reImagine 2014 - Day 2

Day 2 of the reImagine 2014 conference was a full day of sessions, followed by an evening keynote and pub crawl through downtown Fargo.

This day they swapped the locations of some sessions and had Sales & Consulting at the Holiday Inn, and Marketing & Development at Microsoft. I was initially a bit concerned that I would want to go to content at both places but the Development sessions proved to be more technical than my expertise, so I stayed at the hotel all day again.

There were 23 sessions at the hotel and 15 sessions at Microsoft, not including the work rooms where you have some 1 on 1 opportunities. Lots of choice again. I won’t go into the details of all the sessions I attended, there is too much detail to pass on! Here are some tidbits that I particularly enjoyed.

Workflow 2.0

Yesterday on day 1, my favourite session was from Jared Hall, on the new Dynamics GP Workflow 2.0.  I left that session really anticipating looking deeper into this. It looks really straight forward to configure new workflows and there are more workflow types with GP 2015 (13 vs 4 that were shipped with GP 2013 R2). On Tuesday I asked Jared about adding your own Workflow types and the short story is, it requires a couple of columns in the tables you want to have workflow on, to start.  He figures ISVs will be able to adapt to this pretty easily if they wish, but the other GP tables that don’t yet have workflow on them, is up in the air. The intention is to make it easier to create your own workflow types, not just workflows for the types given to you, so this will evolve over time.

Power BI

Today, there were a couple of sessions that I really enjoyed. The first was a session on Power BI by Belinda Allen. No more than 10 minutes into the session, I was already pumped to learn more about this Excel tool-set. It’s debatable how many clients would pay for this functionality but the wow factor is definitely there, with all the advanced ways to manipulate data.

The short version of what I learned is PowerBI is not one thing but a collection of self-service tools. Some of these require specific versions of Microsoft Office, so she cautioned to make sure you know exactly what kind of Office your clients have (version and type) before proposing something.

RapidStart Services

The second session I really enjoyed was on RapidStart Services presented by Christina Phillips. Historically everything has thought this was a tool only for moving a Quickbooks or Peachtree client to GP and it’s not anymore.

The key takeaways for me with this is you can template installs, defaulting a lot of the irrelevant setups that clients never understand or don’t care about, to at least quickly configure a bunch of things the same way for certain sizes of clients or industries. You can quickly pull out of an existing company what the configuration is and it puts it into excel, nicely documenting the configuration for you. This feature is intended for copying the config from one company to another but this is a great side benefit.

Keynote Address from Doug Burgum

This evening was a venture into downtown Fargo to the beautiful old Fargo Theatre. This was awesome, I love seeing the old-time theatres!

Fargo Theatre

Don’t forget your wristband! You needed this to enter the theatre…


While we munched on popcorn and had a beverage or two, we were treated to a brief bit of organ music which was elevated out of the orchestra pit in front of the stage. Quite cool!

Fargo Organist

The evening began with a visit from the fabulous Matt G, who we hadn’t seen at the Microsoft events for several years. There were lots of cheers from the crowd on that one.

Matt G before sandwiches

The funniest part was he asked for volunteers, grabbed Errol and another unsuspecting victim, Oksana, and suggested they now had to make peanut butter and jam sandwiches for the entire theatre since we hadn’t eaten dinner yet!  Even funnier, was Matt G asked the sandwich makers to toss (literally) the sandwiches to him and then he threw them to people around the room, including tossing one into the balcony. Most of the people ate them despite the number of hands that they touched along the way!

Errol & Oksana making sandwiches

Once the “dinner” was served, Doug Burgum was introduced. The picture I caught was during the early part of his keynote, where he reflected on both the popular and unpopular previous keynote topics, much to the enjoyment of the audience.

Doug and favourite topics

His keynote itself was an interesting to me, talking mostly about cities, the cost of urban sprawl, the re-emergence of people wanting to be back closer to the city cores and the importance of walkability. It was something I hadn’t really thought about myself specifically but once he started talking about it, I realized that I have done what he was talking about: the last two houses I have purchased, I have specifically been looking to move closer to the city cores that I lived in, so I can walk to things – shopping, events, groceries etc. A lot of what he talked about rang true to me at least.

The theme of the keynote was tying in to the reimagine theme, and staying curious. Curious people re-imagine and re-invent ways of doing things. Stay curious!

Pub Crawl

The last portion of the evening was a sponsored pub crawl through downtown Fargo. There were 5 vendors who sponsored evenings at 5 local restaurant/pubs. eOne, Binary Stream, NjevityToGo, Greenshades & WatServ were the sponsors, thanks to all for a fun night!  It was a lot of fun wandering around, picking up various bit of swag from each vendor while supplies lasted, having a few drinks and socializing with the reImagine crowd. All in all, a fun evening!

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