To say this is the ultimate recap may be misleading, as it is impossible to capture all the energy and enthusiasm of the event in a blog post. But I believe we can all agree it is the longest recap.
Since this event is ALL about community, I wanted to share thoughts directly from the people who make this community so special. And once you start, the ball keeps rolling.
This post includes quotes from 24 attendees. Read on to see how many you know.
Nearly 3000 people passionate about Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, Dynamics 365 Sales/CRM and Microsoft Power Platform met in Hamburg, Germany, earlier this month for the 15th DirectionsEMEA event.
The 2,932 attendees from 771 organizations came from 50 countries.
This is a "for Partner, by Partner" event, which means the focus was on hearing the latest developments from Microsoft, attending sessions to sharpen skills, finding new products in the expo area, and connecting with peers with the common goals of building their businesses and serving customers better.
Each day started with a packed room for the keynote session.
On day one, Mike Morton, Vice President, Dynamics 365 Business Central and SMB at Microsoft announced to DirectionsEMEA attendees that Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central is one of the two fastest-growing products in the Microsoft Business App division.
He also reported that:
Business Central Online is available in 100+ countries.
There are more Apps in AppSource for BC than any product at Microsoft.
Business Central is used as a model for SMB success across Microsoft.
There are more Business Central partners than any other product. (Though he made sure to point out that Microsoft loves all D365 Partners)
DynamicSmartz reported in their event recap post, "SMB is the fastest-growing segment of Microsoft's Business Applications portfolio, and Dynamics 365 Business Central is the fastest-growing product in the group, with "triple-digit" growth year over year. Addressing the Directions EMEA 2022 audience of nearly 3,000 in Hamburg this week, Microsoft GM Toby Bowers also stated that the SMB ERP's customer base has grown sixty percent in the last year."
Microsoft speakers reported on analyst research on the state of SMBs and emphasized their "Do more with less" messaging. This included encouraging partners to take advantage of new promotional offers.
Jason Gumpert reported on these statistics at Microsoft Dynamics World and said, "Morton told partners that his view of "do more with less," emphasizes goals like delivering more efficient Business Central implementations, offering tools that drive down implementation costs, and focusing on high-value capabilities like supporting supply chain resilience and automation, especially when replacing legacy systems."
Microsoft General Manager, Toby Bowers "urged partners to look for opportunities with SMB customers in areas where Microsoft is forecasting increased interest like enhanced digital security, staff productivity and engagement, customer engagement, and maximizing efficiency."
Specific service capabilities and tools were highlighted to assist partners who want to do more with less.
Since this is the 20th anniversary of the year Microsoft purchased Navision, Jannik Bausager, Principle Group Program Manager at Microsoft, took attendees on a little trip down memory lane with the theme "Could you have imagined?" Indeed, it is hard to believe how technology, and the world, has changed during that time, but many in the audience have loyally continued to work with Navision, then Microsoft Dynamics NAV, and now Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central.
Of course, Microsoft presenters demoed newly released features in version 21.1, and displayed the product roadmap and 2023 release wave 1 investment areas through April 2023.
Conor Flanagan, from Storm Technology, said in a post, "The key thread running through all the lectures and keynote speeches was by utilizing the Microsoft stack you can increase your offering to new clients and improve the experience for current clients. Although all this functionality still exists, Business Central is no longer simply a finance solution, but a key business tool that, when integrated with the Power Platform, can transform how you do business."
One announcement that received much praise was that users can now access Business Central inside Teams with a Microsoft 365 license. This was previewed earlier at Microsoft Ignite and is now generally available.
Shannon Mullins, a Microsoft Dynamics 365 BC MVP, wrote in her event recap, "My favorite of course, was the newly announced feature allowing all users in organizations (with an approved Microsoft 365 license) to access Business Central data directly through Teams. This feature is in Business Central Online only and will provide users with only view only access to Business Central. This is very exciting as I feel it will put Microsoft above all our competitors in pricing and access by no longer needing a Team Viewer license."
In the Day 1 recap post by Matthew Battersbee from Pax8, there is a nice photo to show what licenses have access from Microsoft 365 and photos of seven key facts you need to know about this update.
Matthew sums up his post by saying, "This presents a huge opportunity for partners to complete with a compelling story of collaboration with Microsoft's Cloud for SMB. It will enable Partners to build collaboration into their solutions automated for one-time setup or repeatable customers. Get a foothold into the rest of each customer organization and prepare their license upsell strategy to increase and monetize their footprint at each customer.."
