- The Era of Big Government is over back. Since about 1994, I have seen a steady annual move of who is driving technology adoption and innovation — from places like DARPA to the private marketplace. In 2009, the driver has shifted back to the public sector. I met a lot of people who are building large sales and implementations in response to all levels of government — Federal, State and Local. This is not just the uber-sexy social media shift pioneered by the Obama Campaign and Administration. It spans all levels of government transactions (FOIA request processing, licensing and permitting).
- It is global world. As I mentioned before, the majority of the Dynamics presenters were international business and technology executives bringing a lot of innovation from countries beyond the US (a great thing to see). However, as I went to the different sessions, I saw this trend at all levels. I met young innovators from Mexico looking at using Dynamics to support municipal transactions, connected via Twitter with implementers from the UK and the Netherlands and met may implementation firms from India. What is clearly emerging is that a large amount of innovation (not just lower-cost implementation) is coming from all over the world.
- Dynamics is the next SharePoint. Microsoft made SharePoint the fastest product to reach $1 Billion USD per year in sales. It looks like they are beginning the same push for Dynamics. They are introducing many accelerators to embed Dynamics across the entire enterprise — from front-end portals to business intelligence. Expect new positioning of Dynamics against both SAP and Salesforce.com. It will be curious to see how this works its way out in which technology vendors come together to our offices to pitch the benefits of their combined products (I am remembering that SAP and MSFT vs. SUN and Oracle set of pitches from 2005…)
None of these trends were huge surprises. However they were very prevalent at the Keynote, Session and one-to-one levels. However, I did find a few surprises as well…
Things that surprised me
- Dynamics is selling faster than SharePoint — At least in the public sector. We have spent the last few years hearing a lot about SharePoint. I have spent a good amount of time integrating it with a variety of technologies (from Documentum to social media portals). What surprised me to hear was that Dynamics had more public sector sales last quarter than SharePoint. This means we all need to shift or expand our focus to concentrate more on where Dynamics is going
- I still don’t know which Dynamics ERP package to use. I had hoped to get some clarity on how Microsoft was going to combine GP, AX, NAV and SL. I still do not have this clarity. I am wondering when Microsoft will do this (Oracle bit the bullet with Fusion — it was painful, but it told me where Siebel was going vis-a-vis Oracle CRM). I was surprise to walk away with no more insight than when I arrived.
- CRM — Even though it is “out-numbered” is accelerating faster than ERP: CRM is becoming more broad and competitive — faster than ERP. I saw great plug-ins for Business Intelligence, Social Media, Content Management and other functions. For the most part these were easy for engineers and business people to use (XML and Excel). Don’t get me wrong. There is still a lot of work ahead to supplant large-scale legacy Oracle, Siebel, and Pegasystems implementations. However, Microsoft is benefiting from working from a single CRM product.
- The thinking about how technology affects how we live has evolved. I am used to hearing how technology will change our lives in these types of conferences. However, I heard a much more mature and thoughtful conversation on this. For example, I witnessed a conversation as to how open collaboration (through social networking and CRM) will affect the media business (e.g., will it force a shift towards or away from punditry as citizens get more information directly through open government systems?)
- People ARE building towards the Azure cloud. I have been hearing about cloud computing for years. Last week, I talked to people who are actively building in this direction. The reason I hear is the same from all: it’s the economy. For a background on this, see my posts on SaaS and Cloud Computing.
A final observation: Less would have been more
Convergence is a HUGE conference. There are hundreds of break out sessions over four days. The Expo also has hundreds of partners. This is rather overwhelming. I recognize Microsoft is balancing the interests of thousands of partners. However, I think having few sessions and booths would have allowed more focus and allowed each of the presented items to have a larger impact.
Nevertheless, I had a great time and met some very creative, innovative people.