What I love about eXtreme365 is that some of the smartest technical consultants, solution architects, and Dynamics 365/CRM developers are all in the same location. This community is passionate about learning and discovering the best approach with their customers based on where Microsoft is going with the product. In any given session, there are a combination of D365 (CRM) MVP’s, principal architects from Microsoft, and the folks on the ground with customers answering real-world requirements, discussing what Microsoft’s direction really means for their clients.
Dynamics 365 online and what we’ve traditionally known as Dynamics CRM will see big changes over the coming months. Yes, we’ve seen changes in branding, but we will see new and interesting shifts with Common Data Service 2.0. There will be some strong gains by way of master data management across certain systems, and as we know, there will be plenty of new considerations to address with companies’ unique business processes. Our bet is that people will use a combination of what Microsoft offers and integrate with the systems that their teams love and use daily.
Thinking about the eXtreme365 in Dubrovnik (though the travel portion reminded me a lot of the “Griswalds Lampoons Vacation” conference style), the event itself was quite memorable. We’re bullish about the opportunity in Europe. For one, it seems that there is a strong need to integrate Dynamics 365 with on-premise and cloud applications and second, the requirements around GDPR are coming up very quickly. Companies will need to quickly handle data requests around impersonalizing data and retrieving what they have for customers; we’re looking at ways to help handle that through integration.
Overall, the eXtreme365 conference in Dubrovnik was one of the most memorable events I’ve been to in my career. At no other conference have I witnessed the “Red Wedding” scene from Game of Thrones re-enacted, nor have I worn a bright blue wig pretending to be Cortana in front of a crowd of 700ish.
If I were to summarize the top highlights, they would be:
- 16 newly-trained SmartConnect consultants and developers who can now handle all sorts of Dynamics 365 & CRM integration needs. We had a very interactive group. They asked tough questions about integrating D365 and previous versions of Dynamics CRM and how to bring integrations to market more efficiently. At the end of the day, they learned how to handle the most difficult requirements they receive around data migration, integrating with different API’s and making it possible (*easier) to go to the cloud.
- We delivered two full sessions:
- Deliver complex integration without code (low-code if you want).
- Build your next D365 integration without a developer.
Our goal of these two sessions was to try and take something complex and show how simple it can be with SmartConnect. We get excited about the more “techy” stuff, but often it’s the simple features – like the drag-and-drop mapping and ability to make changes quickly – that mean the most.
- Connections made – Networking at eXtreme is one of the top highlights. There are people who speak and attend that provide important feedback for the community and ask tough questions. The people who attend are held accountable and are the face of what Microsoft is delivering. They are the people on-site when something goes well or goes wrong. They need to deliver real solutions. It is a big deal to be able to discuss issues that have come up and how to overcome them.
- Feedback – One of our favorite things to do when we’re on the road is to get real-world feedback, face-to-face, from consultants who use our solutions. At eXtreme365, we met with consultants who’ve been using SmartConnect to deliver integrations and prior to the event, we toured the UK visiting with our partners who use eOne Products. While we love hearing stories of our products improving users’ lives, there is nothing better than sitting down directly with the technical support person to help them address a tough issue and ensure our product development plan incorporates this feedback.
- We made it home – There was a moment I wasn’t sure how and when we would make it. Though we loved the old city of Dubrovnik, and I’m a huge Game of Thrones fan (part of that show was filmed there), it was an off-season time of year to be there and it is a small coastal town. Somehow, the “winter is coming” theme really came. Due to flight changes, we drove 12 hours through the mountains with Fargo-like blizzard weather. It was an adventure, to say the least, but we re-worked our travel itineraries, and managed to have our first meal in Bosnia along the way. Fun times.
Thank you to all our partners and new friends who took the time to meet with us in the UK and Dubrovnik at eXtreme365. Microsoft is certainly going to keep things interesting. We look forward to helping our customers and partners deliver their Dynamics 365 & CRM integration requirements.