Monique Hayward, Senior Director/Ecosystem Lead, Business Applications Marketing at Microsoft, commended the audience for their entrepreneurial spirit and shared Microsoft's vision to be "the preeminent partner ecosystem for business applications." She went on to discuss three programs to help partners. 1) Microsoft Partner Cloud Program 2) Microsoft Learn Career Connect 3) Microsoft Commercial Marketplace
Then she interviewed two innovative partners. I was happy to see my long-term ERP Software Blog member Andrew King, Managing Director of WebSan Solutions Inc., on the main stage sharing some of his secrets to success as a Business Central partner. WebSan has been able to do an amazing job at marketing and sales with a small team that produces a ton of valuable content. Their YouTube channel is up to 1.8 million views. And we all know accounting software it not exactly a viral topic.
Andrew was joined by Peter Holm, CEO of TravelOperations, a fast growing ISV partner in the community that helped their industry embrace recent changes and gain a competitive advantage.
"A key takeaway was that Dynamics 365 BC is not just an accounting platform; you see the functionalities that separate BC from the rest when you look at it from a platform perspective. I felt the energy that there is so much potential in the market and that there are a lot of different Partners and ISVs that can work together without competing against each other." – Tania Konczynski, Global Marketing Director, Bam Boom Cloud (ERP Software Blog Member)
"Collaboration drives us all forward. Being a part of Directions EMEA 2022 really underlined the importance of this, with forward-thinking discussion and innovation expertise at the heart of the agenda. It was inspiring. We look forward to continuing our close work with Microsoft and their Business Central partners to empower more merchants and making commerce better for everyone." - Deann Evans, Director of EMEA Expansion & Partnerships, Shopify
Microsoft encouraged all partners working with Business Central to bookmark aka.ms/BCAll as the official resource hub.
More than 400 session ideas were submitted for DirectionsEMEA and filtered down to about 250 sessions, workshops and roundtables. These were led by 55 Microsoft speakers and 80 community speakers, including MVPs and ISVs.
The conference app worked extremely well and made it easy to make a daily itinerary. Plus, it showed which sessions were the most popular. Purely based on projected attendee numbers in the app the ten sessions that garnered the most interest were:
Modern Workplace: Business Central, Power BI, Bots, Teams and Viva.
Microsoft presents: Permissions revisited
Microsoft presents: Contoso Coffee – new demo data
Microsoft presents: What's new and best practices for Business Central apps in Appsource
BC Migrations at scale and how to manage the migrated customers' base in the cloud?
Microsoft presents: Business Central best practices on presales demos and implementation
Microsoft presents: What's new in Power Platform integration (Power BI, Power Automate, Power Apps)
BC & Teams – A Match Made in Heaven
Microsoft presents: What's new in VS Code and AL
Microsoft presents: Localizations today and in the future
It is evident that the "Microsoft presents" sessions were the most popular.
"DirectionsEMEA 2022 was full of new and exciting announcements. Learning more about the community's growth and Microsoft's support for it, sharing knowledge with and learning from other partners, and gaining exposure for our brand in new markets were all highlights for us. We also benefitted greatly from the hands-on sessions and AMA resources provided by Microsoft, which helped us learn about all the new developments in the SMB space and how they align to our customers' needs." – Khaled Nassra, Head of Marketing, Binary Stream (ERP Software Blog Member)
It is worth noting that at DirectionsEMEA 2021, only 4% of the speakers were women. However, this year, that number jumped to 32%. No doubt, this is in large part due to the growing "Women in Dynamics" initiative that was highlighted many times during the event.
Two of the three sessions listed above, presented by community experts, were led by women in the channel.
Of course, a session that was special to me was the panel discussion "What's Working in Marketing Now" held on the main stage Friday afternoon. I had the privilege to moderate this panel and share insights from three marketing experts "in the trenches" that are driving success every day.
One attendee at this session commented, "The mix of marketers on the panel with different outlooks was very valuable to show the audience that there is not one way to do marketing and that there are many priorities to weigh. All three panelists were real professionals. Hearing what they are doing at different ends of the market was very useful. I also think it demonstrated to the audience how important it is to have marketing leadership who can think and invest strategically on behalf of a company."
Young in Dynamics
DirectionsEMEA attendees under the age of 30 were invited to attend a session to kick-start a new "Young in Dynamics" group. Questions considered included:
Why should you choose a career in Dynamics?
What can partners do to attract younger talent and accelerate their professional growth?
How can we make your journey easier by identifying challenges, setting goals, measuring results?
James Crowter, Chairperson of Directions4Partners, reported in the closing keynote that this session was very well attended and he is optimistic about welcoming new, younger talent into this channel.
