reImagine 2015 - Day 2

Day 2 was not quite as crazy as Day 1 for me, at least I don’t feel as drained as I did yesterday at this time of day (4:00pm as I am writing this!). I can’t speak for everyone though, I’m sure if you attended the eOne Smartner Party, your opinion on today might differ due to alcohol consumed or lack of sleep! There were lots of good sessions and our day was split up between two locations, if you were in the Consultant & Developer stream. That group started at Microsoft and after lunch we all re-joined the Sales & Marketing groups back at the hotel for a Rapid Fire session, and then on to downtown Fargo for the keynote and the “downtown experience”.

General Sessions

When Good Services Go Bad

  • Presented by Rob Bernhardt and Chris Rudolph, they covered an overview of the services involved in GP web services and what they do, to help identify where to troubleshoot if things go wrong, whether it’s a platform issue or a login/access/GP security issue.
  • A lot of this was aimed at the developers in the crowd so I won’t try to explain it, as I might not get the descriptions correct!
  • The one thing that stood out to me was a comment one of the presenters made. A user cannot be logged into GP at the same time they are doing something via SBA that would use their credentials, because SBA will “log them in”. It might not be an issue but I can picture situations where users might have GP open all day and be using external apps for other things, and that being a conflict, depending on how the apps are set up to authenticate. Perhaps I misunderstood that point…

Get moving to the web client

  • Presented by Brian Allrich and Dan Lothspeich, they covered high level architecture of the web client and what the individual services are responsible for, what is supported and what is not in terms of customizations etc.
  • The key takeaway is the web client is no longer just for light users, full functionality exists now and we (as partners) should be promoting its use more with our clients.

Get GP running on Azure

  • I was looking forward to this session most today, because I felt last year there wasn’t enough “beginner” content on getting started with Azure. When I took the time to figure some things out myself, I blogged about it hoping to help others who were in a similar position. I even suggested an Azure 101 as a session topic but it did not make it through to the session offerings unfortunately.
  • This session was presented by Zech Andersen and Daryl Anderson and covered topics that I felt would have been over my head had I not attempted to learn Azure over the last year.  It was a good session, but if you were completely new, I think some things might not have made sense.
  • They covered topics more focussed on getting a client up on Azure, vs. creating your own testing or development machine which meant a slightly different focus. I think the licensing is still muddy - clearer, but muddy. I look forward to trying to follow some of what I learned here to my own test & dev Azure environment.

Building & Deploying GP web services the easy way

  • This was another session presented by the eOne Solutions gang and, as usual, the session was packed and “sold out” as it were, forcing the organizers to open a second room up to double the capacity.
  • The guys didn’t disappoint. Presented by Andrew Brown and Chris Hanson, they covered off SBA itself and what it has (i.e. CRUD for core GP and HR only right now) and what is doesn’t have out of the box (get all or 1 record, no filtering; no processes like posting or transferring documents; no complex transactions like SOP or POP).
  • They demo’d Service Builder which in the initial release will be a “get” service builder (as opposed to create/update which is a separate builder still being worked in). Part of what they discussed was some of the moving parts in the demos they’ve done between GP, CRM and Timely. It was discussed too quickly to get details but suffice to say, it involved RESTful services, SmartConnect and SBA/Service Builder and of course GP.
  • When the next version of SmartConnect comes out, there will be an SBA connector in there which is awesome. Part of the demo was showing that build and how to create maps that either have source or destination as “Dynamics GP Service”. They showed some of the Timely map as well which has a source of “REST Service” with a destination of “Dynamics GP Service” - two services talking to each other.  It was pretty impressive what we will be able to do with this in the future!

Platinum and Gold Sponsor Rapid Fire

  • The last “session” of the day was a rapid fire presentation by all of the platinum and gold sponsors, to show off their wares in 3 minutes or less each.
  • Some of the info was great, some was ok, but it was a nice overview of a lot of different ISVs that not everyone (including myself) had heard about before. Tomorrow morning the silver sponsors have something similar to showcase their solutions.

Keynote and Fargo Downtown Experience

Last night (as I now transition to writing this on Wednesday morning), it was the keynote at the Fargo Theatre in downtown Fargo followed by the “downtown” experience, where 6 partners sponsor parties at different local establishments and offer free food and drinks and entertainment for the wandering group of partners.

First comment: it was disappointing to see the turnout to this part of the event. It seemed like a far smaller crowd than last year. Was it due to the fact no one knew who these speakers were? Perhaps… but in my opinion, it should have been just as full as last year.

First up was Wayne Morris followed by the “moderator” for the evening: Greg Tehven from Emerging Prairie. He was introducing the next two guests who both spoke briefly then came back out together to have a short Q&A.

The first speaker was Clint Howitz from dogIDs. They are manufacturers and distributors of personalized dog products, like ID tags, made to order, and mostly made in Fargo. He was talking mostly of his journey from a 10x10 office to where he is today and how things have changed since he’s started his business. He posted a shot of a website with obvious keyword stuffing which was the old style way of getting hits to your website. Now, the more naturally you write, the better your web traffic is.

The second speaker was Max Kringen from TellWell. They are the “anti-agency” social media agency. He hates buzzwords, he tells stories and it was an interesting presentation on his story. The take-away for me, “how do you do something differently when everyone says they do the same thing?”. The second thing was (paraphrasing): forget buzzwords like B2B, B2C etc., every interaction is business to person.

After a brief Q&A, the final speaker was Mark Lindquist, a motivational speaker and entertainer. Talk about high energy! A very engaging personality, Mark was fun to listen to and got the crowd involved, perfectly integrating the theme of this conference with his performance. He started by asking everyone to clasp their hands, then do “jazz hands” in front of them, then repeat, 3 times. Then he had us do the same thing with crossing our arms, 3 times. His point: everyone clasps their hands and crosses their arms the same way every time, and you’ve done it that way since you were born. If you try to do it differently, it feels strange. Change doesn’t feel comfortable, but if you force yourself to clasp your hands the other way or cross your arms the other way, eventually, it doesn’t feel so strange. Eventually change doesn’t seem so hard. It was a perfect analogy to the point of reImagine and a good way to end the evening.

After the speakers, it was time for the pub crawl. This year I skipped the pub crawl and went for dinner with a group of people, some I knew, and some I met for the first time (which is also consistent with every day at conferences like this!). It was a great evening, and we only finished eating and talking around 10:00pm. By that time I needed to head back to the hotel to unwind and get some sleep! No pub crawl for me this year…

Now, off to Day 3….

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