Convergence? Divergence. I’m sitting in Aquarius conference room in Clarion Conference Hotel, Prague, attending a presentation about discrete manufacturing at the Partner Day of the Convergence 2010 Europe event in Prague.
Over the next two days I’ll probably leave the dormant-blogger state I have again entered over the past two weeks due to projects, and share my thoughts on the conference, news, developments et cetera.
My first impression about the conference is: come on, seriously?!
One persistent trend of Microsoft events over past several years is cost-cutting, and it’s now that obvious that people are already making jokes about it. I was standing in the lobby with an ex-colleague from Microsoft, when a partner fellow came with a promotional badge he picked at a partner booth nearby, saying: “I have a great badge for you!”
The badge read: NON PROFIT.
Well, cost cutting is okay, and I’m not complaining about us not even receiving a pen during registration (which we could use to fill the feedback forms) – what I really dislike is the split.
In Europe, if you want to attend Convergence, you actually can’t, because there isn’t one. You can attend Convergence London. Or Convergence Prague. Or Convergence Hague.
Back in my days, it used to be Convergence Europe. No more.
Convergence as the title for the conference really bears no meaning anymore. It used to represent the long-term strategy of converging the various products into a single “project green” ERP product. This strategy is long dead, but now that the conference is delivered in three locations instead of one, it should be called Divergence.
Microsoft says it’s about two things: costs and relevance. Cost saving for partners and customers, and locally relevant content.
Content is the same (allegedly) for all Convergence conferences, but seriously, are we all here for content? I don’t think so.
Let me run over the content for today (so far)
- Keynote – it was mostly about strategy, it’s in the roadmaps. Then it was about changes to partner program, and again, it’s in the documentation. Not too many take-aways at that session.
- NAV R2 presentation – okay, admittedly, it was valuable, because many people (me included, and I’m not ashamed about it) saw R2 for the first time there. But still, the content of the presentation was available in whitepapers, roadmaps and presentation already available to partners
- Manufacturing block: a partner is presenting their solution for discrete manufacturing strategy for AX, and for people who need information about manufacturing – this is the best session so far.
People have not come to the conference to listen to PowerPoint yadda-yadda. They are mostly here to meet. To meet Microsoft, to meet one another, to get to know. To network, as we like to say it nowadays.
And there would be much more chance to network in a single European conference, rather than three.
They were “excited” there were 400 people at the partner day today, because last year there were 200. Two years ago in Copenhagen there were 5.000. There is a huge difference in value (for networkers and those who came here to network) if there are 5.000 people around you, and if there are 400. Microsoft should think about that.
Another difference between 400 people and 5.000 people attending a conference is the mass-group effect. The energy of the audience. When Kirill Tatarinov didn’t get the anticipated hallelujah from the audience when he started his keynote appearance today, it might be due to two facts. First, European audience is much different than American (we don’t cheer and whistle and yell at conferences over here). And second, audience of 5.000 is usually far more energized than 400.
A partner here today told me that they’ve finally succeeded in convincing a 450 end user multi-site company to invest in NAV (and abandon SAP and Oracle who were sure they were winning the prospect), because they brought them to Convergence, and showed them the energy behind it. They convinced the customer because Microsoft showed: we are committed. Partners showed: we are here. Hundreds of customers from all over Europe were there, and they all communicated: we trust you.
With 400 attendants, seriously, you can’t convince anyone.
Convergence Europe was good. Convergence Prague, Hague and London? Not good.
And about local relevance – none of the content so far is any more relevant for Prague, Czech Republic than it is for Lisbon, Portugal or Bergen, Norway. So far, no local content or local-relevant content was delivered.
So, it seems that cost saving seems to be the only reason why I am sitting in Prague this week, instead of The Hague the next week. Yes, I might save a couple of bucks on airfare, and maybe the hotel is probably like 5€ per day cheaper in Prague.
In any case, I believe my investment in attending this conference was valuable, and I will go home tomorrow with plenty of take-aways. The biggest one of them, though, will be the hope that this is the last Convergence Europe delivered in three locations.
Sorry for this rant – I absolutely had to do it – and let me now focus on good stuff here, and my other posts. Stay tuned, and see you around.
This Post Has 2 Comments
One correction to your post. The name “Convergence” existed long before project green ever came about…this was the name of the Great Plains customer conference for many years. It has nothing to do with the dead Project Green.
@Rick: thanks for the correction. Somehow, I still believe that Microsoft chose to maintain the conference title because it went quite well along the “Project Green” strategy of converging ERP solutions, but I may be totally wrong here. For me, your comment is a total eye-opener, and now I know there is another Great Plains thing Microsoft took over – the name Dynamics alegedly also comes from a Great Plains product for small businesses.