By Bill Kennedy - Convergence is Microsoft's annual invitation to all of its business customers to meet and talk about accounting software. Yep, that's right. It's a giant convention of computer geeks and accounting nerds. Being a bit of both, I feel right in my element, but that's not why I'm excited.
There is a whole raft of technical sessions. A bunch of them are about Dynamics NAV (the product I use now) and Dynamics GP (the other product I implemented). There are speakers about applying the product to specific industries, integrating it with Microsoft Office and more general topics such as Kevin Schofield talking about where Microsoft is headed, but that's not why I'm excited.
Convergence is set up to encourage us end users to find each other. You can set up a profile that other users can search so that you can link up with others in the same industry and/or geographic area using the same software. Several user groups will also have their meetings there and I'm helping with the Ontario users, but that's not why I'm excited about going.
Sure, all these things are important, but for me, the key is the direct connection between those who make the software and those who use it. Our system was built (well, acquired actually, but you know what I mean) by Microsoft. Then it was modified for charities by Serenic. Then it was implemented by Altus. Then we started using it. That's four layers. It's time that layer 4 talked to layer 1! I love to meet the people who are truly passionate about what they do. They can tell you where they are headed and what they were thinking when they wrote the system you have. They can often give you fresh insight into how to use the system more efficiently/effectively. Often level 1 feedback gives you reason to go back to levels 2 and 3.
Then there are the vendors, all those hardy souls who have built software to make your life easier. Many people will scan the convention material for the specific software they're looking for and limit themselves to those vendors. Not me. I can do that kind of search more quickly with Google. I'm looking for ideas. Since there's no telling where a new idea is going to come from, I talk to as many vendors as I can. Who knows? I just might see the perfect solution for a friend's system, if not my own.
If you want to follow my progress through Convergence, I will be tweeting it for AccountingWeb.