Continuing with the format introduced in 2009, this year’s Microsoft Convergence for the EMEA region was split into three locations: London, Prague and The Hague. Out of all the options, Prague fit our schedules the best, so that became our destination of choice to hear the latest news and buzz around Microsoft Dynamics products.
With the fairly recent release of Dynamics CRM 2011 public beta, there was certainly a lot for Microsoft to present on the CRM front. Having been working with the product since CTP3 already, I wasn’t expecting too many surprises for myself in the CRM 2011 session contents. It’s still interesting to observe what is being said about the new release and how the customers and partners react to it. There is such a wealth of new, important features included in CRM 2011 (see my walkthrough slides for starters) that you can’t really construct the one right pitch for the product. You could say that there’s something for everyone.
We saw the first glimpse of CRM 2011 during Kirill’s keynote, when Reuben Krippner showed a bit of Process Dialogs in the Dynamic Business demonstration. From there on, Reuben was a busy man, since he was giving demos in the next four consecutive CRM sessions on the agenda. Great job pulling it off, Reuben! Let’s hope Liverpool picks up their pace in the Premier League, so we can see some more of them in future CRM demos 😉
Barry Givens held the last CRM session of the day, focusing on data visualization in CRM 2011. Not like we hadn’t seen the charts a few times already during the day, but hey, I always enjoy hearing Barry talk about his favorite topic i.e. analytics in CRM. While the out-of-the-box charts in CRM 2011 certainly do deliver value, you should really look at the broader picture of what the visualization features introduced in the new version truly mean in terms of customization and application design. The charts are actually one alternative method of navigation, due to their tight integration with grids and the drill-down capability. They can be embedded not only on grids but also forms (through sub-grids), bringing visualizations to every part of the CRM UI. Oh, and don’t forget to check out my post about editing the .NET Chart Controls for CRM 2011. Dashboards, on the other hand, are not just an item in the main menu but rather a new form type. By allowing flexible arrangement of embedded components like grids, charts and web resources, the dashboard forms might actually one day become the next generation UI for navigating in Dynamics CRM. You know, something for the future ahead of us when every modern web app must be built in RIA fashion, with Silverlight controls and what have you.