"The Young In Dynamics discussion allowed me to meet a group of likeminded individuals from a variety of partners who would like to see a change in the representation of young people within the Dynamics Community. As a 21-year-old that is keen to progress in my career within this industry, this group is important to me. My aim for the group would be to remove the stigma around young people and make this community more accessible from entry level. I want to be heard, and I want to ensure others are heard too." -Renee Sunnar, Business Applications Support Team Manager, Bam Boom Cloud (ERP Software Blog Member)
Women in Dynamics
The Women in Dynamics initiative was formed last year at DirectionsEMEA 2021 with the goal to inspire and encourage more Microsoft Dynamics partner execs to commit to gender diversity and inclusion. It has gained tremendous traction in a short time. Women in Dynamics felt like a very important part of the DirectionsEMEA 2022 experience and was well supported by both men and women in the community.
"Directions feeds our growth and innovation. Learning from the best minds in the community, both Microsoft and partners, fuels our future. It is not just technical knowledge and innovation but also the evolution of the essence of our organisations and the ability to share learnings with the community. Our support for and the overwhelming success of Women in Dynamics proves the sea change taking place and the work still to be done in the Dynamics channel and through the community we all learn, transform and grow." - Vicky Critchley, CEO of Bam Boom Cloud (ERP Software Blog Member)
Attendees were repeatedly urged to #SignThePledge. The Partner Pledge is a way for businesses to show their support for the Women in Dynamics goals and to report data that helps the group understand what percentage of women are represented in the community, and in what roles.
At the start of DirectionsEMEA 2022 about 100 companies had signed up and reported their diversity. You can still sign up here to take the pledge.
It is interesting to note that the 22 Microsoft MVPs at DirectionsEMEA this year included 3 women.
“It's important for me to attend Directions EMEA because I'm a female MVP. There are only 5 females out of 34 that focus on Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central. Attending and presenting sessions to share my knowledge I hope helps to remove the sigma around woman in tech.”- Kristen Hosman, Owner|Microsoft MVP, Mount Evans Consulting (ERP Software Blog Member)
At DirectionsEMEA 2022 attendees showed their support by wearing WID white T-shirts and participating in a drive to "take over LinkedIn" with the #WID hashtags.
This group ran several sessions during the event as well as the
Women in Dynamics Reception
Women in Dynamics Awards
Women in Dynamics Mentoring Program
A few women in the Dynamics channel expressed their appreciation of this initiative:
"Vicky and the Women In Dynamics team are doing tremendous work behind the scenes to eliminate the gap, not only for women, but also for young people. The Women In Dynamics event was an excellent opportunity to experience the power of community with so many confident, strong and professional women on board who not only share their stories but also act as inspirational role models for others." Inga Sartauskaite, Cloud Success Manager, Continia Software
"The growth opportunities, professional development, the global outlook, and dynamic environment really make me appreciate being a woman in Dynamics. It is a pleasure to see how the Women in Dynamics initiative has grown and gained momentum, and great to see many companies support diversity in every aspect of their organisations." -Helle Vogt Mikkelsen, Marketing & Partner Channel Manager, PrintVis
“I attended DirectionsEMEA 2021 in Milan last year, where there were a handful of women. However, this year, I was seldom the only woman in a session or room, demonstrating the difference the Women in Dynamics committee has made since its formation. Although women founded Women In Dynamics, our purpose is diversity, inclusion and allyship, and these principle are exhibited in the mentorship program, which shows amazing representation from the ecosystem.” – Imogen Deville, Principal Recruitment Consultant
Thank you to all the hard working organizers of this initiative.
The Community Awards
The Community Awards recognize partners for their innovative technical solutions and their creative commercial approach. The winners this year were:
DIRECTIONS EMEA COMMUNITY COMMERCIAL AWARD 2022
1st place: Plataan – Boosting the partner channels capacity with BusinessCentralBooster
2nd place: COSMO CONSULT – Small companies implement ERP projects themselves with COSMO Digital Consultant
3rd place: Powerblox – Smart Onboarding and Smart Migration: do more implementations with less consultants
DIRECTIONS EMEA COMMUNITY TECHNOLOGY AWARD 2022
1st place: Dime Software – Bringing next-generation scheduling capabilities to the SME
2nd place: 4PS – Construction companies regain control of their resource planning with an innovative planning tool
3rd place: ALOps – Business Central CI/CD on DevOps made easy
Women in Dynamics Awards
The Women in Dynamics group had a special reception and a first time awards ceremony hosted by award-winning marketing executive, author, entrepreneur & speaker, Monique Hayward.
Leadership Award - Sarah Broux , Managing Director, Drink-IT
Rising Star Award - Natalie Dannik, Customer Engagement Manager, Porsche Informatik GmbH (Ironically, I met Natalie at lunch and struck up a conversation. At the end I told her I sensed that someday I'd see her "up on the main stage". I didn't realize it would happen just a few hours later.)
