NAVUG Summit vs. Microsoft Convergence. Which Should You Choose?

NAVUG Summit 2015Convergence 2015

Many people ask: which event should I attend, NAVUG Summit or Microsoft Convergence?  It is a good question.  The two events, while similar, each have their own strengths.  So there the real question is: why should you attend any events at all?

When an individual or company makes the investment, financial and otherwise, to attend any event there should be some expected outcomes.  These outcomes can take many forms and will vary based upon the particular circumstances that exist at any given time.  Some common expectations include:

  • Learn more about the products your company uses to run your business.
  • Meet other uses of the same product.
  • Interact directly with the Microsoft team.
  • Gain insight into new leadership topics.
  • Obtain training on specific areas of the software provided by Microsoft.
  • Social interaction opportunities.

This list is by no means comprehensive, but these are the most common themes I hear from customers and prospects when I turn the question, “Which event should we attend?” around and ask them why they are attending at all.  In fairness, and to attempt to dispel the idea that I am simply a smart aleck that is avoiding a direct question, I will provide my perspective on each of these events as they relate to the most common questions/reasons for attending either Microsoft Convergence or NAVUG Summit.

  • Learn more about the products your company uses to run your business.

OK, this topic is a bit deeper than all of that.  The real question is what are your objectives for improving or expanding the use of existing tools to improve your customers experience or reduce your cost of doing business?  From there, what is the appropriate budget for training in order to help your team best analyze and deploy improved processes or software?  Once you have determined this baseline, then we can look at Convergence or Summit.  Depending on the specifics, here is what I believe you should expect from each event.

    • Convergence
      • Insight into Microsoft’s broad vision regarding their business products.  This is typically deeper than people initially realize.  Remember, if you are a “Microsoft Shop”, then you likely run lots of Microsoft software:
        • Dynamics
        • Office (including Office 365)
          • Word
          • Excel
          • SharePoint
          • PowerPoint
        • Analytics tools
          • SQL
          • Power BI
      • At no other event will an end user have better access to firsthand information and experiences with the team that actually writes the software you use to run your business.
      • Access to developers to work hand-in-hand with your team to help you address specific projects that you may have in play.  Many people don’t even realize that the hands on workshops are available to allow you to bring your actual project to the technical team at Microsoft and have them help you directly.  This only occurs at Convergence.
      • Access to the technical team, for a short window, following the event.  Again, only available at Convergence.
    • Summit
      • Less “noise”.  Totally focused on Dynamics NAV.
      • Much more intimate, a couple of hundred people rather than a couple thousand.  This makes for smaller sessions and easier contact with presenters.  Who better to learn from then the subject matter experts?
  • Meet Others users of the same product
    • Convergence
      • Certainly the NAV community has a lot of attendees at Convergence.
      • A challenge exists in the point from above, there are thousands of people at Convergence.  It is easy to get overwhelmed and even easier to miss a chance to connect with other users.
    • Summit
      • At less than 500 attendees and everyone running NAV, you would have to sleep in your room all three days to miss a chance at connecting with other users.
      • Far more social, after-hours events that provide even more opportunity to connect and develop relationships with other users.
  • Interact directly with the Microsoft team
    • Convergence. OK, no bullets.  There simply hands down more Microsoft staff at Convergence.  So if you are a Microsoft shop, this event should not be missed.
    • Summit
      • Very well attended by the Microsoft NAV development team.
      • Very well attended by the Microsoft NAV support staff.
  • Gain insight into new leadership topics
    • Convergence. Again, no bullets.  Microsoft has a bigger budget and they get more compelling speakers on topics outside of the NAV world.
    • Summit
      • Great insights from leaders at other NAV companies.
      • Growing depth of material in the general keynote sessions.
      • More intimate event, thus allowing you to actually make a connection with the speakers.
  • Obtain training on the specific software
    • Convergence
      • Developers’ labs are second to none.  You simply will not get better access for one on one interaction to help coach you through development challenges.
      • The Microsoft Kiosk is very well staffed with all of their top notch team members from through the Dynamics world.
      • The Microsoft Kiosk has excellent staff for all of the O365 products.
      • The Microsoft team typically gets a “two week pass” to actually respond directly to end users following Convergence.
    • Summit
      • Microsoft does send team members who can provide some higher level assistance if you visit the Kiosk during show hours.
      • End users are friendly, helpful people.  You can likely get one of your peers to give you some assistance during a break or after hours.
  • Social interaction opportunities
    • Convergence
      • Much flashier parties if music, clubs, and excitement are on your mind. Microsoft furnishes all of these and many times much more.
      • Great ISV and Partner sponsored parties.  Many of these events are not to be missed either.
      • Actually there are so many parties, you are going to need to be careful not to wear yourself out and miss sessions in the morning.
    • Summit
      • Great socializing in the expo hall, solid refreshments.
      • A few nice Partner sponsored parties.
      • Often a great chance to have a more intimate dinner with old or new friends and not feel like you are “missing something big”.

OK, so back to the question.  Which event should you attend?  Hopefully, some of the insights provided above will help you decide which event most closely meets your needs.  However, if you ask me (and, surprisingly, quite a few people do) my answer is: BOTH.  Look, your company invests huge amounts of money in systems to run your business.  What better investment can you possibly make than to learn more about how to better leverage these important tools to serve your customers, lower your costs, and improve the information on which you base your most important business decisions?  If you review the budget (not just IT, but the training budget as well), I would strongly recommend that a cross section of your team find their way to both Microsoft Convergence and NAVUG Summit.  See you in Atlanta AND Reno!

 

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Tom Doran

Tom Doran

Chief Marketing Officer at Innovia Consulting

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