This article will recap the Dynamics User Groups Summit, held in Reno, NV October 11-14, 2015 and discuss the highlights from the Expo floor, in the breakout sessions, and more.

Just like that, the fall event that I know a lot of Dynamics folks were excited and gearing up for, has come and gone. Last week, the Dynamics User Groups Summit for AXUG, CRMUG, GPUG, and NAVUG took Reno, Nevada by storm for a week of learning, sharing, networking, and community building, as well as some gambling and sightseeing.  This was the first time I was able to attend the event, but it really seems to be the premier consumer-driven Dynamics event, delivering visibility in terms of leadership within the user groups, as well as roadmap plans for the individual products and how the communities are navigating challenges and opportunities for best practices and best-of-breed tools that can speak to modern data management and analysis processes.  In this article, I’ll discuss the highlights from the 2015 Dynamics Communities Summit.

This year’s event started with adventure – or at least, adventure storytelling – with a message.  Summit’s guest speaker, George Kourounis, is a storm chaser, adventurer, and explorer who hosts the show, Angry Planet, for the Travel Channel.  He delivered the powerful message that fear is a call to action – and the message resonated with me, as I’m sure it did for most attendees.  Change is a constant in the corporate world, and sometimes, new organizational structures, processes, software, employees, and so on can be scary, for lack of a better term, especially if you feel like you just got the hang of the most recent change.  Kourounis asserted that fear is basically your brain telling you to do something.  And contextualizing this message in the Microsoft Dynamics world, if you are facing new product releases or timelines for implementation of new products and/or training for a new process, it was a powerful thought to understand the fear or even discomfort associated with changes in the way of software in a different light.  He concluded by stating, “If you want something you’ve never had before, you have to do things you’ve never done before.”  And achieving seems more possible than ever with the support of the Dynamics Communities.
User Group leadership was there in full force with nearly electric energy.  They explained that the theme of “Going All In” wasn’t just a play on gambling in the Biggest Little City in the World.  Instead, going all in means to engage, learn, share, and volunteer.  I understood this immediately, as I saw the User Group members in action and in connection with each other.  One quote that stood out from the General Session was simply, “In a word, ‘Community.’”  And from the perspective of this first-time Summit attendee, I saw the power of users helping users, pinpointing the strengths and challenges that they individually and generally face with their respective Dynamics products.  These communities came together in a way that felt like the most productive family reunion – and it makes sense, if you think about how attendees are working “in the trenches” of data management on the regular.  Just scanning the crowd, I am not surprised that this was the biggest edition of Dynamics Communities Summit.
By the numbers, this was the largest Summit to date – and the user groups continue to grow.  NAVUG had 700 attendees, while GPUG had 1,200, with 1,300 representing AXUG, and 800 in attendance for CRMUG.  As community-based education for consumer user groups continues to become more impactful in terms of making industry and marketplace changes, this conference sets a standard for product and brand communities that strengthen relationships between customer and Microsoft Dynamics, as well as amongst the users themselves.  These communities pave the way for customer testimonials and exchange of ideas in regard to maximizing whichever Dynamics product they are using for data management processes.  And the Solver team had a great time engaging with community members.
Solver, Inc. participated at the premier, gold, and exhibitor sponsorship level for AXUG, NAVUG, and GPUG respectively.  At Booth #752 in the Expo Hall, not only was the team positioned between modern culinary delicacies at receptions, but the Solver team demo’d and discussed BI360 in detail with hundreds of attendees.  With the product architecture prominently displayed as part of the booth setup, Dynamics users were able to see the big picture of the BI360 Suite and then, zoom in on questions specifically related to the solution they were seeking, whether that be financial reporting, budgeting, dashboards, and/or data warehousing.  And that wasn’t the only time attendees got to know the BI360 Suite better.

Several breakout sessions were presented by the Solver team throughout the week – and for all three AXUG, NAVUG, and GPUG communities.  Extremely interactive, these sessions were well-attended and allowed for two things: an in-depth introduction and interaction.  All of the breakout sessions were designed with the nature of the Dynamics Communities Summit in mind, community.  Asking users to share their stories and their challenges in data management, as well as Business Intelligence, invited community through an understanding of how BI360 can help different organizations and industries achieve their analytical goals to preserve and propel the success of their company – now and in the future.
In addition to sessions specifically for the different user groups, Solver CEO Nils Rasmussen participated in an all-star panel discussion, called “Don’t Be Shy – It’s Just BI.”  In spite of – or perhaps directly related to the campy title, this discussion was a well-framed Q&A with BI industry leaders that broke down the concepts, the processes, the tools, and the purpose of Business Intelligence analytics.  It was a cool collaboration between competing independent software vendors for the education of Dynamics consumers about their technology options to expand their analyses.  All in all, Summit was a success, especially for those seeking community and education about how to best manage and analyze their data.  A big thank you to everyone who stopped by the Solver BI360 booth and attended our sponsor sessions at Dynamics Communities Summit 2015.  It was the Solver team’s pleasure to hear about your businesses and learn about your needs when it comes to BI processes.  We look forward to seeing you again next year at Summit 2016.

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