This was my first Directions EMEA ever, and the first that my company attended as sponsor. So somehow, I felt like a boy who comes to huge family gathering of his new girlfriend. For those whom I didn’t meet personally: I was the new kid on the block ;-) As a newbie, impressions are always intense and sometimes different than those of long-term family members. Hence, sitting at Vienna airport I decided to put together a few thoughts on my five take-aways in Directions EMEA 2013. Feel free to share if you like these impressions.
1. Great story to tell, great proposition to sell.
One word in advance: we are a non-selling ISV. I came to Directions EMEA to network, to learn both about the Dynamics NAV product and the community and to get to know potential new partners for my product. With having (not yet) any ambition to sell Dynamics NAV, I sat in the keynote presentation and was overwhelmed. Oh boy, the “in Office 365 and on Azure” story intrigued me. I attended many IT conferences in my career, and typically software companies try to tell a great story. Honestly, Microsoft did not stop at trying. They tell a great story, and they delivered a great proposition to sell. I will definitively need a moment of very silence to ask myself if this proposition can help me to propel my business even more than I am expecting anyway from my NAV engagement. I observed a lot of skepticism among folks in terms of “there is gap between the story and the real-life”. Well, why not making the story to become real life?
2. The “technology universes” merge. Forget about on premise, on device and on demand.Before coming to Vienna, my thinking about enterprise applications technology was in terms of Windows client technology, web technology, touch-device technology and/or in terms of on premise, on device and on demand. Given how seamlessly I use and consume applications and content in my non-business life, this always seemed a little weird. In Vienna, I attended a session about the Web Client, and admittedly, it took me a while to recognize that I was looking at the Windows Client screen. This surprise actually is good news at it makes weird “technology things” much more straight-forward and simplistic. I would bet that rather sooner than later customers (i.e. the real-life ;-)) will love the fact that they can work with business applications as easy as they consume content and applications in their private lifes. You guess it: I will again need to look for another moment of silence to think about the resulting opportunities for my business.
3. Excitement about the route-to-repeatability conceptDynamics NAV partners, bear with me. I am the new kid on the block. Things that you seem to know for a while are still new to me. The background of our company, i.e. its core DNA is to develop software products (no services) that we mainly sell remotely and that can be used by our customers and partners rather self-sufficiently. When we started designing and defining our first add-in product for Dynamics NAV, we naturally applied our DNA to the new product development. Isn’t this cool? Without having heard about the route-to-repeatability concept before, we now seem to have launched an ISV product, which pretty much embraces this concept. Well, this time I do not need a moment of silence to get an idea how good this should support our go-to-market with the new product.
4. Confirmation: bringing the Gantt chart back to Dynamics NAV is an attractive market for us
We did homework, before we developed the new product, the Visual Production Scheduler: We built a prototype, we shared it with many prospective partners, collected feedback and developed a fully integrated add-in that brings back the good old Gantt chart to the production module. It is not sophisticated, it has no algorithmic power, but it enables users to understand the production schedule at one glance and take corrective actions immediately. A picture tells more than 1,000 words (or than tables with 1,000 rows). We (silently launched) the product in March and since then signed almost 20 reseller agreements with Dynamics NAV partners around the globe. This was a great endorsement that we are on the right track. Directions EMEA was the first huge public event to which we brought our new add-in, the Visual Production Scheduler. Honestly, I am a overwhelmed by the positive feedback we gained and by the demand we saw for our proposition. We saw partners who returned after a demo, and asked us to install the demo on their machines. Thanks to the add-in being a product, this is easy and now we have new partners who will present our Gantt chart add-in to their customers already this week. Never ever in my life I have experienced a shorter cycle from the lead gen activity to a partner taking action. – Maybe a good time to say a big THANK YOU to the very spontaneous ones in the Dynamics NAV channel: you made my day :-)
5. Valuable contactsNot sure if my “newbie status” supported the last take-away or if this even will become better once we will belong to this community for a longer while. The three days in Vienna definitively belong to the most communication-intense days of my recent business life. The good news is: there was no superficial business blabla smalltalk. Every single conversation I had brought insight, new ideas, made me think about bits and pieces I never thought before, carried an eye-opener and made me smarter. I am so thankful that Directions EMEA helped me to expand my network with valuable contacts and not only with a collection of business cards.
… and with all of this, I can actually deliver one more take-away than promised with the headline:
6. I am so glad that I already booked my place for Directions in Nashville … and am looking forward to meeting there, networking again and learn at least 5 new exciting things about Microsoft Dynamics NAV ;-)