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Chuck Schaeffer CRMUG & CRMPC Conference Recap and Take-Aways

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 By on October 25, 2013

It’s the final day of CRMUG in Tampa. I’m writing this blog post to share my experience at the event as I think many more in the Dynamics community would enjoy experiencing this event themselves.

According to MC and Dynamic Communities CEO Andy Hafer, this event was version 1 for merging the CRMUG Summit (CRM User Group) and CRMPC (CRM Partner Connections) into a continuous learning cycle. CRMUG has been active for about 8 years, while the Partner Connections Event just completed is second annual get-together. It looked to me like over 90% of the partners attending CRMPC were staying for CRMUG so making them continuous was certainly a smart idea.

Attendance was strong, at 2850 total registrants, which included about 400 CRMPC registrants, and 40 sponsors, almost all of which were ISVs. The agenda was also strong with 115 breakout sessions organized among sales, marketing, consulting, leadership and Dynamics product (CRM, AX, Nav, GP) tracks.

More Strategy, More Software, More Experts

Here’s why I like this event.

First, I often say CRM is forever. That’s my way of saying that achieving customer relationship strategies is a journey, not a destination, and continued learning provides the fuel for that journey. Getting out of the office and attending the educational sessions delivers both training and inspiration to take your CRM strategy and supporting CRM software to the next level. While the educational tracks did vary in quality (which is the nature of the beast when using volunteer presenters) they were well organized by attendee role which generally made them quite relevant.

Second, these type of events increase CRM software investment payback. It’s no secret that most CRM software adopters use less than one-third of the applications potential. More often than not, CRM software features and functions that don’t get implemented during the deployment never get used. With tight budgets for consulting costs and time to market considerations it’s understandable that full application potential isn’t going to be leveraged during the deployment, but it’s also an unfortunate and costly side effect when CRM business champions fail to recognize additional technology potential that can aid their customer relationships and business strategies. Getting out of the status quo and hearing how peers are using the application stimulates you thoughts and identifies untapped capabilities that can be taken advantage of to improve automation, information and maximizing the return on your software investment.

And third, I was immensely impressed with the presenters and organizers of the events. A cast of CRM MVPs and tenured partners couldn't have tried harder to share their years of learning with every attendee. Having been in several other enterprise software channels, I’ve come to recognize this type of sharing is a hallmark of the Dynamics channel. It’s an atmosphere that recognizes peers as colleagues and not competitors, and it facilitates an open and transparent environment which promotes learning, collaboration and relationship building.

This event was the first time I’ve attended presentations by CRM MVPs, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out their exceptional talents. Listening to MVPs such as Chris Cognetta and Gus Gonzalez becomes an exercise in note taking. They don’t necessarily say a lot, but when they say something, it’s really smart. The MVPs are on the leading edge, and with CRM innovation increasing at an accelerated pace, the distance between technology leaders and laggards is actually widening the gap between those that get the most from their business software and those that don’t.

Microsoft Announcements

CRMPC and CRMUG were the first, official partner readiness events following the launch of Dynamics CRM 2013. Microsoft executives used the opportunity to elaborate on their mobile strategy, new UI/UX and upgrade considerations for the move from 2011 to 2013.

I’ve written about the Dynamics CRM 2013 release, and IMHO, the CRM mobility has advanced from a hindrance to a position of strength. It’s still a work in progress, but with the new iPad delivery accompanied with a new mobile strategy that includes ubiquitous device support and useful features such as touch friendly controls and fluid forms (which dynamically adjust to form factors and devices), I expect we’ll be hearing a lot more about mobility at future Dynamics conferences.

Microsoft and InsideView teamed to deliver what many considered the biggest ISV announcement, which is that a new OEM agreement includes the InsideView For Sales product with CRM Online at no additional charge. This solution inserts a Social Insight panel into lead and contact records which effectively delivers new contact intelligence. InsideView actually has a similar agreement with several other CRM products but this nonetheless can be a powerful data augmentation for sales professionals. I continue to believe Microsoft is weak on a social CRM strategy and enabling tools that help businesses connect and engage with their social prospects, customers and online communities, but this InsideView agreement does begin to help that cause somewhat.

If I haven’t convinced Dynamics CRM partners and customers who didn’t attend the event to consider attending next year than this blog post didn’t meet its objective. I’m an unbiased party and have no affiliation with the event organizers, but do believe this is a truly useful event for Dynamics CRM partners and customers and I think all would be wise to consider attending the 2014 CRMUG event in St Louis. Hope to see you there. End

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The CRM MVPs are on the leading edge, and with innovation increasing at an accelerated pace, the distance between technology leaders and laggards is actually widening the gap between those that get the most from their business software and those that don’t.

 

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