Microsoft Convergence 2012 Review

helpIT systems recently exhibited its findIT S2 and matchIT SQL products at Microsoft Convergence 2012, the 16th Microsoft convergence gathering, which this year was situated in the spacious George R Brown Convention Center in Houston. Having exhibited the previous year in Atlanta, we had an idea of what to expect, however Convergence 2012 exceeded our expectations!

As always Microsoft took care of everything, so being an exhibitor we had everything that we needed right on site. The huge conference center housed over 270 ISP’s however the layout was such that the hall was never overwhelming and there was such keen interest that we were certainly glad we had four staff members on hand to answer questions, demonstrate software and represent helpIT systems technology.

The expo hours were far friendlier this year, and it allowed us access to many potential customers and partners while they were fresh, engaged and interested in learning more about our products. Also the catering was top notch with a special mention to the chicken waffles and some of the best cupcakes Texas has to offer!

While our experiences were largely from an exhibitor point of view, there were also sessions to attend, and these were what you expect from Microsoft, a fantastically structured view of these products from the inside, and while they are not information overload, it demonstrates how Microsoft have taken their disparate products and managed to refine them into a cohesive and lean platform, with scalability to suit pretty much organization, no mean feat.

COO, Kevin Turner and Kirill Tatarinov the President of the Dynamics team began proceedings sharing their clear vision for the Dynamics platform to an eager and engaged audience with the first keynote session. After speaking to attendees it’s clear that Microsoft are committed to growth and the key message of supporting business was well received.

Another session of particular interest was hosted by the CRMUG user group, Best Practices for Clean Data in Microsoft Dynamics CRM. With over 200 attendees, it’s obvious that data quality is now pervasive wherever there is contact data, and of tremendous interest to administrators and marketers alike. There were some very good recommendations made on designing data structures which lend themselves to keeping data clean. Duke Mocanu of FM Global also extolled use of MSCRM duplicate detection as “60 or 70 percent of the battle, you’ll get a lot of false positives but still indispensable”. This is the problem with the approach of exact matching of matchcodes that MS CRM uses – as there is no grading of matches, users either have to have very loose matching with a lot of false matches, or very tight and miss many good matches. As a reflection of this, a key topic of conversation in the booth was how intelligent grading of matches as provided by findIT S2 and matchIT SQL is essential to allow automatic flagging of the vast majority of matches whilst leaving a very small proportion for human review.

On the expo floor we found that the Microsoft strategy of supporting its ISV’s increased synergy between ourselves and other partners. Interest in both the findIT S2 Real-Time Data Quality Firewall for Dynamics CRM and the matchIT SQL Batch Data Cleansing for SQL Server increased dramatically in our second year at Convergence from both the Dynamics customer and partner communities. Hundreds of customers stopped by the booth and expressed genuine excitement that we could help them not only prevent duplication but also help solve business concerns including better lead assignment for key accounts, cross selling opportunities for financial product lines, and preparing organizations for their migration to the Dynamics platform.

The Partner Community also showed great interest in the potential of shifting the ownership of the data preparation and cleanup projects from a customer onus to an added-value they could provide to their clients. Many Partners commented on the welcome opportunity to enhance the “Duplicate Detection” functionality native within CRM with a tool that could empower the users to find the right account, contact, and/or lead with ease. Some even commented that implementing matchIT SQL and findIT S2 together assures their new clients the ROI on Dynamics, as there is limited value to a CRM with poor quality data.

Microsoft do an amazing job putting together these events as they have wide appeal to ISV’s, Partners, current users and the increasing number of people looking to implement systems later down the line and are keen to gather information. When exhibiting we have seen a sharp rise in the number of existing users who are looking to fill out their CRM and ETL needs by expanding into companion products, which would indicate a great level of satisfaction with their existing Dynamics system, and looking to branch out into other areas of the business.

This was a very successful show for helpIT systems, and while we work with the many people who visited our stand at the show, there has already been a great level of interest in what data quality means to these organizations. We hope to uncover this in the coming weeks with a series of blog entries targeted towards making integrated data quality one of the most useful tools available to organizations in utilizing their contact data to the full.

Thank you to everyone who took some time to visit us this week, and if you were unable to, please just let us know so we can send you our email show pack with details on our products. We look forward to Convergence in New Orleans in 2013!