Not able to attend Convergence 2015? Watch keynotes and general sessions live!
If you’re not able to attend Convergence 2015 in person this year, never fear – you can still catch some of the excitement by tuning into the keynotes & general sessions live! Sessions will be live-streamed directly from the Convergence website. Check the schedule below and mark your calendar. You won’t want to miss these amazing opportunities to hear from visionary leaders, including Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, about trends and insights that will help take your business to new heights.
Opening Keynote Microsoft
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella; Kirill Tatarinov, Executive VP, Microsoft Business Solutions
Monday, March 16, 8:30am EDT
Data will change your business, it’s up to you how much
James Phillips, Microsoft Corporate VP
Monday, March 16, 11:00am EDT
Reinventing business productivity to maximize customer value
Julia White, Microsoft General Manager, Office Division Product Management
Monday, March 16, 2:00pm EDT
Chris Capossela, Microsoft Executive VP/Chief Marketing Officer; Allison Watson, Microsoft Corporate VP, US Marketing & Operations
Monday, March 16, 5:00pm EDT
SMB success in a mobile-first, cloud-first world
Wayne Morris, Microsoft Corporate VP, Microsoft Business Solutions
Tuesday, March 17, 9:00am EDT
Empowering your mobile workforce
Tony Prophet, Microsoft Corporate VP, Windows & Search Marketing
Tuesday, March 17, 2:00pm EDT
Re-imagining the enterprise for a mobile-first, cloud-first world
Judson Althoff, President, Microsoft North America
Tuesday, March 17, 3:30pm EDT
Closing Keynote: Digital detectives: Protecting data, commerce and privacy in the age of cybercrime
David Finn, Associate General Counsel and Executive Director, Microsoft Cybercrime Center
Thursday, March 19, 9:30am EDT
*Note: Seth Godin’s session on 3/16 will not be live-streamed.
If you can’t tune in live, you’ll be able to watch the keynotes, general sessions, concurrent and deep-dive sessions on-demand, 24 hours after the conclusion of the sessions. Bookmark our Convergence Video Library site and access a wealth of informative and thought-provoking content right at your desktop (watching on-demand content requires a brief registration process).
The Convergence app is now available!
Find the Convergence 2015 event information you need, right at your fingertips. By downloading the Convergence app you can easily check the agenda, access Schedule Builder, complete evaluations, find venue maps, receive announcements, and much more. The Convergence app is available for Windows Phone, Windows 8/8.1, Apple iOS and Android.
Get more information and download the Convergence app today!
Beyond the walls: Unique learning opportunities at Convergence 2015
In addition to the content that will be delivered at Convergence within the traditional session room setting, this year we’ll be featuring a variety of less formal sessions that will be taking place in and around the Convergence Experience Center (CEC). These are great opportunities to get valuable insights in bite-sized portions. Here are a few you don’t want to miss:
• NEW! The Spotlight Theater, located in the corner of the Microsoft Solutions Experience, will feature Town Halls, providing an opportunity for Microsoft customers to share their stories and experiences, and Fireside Chats, which feature leaders from the Microsoft product teams sharing their knowledge and perspectives. These presentations are each 15-20 minutes.
• Sponsor Theater Presentations will be taking place at the Media Wall within the Community Experience area throughout the event. These 15-minute presentations from many of our valued partners are a great way to learn more about their solutions and services.
• Roundtable Discussions provide an opportunity for attendees to learn from one another by discussing topics in a small group setting. These discussions, which take place during lunchtime in the Meal Hall, are focused on industry-based topics (Monday) and role-based topics (Tuesday).
Be sure to check the Session Catalog or Schedule Builder for a full listing of these sessions and schedules, and add them to your calendar today!
Tips for maximizing your time onsite at Convergence
Convergence 2015 is quickly approaching and it is time for you to really start planning how you will spend your time in Atlanta. In 6 years of attending Convergence, one of the most important things that I have learned is to over-book my time and be ready to adjust my schedule.
Microsoft has developed the Schedule Builder tool on the Convergence website that allows you to review the full session catalog and create a customized schedule. All that you need to do is log in and start planning. Your Schedule Builder calendar can also be accessed through the mobile app (which will be available starting the week of March 9th). I just find it easier to plan on the computer ahead of time.
- Use the session filters to really drill down. There are filters by Product, Session Type, Skill Level, Primary Role, Industry, Solution, and Theme. Make sure you review these thoroughly to get to the content that you want to see.
- Find the sessions that interest you and add them to your calendar. Don’t worry about double or triple booking your time slots, you will most likely change your mind about the sessions once you arrive.
