A few days ago, I attended for the second time the Salesforce World Tour here in Toronto where the number of attendees exceeded three thousands (3k) people. While the food sucked and many people were attending afternoon sessions with empty stomachs, I still asked the same question I asked myself one year ago: Why doesn’t Microsoft host large-scale worldwide events like these? I’m sure they would at least do a better job feeding their guests 😉
I was struck by how many people attended this event, initially thinking that they were all consultants, admins, developers, partners, etc. However, after talking to few people, I realized that most of the attendees are either current users/clients, prospect customers interested in the platform or… Salesforce employees. Still, the Salesforce community is big and this kind of event is a great opportunity to bring everybody together (consultants, developers, etc. with users/clients) .
Let’s agree that Microsoft’s vision and roadmap under Satya’s new leadership is better focused, coherent and… promising. From my perspective as a CRM specialist, a good example is Office 365 and that from a relatively new and average Dynamics CRM 2011 product, Microsoft was able to build, in a relatively short timeframe, a best in class product/platform that beautifully integrates with a group of related services going beyond CRM.
Also, Microsoft is more and more perceived as a company that listens and cares, which was not the case just 5 years ago. Satya projects an image of a leader that is genuinely involved and cares about the community. Microsoft is also a more open ecosystem than ever before. Microsoft is turning into an open source company and the Microsoft community is growing faster than ever. Microsoft is creating partnerships like the one with Adobe and setting a great model for acquisitions. Think of what they’ve done when acquiring LinkedIn and having LinkedIn co-founder join the Microsoft board.
Hosting such events where community members (e.g. Azure/Cloud community, Office365 Community or CRM etc…) can meet and network, learn about new exciting products/best practices/partnerships/etc… is beneficial for all. It’s also an opportunity for non-community members to come and discover and learn about Microsoft’s products. Think of partners encouraging interested employees to attend even if their focus is elsewhere (Microsoft or non-Microsoft). This is also beneficial for Microsoft as it’s a way to market its products and, most importantly, help strengthen that image they are trying to build (or at least I think they should build) of a company that cares.
Simply put, I think that Microsoft is missing these opportunities. Unfortunately, their events (conferences, trainings, etc…) are either too specialized, partners focused, long, or expensive. “Convergence”, the only Dynamics customer focused conference has been…discontinued! In my opinion, Microsoft needs to seriously start offering blitz learning and networking opportunities for its communities and customer base not only in the US but also the rest of the world like Salesforce has been doing for years. It’s okay if these events are short (bonus if they are free!).
Oh, and Microsoft; it wouldn’t hurt to serve some delicious food, too!