Tom Archer's Blog

Windows and Web developer with Social Media tendencies

Convergence 2008 – Day 2

(Very) Early Start

So my smart-phone shows that I have a 6:30am meeting. I’m figuring that’s a pre-conference meeting so the wife and I head out early to get to the conference center (we’re staying by the airport). After some driving around – this place is HUGE – we find out that the location is not actually a meeting room, but a Hotel name! DOH! So we head to the hotel. Once there, I walk around a bit to find the meeting room only to discover that … the 6:30am meeting is *Pacific* time. The meeting is for 9:30am. Double DOH! I really need to get out more!

It’s too late to go back to the airport and registration doesn’t open for an hour and a half so I take advantage of the time to handle emails and relax.

Community and Learning Center

Once I get into the conference, I head to the area where I’ll be staying most of the time – the Community and Learning Center. The Community and Learning Center is a huge hall separated into several five main areas to meet the networking needs of attendees. This extremely well designed space includes a Products Area, Meetings Spaces, Game Area (yes, you read that right), CommNet and Hands-On Labs:

·         Products Area – Each of the Dynamics products is represented here: Dynamics AX, Dynamics CRM, Dynamics GP, Dynamics SL, Dynamics NAV and others. There are quite a few product team members and support personnel on hand as well as workstations set up to demo/teach specific subsystems of each Dynamics product. Most of the Product Areas also has a small podium with a sign reading “Ask the Experts”. The MVPs man these booths and basically answer questions and give their insight into the products. I talk more about this area in just a moment as the MVPs are how I work with.

·         Meeting Spaces – There are actually two meeting spaces – one with numbered tables and one without. The former allows customers and partners to prearrange a meeting and then easily hook up with the people they’re meeting with. You simply reserve a table and let the other party(ies) know which table you’ll be at. Very simple and easy way to solve the problem of people trying to find each other. Much better than the traditional, “I’ll meet you in the West concourse by the third coke machine on the left wall around the corner from the …” method. Conversely the open meeting is just that – a means of meeting people ad-hoc or simply finding a place to sit and check email.

·         Game Area – Another very nice addition is the Game Area, which contains two Xbox setups, a Zune display where people can listen and test the latest Zune players and a ping pong table. I’ve been a programmer for over 20 years, but I don’t believe I’ve ever seen people that work harder than the IW folks attending this conference! However, even they need a break every now and again so was a great idea.

·         CommNet – I’m actually typing this blog entry during lunch from the CommNet area – a fairly large, series of tables and machines set up for people to check email and plan their conference agenda. There are about 150 machines here, plus a couple of empty tables for people that want to work using their own laptops.

·         Hands-On Labs – There are literally hundreds of lab machines complete with over a dozen support personnel and MVPs walking around helping people. I’ve seen quite a few people go in to the labs with zero knowledge of a given product and then be completely walked through a demo so that they get a better handle on what the product can do for their business. Awesome customer support on display here!

Ask the Experts

I wanted to pull this section out to highlight it more. This is one of the best ideas at the conference as many of the Dynamics MVPs are volunteering their time to help out in these booths. These guys (and gals) really know their stuff as well as anyone in the world. If you’re at Convergence and have a question, you really owe it to yourself to drop by the Community and Learning Center to talk to the MVPs.

Meeting the MVPS

Obviously one of the most exciting aspects of attending Convergence 2008 is in meeting the MVPs that until now I had only known via email and phone. Today alone I met Dynamics AX MVPs Arijit Basu and David Bowles,  Dynamics CRM MVPs Curt Spanburgh and Frank Lee, Dynamics GP MVPs Mark Polino, Duke DelPrado and Leslie Vail, and Dynamics SL guru Toni Savage. I also met ASP.NET MVP David Yack who could easily be a Dynamics CRM MVP (many of the IW people are heavily involved across several products).

I also had the privilege to sit in on a long discussion regarding sales and partnership building with Curt and Steve Bowles. Note to self: Pick up a copy of Little Red Book of Selling!

What a Day!

All in all, it was a fabulous day – especially meeting the brilliant MVPs who help so many people with their community contributions. I’m really looking forward to working with you more in the coming years.  


March 13, 2008 Posted by | Convergence, Microsoft MVP Program | Leave a comment

Convergence 2008 – Day 1 (sort of)


Unfortunately, my trip to the Microsoft Convergence 2008 conference (covering Microsoft Dynamics product line) started on a rather auspicious note. While I had booked my airline tickets several weeks in advance, I didn’t realize until two days prior to leaving for the March 10-15 conference that the Southwest representative had incorrectly issued my tickets for the first day of the conference – instead of the day before. Oops! I tried to get the dates changed, but as we’ve all come to realize in this day and age, changing a ticket can sometimes cost as much as the ticket itself!

So…two lessons for me here:

1.       ALWAYS check your confirmation emails! In all the years that I’ve travelled, I’ve never had a reservation taken incorrectly. This perfect record obviously led to some complacency on my part regarding verifying these emails. I won’t be making that mistake again anytime soon.

2.       As my wife (and Jack Webb) would say “Just the facts”. I tend to get a little too conversational – probably due to my natural southern tendency to “chat” and make every transaction a little more friendly. In this case, I probably confused the rep by talking about the conference starting on Monday the 10th and how excited I was and so on and he might have put that date down at that point.

At any rate, ultimately my responsibility to check the dates so it’s a mistake I won’t be repeating again.

Things Turn Out Okay

Luckily…yes there is a silver lining here – I subsequently learned that the first day of Convergence is really all about the partners so as it turned out I didn’t miss anything anyways! Funny, how the universe looks out for us sometimes J

Next Up

In my next blog post, I’ll talk about my first day at Convergence, including all the brilliant MVPs, customers and sessions I met and saw!!

March 12, 2008 Posted by | Convergence, Microsoft MVP Program | Leave a comment