Convergence this year was held in the New Orleans Conference Center, which is rather large. Here's what Wikipedia has to say about it:
The New Orleans Morial Convention Center (formerly the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center) is convention center in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States. The lower end of building one is located 1,640 feet (500 m) upriver from Canal Street on the banks of the Mississippi River. It is named after former Mayor of New Orleans Ernest N. Morial. As of 2006, it has about 1.1 million square feet (102,000 m²) of exhibit space, covering almost 11 blocks, and over 3 million square feet (280,000 m²) of total space. The front of the main building is 1 kilometer long (for full article click here).
Microsoft had about two thirds of the Convention Center rented out so running from classes on one end of the first floor to the other end of the third floor took a fair amount of time to walk to.
I was able to sit in on a lot of user experience sessions with the Dynamics CRM team to discuss their thoughts on the future for the product. Unfortunately I am sworn to secrecy (signed NDA) about anything that was discussed but I did ask if I could share one or two specific things. Since anything and everything could still be changed there wouldn't be much point in me sharing much anyway. However, I can share that the team has heard the cries from the community and is working very hard to add functionality and improve other existing items. One of the specific things that the Outlook team is focusing on is increasing the RELIABILITY and STABILITY of the Outlook client. All of the issues that were mentioned the team had full knowledge of and was working on getting those things resolved. I must say that after sitting through those sessions (where the product team was raked over the coals) they were very coridial, professional, and understanding. One of the biggest things that I got out of these sessions was that I will submit my errors to Microsoft much more often now because I know there really are people reading them on the other end, I've met them and shook their hands.
That all being said, I'm going to try to bullet point out everything to make this a bit more readable/scannable for those just looking for highlights. So, here it goes. These are some of the highlights that I picked up from the show (not in any particular order):
1. If you haven't seen any of the CRM Accelerators, go check them out at codeplex.com
2. SQL 2010 is going to have a lot of great new enhancements one of which will be managing multi-terrabyte systems quickly
3. Performance Point will become a part of SQL and SharePoint (most likely pieces will go to each, with either minimal or no overlap between the two systems)
4. Microsoft's CRM to GP integration - great for out of the box integrations, any additional fields will have to be added by someone with "developer" type skills. Plugins and triggers will most likely have to be written. Interface looks clean but the extensibility doesn't appear to be as strong.
5. If you went to Convergence and do not own CRM you can sign up for CRM Online for $9.99/user for up to 20 users for 6 months. That's a steal.
6. CRM Developer Toolkit (available in April) - Visual Studio add-on. Looks solid, makes developing much easier by being able to see all objects, fields, etc within Visual Studio. This is code complete and documentation is all that is really being completed.
7. Don't look at MSCRM just as a CRM solution but an xRM solution. It's extensibility really makes it so that customers don't have to be your center, you can have whatever you want as the center of your Relationship Management system you want.
8. Newsfeed Accelerator - use workflow to augment your user's daily actions to further the data that is put into the system. Use a user's actions and workflow to populate you system to give a more full 360 degree view of what is going on in your CRM system and with the relationships between what you track in your system.
I don't do the show justice as there was a lot learned and gained from attending. For those in the Southern California Area, keep your eyes open for the Dynamic Methods Convergence (Titled "DM Convergence") where we will be putting on a similar but very focused event focusing on things from this year's Convergence specifically for Dynamics GP and CRM where we will have classes and give people the ability to "Ask the Experts" just about anything they want so we can help everyone along in whatever stage or scenario they are in. With Convergence having just finished we are looking into what content we want to present as well as when we will be holding it. Most likely we will be holding the event in May, so keep stay tuned for updates.
Also, this is specifically targeted at Southern California Dynamics GP and CRM users but that doesn't mean you can't come. If you're really interested stay tuned as I should be posting a method of registration or contact in the near future. We typically just have a 1 day event so the travel doesn't always justify the attendance.