Although it has been a few months since we went to Envision in New Orleans, I wanted to take a few minutes and write down my thoughts on this event. For me it has a very double meaning. On one hand it was a new type of event for me that brought a lot of food for thought. Rather than getting down into nuts and bolts of product knowledge, this event was more about thought leadership and marketing, two concepts that are more abstract than I am comfortable with.
In previous years, we (the company I work for) would always attend and/or sponsor the annual event called Convergence, which was the Dynamics event that was focused on the end user of the Dynamics products. After we had already purchased the VERY expensive platinum sponsorship for Convergence US in 2016, Microsoft decided to restructure their event rotation. They brought it to us as though “Envision” was intended to be more than just Dynamics, but it was essentially a rebranding effort, so it was really another iteration of the same thing. By the time that the session schedule came out, and there was not a single session about any of the Dynamics products other than merely marketing, we realized that this was an entirely different type of event altogether, and unfortunately it was too late to cancel our sponsorship.
The event itself was VERY poorly attended. Day one of the event itself felt like it was the afternoon of the last day of any other event. We hardly had any visitors to our booth, the floor felt like it was deserted all day long, and most of our guests at our traditional coffee stand were booth staff of other partners on the floor.
Normally, platinum level sponsorships come with 2-3 speaking slots of an hour each, and a partner session that can be uses to promote ourselves. This time around, we only received a couple of 15 minute slots at the media wall, which was very different. The picture is me presenting at the media wall, where I talked about the challenges of global implementations (slides here). There were plenty of people that seemed to be very interested in my presentation, but 15 minutes was barely enough to race through some of the highlights.
The highlight of my event was the opportunity to meet Scott Kelly, a NASA astronaut who had just come back from a year in space. Where I live in Flagstaff we are space nerds and we have parties to look at the sky at night. I had watched the International Space Station fly over and wondered how he’d be doing up there. It was great meeting Mr. Kelly, who told me that my town looks great from space.
Envision may be a great event if you’re into thought leadership and marketing, but it is no replacement for Convergence. Too bad, because I always enjoyed attending Convergence, both in the US and in EMEA. Time for groups like NAVUG to step up and fill the void.