Convergence is a CRM event organized by Microsoft to present the latest improvements in Microsoft Dynamics, as well as future directions for the CRM business. Convergence gathers Microsoft Dynamics partners, customers and CRM experts providing a way to discuss the role of Dynamics in satisfying business needs. Convergence 2008 edition was held in Orlando on March 12 and had over 9,600 attendees from 65 countries, which makes it one of the most important crm event (tied to Microsoft Dynamics though). This years' edition was marked by the speech of Steve Ballmer and the announcements made regarding the future direction of Microsoft Dynamics.
The Convergence 2009 event will take place in New Orleans, Louisiana between March 10 and March 13.
As mentioned above, one of the most important event in Convergence 2008 was the speech of Steve Ballmer, who started with a declaration that his biggest decision as Microsoft's CEO was to push the company into the business applications arena (core business product being Microsoft Dynamics). You cannot overlook his sense of humour as he said that this decision might be surpassed by the deal with Yahoo! (if it will ever be accepted).
You can see a full transcript of his speech at microsoft.com/presspass/exec/steve/2008/03-12Convergence.mspx, however some key points are structured below:
- Complexity of business. A survey conducted by Microsoft (with help from PWC) revealed that the two biggest concerns ceo's have is the complexity of current business elements and the need for globalization (kind of think this survey was done before the release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4, as the new version offers several language packs hence the solution for globalization needs).
- Directions for Microsoft Dynamics. From the design point of view, the Dynamics suite will have the ribbon user-model that was introduced in Office 2007 (improving productivity by allowing quick access to the needed functions). As for mobility, Dynamics applications will work on mobile devices too (particularily those based on Windows Mobile), giving users access to CRM information on-the-road (shortly after that Oracle also announced the Sales Business Assistant for BlackBerry). From the collaboration point of view, Dynamics will be improved with new capabilities taken from the SharePoint model, where a user modifies someting in a shared space and then the item is sent back to the Dynamics system.
- Improved performance. The Dynamics AX 2009 product line will be shipped at the end of June 2008 and in their tests on Windows 2008 Server (using SQL Server 2008) a 70 percent increase in performance was noticed. Whether that's the merit of the 2008 server or the entire mix is irrelevant, as the result is quite impressive. This announcement for the new Dynamics 2009 version in summer is showing the interest Microsoft has for the business line of products, as it seems Microsoft CRM 4.0 was just released (end of 2007).
- Key partnership. Steve Ballmer also presented Ron Rittenmeyer (CEO of EDS) and announced a partnership with EDS, a provider of CRM services for Fortune 2,000 class companies around the world. The partnership means that EDS will deploy CRM solutions provided by Microsoft to large worldwide customers (they have plans to train more than 300 Microsoft Dynamics consultants over the next period of time and convince some of their important customers to adopt Microsoft Dynamics). One key element of that part of the discussion was the mention of the largest government CRM deployment made for the Department of Works and Pensions in the UK - it seemed that this was one of the major factors for Microsoft to decide who to pick for this partnership (pretty sure there were more contestants). One other key factor was the globalization of the Dynamics suite, as EDS has experience and customers in more or less 26 countries.
- Dynamics CRM Live. A demonstration for a future Dynamics CRM Live was made, an application that combines the power of Dynamics CRM with the ability of online web services (access it from everywhere, while having also the familiarity of desktop applications). Dynamics CRM Live is expected to be available later this year.
So the plans Microsoft has for the Dynamics line of products are promising, as it seems that the model goes toward expanding globally and offering complex solutions for complex business needs - as Steve Ballmer pointed CRM is becoming more and more XRM, where you don't have to manage only the relationship with your customer, but all types of relations with all kinds of people involved in your business.
Registration for the next Convergence event (2009 in New Orleans) will be available at the official Convergence website - microsoft.com/dynamics/convergence/default.aspx