I had the opportunity to attend the eXtreme CRM conference this week in Las Vegas, NV. This is the final in a series of blog posts, I will recap my activities and observations from Day 3 of the conference, including an overall summary of the conference experience. You can also take a look at my quasi-live tweeting of my conference experience at http://twitter.com/crmhobbit.
Day 3 began with the keynote from Connor Marsden, US Director for CRM Online “Your CRM Opportunity”. Well, actually…right before the keynote there was a “contest” to see which partner had the best story for the prior night’s activities. The request went out for three people to come on stage to tell their tale, in the hopes of winning a prize. There were only two of us brave enough to get up on stage, myself and a member of the McGladrey CRM team. We both won a prize, which was cool…but only after I sang a part of RESPECT in the style of Aretha Franklin, which I had done the night before at a Karaoke bar. You had to be there to really appreciate it.
Back to the keynote…Connor brought the conference full circle, reinforcing the previously discussed trends and market opportunities, the Enterprise and Cloud are keys to future growth. In fact, the SMB customer segment is customer is making less and fewer investments in the on-premise space, moving to cloud based solutions. He also discussed how customers expect partners to provide insight to more effectively run their business through leveraging Microsoft CRM. Unfortunately, the customer now has does not have the time we would like to educate on their business processes first. The importance of the partner channel was highlighted, noting that it is one of the differentiators between Microsoft CRM and Salesforce. An interesting statistic provided was that 80% of Microsoft CRM revenue is received through the partner channel. Connor also mentioned that the Polaris and Orion releases will bring the best UI for both CRM sellers and customers, better than competitive offerings.
My final session of the conference was “Plugin Deep Dive” with Matt Parks from Avanade. This session was a true deep dive, covering topics such as the CRM Development Toolkit for Visual Studio and how it assists the CRM developer, error handling techniques, performance considerations and effective testing processes and tools.
Overall Conference Review
This was my first eXtremeCRM conference and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Attending a partner focused conference is quite different from say Microsoft Convergence, which is more of a client focused event. That is not to say that Convergence is not a good conference to attend for Partners, on the contrary. I encourage everyone to attend next year’s event in New Orleans and to take advantage of all the learning and networking opportunities available. However, at a conference that is partner focused, every day and every session are focused on improving your ability to sell, extend or deploy to customers. My only piece of constructive feedback for the eXtremeCRM conference would be to include more content targeted to the Enterprise market. While the SMB market is a very important area for Microsoft, the Enterprise market begins to be more critical for future success and requires appropriate knowledge and experience sharing at this type of conference.
This conference afforded fantastic networking opportunities and interaction with others within the Partner channel as well as with Microsoft resources. Having the ability to strike up a conversation with folks like Eric Boocock, Craig Dewar, Neil Benson or Richard Knudson is of great value. The sessions were well-organized and run, with many options to choose from…at times I had to miss sessions of interest due to conflicts with other equally compelling sessions. The conference team provided copies of each sessions slide deck to allow attendees to share the information with their teams back at the practice.
All in all, a great learning and personal experience. I encourage you to make the investment in attending next year. I look forward to seeing those whom I met for the first time again and continuing the conversation throughout the year until eXtreme 2013!