This month's guest blogger and CRM MVP Larry Lentz shares with us his experience at this year’s MVP Global Summit in Seattle.
Each year, or so, Microsoft hosts a gathering of the MVPs (Most Valuable Professionals) from around the world. We meet in Seattle and Redmond. This blog post will be my impressions from MVP Global Summit 2009. As the Summit is 4 days long, prepare for a long read. I’ll try to keep it as short as I can.
The first day of Summit is typically a travel day with some pre-Summit presentations and workshops put on by some of the product groups. The session officially kicks off with a few keynotes and then a reception. After a hard day of travel, I arrived after the keynotes, but in time for the reception. This is a great time to meet and catch up with fellow MVPs from all product groups. Since I have my feet in two boats so to speak, it was great to chat and discuss a few issues with several of the SBS MVPs. But I spent most of my time with the CRM MVPs. We have several new ones and a number of returnees. Among those I’ve met and gotten to know from previous Summits plus in our on-line discussions were Ron Lemmen (The Netherlands), Macro Ameodo (Spain but living in London), Curt Spanburgh, Mitch Milam, and Frank Lee. I also saw Guy Riddle (Australia) briefly. Guy is one of my favorites from the Land of Oz. I enjoyed my conversations with all.
New this year were Mike Snyder and Jim Steger. I initially met them at Convergence 2006 and have great respect for them and what they do. They are the owners of Sonoma Partners and have authored numerous books on CRM. I especially enjoyed my conversation with Jim which centered around kids and family rather than CRM. Also new this year is Jim Wang from the UK.
The SBS MVPs traditionally host a party at the beginning of Summit. I had wanted to go but was too pooped to party. Up and at ‘em early in the morning for the trip over to Redmond and sessions with the CRM Team!
After a pretty good breakfast at our hotels in Seattle, Microsoft bussed the MVPs out to their campus in Redmond to meet with the product teams. I of course joined the CRM group. The remaining CRM MVPs attending Summit were there. I was pleased to finally meet in person long time CRM MVP Jurgen Beck from Germany. Returning MVPs Giogio Garcia-Agreda from Italy, and Darren Liu were all there in addition to those from last night. I was also pleased to meet new MPVs David Jennaway – UK, Joel Lindstrom, and Roberto Nocera – Italy. Also present were CRM Regional Directors David Yack from Colorado whom I met at last year’s Summit, and Christine Dubois from France. As you can see we have quite an international group.
The presentations were very interesting. They mainly focused on upcoming milestones for future releases, both updates to the current version, CRM 4.0, and the next release, CRM 5.0. Unfortunately all of our sessions were covered by NDA (non-disclosure agreement), so if I told you what was said, I’d have to … well you know. Suffice it to say I, and the rest of the MVPs, are very excited about the upcoming features.
We ended the day with a Product Team party on campus. This gave us all a chance to chat and solve all the problems of the CRM world over a beer and a few nibbles. Back up and at ‘em early tomorrow for another trip to Redmond.
Today we were back at the Microsoft campus for more presentations by other groups of the CRM product team. First was a presentation by the Support Team which described the support process on a global basis. Next was a presentation on IAG (Internet Access Gateway) which basically allows applications, including CRM, to be published to users via the Internet. In the afternoon session, our own David Yack gave a very interesting presentation on using Silverlight to develop very interesting features in CRM. We finished up with presentations by the Community team which produces the documentation for CRM.
The day was capped off by a Summit party at the Experience Music Project where Curt Spanburgh did himself proud singing and (much better) playing his harmonica, with the Karaoke band.
Today was the finale. And it was great, especially the presentation by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer which was the highlight of the day. Steve really knows how to talk to the MVPs. He started off with a cheer session where everyone shouted “I’m a PC and an MVP” and “I love Windows 7”. A touching moment was when, during the Q&A, EBS MVP Chris Rue made a tribute to SBS MVP Frank McCAllister who died just days before the Summit. Chris asked Steve if he would sign a memorial book being prepared for Frank’s family. The room of 1,500 was silent as Steve thoughtfully considered what to write. I was a friend of Frank. Frank’s MVP profile is still displayed at https://mvp.support.microsoft.com/profile=10B8B51C-B985-41EF-9B5C-CD09C6FD0940 as I write, but may not be for long.
Of particular interest this morning was, of course, Windows 7. Microsoft has taken great pains in speeding up Windows 7. I was also impressed with the ability to interact over a home network to enable displaying movies, playing music, etc. over the network to the family TV. And there are many great features for businesses, of course. Keep an eye on Windows 7. It will be a big deal for Microsoft, especially in concert with Windows Server 2008 R2.
Since this is a Dynamics CRM blog, let me say that I was impressed when a few slides showed Microsoft Dynamics CRM as one of the key pillars of Microsoft’s offerings along with various Windows Server versions, and SQL.
After the presentations they served us a very nice lunch (food was great all during the Summit). Several of us CRM MVPs sat around chatting while they were trying to clean up, way after the lunch was done. Since the MVPs are spread all over the globe, one of the big benefits of attending Summit is the opportunity for us to get to know each other on a personal basis. I look forward to Summit 2010, if I’m fortunate enough to be awarded once again. The CRM MVPs are truly an amazing group and I am humbled to be included in their number.