It’s that time again! Another conference, and another series of posts around the content and observations I found interesting. This week’s conference is GPUG Amplify, in (mostly) sunny Anaheim, California. This is the 2nd year of the event, and it’s a great event for those that aren’t interested in big crowds! The attendance is in the hundreds vs. thousands for a multi-product event like the UG Summits. Personally, I prefer the smaller crowds, the chance to have meaningful conversations with other partners and customers, and not feel like a fish in a big pond.

My trip to California was pretty uneventful, apart from a 3 hour layover in Salt Lake City. I got the chance to watch some great NCAA basketball games (on TV) which I would have otherwise missed while flying, so there was one good side to a long delay!

I took advantage of the long flight to watch some downloaded courses on Pluralsight, specifically a course around administration of SQL Server Reporting Services. It was a good course, and filled in a lot of gaps in my knowledge. It was well worth the time I otherwise could have just spent watching a movie. One of my resolutions every year is to “schedule” some of my time for business-related but non-billable time like learning. Other than going to conferences, I am not great at actually taking time to learn things so the feeling of being captive on a long flight is appealing to try to knock off a course or two on a topic that interests me!

I arrived late at night Pacific time, which was very early in the morning Eastern Standard time, so I ended up just staying at a hotel near LAX airport. I figured it didn’t matter where I crashed that first night, and the thought of getting a ride to Anaheim that late at night just didn’t make sense. It was a good call, as the hotel I booked was less expensive than the Anaheim Marriott anyway, and I got up Monday fresh from a good night’s sleep, ready to get to Anaheim in the daylight.

Monday was a partner day which I didn’t sign up for, as it was geared to Sales and Marketing roles. I didn’t have to rush to get there, which was nice, although with the time change, I woke up way earlier than I planned anyway. I took a shared shuttle van service to the Anaheim Marriott and it was quick and painless, as well as relatively inexpensive!

Once I checked in, I unpacked, got settled and a friend texted me to meet him near registration to catch up. It was mid-morning Pacific time but I hadn’t yet eaten anything, so I grabbed a snack and tea from the Starbucks, we hung out and did a bit of work and chatted before going for lunch. It had been overcast when I left LAX, but now was nice and sunny and reasonably mild, nice weather for a walk for lunch.

After lunch, I spent some time with John Lowther, talking about the Association of Dynamics Professionals and a side SharePoint project we’ve collaborated on. I worked on some documentation for that while waiting until the late afternoon Opening Session to begin.

Opening Session

Bob McAdam kicked off the opening session, with his usual sense of humour to get the crowd into things. He assured us that there are no other Dynamics applications here, “including the one with numbers in it”! Plus no campaign rallies next door to alter our timetables, or lock us in the hotel, like last year! Whew.

I was tweeting as often as I could during the session and having fun attempting to impersonate Jon Rivers, who sadly isn’t attending Amplify this year!

As is typical of the format of the opening sessions, Bob introduced Errol Schoenfish. Errol talked about the shifting values in the workplace and what attributes are valued most by millenials, to highlight things that are important to them and how that is impacting the SMB space in general.

Three themes were introduced for the releases of Dynamics GP:

  • Bringing two worlds together, which I took as further integrations between the Office stack and Dynamics GP
  • Enhancing the core app & platform, including optimizing and improving the user experience
  • One Microsoft, integrating other areas in a cohesive way, including the “Power” suite of products.

We had some web client demos of GP 2016 R2 existing functionality (as in, already released functionality) as well as some live looks at some GP 2018 features. Among the features already ready and demo-able were:

  • Adding some Doc Attach to inquiry windows, for users who may not be able to get to the “Maintenance” version of a window to view a document (customer inquiry for instance).
  • New workflow type for GL Account approval
  • New workflow option for a reminder email “X” hours after the first email

Once again, the message was clear: if there are things you want to see in Dynamics GP that aren’t there, go to Microsoft Connect and vote or put in new suggestions!

After the opening session, there was some Expo hall time and a mix and mingle with cocktails and light food options. It was fun catching up with colleagues I only see a couple of times a year, as well as meeting new folks or those who I only have known via twitter!

It didn’t take long for me to tire out so I went for a bit to eat and snack at the hotel bar, sitting with the good folks from eOne Solutions, before retiring to my room on the early side to get some more sleep!