Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Microsoft #reIMAGINE 2014 Conference - Day 3

November 12, 2014

As the saying goes, "All good things must come to an end" and it was no different for the reIMAGINE 2014 conference. However, we still had to get through the day with the closing session, and couple breakout sessions we were responsible for.

After the fantastic keynote speech by Doug Burgum and some really fun partner hosted events at the local bars on the previous day, it was just natural to wake up with an appetite, so I was down early for breakfast - then again, so was everyone else!

Breakfast gathering
Breakfast preceded the closing session, which was once more MC'ed by Jesse Byam, who was going around the room asking folks about the highlights of their conference experience, all the while eating their breakfast. Jesse and I had a chance to interact on my own experiences and I have to say, all the Service-Based Architecture sessions I attended were the biggest takeaway for me.

After Jesse got the entire room pumped, Joe Carroll followed up with some closing words, basically highlighting the Microsoft Dynamics GP product trajectory over the past 20 years and how it has allowed him to grow professionally - Joe started out with Great Plains Software almost out of school.

Joe Carroll
Next up was Errol Schoenfish (sporting another cool ply shirt, making it his personal reveal) to conduct the Microsoft Dynamics GP Big Reveal surprise which would show off some of the next major milestones that Microsoft is working on as it relates to our beloved Dynamics GP.

Errol Schoenfish
Errol brought Jarred Hall to stage to demo off the next generation Excel Refreshable reports which is fully integrated to Microsoft Office 365. Jared had a chance to showcase a scenario where Excel reports were generated from GP and consumed directly on Office 365 without ever making it to the end-user's desktop, which is how the current proposition behaves. I have to admit, the next iteration of Excel refreshable reports is going to significantly enhance the user experience.

Jarred Hall and Errol Schoenfish
Next up was Jennifer Ranz, one of the coolest people over at Microsoft - sorry guys, I love you too. Her mission was to show off aspects of the next generation user interface and in particular the new HTML5 UI. While the HTML5 UI is still a long shot from anything resembling a beta product, it was encouraging to see some of the conceptual design elements being considered for the new UI.

Jen Ranz and Errol Schoenfish
HTML5 UI Prototype with our favorite client on display
Next, reIMAGINE took a turn for the better when Errol invited partners to talk about their own success stories in reimagining their business around Microsoft Dynamics GP. We had a chance to hear from John Hendrickson with InterDyn BMI and Matt Woodward with The SMB Suite. While both businesses went down different reimagining paths, it was clear to me personally that a diversified product and services portfolio, high levels of customer service, and taking advantage of different Microsoft programs propelled these two organizations to the top of their game.
John Hendrickson (InterDyn BMI), Errol Schoenfish, and Matt Woodward (The SMB Suite)
Errol concluded the session with a very emotional account of his son Tucker's basic and technical training in the Air National Guard at Lackland Air Force Base near San Antonio, Texas and how throughout the program, Tucker has developed some rigorous discipline and precision that have improved his life all around. Errol exhorted all attendees to the closing session to learn and improve their skills to continue reimagining their career paths.

Once the closing session was over, David and I quickly went to the Holiday Inn Board Room to get setup for the Become More Dexterous at Dexterity Development breakout session - a panel style session - which we would be hosting along with David Eichner with ICAN Software, Mark Rockwell with Rockton Software, and Microsoft MVP Leslie Vail. Unfortunately, Leslie was ill and could not present along with us, but we were able to get Patrice Bremond-Gregoire with BGE, Inc to fill in for Leslie. Patrice is a long time Microsoft Dexterity developer and runs a successful Microsoft Dynamics GP ISV firm in Canada.

This session was particularly cool, because no one on the panel prepared anything and it became totally interactive. There was no short of questions from the attendees and I believe we all had quite a bit of fun delivering some of our own tips and tricks to the audience.

Next up was our long awaited session, The Support Debugging Tool for Advanced Users. We were treated to a standing room only session, which is usually the way we like it.

SDT for Advanced Users
Courtesy of Dawn Prigmore
Although we had quite a bit of material to cover, the session went on with just some minor hiccups and everyone chanting YES IT CAN!, to the sometimes butchered question "Can the Support Debugging Tool do it?". Some of the topics covered in this session included the Automatic Debugger Mode feature with log traces, SQL Execute, Runtime Execute, and the (still in beta) Database Validation tool.

David showing off the Database Validation Tool
Courtesy of Dawn Prigmore
The session wrapped up and we spent a few additional minutes taking pictures and saying goodbyes to a number of attendees who walked up to greet us. After grabbing a box lunch at the meal room, we ran off to a Development Collaboration meeting at the Microsoft Campus. As this meeting was under NDA there's nothing I can discuss here. After the meeting, we were chauffeured by Emily Halvorson to the all too famous Carol Widman's Candy Company to get some Chippers (chocolate covered potato chips).

We returned to the Holiday Inn to drop off our stuff, then meet at the bar for a drink or two before dinner. Dinner had been pre-arranged at Passage to India with Jivtesh and Rubal Singh, Leslie Vail, John Lowther, Belinda Allen, Sheila Ochoa, Sheila Jefferson-Ross (the birthday girl!), and Emily Halvorson. We ordered a number of dishes to share among all of us and spent quite some time conversing and laughing while enjoying our meal.

Left Side: Leslie Vail, Sheila Jefferson-Ross, Mariano Gomez, Rubal Singh, John Lowther
Right Side: Jivtesh Singh, Belinda Allen, David Musgrave, Emily Halvorson, Sheila Ochoa

It's hard enough when you can't count American money.
Paying the bill took the better part of 10 minutes while David sorted through the notes
After dinner, we returned to the Holiday Inn, where surely one more drink was warranted after the delicious meal. As is customary, it was time for the now all too famous Tim Tam Slams, courtesy of David Musgrave. For a description of the all too embarrassing process, please visit this old post over at Developing for Dynamics GP.  However, when you are surrounded by characters such as Craig Klapman (Mekorma), John Lowther (Njevity), and Mike McDowell (Mekorma) doing Tim Tam Slams, you are bound to enjoy the show while handing out a few napkins. Stay tuned to David Musgrave's new blog as I am sure he will be posting pictures on this.

For my part, I was sitting on another table talking to my buddy Corey Clay, Sr. Tech Consultant with NexTec Group in Canton, OH. Corey had another day to spend in Fargo attending a couple of post conference training classes. Since him and I go way back, it was just about fitting to catch up after a long 3 days of conference, though he attended a couple of my sessions.

It was now time to call it a night as the following morning I would initiate my journey back home.

As is customary, please wait for my conference wrap up post with links to all the presentation materials for our sessions. This was a very exciting conference and I really hope to see more partners joining Dynamic Partner Connections and attending these type of events. The wealth of information is simply to die for.

Until next post!

Mariano Gomez, MVP
Intelligent Partnerships, LLC

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