Convergence 2015 wrapped with the announcement, as usual, of the next exciting location but also with a subtle shift in timing. Plan for New Orleans in early April not mid-March of 2016!
But before you register, you might also want to know of significant shifts in Microsoft event offerings that could result in your travels taking you to other events instead.
With Convergence 2016 Comes a New Focus
Microsoft is shifting Convergence to a showcase of more Microsoft product-centric offerings targeted to business leaders. The time seems to have come to leverage the success and relationship building of partners with their customers. This allows end users to be more fully exposed to the breadth and usefulness of all of the Microsoft products and technologies, not just those closely aligned with the Dynamics ERP solutions.
Observers, including ourselves, will be questioning if this shift for Convergence 2016 will be meaningful to a broad enough attendee population to justify an event of the typical Convergence size and scope. The answer will only reveal itself next year as the event unfolds.
More Choices, More Destinations
Mindful of the reactionary waves such announcements make and how unsettling change can be, even good change, the leadership team at Microsoft has been active in clarifying goals and supporting alternate forums. For example, Judson Althoff, Microsoft North America President and Andy Hafer, Dynamics Community CEO have indicated, in interviews and conversations, a strong desire to continue meeting Convergence attendee needs, just no longer in a Dynamics ERP-centric Convergence format.
The range of alternate choices is quite significant:
- Ignite is a technical developer-focused conference in Chicago open to partner and end-user staff.
- Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) is targeted to partners and held in Florida.
- Conferences for Dynamics solutions include Re-Imagine with focus on GP and Directions with focus on NAV. These are typically partner-focused conferences and are complimented by end-user events hosted by the various user groups managed under the Dynamics Community umbrella and fondly referred to as “Summit”.
- Summit this year is in Reno, Nevada from October 13 to 16. For those who have never attended the expo area for this event, it has previously been a single hall with solutions for all Dynamics brand solutions available.
As Vision Shifts – What is Lost and Gained?
Horizons has relied on Convergence as a place to connect with new and current customers. We enjoy hearing first-hand what is on the minds of the businesses we support whether they are partners or end users. We have also really enjoyed the creativity that can occur at Convergence because the format has blended partners, ISVs and end users with technical teams, marketing experts and sales.
Will the creativity that comes from this mix of functions be lost? Will the opportunity for the IT staff to get the company controller to sit through a SQL upgrade presentation because they are all one place together be missed? It is of course too soon to tell.
Microsoft is suggesting that the various User Group Summit events will provide the place for these activities. We are certainly hoping the enriched experiences of the user group environments will prove as valuable as Microsoft predicts.
In the meantime we, like many others, will have to consider if Convergence will still be the key opportunity for such experiences. For businesses like ours, who have both Dynamics-centric products like our Horizons Manufacturing Suite and also other products like Quality Essentials Suite, which spans all platforms, it will certainly require a new stratagem to reach out to all our partners and potential end users in an efficient manner.
Pick One, Pick Them All – Just Know Why
In the event I might find myself traveling to 4 or 5 events a year, rather than the usual one or two times that currently meet our company and customer needs, I hope the organizers publish detailed session information before early bird discounts expire. It is tremendously difficult to justify conference attendance and related costs without confidence the event is useful. If attending more than one event a year is needed, then being cost effective becomes even more critical.
What are your thoughts on Microsoft’s shift in focus for this event? Where will you be investing your time in the next year?