- If a session repeats, add the repeats to your calendar as well – that way you maintain visibility for all of the session’s offerings.
- Keynotes, General Sessions, and Concurrent sessions are recorded and available online after Convergence. If you can’t make to all of the ones you want to, you can always watch online later. I have done this the last several years and found it to help me flex my schedule easier while onsite.
- Interactive discussions and roundtables are not recorded, but often provide great Q&A with the attendees. These are some of my favorite sessions, because I often hear about other users’ issues and solutions.
Once you reach Atlanta and get all checked-in, go through your registration packet. There will be printed materials for conference info and a session guide. Even though I use have used the mobile app the last few years, I still like having the printed conference guide that I can flag sessions or compare schedules with others. While onsite be prepared to flex your schedule. Attend the sessions you are most interested in first, but don’t be afraid to change your mind if you get there and it is not what you expected. Sometimes session rooms fill up fast, especially for those popular topics. You may also attend a session that piques your interest on a topic that you had not planned for and decide you want to find more sessions on that topic.
For the most part, we all attend Convergence to learn more about our Microsoft products but another large part of the conference is networking. I find that networking happens just about everywhere at any time. Maximize the time that you have in Atlanta beyond the session schedule. Attend evening events, networking lunches, roundtables, talk to the person next to you on the bus, stop by the hotel bar for a cocktail at the end of the day. I guarantee other attendees will join in the conversation. Check out the Community/Networking page on the Convergence website to learn more about some of the coordinated networking events already lined up for the week. Lastly, be sure to bring your business cards and give them away to those you come across so you can continue the conversations once you return home. If I lose my voice by the end of Convergence, I know I maximized my time and networked enough.
Enjoy your time at Convergence and know that it is okay to adjust your schedule as you go!
Director of Operations
Delta Medical Systems, Inc.
So you are less than 2 weeks from Convergence, you have been on the website and your schedule looks OUT OF CONTROL! At this rate your week in Atlanta is going to leave you exhausted. How can you possibly consume everything that is offered at Convergence in the week’s time? How do you prioritize your days and leave enough time to check in at work and get to enjoy an after party or two?
After 8 years of Convergence, I think I’ve learned a few tricks to organize your week and I hope you can take some of these tip to make the best of your Conference.
Use the Schedule Builder tool available on the website. Push anything that you are interested in on your calendar. Double and triple book time slots. You need alternatives and this gives you a great way to see your options based on your mood that day without having to feel overwhelmed by everything.
- Add your “MUST NOT MISS” items to your Outlook calendar. This will give you the reminder to make it to those handful of items you have as a priority. While you are at it, add some of the social gatherings into Outlook too.
- Leave as much as you can in your hotel room. Travel light. Use the mobile app.
- When you can’t decide what to go to, pick the interactive discussion session. The content from all of the sessions are available after Convergence and you can get them to review, but they can never provide the personal interaction that these sessions provide. These are the ones not to miss LIVE.
- Carve out time specifically for the Expo Hall. If you say “I’ll just fit it in”, trust me, you won’t. If there are a few specific vendor you have on your list to visit – it’s best to schedule time with them. It will ensure you get personalized time with the resources that best meet your needs.
- If you’re a customer, make time to go to a session with your partner. These guys are the pros at Convergence, they know how to mold Convergence to meet your business’s needs. Ask them what they would recommend. Better yet, go to a session with them and take time to talk about it after.
- Network. You will be tired, but you will also be hungry. Go get lunch in the meal hall and talk to people at your table. What are they doing that may be beneficial to you? What sessions did they find most interesting?
- I hope you find these tips helpful. Make the best of all that’s offered. Every year I learn something new and a new way to approach the conference. If you went last year, think about changing at least one way that you attended from the past. If this is your first, just take it all in and know you will NOT get to everything, so stop trying.
Here’s to a great conference!
Dir IT, IHS
Build your personal skills with Business Leadership sessions
Convergence 2015 will feature some fantastic sessions that will help you learn about new technology innovations and best practices. And it will also feature some valuable and insightful sessions that are geared toward enhancing your personal leadership skills.
Our Business Leadership sessions feature speakers from acclaimed organizations such as Dale Carnegie, PricewaterhouseCoopers and more that will provide a unique perspective on the hottest topics in the business world today. From learning how you can build and retain strong teams, to how you can create an effective personal brand to motivate and inspire others, you’ll be equipped with skills that will help increase your confidence as a leader.
Check out the Business Leadership sessions offered and be sure to add them to your Schedule Builder calendar today!
Best tips for navigating the Expo Experience
Convergence is less than three weeks away so it’s not too soon to start planning! I start to get really excited about Convergence when I begin to plan how I am going to spend my time.
