Today was the final event of the 4-city cross-Canada tour for Collaborate Canada. In case you missed my earlier posts, the event was aimed at users of 4 of the Dynamics product lines: GP, CRM, NAV, and AX (plus 365 in the mix with it’s AX/CRM/NAV counterparts).
This location was easily my favourite of all of them, for many reasons! The city is fantastic, from getting to downtown from the airport via Skytrain (how easy is that?), to a great day off touring Granville Island and the markets and shops, to the actual event day and location itself.
Being a Tourist
Yet again, like in Calgary, I had a full day in between the events to take in some of the sights in Vancouver and it didn’t disappoint. Well, perhaps except for the rain. I got pretty soaked walking around in the morning because it was heavier-than-expected rain compared to the forecast. I didn’t bother with an umbrella because it sounded like it was merely a drizzle. It wasn’t!
I walked from downtown near BC Place where I was staying to the ferry docks to catch a ferry to Granville Island and hung around there for several hours, eating breakfast, writing my Calgary blog post, and just wandering the shops. It has a pretty cool vibe to it, much like Seattle when I was there in November, and I really enjoyed the atmosphere. So much good food too! I wished I was near a kitchen to pick up some of that great food and cook.
Overall it was a great day and I ended up putting in over 18,000 steps or 13KMs, according to the app on my phone. No wonder my feet were tired!
Later in the day, once I had taken the ferry back to the downtown side, I wandered over to the JW Marriott Parq Vancouver. Holy cow! What a place. It is a relatively new luxury hotel right on the waterfront and boy, it is impressive.
The conference area was quite expansive and the only complaint I had was the sprawl of our rooms covered quite an area with another day conference in between some of our rooms, to make it a little more confusing. Other than that, the venue was fabulous.
The food was amazing. Breakfast definitely had a more “west coast” feel to it, with avocado on toast and greek yogurt & granola as a couple of the options. Both were super tasty. Lunch was smoked salmon sushi and sandwiches for the non-sushi lovers. Amazing… quite the contrast from the lunch we had in Calgary. By far, this was my favourite for meals!
I only caught a very little bit of the opening session this day due to a conference call to begin my day. From those I talked to, it was an improvement on the other days again, with Pam Misialek now having a small part to go over new features in NAV and GP, to have *some* content that would be relevant to the non-D365 audience.
I had a good chat with Katie Cook at the evening reception and we talked about the opening sessions a bit. I gave her some feedback on the applicability of the D365 push when the audience was all existing clients, and why that rubs some of us the wrong way and confuses the customers that are here.
Overall, these sessions improved over the 4 cities mainly due to feedback from myself and many others. None were perfectly suited to the audience or situation in my opinion, but hopefully next time the messaging can be improved.
I believe the goal of 150 attendees was met again, and this time, the largest attending group was Dynamics GP. Yay! I hear there were 47 or 48 registered for GP which is fantastic, although I would still say based on what I saw, perhaps only 20-25 of those were customers. It was nice to present to rooms with more people in them for a change, that’s for sure.
Overall the attendance was a lot lower than I was expecting and that really surprised me, in each city, where we know there are strong reseller presences and therefore strong customer bases. The only way this event can grow and succeed is to have partners involved in telling their customers about it and encouraging their participation.
While the events may have been a financial success for Dynamics Communities (I have no idea), it’s questionable to me if there is enough value for those that attended to present or sponsor, to consider doing it again. For me, what I hope to get out of it is expanding my visibility in the Dynamics GP community and adding to my contributions for MVP renewal purposes. I have a full slate of work and no room to take on new clients, so this isn’t even about business development for me.
I presented 9 times over the 4 cities but I didn’t even have 100 people cumulatively in my sessions, I might have had 75 if I were to guess, and I still think that’s high. That’s not a lot of reach, and the opportunity cost of attending these sessions (lost revenue) is thousands of dollars. None of us is paid to present and we’re all giving up our time and therefore our consulting opportunities to be here.
What I really enjoyed was getting to know some of the regulars a little better since many of us travelled to all four events. We ran into each other in airports, in the hotels, we met for dinners and drinks, and the downtime to get to know the personal side of some a bit better was part of the enjoyment for me. I also got to re-connect with several of my fellow MVPs who were in attendance presenting at the various events, whom I mostly see twice a year at Summit or an MVP event.
I’d be curious to hear what the other product lines were like at the event, in terms of attendance and whether they deemed it to be a success. I’m glad that I participated but I do question whether it’s worth the “cost” to me to do so if we cannot attract larger crowds. That’s where we need the help of others, like the partners, to be involved and see the value of events like this for their customers. The more the partners participate and encourage their own client base to come, the stronger the events will be and the content of the events.