licensing, architecture (single or multi database setups), working with partners and of course dealing with local legal requirements. I think it was a good session and it was interesting to hear how different companies are dealing with international implementations in many different ways.
My next session was titled “Dynamics NAV development tips and tricks for end-users”. It was a presentation session showing how end-users are able to use the basic development tools in NAV 2013 and 2013 R2. So I showed how users can create new fields, how to insert them into pages and even briefly showed how to add them to (simple) reports. I also managed to cover creation of new tables, based on using “copy & paste” of existing tables to link them to new lookup fields. But we also talked about the different limitations, and what end-users should avoid doing, even when their license allow them to. It was a lot to cover in a just one hour. I could easily have spent a lot more time on this. I have attached my presentation to this blog post, as many of the participants asked for it and I did not upload it to Microsoft in time to be on the official site.
Monday night was the “release party” of the newest version of Dynamics CRM. It was a big and very American marketing event with a lot of videos with customer cases, onsite and online interviews. In the almost 2 hours the “event” there no demo’s and we basically didn’t see the product in it self. But there were plenty of opportunities to see CRM 2013 after the event.
Tuesday the actual Convergence started with Kiril Tatarinov giving the keynote. Often the keynotes on Convergence can be a little “too much” for Europeans like me, but this year it was actually great. Sure there where lots of PowerPoint slides showing market trends and numbers. This part was covered by Jean-Philippe Courtois. So Kiril didn’t have to cover this in his part of the keynote. Instead he had invited a number of customers on the stage talking about their implementations. First he had two interesting NAV customers. Biocop, a smaller Spanish organic food distributor and Heineken, who needs no further introduction. After this he had two AX customers, first Pandora, a Danish jewelry company and then Chanel, the French company who also needs no further introduction. The last customer was more surprising. Carrefour the worlds second largest supermarket chain. They have selected Dynamics AX as their new ERP system. That is the kind of large enterprise customers Microsoft really want to use Dynamics AX!
The rest of Tuesday and Wednesday was primarily used for a large number of break-out sessions covering the AX, NAV and CRM. The target of Convergence is customers and potential customers. Therefor the technical level on most sessions is not supposed to be very high. For a “techie” and MVP like me that of course means that technically I have not learned that much. But I will still say that it has been worth going here. There is something special about these big Microsoft events. Even if you don’t want it, then you kind of get a “buzz” that stays with you for many days after you get back. Microsoft knows how to get people exited. You’ll meet a lot of interesting people and are able to find people from Microsoft who can answer most of the questions you might have, even if not on the official program.
Barcelona is a great city to visit, and I wish that could have stayed a few more days to see it again. Last time I was here is over 25 years ago. And the weather in Barcelona is currently much better than the cold and rainy Denmark where I live.
The actual conference center Barcelona Fira looks like most other conference and exhibition centers in the world. The food was great here and in the exhibition area there was coffee, drinks, fruits and snacks available at all times during the day. But the sound system in most session rooms where really bad. So bad that it in many sessions was really difficult to hear what the speakers were saying! And especially on the UG day the setup was not good. Many of these sessions where supposed to be in the roundtable and interactive format, but since they all had the typical “theater” setup then it was difficult to get a real interactive discussion going.
But all together I’m very impressed by what Microsoft have been able to pull together in basically less than 4 month. And I hope that they are doing it again next year.