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What's Missing in Microsoft's 4 Primary Conferences? The End User

by Mark Polino
Director of Client Services, Fastpath, Integrated Business Group
February 08 2016

Expo at Microsoft Convergence 2015Microsoft has aligned their conference schedule around four primary conferences geared toward different audiences, but they seem to have forgotten one important audience: the end user.

For 2016, Microsoft's primary conferences are Build for developers, Ignite for IT professionals, Worldwide Partner Conference for partners, and Envision for C-level executives. While all of these targeted audiences play key roles in the use of Microsoft products, they really represent a middle layer between Microsoft and its users.

Developers use Microsoft tools to create programs for other users. While developers could be considered end users of Microsoft's programming tools, the focus is really around using those tools to develop for other users. IT pros configure and support Microsoft products for end users. Similarly, partners help implement, configure, and support Microsoft's products. C-Level executives are ultimately responsible for purchasing those products for their employees, the end users.

Microsoft's transition from Convergence to Envision has eliminated Microsoft's largest end-user focused conference. While Convergence was originally focused on ERP systems, the addition of significant Office, CRM, and SharePoint content over the years made it a more broadly based event. Some Dynamics content has been promised for Ignite, but right now it feels like that event will be more focused on implementation instead of end user education.

There are other, smaller Microsoft conferences with a user focus. For example, Microsoft's Data Insights Summit in March is geared toward end users of Power BI and related tools, specifically data analysts and BI professionals. This is just one example, but it looks like much of the work of enhancing user skills have moved to third party conferences.

To ...

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About Mark Polino

Mark Polino is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and a former Microsoft MVP (2007-2018) for Business Solutions. He is the author or coauthor of 5 books related to Microsoft Dynamics GP.  Mark also maintains the Dynamics GP focused website He speaks and writes regularly about ERP related topics. Mark has been a controller and CFO for a division of a publicly traded company and he has  worked as a consultant implementing ERP solutions. Mark holds additional certifications including Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP), Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF) , Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA). Dynamics Credentialed Professional for Dynamics GP 2015 (Core Install and Core Financials), Xero Certified. He holds a bachelor's degree in accounting from the University of Central Florida and an MBA from Rollins College. Mark lives with his family in Florida.

More about Mark Polino
Submitted by mattnc on Tue, 02/09/2016 - 08:42 Permalink

Mark: I agree with what you've written. It looks like - for this year at least - Microsoft is relying on the community to deliver conferences targeted at end users (CRMUG, AXUG, etc.). On top of that, while Ignite and Envision are targeted at technical folks and BDMs respectively, so far it looks like there is little to no content in either of these events that is focused on Dynamics CRM. Convergence had evolved to include a lot of very useful sessions for CRM technical and end-users, but with the change to Envision's business focus, somehow CRM seems to have fallen off the agenda. Hopefully this is just a transition year, and this oversight is corrected in 2017!

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Submitted by DavidMO2 on Wed, 02/10/2016 - 08:58 Permalink

As a long time Convergence attendee, I will miss the things Microsoft used to do for its users. The opportunities to learn, to provide feedback to Microsoft, and the sheer level of excitement! Matt G, where are you? We came home flying, energized and equipped to take on our tasks with new vigor. To prune and paraphrase something Mark said, “Microsoft has eliminated end-users”. Well, let’s hope not. All is not lost! To those of you who are not yet members of AXUG, GPUG, NAVUG, and CRMUG, this is where you need to be to get your user-to-user interaction fix! Let’s hope Microsoft learning curve is not too painful and that they quickly turn back to the end-users, the people who make their jobs possible!

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Submitted by conniethompson on Tue, 02/23/2016 - 11:20 Permalink

Envision's lack of focus on end users makes SUMMIT the go-to event for all Dynamics users. My group is Tampa-bound!

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)