The last half of day 3 and the first part of day 4 was post-conference training that you could sign up in advance for. I saw there was a deep-dive on Reporting and I thought “cool”… I feel a bit behind on some of the reporting tools and surely could use some in-depth training on things like SSRS. What I neglected to pay attention to, was the deep dive covered about 7 different tools. That should have tipped me off to the fact that we were not covering anything in depth.
I guess you can tell from that opening paragraph how I feel about the training… I was disappointed, plain and simple. What I expect when I hear “training” is hands-on, everyone working through real examples of something to learn a tool or a module. What we got instead, in my humble opinion, were presentations on the various reporting tools and some troubleshooting tips.
This wasn’t a complete waste of time by any means, but it was not what I wanted, nor what I expected. I think had I known what was covered I would have simply passed on the training and gone home a day earlier.
The one recommendation I have (and will give to the organizers when the survey comes out) is twofold:
- Please don’t call it 2-day training when it’s merely split over two days. It’s an afternoon and a morning, in effect was 9am-5pm just happened to be split over 2 days.
- If you call something a deep dive, you need to split up the content into smaller topics and actually have in depth training on fewer tools.
Overall, the conference was great, as usual. I found this year’s conference content to be less interesting than in the past. That is no fault of the organizers, I think it was more of where I was and what I wanted to learn. Going in, I hoped to sit in on more of the SBA (Service Based Architecture) for a couple of clients of mine who use eConnect extensively. However the SBA sessions were a little more in-depth for my level of knowledge, so that wasn’t the best use of my time as it would be over my head. I hoped to learn more about Azure and that too missed the mark. There were a lot of sponsor sessions which I found had little interest to me, and there was at least one time slot when I didn’t attend anything because they were all ISV sessions.
I liked having a lot of the content at the Holiday Inn so we didn’t have to shuttle back and forth every day to Microsoft. I loved having tables in the rooms so we could use laptops or notebooks and not be writing/typing from our knees! I think the food was excellent, for all the meals. And lastly, I loved having the WiFi that was consistently on… it could be a difference in the security method the hotel uses vs Microsoft but the last few years at Microsoft, I had to constantly re-login and it was a pain in the butt.
Getting the content from the sessions (the slide decks) proved a little harder to get at. The content was all posted at the Dynamics Partner Connections website but in my opinion was a little buried under Communities, then under ReImagine 2014. I wish there were better options for finding the documents as the only sort options were Most Recent, Most Viewed etc., nothing even a simple alphabetical. I think this could be organized better, and my suggestions would be to allow sorting by session # (alphabetically), or since they were content silos, look at them by type – consultant, sales, marketing etc. To take it a step further, I would also love to see a way to mass download items instead of clicking on sessions one at a time to download the file. The last thing would be to put the actual PowerPoint slides on the site, but I know that will come as many people have asked for the same thing instead of PDFs.
The last part of my thoughts is more of a little rant! There were a number of sessions that I sat in where people nearby me hadn’t muted their phones, and every email notification, ever text message, resulted in another “bing” that gradually annoyed the heck out of me. I find it hard to believe in this day and age that people are still that oblivious to leave their phone on during a presentation. I find it rude and it can be distracting.
Right after training, which ended earlier than the scheduled 2pm finish, was quickly getting to the airport for my 3:30pm flight to Chicago, ultimately to end up in Toronto later in the evening. Crossing fingers that my flights go smoothly and there are no delays!