Community Summit North America has been a part of the Microsoft Dynamics and Power Platform's conference calendar for fifteen years. It has evolved and grown over time as Microsoft product naming and trends have changed. But the coronavirus pandemic of 2020 has forced many event organizers, including Dynamic Communities (DC) to create a new virtual approach to this year's conference experience.
Dynamic Communities has a new CEO, John Siefert, and the organization will continue to serve as the world’s largest platform connecting the Microsoft ecosystem of users, ISVs, partners, and Microsoft. Jenna Knoblauch, Vice President of Marketing for Dynamic Communities explained more about the decision to go virtual, and how Dynamic Communities will differentiate itself in various ways from other virtual events this fall.
The event was originally planned for Nashville, but as the global crisis continued, the move to an online-only model became inevitable. Knoblauch explained:
The decision did not come lightly as we monitored the state of health in Tennessee, surveyed our speakers, sponsors and community, and ensured we understood the business implications. We all felt very strongly that this was the right decision as the health and safety of our employees, vendors, partners, and community is our top priority.
In planning for this October, Dynamic Communities has redefined and reimagined expectations for online event experiences among enterprise software users and partners:
Many of our community members are adapting to a new normal. Working 12+ hour days, either from their kitchen table or makeshift office, tackling remote schooling for children, all while helping their organizations make critical decisions in surviving this COVID-19 reality. Now is hard. Now is different. Summit won’t be the same as meeting in person, and we won’t pretend like it is. Instead, we will promise to make it as effective, efficient, engaging and educational as we can.
Research by Event MB has shown that the three main value pillars of attending an event have shifted in the virtual world to: Meaningful connections, entertainment, and education. We have reimagined our content delivery and virtual event experiences to align with these new digital value benefits.
One of the signatures of Community Summit events has always been the breadth of educational content, and this year will once again offer a range of presentations across the Dynamics and Power Platform product line. One particular strength, Knoblauch noted, is the set of sessions that will feature user perspective.
Our high number of user-voice sessions differentiate us from other events in the industry. The ‘voice of the customer’ is shown in sessions that address current application challenges and functionality gaps, or how a customer is using emerging technology – especially how companies have managed through COVID. We want to ensure relevant content is delivered for our audience, so we put many measures of community listening in place to not only deliver what’s next from Microsoft, but also address where product users are at today with their software.
The transition to virtual is not just a challenge for DC and its staff. Exhibitors accustomed to the rhythms and customs of the in-person event experience are also looking closely at what their participation in online events will mean in terms of social connections, marketing benefits, and other outcomes. The move to virtual for DC required a substantial research effort.
Transitioning to virtual is challenging for every company – it's a whole different way of thinking. It can't be treated as a replication of how you execute your expo at an in-person event – it needs to be treated like the virtual event it is. We created a dedicated, cross-department v-team who researched new interactive tools to support the goals our sponsors have when choosing to sponsor an event or the goals our user attendees have when looking to extend their CRM/ERP solutions.
We partnered with an innovative event company, vFairs, that brings the event experience to life. The virtual expo offers feature-packed, customizable booths, custom content link navigation, and interactive live 1:1 chat. With thoughtful preparation, sponsors will find success in finding leads with this innovative virtual platform.
Through our partnership with vFairs, attendees and exhibitors will experience an engaging and productive event experience designed to drive meaningful connections and the ability to connect with speakers, sponsors, and peers in real-time.
For attendees, the event experience will still offer networking opportunities:
We are making an intentional effort to provide a variety of digital opportunities for concentrated networking. For example, we’ve taken the occasional hallway conversation and turned it into an exciting solution-matching program to bring together problem-seekers and solution-providers.
Other virtual networking opportunities include roundtable discussions, Microsoft feedback sessions, platform and solution lounges, live chat with Medics, and Summit After Hours with live music. Many sponsors are also hosting virtual sponsor parties.
Attendees will also have three registration options, newly introduced as an alternative to the single flat rate the event had originally planned. The paid options are in line with other industry events, Knoblauch explained:
There are three different pass options to attend Community Summit, tailored to the needs of the community.
- Community Pass – Free
- Community Plus Package - the top 40 sessions from the total show agenda ($9.97 per session) - $399
- Community All Access - $749 (Best value!)
- 400+ educational sessions ($1.87 per session average cost)
- Recordings across all technology disciplines
- Technology badge for your social profiles to showcase your proficiency to peers and employers
Similar to other events in this industry, such as Directions EMEA and the [Oracle] Quest User Group, some of our registration options include a fee. Charging for the event allows us to continue to invest in the community and improve our event hosting platform, as well as keep attendee data private. Many free events in market are doing so through sponsorship investment, where attendee data is shared as a lead post-event. We are confident in our new pass options, allowing an experience for everyone.
With business software users' growing focus on cloud, automation, and the business opportunities that go along with embracing new products and services, Summit sessions have reflected that trend, say the Summit organizers.
Session content will show you how to harness the power of the cloud, how to leverage automation and tighten your organization’s security.
Businesses of all sizes, from global enterprises to the local suppliers are reimagining their businesses, and now demands sessions that focus on innovation, security, and automation, as well as pertinent information on the systems of use today, and how to extend them to gain the most value.
This year's content will also offer two motivational keynotes with some incredible speakers focused on how to define what “now” means to all of us, with a focus on creativity, strategy and the ability to find and drive success, even in these very odd times.
It's a new event for a very different year, but the organizing team sees Community Summit North America 2020 shaping up to deliver great value and an opportunity for the community to come together to Define Their Now, says Knoblauch.
The events landscape has changed throughout 2020, but Dynamic Communities is here to provide best-in-class education, training, and connection to help individuals and organizations succeed.
Note: This article was written and originally posted here by MSDynamicsWorld.com as part of their Community Summit North America 2020 media sponsorship.