The Power of Community

People Ready. Community. Those were the themes for Convergence 2006. Community requires participation. You don’t interact with your children or your boss once a year, why should Microsoft only get your feedback once a year? It’s important to let Microsoft hear from you at more than just Convergence. I’ve heard your questions in sessions, I know you’re not shy. I’m guessing you just don’t know how to make yourself heard throughout the year.

So how do you do that? 2 options are:

1) Newsgroups
2) Blogs

Newsgroups – the Great Plains newsgroups are easy to use. You can find them here. Newsgroups are great for asking questions, getting advice, and finding support. You can also make suggestions for Microsoft on features and vote for or against suggested features. When it comes to Dynamics, every year is an election year. Go Vote!

Blogs – Blogs create community. They are typically one voice with lots of opportunity for response. In a simple metaphone, imagine a newspaper opinion piece with unlimited letters to the editor and a chance for other papers to respond with their own editorials, each with unlimited letters to the editor as a response.

Read a blog. Heck read mine. Start a blog. Give me your ideas. Tell me I’m off base. Tell Microsoft they got it right or they missed the mark. Just don’t sit there silently!

How do you start? Take a look at the links on the bottom left at convergencebloggers.net or take a look at these:

Blog Readers: My MSN, Google, My Yahoo!, Bloglines, Newsgator. I know you’ve heard of some of these.
Blog Creators: MSN Spaces, Blogger

Look, this is pretty simple. Microsoft will listen to their customers. If I’m the only customer blogger at Convergence again next year, I get a disproportionate voice. I’m ok with that, my needs will get met. You, however, will have to shout louder to get heard. So speak up!

Convergence Lessons: Pace Yourself!

I finally wore out this afternoon and skipped a session to spend some time in the Expo during a quieter period and just recharge. Texas is big, this convention center is big and the blisters on my feet are big.

Vendors, however, have to be happy that people are lining up to get into the Expo as soon as it opens. It’s a nice big expo this year with lots of vendors. And if you’re not filling out evals, you better hurry. I keep winning prizes for filling out evaluations.

GP9 Inventory

There are some nice things in GP9 and 10 coming for inventory. Stock Counts seem to be unchanged but there is better visibility around Cost Adjustments. 2 stage transfers are available now with field service but may be in the core for v10.

Some of the holes from previous versions have also been filled in. Cost adjustments GL’s can are now created automatically instead of just getting a recommendation to key an entry.

Hey, that’s Bill Gates!

For those not paying attention previously, I’m at Covergence, Microsoft’s ERP and CRM annual conference. Bill Gates just finished his keynote. I didn’t live blog the keynote because my seat was too tight to pull out the laptop.

Other people will cover the specifics, you should be able to get the whole speech off the web. I wanted to give a few impressions. I’ve never seen Bill live, but I’ve heard him speak remotely so I had an idea what to expect. He was pretty heavily scripted but some of the new devices he showed off really got oohs and aahs from the crowd. Things like a touchscreen big screen with web parts, huge, very cool, desktop monitors and a table that functions as an extened screen and interface for a mobile device. Toys create buzz, even for accountants.

We did see that some of the desktop parts coming to Windows Vista will include financial parts tied to Dynamics. So you can have maybe, sales data, live on your destop in a little window without having Dynamics running.

I hoping for a little more of the real Bill during the Q&A. We got a little and it was bit odd. He talked about his daughter’s desire for a bunny and how they used the web to steer her away from a bunny and to a better “Pet Experience”. I’m not sure if he was trying to be funny but but it freaked out a few people near me. Kids have pets, not “Pet Experiences”. Parents have “Pet Experiences” when the dog throws up on the bed but I don’t think that’s what Bill was going for. It did come out in some other anecdotes, that his kids humble him. Kids seem to have that effect, as do pets.

All in all I think we got a speech in the new trend of talking to a broader audience not just the one in front of you.

