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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Decisions 2010 - A MSDW hosted Virtual Conference for Microsoft Dynamics

Today MSDynamicsWorld.com launched the new Decisions 2010 virtaul conference web site. With that they have set the date for their second Decision, Microsoft Dynamics focused virtaul conference.

A direct link to the Decision 2010 site can be found here.: Decisions 2010: Facing Real World Challenges with Microsoft Dynamics

As part of this launch I did an interview with Jason Gumpert, MSDynamicsWorld.com Managing Editor and site manager.

The following is that interview.:

MSDynamicsWorld.com has just openned registration for Decisions 2010, the Dynamics-focused virtual conference. This is the second year MSDW is hosting such a conference. Before we get into the details of Decisions 2010, lets reflect a little bit about Decisions 2009.

1.) How successful, from MSDW's perspective, was Decisions 2009? What messaures do you base that success on?

"We were very happy with the outcome of Decisions 2009 last October. We've studied the event from a variety of angles and we think all of them were successful to some degree. We had about 2500 registered attendees, which we think was great for a first event, especially since it only included AX and NAV topics. Our sponsors received an average of over 210 booth visits each, which they were happy about, and our attendees told us afterwards through surveys that they found the virtual environment easy to navigate for attending sessions, getting product information at booths, and networking. And of course the speakers did a great job.

Everyone from the keynote speakers like Altimeter Group partner Ray Wang to Aberdeen Group's Cindy Jutras to a variety of Microsoft product managers to some outstanding AX and NAV experts like Scott Hamilton, Vjekoslav Babic, and many others. It was really a great set of presenters and presentations.

And for most people involved, including us, this was the first experience with a virtual conference. We felt confident in the virtual experience, but it was still a bit of a risk for us to do a new event on a new platform. But we knew there were significant benefits in terms of convenience, cost, and flexibility, and we were glad to see that it worked out so well."

2.) What lessons were learned with Decisions 2009, and how will they help with Decisions 2010?

"There are quite a few things we are refining for Decisions 2010, but the core of the event will be quite similar. One thing we observed was that in the virtual environment, attendees still want ways to connect with each other and talk about Dynamics topics that matter to them. So there was lots of activity in the networking lounge, but there was only one chat area for everyone to share.

We'll be looking at various ways to improve the networking experience this time with targeted chat rooms, moderated chat sessions, and maybe some other things. Another thing we learned was that people want plenty of free time to network and visit the exhibit hall. So we are building in much more time between sessions while still packing in as much great content as we can. And finally, we felt that branding the 2009 event as two events - AX and NAV - was a little cumbersome.

So Decisions 2010 is a single unified event with carefully organized content to make it easy for attendees to find the sessions, exhibitors, and networking opportunities that will be right for them."

3.) How successful was Decisions 2009 for Partners and Customers? What messaures is this success based on, and can you give some success story examples?

"Based on our surveys after the show, the event was extremely positive for Partners and Customers. The responses were pretty similar for both groups. Over 90% described the event as easy to navigate - in fact only about 5% of these groups thought it was difficult. And about 95% of each of these groups said they were able to find product information from exhibitors either 'very easily' or 'somewhat easily'.

As for success stories, the stories that caught our attention were booth visitors who really took an interest in the exhibitor's products. We know that several attendees set up serious sales meetings with exhibitors during the early hours of the show.

The other big win we thought was showing people that a virtual event can work when executed correctly. Most people had previously never attended a virtual conference or attended one that was lacking in fundamental ways. Many people told us how good their experience was in the virtual environment, and that gives us much more confidence for running virtual events in the future."

4.) What was the biggest viewed speaker session, and why do you think that was viewed the most?

"It was essentially a tie between the various Microsoft speakers and R "Ray" Wang for the most session attendees. People are always hungry for more product information from Microsoft, so there were lots of questions from the audience and those presentations took up a good portion of the program. And Ray is a well-respected name in enterprise software, so his perspective always gets a lot of attention and we were grateful to have him participate."

Now with this knowledge about Decisions 2009, lets move forward and talk about the upcoming Decisions 2010.

1.) What prompted MSDW to hold the Decisions 2010 after Convergence, but so close to the timing of Convergence?

"Timing of conferences is always a tricky decision, but in this case we felt that an independent event after Convergence that didn't require travel or registration fees would be a great venue for anyone with a point of view on the Dynamics product line to attend sessions, talk about the products, and discuss the real world challenges that they face in their day-to-day work. There will no doubt be a lot to learn at Convergence 2010 in Atlanta, and we expect attendees and presenters alike to come to Decisions 2010 with plenty to discuss. "

2.) What will be new this Decisions 2010?

"First, we are expanding the event to include GP and CRM. Second, we are really expanding the particpation of Dynamics experts outside of Microsoft. Like I was saying earlier, Convergence 2010 will allow Microsoft to share its latest and greatest stuff with the entire Dynamics ecosystem, and this is something that everyone looks forward to. So we think there is a great opportunity for the rest of that ecosystem to put their voices out there and talk about what they know or want to learn about after Convergence."

3.) What topics do you feel will matter the most to customers during this upcoming virtual conference?

"Overall, we think customers want to make the best possible informed decisions for managing their Dynamics solution in this challenging economic environment. The decision to upgrade, customize, expand, or even just maintain the status quo with their ERP or CRM solution is never taken lightly. And there are so many unique needs for each customer like their industry, or the features they use, or the add-ons they deploy, that there are literally endless possible topics that at least some group would find interesting.

So we have selected a wide variety of compelling topics for sessions across 5 tracks - AX, CRM, GP, NAV, and an Executive track - that will cover things like specific features and components, industry needs, deployment, adoption, working with service providers, and more."

4.) Do you expect more partners and customers at 2010 vs. 2009?

"We do expect more partners and customers at Decisions 2010. We've expanded the event to include CRM and GP, and we have a very loyal readership for both of those topics on MSDynamicsWorld.com, so we hope they sign up and see what it's all about.

And based on what attendees told us after Decisions 2009, the vast majority were willing to attend another virtual conference since it's so convenient and cost-effective. So we hope to see a lot of return attendees."

"Decisions 2010 is really an extension of the interest and engagement we try to foster in our readership at MSDynamicsWorld.com every day. Our columnists and readers are the people who made Decisions 2009 successful, and we hope that will carry through to Decisions 2010 as well. In talking to attendees, sponsors, and speakers for the last event, we heard great feedback and we are excited to plan an even better event this time that will give attendees a more targeted, tailored experience."

I would like to thank Jason and the rest of the MSDynamicsWorld.com staff for taking the time to share with us more details about Decisions 2009 and Decisions 2010 virtual conferences. I myself will be attending this conference, as well as Sunrise Technologies, Inc. (www.SunriseConsult.com) being a sponsor for the Decisions 2010. I encourage you to check this event out, as it's free and you can pop in and out as you please!

Jason's bio can be seen below.:

Jason Gumpert is MSDynamicsWorld.com's Managing Editor and site manager. Jason's background includes 10 years of IT consulting and software engineering for enterprise applications, as well as writing and copy editing. Prior to joining MSDynamicsWorld.com, he was a principal consultant at PTC and he has held positions at CSC Consulting and Monitor Group.

That's all for now, but check back soon!

"Visit the Dynamics AX Community Page today!"

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