Kim Peterson is the enthusiastic, passionate, Director and self-proclaimed den-mother of
This year at the annual
How would you compare the annual Microsoft Convergence and GPUG Summit events?
Kim: When I am asked how and why I would go to one conference versus the other, I answer that I honestly look at it as two totally different experiences.
At Convergence it’s all about your future; GPUG Summit is all about what you’re doing day to day. (
I really think people should go to Convergence if they want to look forward to what's coming in the future and understand that. But I also believe that Convergence is more of a night show experience, like going to a club. It's flashy, it's exciting, there's a ton of Microsoft people there and it's great at showing you what is possible.
On the other hand, GPUG Summit is a coffee-shop experience. It is intimate, it's boutique, it's talking about how you can get more from what you already own.
GPUG Summit is about understanding what's possible and learning from fellow users about how they use products and whether their third-party products will help you for a specific need, etc. So it's not meant to be flashy; it's all about having that human connection.
I constantly hear stories from users who literally find people in like industries and they connect. That's a tough thing to do at Convergence because it is just so large.
Do you find it easier to connect with someone at a night club or a coffee shop? That is the question. (
Are there people who go to both events?
Kim: Yes, because they are very different experiences. I would say that there are a percentage of people that feel they always want to keep learning, year after year, and so they are going to two conferences or more a year. They're choosing both Convergence and GPUG Summit. I don't know the percentage, but I know the gang that's at both of the events.
What is unique about the learning experience at GPUG Summit?
Kim: At GPUG Summit we really do have 217 sessions just for Microsoft Dynamics GP. You can get down and deep on topics like, ‘How to use SSRS with accounts payable’. You won’t get that at a broader conference so I call Summit the conference to go to if you want boutique sessions.
We cover every single module of Dynamics GP. Then we go outside of Dynamics GP with things such as SharePoint, Excel and Dynamics CRM. And we look at some third-party products like eOne Smartlist Builder, because guess what, users are using them! You're not going find that variety and that depth at just any conference.
How does GPUG also participate in the Convergence event?
Kim: We work with Microsoft on planning Convergence. I'm in the meetings with Pam Misialek (Product Manager at Microsoft) where we define what needs to get done. They lay out what modules they need to look at, what's the newest and latest on those modules, and how to educate people about the new stuff. For example, ‘Here are the top 17 new features in, Management Reporter.’
However we plan and present a good portion of the Convergence sessions that are from the standpoint of users. Users want to hear users’ stories, and so we do all of the interactive sessions. Last year I think we did 22 interactive sessions, where we found over 100 of our members to come and be on panels. Microsoft relies on us for that because we are the feet on the street. We have an intimate relationship with users, so it's a great partnership.
We do have some sessions in common, and we even have some repeat sessions here at GPUG Summit that have been done at Convergence.
How has the GPUG Summit event been growing?
Kim: 2014 is the eighth year of GPUG Summit; we have 900 people registered this year which is 23% year over year growth.
Our handicap is that we have over 5,000 companies that are a part of GPUG and we know there are 49,000 companies using Dynamics GP. Our list is only so big and this year 58 percent of the people that are here are here for the first time. Why? It’s because they have just heard about it. Our conference is built totally from the ground up on word of mouth and that's why this is a users' group. It's users telling users.
Why should Dynamics Partners recommend that their clients attend GPUG Summit?
Kim: The number one reason is user satisfaction. The typical user is using only 30 percent of Dynamics GP. Why? It's because that's all they've been trained for, all they've been exposed to and all they've had time for. We bring them beyond that. We increase their user satisfaction because they have an understanding that, ‘I’m not the only one,’ or,’ now I get it.’ It is wonderful for users to meet up with other people that are using the same products and get tips from them.
Also, the events bring on additional services and software revenue for partners. I can't tell you how many users have said, “I didn't know there was a Navigation List Builder.” Microsoft won't show that at Convergence because it's a third-party product. We probably have three sessions here on that tool. And guess what? Now they want to go back home, call their partner and implement it. So it's good for the partner, and it's great for the customer. Once partners come to the event themselves they have a better understanding of what we are and I think they get really excited. We really are offering up a platform that no one else can.
Why should Dynamics Partners send their consultants to GPUG Summit?
Kim: When I worked for a Dynamics partner, every time I was in front of a user I was “on”. They expected me to know every answer. By coming here, you are going to become a better consultant because you're going to hear stories, and you're going to see examples, and you're going to say, ”oh my gosh, Joe could do that.”
So partners need to come here and be hosts and supporters, but most importantly, they should be students, it’s an opportunity to really go outside their own family of customers to understand and experience what other people are doing with the software. Then they can go back and share it with their colleagues and customers.
Let me tell you, there are some wicked smart GP users out there who are probably using the software in ways partners never dreamt of. (
How do you feel about being involved with the GPUG community?
Kim: I've never been so passionate about anything in my career before. I'm a matchmaker now; they call me Mama Kim. I look and praise and I encourage really, really smart people to help other people; that's my job. And it's fun. The actual GPUG Summit event is the big event we’ve been working towards all year, like the wedding day. I love it when I can step back and watch these people talk about how they're using Dynamics GP and see that they're very, very passionate and proud of it and just having a fantastic time together.
Gotta love it.
We hope to see you at the next GPUG Summit event - October 12-16, 2015 in Reno, NV.
By ERP Software Blog Editors, www.erpsoftwareblog.com