4 Wonderful Things About Convergence 2013

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It has been nearly a decade since I attended a Convergence conference, which is Microsoft’s annual get together of users, experts and partners. When I first attended there were hundreds of attendees―this year a record of nearly 12,000 people came in from around the globe!  For existing users and people considering a new business solution, Convergence 2013 was the place to be (especially for CRM news).

Here are my favorite things about Convergence 2013:

#1 The close community:  This is not a cliché. The Microsoft Dynamics community really is a close-knit group and I could feel the friendliness the minute I arrived in New Orleans to set up our booth on Saturday. The weather was beautiful, and people were happy to be there and eager to engage. There was a genuine buzz of excitement and it was contagious. People came to share, to listen and learn. I saw many old friends and met many new ones from around the world with interesting stories to tell.

#2 The expo center:  Yes, the New Orleans Convention Center is very large (I was told it is an actual 1.5 miles from end-to-end). I wondered how the crowds would navigate the hundreds of exhibitor booths, Microsoft Solutions Experience (including the social media center), the Microsoft theater, meeting game space and more. As it turned out, the expo center was fantastic and very busy. The exhibitors came from around the globe to showcase their innovative add-on solutions for Microsoft Dynamics AX, CRM, GP, NAV and SL, and attendees seemed hungry for new solutions to help improve their systems and businesses. Hot topics included cloud solutions, accelerators to streamline the deployment of ERP systems, industry-specific enhancements and very cool social media and marketing automation for CRM.  I was struck that not only current users of Microsoft Dynamics were working hard to visit with as many exhibitors as possible, but also there were many prospects that had come to Convergence 2013 in search of solutions to replace their legacy ERP systems or to find easy-to-use CRM solutions to help grow their business.

#3 The opening keynote:  Kirill Tatarinov, president of the Microsoft Business Solutions Division was motivating, and he did a good job spelling out Microsoft’s mission to unify business and IT. He opened by positioning Microsoft as a company focused on devices and services, recognizing that a seismic shift is underway as we expect ubiquitous access to information―from smart phones, to tablets, to PCs. I really liked that he emphasized that Microsoft Dynamics solutions are of paramount importance to Microsoft, serving as a unifying backbone across an organization―from accounting, customer service, manufacturing, supply chain and sales. Kirill cited a PricewaterhouseCoopers study that found organizations that strategically used collaboration technology to bring the CIO, CTO, CFO and CMO together were four times more high-performing than those who do not unify their technology and eliminate legacy applications. As strong evidence, we heard from four customers who got on stage to share their technology transformation stories including Shock Doctor, Weight Watchers International, Chobani and Revlon. The technology and business leaders from these companies each told of a common theme of improved customer service, better operational efficiency, reduced costs and measurable savings. I especially liked the stories about how these customers achieved rapid deployments of Microsoft Dynamics ERP and CRM solutions because the Dynamics solutions were easy to learn, and flexible with simple, agile architecture.

#4 CRM news:  I love the way Microsoft Dynamics CRM looks on a Surface tablet. Bob Stutz, Corporate VP of CRM for Microsoft and his team showed us the “New ERA in CRM,” including the elegant interface of using Microsoft Dynamics CRM on a Surface. I want one now! What an easy graphical way to instantly find what is most important to you―hot prospect lists, key marketing results, important KPI charts. Also, with the newest release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM you get slimmed-down, much-improved user screens and logical flows―minus the annoying pop-ups. But the best was the news about Microsoft’s announced acquisition of Swiss company Netbreeze for “social listening” in addition to their recent addition of MarketingPilot for built-in marketing automation. With the purchase of Netbreeze, Microsoft Dynamics CRM becomes even more valuable to marketers interested in social data mining and native language analytics to “listen, analyze and engage”  with customers.

All in all, Convergence 2013 was great. I heard from our prospects and clients that they had a wonderful time and learned a lot about how Microsoft Dynamics can help them be more successful. The last afternoon of the expo hall tells it all―we had to turn people away because the lights were going off and the show was over!

By Andree Dolan of Sikich, an Inner Circle Partner for Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Microsoft Dynamics AX, Microsoft Dynamics GP, Microsoft Dynamics NAV and Microsoft Dynamics NAV

Source:  Sikich LLP blog


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