Upgrading to GP 9.0

Warning: This was a nitty gritty session. Excutives and Salespeople need not apply! The Upgrading to GP 9 session was very good. Down and dirty. Not exciting, but clear and concise. The Q&A afterward was great. Here’s some key things I learned:

1) The first service pack is due end of April. Partners should be looking for a wave upgrades after that.
2) Macros and Integrations may not update. Test those heavily!
3) The “push” installer will only install GP apps at this time, not 3rd parties or customizations unless 3rd parties are also using the msi installer. This is version 1 of the new install/update process. Expect this to be refined improved over time.
4) The install will automatically set the recovery model to simple as part of the install.
5) FRx 6.7 is the latest, you should be fine.
6) 7.5 won’t run on SQL 2k5 so you should update GP first then update the database if you are doing both.
7) If you are going from 8.0, there wasn’t a straight answer but it seemed to be up to you as long as you are on the SP that allows 8.0 to support SQL 2k5

SQL Reporting Services Full

The SQL Reporting Services session was full. I was late and the room may have been too small, but it’s good for Microsoft’s Business Intelligence push that so many people are interested. The theater has a good number of people learning about updating to 9.0. This also good, considering that the theater is most of the way to Oklahoma!

Shout Out to Some Old Friends

I’ve got some old friends here at Convergence that I haven’t said Hi to yet on the blog, so this is a shameless plug.

The folks from Haas Outdoor and Mossy Oak are here and their just a great bunch of people. If you’re into all things camo or if you just have a daughter starting to date and want some gear to hide in the bushes with, these are the people for you. Their tackling CRM to add to their GP install so they’ve got a full plate at Convergence. Say hi, if you see them.

Michael Johnson from Gibson Guitars is here. He’s a really bright guy who manages to be nice at the same time. If you play, find Michael. He can tell you how a guitar makes it’s way through GP.

Bob McAdam is here from Trucks.com. I’ve seen him from across the room but I haven’t hunted him down yet. If you see Bob, tell him I owe him a drink.

Huh, that’s a weird dynamic, (no pun intended). Hunting gear, trucks and guitars. Theirs a country song in here somewhere.

One more. Davis Sooknanan is here from Road Town Wholesale in the British Virgin Islands. If you sail, you know the British Virgin Islands. If you eat while you sail, you should know Road Town Wholesale.

All these folks are great people and people I call friends. Friends who don’t write or call enough but don’t ask for money! If all about community and people, here’s a few good ones to say hi to.

Sunday Lunch

I had lunch with a few customers who are old friends, a partner, a customer who used to be a partner. I’m disguising the names so nobody hits me over the head later. A comment in the general session about shrinking software margins struck a nerve with partners and former partners alike. Improved installation of GP and easier customization via Extender also has the potential to cut into partner margins. Microsoft has a delicate balancing act going on here. Lots of people have built their businesses on MS and partners are still smarting from the failed MS-Siebel collaboration from several years ago. MS CRM 3.0 may finally be the product to get partners past this open wound but MS needs to be careful not to open any new wounds.

SQL Server 2005

I’m in the What’s New In SQL Server 2005 session, since I was at one of the regional launch events, not much is new for me, buuut, it’s a nice refresher. I’m an accountant so I have to work to scrape up the time to play with SQL 2005 and my time has been kind of limited. But I have played with it and I like what I see. I really like the new Reporting Services features geared toward power users. Microsoft often focuses on developers to the detriment of power users and this brings power users back into the fold.

GP9 Overview

Based on the GP 9 overview, these are the compelling reasons for US to upgrade from 8.0 to 9.0:

  • Available enhanced Audit Trails (extra cost)
  • Available electronic sign off (extra cost)
  • New Payables check batch window and streamlined payables processing (free)
  • Home page, connection to Outlook is nice.
  • Installation improvements
  • Mass deployment (Outlook, SMS, or Group Policy)
  • New set up checklist
  • New GP webservice for Integration (Developer Toolkit)

Some other things I like but which don’t specifically apply to TransitTV are:

  • Extender (Extra cost)

Your mileage may vary. I’ve talked to a number of people on 7.5 and an upgrade to 9.0 will give them a lot of 8.0’s benefits as well ,such as undoing JE’s.
The Developer Toolkit for GP is a great idea. The ability to use VS2005 to extend GP and avoid Dexterity has the ability to be huge. Anything that opens up GP to more developers is a good thing.