I have been working with Microsoft Dynamics CRM since 2006 (CRM v3) but I never had the chance to attend Microsoft Convergence until this year.
As a "Convergence Rookie", I decided to maximize my participation at Convergence, focusing more on participating on sessions to increase my knowledge in CRM and also I wanted to provide a lots of feedback I have gathered from my experience working with the product day in and day out since May 2009.
I remember thinking to myself "Man, 4 days for a Conference about Microsoft Dynamics CRM? I'm going to run out of things to do by day 2." – I was so wrong!
I arrived at Houston on Saturday and got ready for my first event of the evening, a small gathering with the awesome team at the Microsoft Dynamics Community where I was honored to be invited as a Microsoft Dynamics Community Guest Columnist. I expected to have the opportunity to provide some feedback on how the Community works (since I spend a lot of time there) and how I thought it could be improved. I had the opportunity to meet everyone on the team, from the Director to the programmers that make the forum work and they were all very interested in my ideas. The best part of providing feedback was the fact that they were questioning them! – I didn't know how valuable this was until later when I met with other Microsoft employees willing to listen to my feedback on how to make certain part of the Product (Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011) better; they all listened to my ideas, made notes and promised to address them with their teams (and I have no doubt they will) but didn't really question them or even provided tweaks or suggestions on the spot.
I didn't know it at the time but this was going to be my single favorite "session" at Convergence.
On Sunday, I participated on a User Adoption Session and also had the chance to participate on a MVP Chat for Administrators where I got to meet about 12 Microsoft Dynamics CRM MVPs. The questions from the participants were phenomenal and I got an answer to a question I had on the back of my head for a few weeks (Thanks to Neil Benson (@neilabenson) for the answer!).
The Conference Center was HUGE! – There was joke around saying that you couldn't see the other end of the Conference Center due to the curvature of the earth. I took this picture standing around the middle of the Conference center:
Monday came and I had the chance to attend the Keynote and a few technical sessions where I started to realize that I just didn't have enough time for all of them…they were all interesting! – Actually, the first time I realized this was when MVP Mark Smith (@nzCRMguy) showed me how 7 concurrent sessions were happening as we sat to see Eric Boocock (@eboocock) from Microsoft lead us through a session regarding Reporting in CRM 2011. This was also the first day I had the chance to seat at the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Experience section and answer questions from Microsoft Dynamics CRM Users and Administrators, just like I do on the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Community almost daily.
Tuesday was a day full of sessions, some of the sessions had an agenda and power point slides followed by Q&A Time and some other sessions did not have an Agenda and were basically 100% interactive. I loved these! – Most of these sessions involved Microsoft Dynamics CRM Team Members or Microsoft Dynamics CRM MVPs some of whom I socialized with in and out of the conference. I spent more time (about 2-3 hours) at the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Experience section answering questions. This gave me a chance to get out of my comfort zone and go into business models that I haven't worked on, specially Non-Profit organizations. I even loaded the Non-Profit Organization Template from the Microsoft Dynamics Marketplace and walked through the chances with some interested users.
On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to attend the closing Keynote headed by Gen. Collin Powell (Ret.) who talked about Leadership and shared some stories from his days working at different government positions and dealing with foreign leaders in times of crisis. After the Keynote, I participated in some more technical sessions and ended my Convergence Experience by taking a picture with 9 Microsoft Dynamics CRM MVPs who I came to meet and in some cases "work with" at Convergence:
From left to right: Alex Fagundes (CRM MVP), Larry Lentz (CRM MVP), Pablo Peralta (CRM MVP), Donna Edwards (CRM MVP), Mark Smith (CRM MVP), Wim Coorevits (CRM MVP), Julie Yack (CRM MVP), Mitch Milam (CRM MVP), Neil Benson (CRM MVP) and Gus Gonzalez (CRM MVP).
I could spend a lot of time talking about the direction Microsoft is taking with Microsoft Dynamics CRM and their 100% All-In approach to the cloud but I rather you read this article by Mr. Paul Greenberg (@pgreenbe) who did a great job explaining these facts.
I really hope to be at Convergence 2013 in New Orleans. Microsoft Convergence 2012 was a Blast!