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Microsoft Convergence 2009 Conference - A Great Show! As a Microsoft Dynamics Partner, I recently traveled to New Orleans to participate in the annual Microsoft Convergence Conference. It was well attended, with approximately 8,000-10,00 participants, which is pretty good for any such conference with all of the travel restrictions that companies have imposed in this dismal period for our economy. Our blogging coach, Ron Ploof, (check him out at RonAmok.com) suggested I purchase one of those ultra-portable Flip Video cameras for use in creating video for the blog, so now you can check out the lunchroom scene of 10,000 attendees.
Many of you who know me as a "glass half full" kind of person, and I'm always looking for good news to pass on. I was pleasantly surprised at this conference. The mood was very upbeat with everyone that I spoke with. Not knowing much about the economy in that part of the country, I was also pleasantly surprised to find out that New Orleans and most of Louisiana is in pretty good economic shape, with one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. Newscasts actually discussed how the state will hopefully dodge the bullet of recession for the most part. I hope that is the case - Louisiana has surely seen enough trouble in recent years. I also had the opportunity to take a walking tour of the French Quarter one evening. While most of the area is quite charming, with great food and music, I would have enjoyed Bourbon Street a lot more when I was 22 years old. The street is blocked off to traffic at night so people can freely walk around with a cocktail to visit the various bars and attractions - quite a party atmosphere. Here's a good example of the Bourbon Street scene.
Back to the conference. Convergence is largely a user conference, although there were partner-only sessions a day earlier. This is not the IT-focused conference where operating systems and development platforms are showcased. Convergence is all about business applications - Dynamics GP (Great Plains), Dynamics AX (Axapta), NAV (Navision), SL (Solomon) and Microsoft CRM, as well as Sharepoint Services, Excel reporting, etc. Lots of good product sessions, talking about new features and product roadmaps. There was also a great learning lab, where you could speak with product specialists, and try out products
Microsoft Convergence 2009 Learning Lab from Len Reo on Vimeo. I attended mostly Dynamics GP and CRM sessions. There will be a service pack release for Dynamics GP Version 10 around mid-year, that dramatically improves the integration to CRM 4.0, which will certainly be welcomed. Extender is also improved considerably, allowing addition of extensive additional data capture to fit unique requirments, in order entry, for example. We were also given a glimpse of what's coming in Version 11 and beyond. There is definitely no shortage of planned R & D investment in any of the Dynamics products, and there is no plan to consolidate their product offerings into one common platform or any such dramatic change. The trade show was huge - with approximately 200 third party vendors participating. I knew lots of them already, since many of them support the Exact Software Macola products as well as the Intuit QuickBooks products. You can solve ANY business problem with a Microsoft solution, I am convinced. I was very impressed with the level of solutions available. A good example is Data Masons Vantage Point EDI, whose product we work with for Dynamics customers as well as Exact Software and Intuit QuickBooks Enterprise Suite. Here's Glenn McPeak, developer and General Manager of Data Masons at the show. Glenn McPeak-Vantage Point EDI Software Attending this show was definitely time well spent, and if you are a Microsoft Dynamics user of any kind, I would highly recommend attending this event next year.