One of the unique aspects of Convergence is the Expo Experience where you have an opportunity to meet with hundreds of sponsors and exhibitors plus dozens of specialists from Microsoft in the Microsoft Solutions Experience.
My first tip for navigating the Expo Experience starts before you leave for Atlanta; use the tools on the Sponsor/Exhibitor listing of the Convergence web site or the Convergence mobile app (when released in early March) to determine which booths you are especially interested in visiting. The tools include being able to filter by several criteria and an interactive map so you can see where a specific exhibitor is located. Even though I like to walk through the entire Expo Experience, I would miss seeing some of the exhibitors I really want to meet with if I didn’t prepare ahead of time.
The Expo Experience is huge so I tend to tackle it in at least three visits. During one visit I target the middle of the Expo, one time I start from the left and work towards the center and one time I start from the right and work my way towards the center. I like to visit all of the booths even if the services or products offered by an exhibitor are not directly applicable to our systems. Visiting all of the booths helps to keep me aware of what is available, and sometimes solutions for other systems help me identify ways to meet our needs.
This year the middle of the Expo Experience includes the Microsoft Solutions Experience. This area is manned by dozens of Microsoft product specialists and technical support personnel. They are a great resource and some Convergence attendees feel having an opportunity to meet face-to-face with Microsoft specialists is one of the biggest benefits of attending Convergence. The Microsoft specialists at Convergence have always been able to answer my questions or have identified a resource who could answer my questions. They are a great resource and very committed to doing everything necessary to meet our needs.
I highly recommend attending the Convergence Experience Reception (on Monday night) as there is an energy during the reception that is hard to top; however, I tend to find other times to visit the Expo and talk with the exhibitors on my “make sure I see” list. These are exhibitors I may want to have a detailed conversation with and I find that is easier to accomplish when the Expo isn’t quite so busy.
My most important tip is to wear comfortable shoes. You will be doing a lot of walking on floors with little padding and you don’t want your aching feet to distract you from your goals.
I hope you have a great Convergence and you enjoy spending some time at the Expo Experience!
Hitachi Medical Systems America
Note that this year Convergence will be providing dedicated time on the agenda to visit the Expo Experience (and entire Convergence Experience Center) on Tuesday, March 17th from 10am-12pm. There won’t be any conflicting sessions scheduled at the same to allow attendees to make the most of their time within this area!
Tips & advice for a first-time attendee at Convergence
If this is your first-time attending Convergence, this week’s Insider blog should provide some great tips. Note that we will be rolling out additional resources over the next month on our event website for you to take advantage of to help you get the most of your time at Convergence!
Convergence 2015 in Atlanta will be my eighth Convergence. I like to think that I’ve gotten pretty good at doing Convergence over the years, but I was pretty clueless my first year. Here are a few tricks I’ve learned over the years that I wish I had known that first year:
- Know why you’re attending - Know some of your goals for Convergence in advance. Poll your boss and co-workers. Maybe you want to learn about what’s new in the next version of your ERP or CRM. Maybe you want to solve a specific challenge your company is facing. Knowing what you want to get out of Convergence will help you make smart choices when planning your week.
- Take advantage of who else is there – There are three general groups of people who will be at Convergence that make your attendance a unique opportunity:
- Microsoft – many of the individuals who lead and do the actual development work on your Dynamics products or other Microsoft solutions will be in attendance. They love to hear feedback from the people who use their creations every day.
- Expo Exhibitors – hundreds of add-on products and services for your Microsoft solution will be on hand in the Expo.
- Other attendees – If you don’t network at Convergence, you’ll be missing out on my number one reason for attending. See John Tolbert’s blog on networking at Convergence for more tips
- Plan your schedule carefully, but be ready to flexible – During any given timeslot, you’ll probably have more than one session you’re interested in attending. Prior to the event, I put any session I’m interested in on my calendar and make a decision on which to attend just before it starts. One important note: concurrent sessions are recorded and will be available to you after the event, but interactive sessions won’t. If I need to decide between a concurrent session and an interactive session, I go with the interactive session because I won’t get another chance to experience it.
Finally, if at any point during the conference you find yourself lost, confused, or just overwhelmed by all that is going, just ask for help. Convergence attendees are some of best people you’ll ever meet and they’ll be happy to help!
There’s a lot to take in at Convergence and without the benefit of a previous Convergence experience, first-time attendees may miss some valuable opportunities to fully benefit from their Convergence investment. Here are a few tips that might enhance your overall experience and ensure you maximize your Convergence return on investment.
