eBECS event review: Converging on excellence

Posted on 6 Feb 2013

A brand-new user group, impressive briefings, and lively networking made eBECS’ Customer Convergence 2012 an event to remember, discovers Malcolm Wheatley.

What do you get when you put together cutting-edge content, a crowd of enthusiastic delegates, knowledgeable speakers, and a newly-formed user group? The answer: eBECS Customer Convergence 2012, a two-day event specifically for users of Microsoft Dynamics AX and CRM, organised by Dynamics AX and CRM implementation experts eBECS, and held at The Belfry hotel in late November.

Feedback from Customer Convergence 2012

Delegate comment: “I wanted to thank you for an excellent two days: the organisation and flow was seamless…really professional. It’s good to see that eBECS hasn’t lost that friendly, personal touch – and Richard Noble was a joy to listen to!”

Steve Morrow, director of Microsoft’s Dynamics Division: “Congratulations for a great event, brilliantly executed. You deserve to reap the rewards of all the hard work that I know went into organising it. All of the customers I spoke to were unequivocally happy with the session content, and had been talking to other customers and feeling part of a much bigger community.”

Projects special interest group. Delegates highlighted the value they derived from these discussion sessions and dialogue is now ongoing
Projects special interest group. Delegates highlighted the value they derived from these discussion sessions and dialogue is now ongoing

Beginning with a working lunch in The Belfry’s famous Atrium Restaurant, the event brought together over 200 eBECS customers and prospects, ten partners, and experts from Microsoft and eBECS with exclusive briefings on such topics as Microsoft’s technology roadmap, the future for AX and CRM, the eBECS Private Cloud, and the impact of Windows 8.

The plan: launch the eBECS User Group for Microsoft Dynamics, provide ‘special interest’ focus groups for customers to share experiences and insights, supplemented by ‘deep dive’ training and knowledge transfer sessions – and then launch into a series of conference sessions, demonstrations and briefings, going through until the early evening of the following day.

“The idea was to put together a combination of ‘high level’ keynote presentations from people such as Dave Coplin, Microsoft’s chief envisioning officer, and Steve Morrow, director of Microsoft’s Dynamics Division – and then intersperse these with detailed training and demonstration sessions in order to help people to get more out of their investments in Microsoft Dynamics AX and CRM,” says Kevin Hall, eBECS’ managing director.

“Keep it simple, build a highly motivated team, and never give up”

Setting the scene were two thought-provoking presentations, one from eBECS customer and paving manufacturer Marshalls, and one from entrepreneur Richard Noble, holder of the world land speed record for 14 years.

These days, of course, Mr Noble is in the headlines because of his role in another land speed record attempt: Bloodhound SSC, which aims to pass the 1,000mph mark sometime in 2013.

Mr Noble’s message was one that was honed by years of pushing the envelope in a series of highprofile business ventures and speed records: keep it simple, build a highly motivated team, and never give up. All of which, of course, were sage words of advice for an audience of IT professionals with an interest in ERP, and in leveraging IT in the pursuit of business excellence.

Inside track

Not that the highly motivated team at Marshalls ever thought about giving up, stressed the company’s group IS director, Paul Thomas, as he related how the company had worked with eBECS to replace a highly complex IT environment, characterised by multiple instances of legacy ERP systems from Baan, Sage, Opera and ManMan, with a single version of the truth: Microsoft Dynamics AX.

Answering the call

The idea of an eBECS user group had been around for a while, says eBECS’ managing director Kevin Hall.

“Every time we spoke to our customers, they told us that some of the most useful interactions that they’d had was with other eBECS customers,” he explains. “Creating a user group in order to make such interaction even easier seemed to be a logical step forward.”

Established at eBECS Customer Convergence 2012, the worth of the user group was quickly confirmed in delegate feedback which highlighted its value. “Time and again,” notes Hall, “customers commented on the tremendous gains they saw in the opportunity to discuss issues of mutual interest in the various topic-specific ‘breakout’ sessions.”

User group dialogue now continues on an ongoing basis through Microsoft’s enterprise-based social networking tool Yammer – a virtual forum where customers can ask questions, post opinions and news, and solicit responses from other customers.

eBECS, too, is participating and learning. “It’s a ‘win-win’ situation,” Hall sums up. “Our customers gain from shared dialogue with each other, and we gain from greater insights into what we’re doing well, and what we can improve. Everybody gains.”

Delegates at the convergence event
Delegates at the convergence event

And even when hit by a massive power failure at the very point of the ‘live’ switch over, he added, built-in resilience and careful planning carried the day, delivering a group-wide, multi-site implementation of Microsoft Dynamics AX across divergent business models.

But popular though these presentations were – one delegate, a long-standing eBECS customer, called them “truly inspirational” – the real meat lay in a combination of customer-tocustomer and prospect-to-customer networking, coupled with over twenty detailed knowledge-sharing presentations and training sessions that addressed almost every Dynamics AX and CRM topic of interest.

And sometimes the learning was two-sided, notes eBECS’ Kevin Hall.

“We’d always intended to run a session on Dynamics’ Management Reporter 2012, a tool for generating flexible and interactive financial reports,” he says. “But we hadn’t realised how many delegates felt that they didn’t really know enough about it, and were keen to find out more. As a result, we’re organising a follow-up training session, specifically covering Management Reporter in a lot more depth than we could deliver at Customer Convergence 2012.”

Partner sessions at the conference were well-attended too, with a range of extensions and complementary solutions explained and demonstrated, with vendors such as Bottomline, Insite-Europe, WCL and Zap Technologies highlighting opportunities across a wide range of business areas.

If you were there you’ll know already that eBECS Customer Convergence 2012 was a resounding success, well-executed, and packed with useful takeaways. If you weren’t there – why not join in next year or find out more about eBECS offerings at ’s unique event for ERP prospects and users, ERP Connect.