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Stay Classy, Microsoft: Convergence Opens in San Diego

Forget the news, even though there's a lot of it. Two shocking revelations emerged from Microsoft's Convergence show in America's most beautiful city today.

First, and perhaps most disturbing, is that one of the editors of this newsletter (as in one of the guys who reads it and tries to put my ramblings into some sense of order) owns a Zune, aka "the uncool iPod." Bought it himself. And likes it. And sort of resents RCPU's incessant pounding of it in recent months. Who knew?

Second, I was apparently the first (and perhaps only) registrant to float a line from the Anchorman movie at the San Diego Convention Center registration booth. It went over like a lead balloon. Anchorman quotes used to be universal currency in any discussion of San Diego. However, that was par for the course. I also asked an attendant here where Jack Murphy Stadium was, and he said, "What? Jack Murphy?" I explained that I was talking about the place where the Chargers play, and his eyes lit up. "Oh, Qualcomm!" he exclaimed. Um, yes...Qualcomm. Well, it used to be Jack Murphy Stadium. Apparently, I'm spending too much time writing newsletters.

But enough of those digressions. There was a lot of serious business to talk about at Convergence. RCP's excellent wrap-up of it all is here. A few key themes have emerged. We'll be writing about them all week (remember, there are four RCPUs a week now), expanding on things as we get feedback from partners, analysts and Microsoft folks. First, though, a few tidbits about the show, just to give you an idea of what it's like to be here.

The affable Doug Burgum, senior vice president of the Microsoft Business Solutions Group, threw out some interesting numbers. There are 8,700 attendees at this year's Dynamics-oriented get-together, up considerably from the 47 who showed up for the first edition of Convergence 11 years ago. We seem to remember Microsoft saying that there were 6,000 attendees last year in Dallas (although that's not fact-checked), so interest in Dynamics appears to be increasing. Either that, or every partner, IT pro and reporter in the Northeast and Midwest couldn't resist four days in sunny San Diego. There are no fewer than 1,000 Microsoft people here this week, meaning one Microsoftian for every 8.7 attendees. It's a high-touch show.

Newswise, the big announcement was the introduction of Dynamics Client for Office and SharePoint. The app integrates Dynamics with the familiar Office interface and the useful SharePoint server in very much the same way that Duet ties the Office front end to an SAP back end. Dynamics Client delivers on the desktop integration promise that could be Microsoft's ace in the hole over competitors like Oracle and SAP. Those guys don't have 90-plus percent market share in the productivity-suite game and have a much harder time giving users the information and capabilities they need in an interface with which they are comfortable. But with Dynamics Client comes a mandate for Dynamics partners -- get up to speed on SharePoint and develop a competency around it. Dynamics is blending in the Microsoft stack just the way Redmond wants it to, and just being a "Dynamics Partner" ultimately won't be enough to guarantee success.

Also new from Microsoft and getting tongues wagging is Sure Step, an implementation methodology intended to make it easier to get Dynamics up and running. Microsoft looks at Sure Step as a universal, ever-evolving aid for partners of all sizes -- and it will be, although it's clearly aimed at smaller shops that don't have well-developed methodologies of their own.

It wasn't just the announcements that had people talking today, though. Apparently the Dynamics channel is not immune to the old problem of overcrowding. Put simply, Microsoft is recruiting Dynamics partners at a time when some partners would rather see fewer players in the field. Margins are getting tight, and some partners are calling for Microsoft to rein in companies that bid for implementations that they don't really have the expertise to pull off.

We'll explore all of those issues in greater detail and with input from Microsoft, partners and others as the week goes on. Your week's newsletters will look like this:

  • Wednesday: Getting ready for Dynamics Client for Office and SharePoint and the evolving Microsoft integration story.
  • Thursday: Sure Step, implementation methodologies and the roles of the little guys and the Global Systems Integrators.
  • Friday: Channel crowding and a quick look ahead to Convergence 2008.

If you have any thoughts on any of these topics, send them to me at lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on 03/13/2007 at 1:20 PM


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