Microsoft Business Applications Summit 2020

This year’s Microsoft Business Applications Summit 2020 took on a very different format to its previous ones. Attendees across the globe were looking forward to participating and networking in sunny Dallas. Little did we know that instead, we would be sitting in kitchens, living rooms and home offices across the world attending the summit “virtually”. However, at least the sun was shining in Glasgow, where I was virtually attending.

The Microsoft Business Application Summit 2020 was evidently a very different experience for presenters and attendees alike. Nonetheless, the inspirational and thought-provoking keynote presentations from Microsoft’s James Phillips, President of Business Applications and Alysa Taylor, Corporate Vice President of Business Applications, set the scene for an informative and engaging event. The individual sessions were easy to follow with a clear view of both the presenter and the slide content. Sessions were relatively short (30 minutes) with 15-minute breaks in between to allow attendees to stretch their legs, put the kettle on or nip out to walk the dog.

Did virtual work?

The presenters did well. Given it’s tricky to gauge the body language of their audience, they delivered professional sessions that were engaging and insightful. Application demos were recorded in advance and replayed during sessions to reduce the chance of demo gremlins. One presenter, Matthew Bolanos, a Senior Programme Manager at Microsoft, had to endure construction noises from his neighbour’s property which added to the overall quirkiness of the working from home experience.

The main drawback to the virtual event was the difficulty in networking. While networking with other attendees was possible via connecting on the summit website and during a dedicated networking hour, it was no substitution for bumping into someone sitting in the next seat in a session or at the refreshments bar.

From the keynote and throughout all the sessions I attended, the theme of the day was clear. Microsoft has transformed business applications from legacy “forms over data” systems to a data-first cloud platform. This enables Microsoft Business Application users to work proactively through a data-first view and seamlessly connected applications.

Microsoft refers to the platform stack of Azure, the Power Platform, and Dynamics 365, with data at the foundation, as a “fabric for digital transformation”. Throughout the summit, the outcomes for organisations embracing this platform were clear; automation, process simplicity, improved insight, productivity and resilience.

Overall, the Microsoft Business Applications Summit 2020 worked well as a virtual event with the added benefit of thousands of tonnes of carbon saved with everyone staying at home. Is it the future of conferences? I doubt it. Whenever the world returns to normal, we’ll be back to large trade events and attending in person. Until then, the virtual conference is not a bad substitute.

To find out more about how we are helping customers to digitally transform using the Power Platform, Azure and Dynamics 365, then please get in touch.