Monday, November 17, 2014

10 tips for the Microsoft Dynamics AX Technical Conference 2015

Out of all of the conferences and training in a given year, the technical conference is the best one by far. This is just my opinion but I've gone to them year after year and this is by far the best conference event of the year. I'd HIGHLY recommend going.

It is February 2nd-4th, 2015 (Monday-Wednesday) in Seattle, WA. There will be post event training sessions the 5th-7th (Thursday-Saturday) but they have not been announced yet. Attendance is an extra fee for these. NOTE: This is at the Washington State Convention Center in downtown Seattle, not in Bellevue or Redmond campus like past years.

Registration is now open:

You don't have to be a technical person to attend. There are functional sessions there as well. And I personally think all functional people should be familiar with the technical aspects of AX just like technical people should be familiar with functional aspects.

Its getting larger and larger every year and has switched venues over time because the sessions get so full. Not sure capacity this year but it may sell out as it gets closer to the event.

To note, that Sunday before is Super Bowl Sunday. There is an MS watch party event if you want to attend that. I was a Bronco's fan in Seahawks territory last year so I opted to not attend the party and go to a brewery instead. Denver got trounced but I got a number of free things from the bar as everyone was very friendly there and felt bad. Seattle is a great city! I'm hoping its not a Broncos/Seahawks rematch. Or do I?

10 tips for attending the MS Dynamics Tech Conference 2015
  1. Register early for the event. You can save money if you book early. Most won't dispute the value of this conference but its a factor of cost vs benefit. Booking early reduces the cost. Plus it sells out so you want to make sure you can go. I believe you can save $300 off registration if you register before December 10th, 2014.
  2. Book the hotel early. They'll fill up quickly and the rates can rise.  
  3. Try to stay in downtown Seattle or as close as you can to the Washington State Convention Center. That's where most people will go out after the events and you never know who you'll run into. The best networking happens outside of the conference and the largest concentration of AX people will be by the convention center. 
  4. Go to the post training events. Last year I went to an R3 retail hands on lab session and it was awesome. At times, you can get one on one time with the product team and you can ask why certain things were done certain ways and provide feedback. Assuming the 2015 sessions will be similar to 2014, you don't want to miss it!
  5. Take great notes during the session. You may remember things that night from the sessions you were in but after the whole week, you'll be hazy about the first day. There is just too much info. If you're in a group, try to use a shared OneNote notebook so you can see what others learned during their sessions. Divide and conquer!!
  6. Pictures are allowed during the sessions but don't post ones that they ask you not to share on social media. Keep those for your notes. The pictures will help give context to notes you may take. I tend to remember things through images so if I read written notes, I may forget details that a picture will bring back.
  7. Pick your schedule ahead of time, but don't be afraid to pull an audible. You may be in a session and they talk about something that peaks your interest you were unaware of (like SQL AlwaysOn for example). If you stay strict to your plan, you could be missing out. Follow your gut. Often the unplanned sessions end up being the most valuable ones.
  8. Bring a list of questions or topics your organization has struggled with. It's easy to lose track of your work tasks with so many shiny, new features being shown to you. The list will help you concentrate on what features and strategies you can employ now or in the future. There will be a number of experts there both presenting and in the crowd who would likely be able to help.
  9. Don't be afraid to talk to people. Networking is important in an community as 'small' as the AX group is. After the sessions, there will be a lot of opinions from technical and functional people alike in which you can learn a lot from. Additionally, be ready to share your own experiences and original opinions. Having people to bounce ideas and thoughts off of helps enhance the sessions' presented content.
  10. Don't party too hard in the evenings. It's tempting and fun I know. Especially with so many other AX enthusiasts in attendance but you'll pay for it in the AM. The sessions go fairly fast with a lot of information. If you feel like you got tackled by a sumo wrestler, the sessions might as well be in a foreign language.
Hope the above tips helps people! Looking forward to seeing everyone there!