I got to attend Convergence 2014 unaccompanied by my associates.
Rather than spend a lot of time rehashing the Microsoft Dynamics product announcements and late-breaking information that is in Partnersource/Customersource, I want to share the way I was able to experience Convergence this year. It was definitely outside of my comfort zone, but at the end of the week, I owned it!
There are a lot of advantages to going it alone — I mean advantages above and beyond not sharing a hotel room with the guy who snores like a chainsaw. For anyone that gets to go next year, even if it is with a team, I suggest planning a week of independent activity.
It goes without saying that we go to this thing to get as close as we can to the pulse of the products we use and support. I am not sure if enough can be said about how motivating it is to meet with the engineers and product managers to see how excited they are about what is coming.
This is where going it alone really has an advantage. The speakers all genuinely seem to enjoy the audience members staying after a presentation session is over. Being able to follow up with them one on one is worth the price of admission.
And speaking of presentations …
I am a big fan of training of any kind.
If I were to give only one piece of advice for what presentations to attend, I would say choosing them independent of what the group wants to do is ideal. I know I was previously talked out of some of the sessions I wanted to attend in favor of some less beneficial choices. Be careful with that one.
I met a lot of great people during meal times.
The temptation is to meet up with the group and go to lunch together. This trip, I was able to see what a waste that is. One meal I sat at a table with a group of four and they never even looked up at me or Jeff, the next guy to come along and sit down.
That group, obviously attending together, wasted so much opportunity talking about what was going on at their office rather than being there in the moment. Thinking off the top of my head, I had conversations where I got to:
- Find out about the MS Dynamics scene in other cities
- Compare notes on the ongoing product challenges
- Hear about end users’ frustrations that they may not even tell their partners.
- Get recommendations on the presentations
Say what you want to about the food, but there is a lot of action at mealtime.
This was the first time I used the area in the center of the expo floor where each of the ERPs are represented and demonstrated. I decided I would spend some time with the Management Reporter and SL folks to talk about a couple of things that had me stumped for some time.
By the time I finished, I had fixes for four different issues where I previously had no answers. I’m not sure I would have pulled this off if I had tried approaching with my group showing up all at the same time.
It sounds obvious to say, but the networking is important.
I made an effort to do a better job of it this year, especially since I was there solo. Now, a bunch of people have my card and I was able to put faces with names for some folks I had only ever communicated with via email or online forums.
Be sure and make contact with the product vendors that would typically only be available by phone. It has already paid some dividends for me to have met some of the folks I depend on for support.
The Plan for Next Year
Convergence is worthwhile no matter how one approaches it. After my experience this year, I am anxious for next year. I am already preparing by keeping a list of people to meet and issues to discuss for Convergence 2015.
As well as I did after only scratching the surface of what is available this year, I can’t wait to go in there with a tactical plan!
Butch Adams is a Managing Consultant for Conexus SG. He is a veteran problem solver working with Microsoft Dynamics ERP software platforms including GP and SL. You can follow Butch on twitter at @butch_adams.