Microsoft Convergence 2011 Atlanta - Day 2

David Meego - Click for blog homepage

Today was the first "Official" day of the Convergence conference. After meeting Leslie and Sheila for breakfast, we went to the Open Keynote: Winning with Microsoft Dynamics. The session is now available from Virtual Convergence, please use this link: Winning with Microsoft Dynamics.

The session started with Microsoft Corporate VP and leader of the Microsoft Dynamics group, Kirill Tatarinov, giving us some of the statistics about the conference. This year there are 9,300 attendees from 36 countries, which makes this year's conference the 2nd largest Convergence conference ever.

Kirill discussed the commitment that Microsoft has to the ERP space and how each of the product groups are delivering on that commitment.  Each of the products has new versions coming up in the near future. This includes the Microsoft Dynamics GP 2010 R2 release.

Kirill then introduced Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer, to the audience who responded with clapping and cheering.


Steve reminded us that the 10 year anniversary of Microsoft's acquisition of Great Plains had just passed. Ten years ago, Microsoft acquired 30,000 Great Plains customers and today Microsoft has over 350,000 Microsoft Dynamics customers with over 5 million individual users. Proof that the decision made 10 years ago to enter the ERP space was the right one.

We had some real great demonstrations of some of the upcoming functionality of the latest Dynamics AX and Dynamics CRM products, but two of the demos really stood out to me.

The first was Lachlan Cash demonstrating changing manufacturing schedules using an Xbox Kinect controller and just his hand motion to move a planned production from one day to the next. This shows how the Kinect controller can be used in more ways than just a gaming controller or media center controller.

The other demo was from Carolyn Chau who showed us the new SQL Server BI (Business Intelligence) tool, code named Project Crescent.  With a drag and drop interface, she was able to quickly create a variety of "executive level" graphs and diagrams which were linked to live data and were interactive and could drill down or filter with a single click. Very cool stuff.


The opening session finished with some more great music from the Nick Brophy band.

After a short interval, the Dynamics GP focused general session Making Your Business Better with Microsoft Dynamics GP started. This session is available using the following link: Making Your Business Better with Microsoft Dynamics GP.

The session started with a video link to Errol Schoenfish back at home. If you were wondering where he was, the video below shows how the Microsoft Dynamics GP team built a dike around his house in Fargo, ND, USA to keep it dry while the area flooded.  The waters are receding now, but I don't think his wife, Cheri, would have let him leave while the house was under threat.


While Errol was unable to attend, we had the awesome talents of Pam Misialek to keep us entertained and educated on the upcoming Microsoft Dynamics GP 2010 R2 release.  This release is scheduled for 1st May 2011, and will be implemented as a service pack for existing customers or available as a new DVD image for new customers.

We had demonstrations of some of the new features of the R2 release from Hal Howard (Concur Expenses integration), Craig Crescas (Business Intelligence in the form of the Business Analyzer) and Jennifer Olson (Navigation Lists and new distribution functionality).

The final section of the session was from Jeff Trosen and Chad Sogge, who gave us a few insights into the next GP "12" release.

They discussed the Office 365 integration which would allow documents to be stored in "The Cloud", but then spent most of their time talking about the GP "12" Web Client.  The slide below shows the pillars that the Web Client is being built on. 


After "deploying" by typing in a URL and logging in, the Web Client will display the Business Analyzer on the user's home page.

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Utilizing the latest web User Interface technology, the GP developers have optimized the "high useage" forms in Dynamics GP for ease of entry and performance in a web environment. By applying templates to the existing PO Entry form we can build this web based form. Templates provide the ability to change the layout of a form without making functionality changes. The result is a streamlined SilverLight form with the Ribbon functionality across the top making the experience richer, faster and more intuitive for users of this window. Below is an example of the new Purchase Order Entry form.

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However, there is no need to create a specific template for a form as the standard template will allow any Dexterity form to be rendered. This means that ISV's who develop in Dexterity will have their products web enabled without any additional work on their behalf. How AWESOME is that!!!!!!!!!

Below is an example of the Vendor Maintenance form.

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While it is unlikely as this stage that Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) code will be able to work on a web client, the developers are looking at alternative customization methods.  They are also looking into what would be required to render customizations developed with Visual Studio Tools for Microsoft Dynamics GP in the web client.  It is too early to confirm exactly how far the web client technology will go, but the development team are working very hard on making as much as possible work seamlessly.  Exciting times are ahead.

Coming up next.... the afternoon and our first Support Debugging Tool session.