Sunday, March 4, 2012

So This Is What I Missed…

I’ve successfully returned alive from my attendance of the Microsoft 2012 MVP Summit.  This was a minor concern, given that I was stricken with a bout of vertigo that still troubles me to a lesser extent today.

I missed last year’s Summit, and was quite anxious to attend this year’s event. This extended delay in participation allowed me to accrue more familiarity with the MVP world, and the topics reserved for NDA-backed channels. Thankfully, JourneyTEAM helped me attend during one of the largest projects I’ve ever been assigned.

The single greatest thing I’m looking forward to in the Dynamics CRM 2011 updates to come will be [CENSORED].  Sorry, folks.  You won’t find me spilling the beans of Geek Vegas here, because after partaking in the greatest conference of MVP minds throughout the entire world, I have found an appreciated value in my nondisclosure agreement.

Many folks don’t truly understand the impact or the purpose of this Summit.  Even as a second-year MVP, I didn’t fully understand.  In fact, based solely on the stories that do make it out of this event, an outsider may believe the experience to be purely about back-patting, drinking, and self-sustaining ego building.  I cannot state more emphatically than in bold text the following rebuttal:  this is not the case.

That said, I was not surprised to learn that of 55 Dynamics CRM MVPs, our attendance total was 41.  That means that 3 out of every 4 Dynamics CRM MVPs were at the summit, providing a voice for the community directly to the product teams.  We truly represented every aspect of our community, from independent developers to ISVs, from small businesses to enterprises, and from end-users to administrators.

Microsoft’s product teams generally have little or selective involvement in direct customer engagement.  Most of Microsoft’s public-facing customer involvement comes from either partners or Microsoft Support.  This layer of abstraction and occlusion, though necessary, provides little for a product team by the way of direction.  The MVPs are representative of the entire community, and help direct Microsoft’s products through updates, versions, and feature additions.

We love it.  It was no more apparent than during some of the more heated discussions and debates that littered the entire Summit experience.  Yet, at the end of the day, we all gathered at various Seattle bars to unwind with rounds of beers and drinks with umbrellas (you know who you were).

This isn’t a collection or even a community of experts.  It’s a family.  And I am damn proud to take part in it.