"I am incredibly grateful for this recognition but I truly believe in teamwork and that I am the product of my surrounding. So, whenever you have the possibility to be a mentor please be it. Eventually your mentee will be the next rising star." -Natalie Dannik, Customer Engagement Manager, Porsche Informatik.
The expo area was spread out in different convention center areas and included booths from 75 sponsors.
Every sponsor I spoke with felt very positive about the event and the interactions they were having with attendees.
"This was the first time that we participated as a sponsor and exhibitor at an event. We decided to attend Directions EMEA because we have been attending for many years as visitors and just took so much from it. For us at 365 business development, Directions EMEA is a great opportunity to increase our visibility and get noticed within the partner community." Christoph Krieg, Managing Director, 365 business development GmbH
"Being a sponsor gives us this extra bit of exposure, but the most important part is that we like sharing our new ideas about AI application in the Business Space as a community Speaker. I love doing it and sharing inspiration with the attendees." -Kamil Karbowiak, Managing Director, Data Courage
"It certainly was the right decision to play an active role as a sponsor of DirectionsEMEA. Most of all, it was great to connect/reconnect with our partners, friends and finally meet people and teams, that we are working with and relate a real person to the images we just see on Teams meetings most of the time. DirectionsEMEA turned out to be a valuable place for inspiration, sharing experience and knowledge across technologies. It was great that our way of tackling the implementation process by reducing it to only 6 weeks received so much positive feedback. Definitely, a conference where knowledge sharing is paramount and where there was a great openness between the participants." Heidi Løje, Senior Solutions Consultant, ExpandIT
"I believe it is important to work together within the Microsoft environment. In our case, we are finding "ISV with ISV" alliances to bundle our products together to provide the best complete solution to end customers, in collaboration with Microsoft Partners. We are not rivals, we are a community with the same goal - offering seamless services to our customers. This event was a perfect place to make those connections." -Miguel Sacie, Global Business Development Director, iDynamics Commissions
"Directions EMEA provided ClickLearn the opportunity to connect and engage with our Microsoft Partners and deepen our mutual understanding around the importance of digital adoption. A key take away for ensuring end users adoption is to provide all users with concise training material and documentation." -Marquis Caldwell, Sales Manager, EMEA, ClickLearn (ERP Software Blog Member)
“Directions EMEA proved how important Community is. It was great to finally meet people you have been working with for years in person, which takes the partnership to a whole new level. And all the conversations we had and sessions we attended, confirmed that the Microsoft Platform is more intertwined than ever and that end-users are increasingly looking for one-in-all solutions that require minimal effort to implement and use. The whole dox42 team left Hamburg feeling very positive about our recent achievements and integrations within the Dynamics 365, Microsoft 365 & Power Automate/Apps universe and we are already looking forward to present what’s new about our all-in-one document automation solution at Directions EMEA 2023.” - Fabian Huber, Senior Technical Evangelist, dox42
Microsoft also had a "Ask Us Anything" booth to speak with support professionals.
"My team felt very good to be part of DirectionsEMEA. We enjoyed meeting our partners that have a Microsoft Support plan in place and helping other partners learn how we can better support their business. It is great to hear how our partners are utilizing Microsoft tools."- Giselle Alaniz, Support Evangelist, Microsoft
There was plenty of time for peer connections during and after the program.
Forty eight CEOs met at a special pre-event Leadership Summit.
The opening night reception was well attended and set the tone for the week.
Attendees could stop at the Microsoft lounge, book tables for private meetings and connect with attendees via the conference app.
"Our team attended Directions EMEA to learn about and hear from Microsoft and its knowledgeable Partners. The opportunity to catch up with companies we partner with is invaluable. Whilst Teams calls are now part of daily life, a face-to-face conversation is still the best way to deepen our connections and networks. - Danusia Jolliffe, Ph.D., Marketing & Customer Services Director, TVision Technology Ltd.
The Thursday evening Community Party featured a rock and roll band, The Nighthogs, that nobody could stop talking about because the music was so good and the lead singer, Søren Alexandersen, is a Product Manager at Microsoft and a Microsoft Dynamics 365 BC enthusiast. That doesn't happen every day.
"Directions EMEA 2022 was a fantastic event, at a great location with a monumental turnout. The agenda was full of high-quality, educational sessions which were extremely informative as well as terrific networking and knowledge-sharing opportunities. I attended, along with some of my colleagues who are relatively new in the industry, and we all left feeling uplifted and excited about the future growth of the industry as well as proud to be part of such a great community." - Chiara James, Director, Queue Associates Worldwide UK Ltd.
DynamicsEMEA 2023 will be held November 1-3 in the beautiful city of Lyon, France.
In the meantime, the community can stay connected on the brand-new community portal introduced at DirectionsEMEA 2022.
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