- Prepare before you go. Advanced preparation is the key to a successful conference experience, especially if this is your first Convergence. Start out by making a list of your objectives, specific things you would like to accomplish and/or questions you’re looking for answers to.
- Once you have identified what you want out of the conference and using what you have learned from the Convergence website, align your objectives with the various conference offerings. Here’s a sample of how you might align your objectives with just some of what Convergence has to offer.
Keynote Speakers This is your opportunity to hear from key Microsoft executives. If you are interested in industry trends and/or where Microsoft is headed, these sessions will provide an opportunity to hear, first-hand, from Microsoft’s leadership.
Concurrent Sessions Need to learn more about a feature or function in your system or look into solutions that may answer an unresolved business issue – the Concurrent Sessions provide insight into the functional and technical capabilities of many of the Microsoft solutions.
Interactive Discussions Here’s your opportunity to actively participate in a discussion regarding your specific business case or technical issue. This is a great opportunity to either get your questions answered or lend your expertise to helping someone else with an issue.
Deep Dive Sessions This is your opportunity to get detailed with a specific solution or feature. Whether you have implemented the solution or just considering it, this is where you can get very specific knowledge about the functionality and/or technology.
Sponsor Breakout Sessions There are a myriad of third-party (ISV) solutions available for you to enhance your current Microsoft solutions. The Sponsor Breakout Sessions are the places to go to find out what’s available and get a high-level overview of the ISV solution capabilities.
Convergence Experience Center (Community Experience) This is a great place where colleagues from other organizations can meet to share experiences. It’s also where you can see how Microsoft customers have benefited from their use of Microsoft solutions. The Community Experience also features conference news, updates and various theater presentations on various topics.
Convergence Experience Center (Expo Experience) Only Convergence can provide such a comprehensive array of products and services available for the Microsoft family of products. The Expo has virtually any product or service available to work with your existing Microsoft solutions all in one convenient location. This is also where you want to go to see and experience many of the Microsoft products and talk with Microsoft solution experts.
- With these Convergence offerings in mind and your list of objectives, use the Convergence website and especially the Schedule Builder to locate the specific topics you’re interested in. Then plan out your agenda.
- Once you’re on-site at Convergence, make sure and leverage the Convergence Mobile App. It’s a handy way to carry your schedule (from Schedule Builder) and keep up to date on conference news, etc.
Going to Convergence without a plan is like going on vacation without a plan; you spend most of your time just trying to figure out what to do and when. Don’t waste time at Convergence trying to figure out how to get your money’s worth from the experience. Plan ahead and ensure you get all you can out of your trip to Atlanta for Convergence 2015!
Sr. Director IT PMO
Microsoft Dynamics GP at Convergence 2015: See what’s in store!
This is a very exciting time of the year for the Microsoft Dynamics GP community. It is Convergence time again!
Convergence is THE Microsoft event focused on Microsoft Dynamics customers like you. What's in it for you? Why should you make the investment in coming?
Sessions dedicated to the Microsoft Dynamics GP newly released products:
- The new Microsoft Dynamics GP 2015 release features
- The new Microsoft Dynamics GP Apps
- What’s coming in Microsoft Dynamics GP 2015 R2
- What is the vision of Microsoft Dynamics GP Next
Sessions dedicated to getting the most value out of your existing investment:
- Tips and tricks for all aspects of the product from MVP’s in the community
- Access to product experts at the help desk. Get free support!
- Find out how others like you are using Microsoft Dynamics GP
Convergence goes beyond Microsoft Dynamics GP. We will have topics to give you more:
- Sessions geared towards developing your work skills
- Sessions on other Microsoft technologies from Office to Azure
- Connect with people in similar roles and industries
- and much, much, more!
Plus one of my favorite reasons to attend: OneRepublic
Can't wait to see you there!
Convergence is less than 5 weeks away, happening right in the heart of downtown Atlanta, Georgia on March 16-19, 2015. Are you still on the fence trying to decide if you should attend? Let us help you decide by sharing 10 reasons why you don’t want to miss this event.
1. Be inspired. With new innovations, inspiring keynotes and insights from visionary leaders
2. Imagine. Hear about the big technology trends – mobility, cloud, machine learning, Internet of Things (IoT) and find out what’s in it for you! We have lined up several sessions that showcase how you can transform your business by embracing these trends.
3. Attend industry session to get an update on what is happening in the market as industry experts share their experiences and insights.
4. Learn what’s new and what’s next. Join us in the Roadmap and Strategy session for Microsoft Dynamics AX on Tuesday morning at 9:00 am. Don’t miss this sessions as we share exciting new capabilities and experiences!
5. Connect. In our busy crazy world we often forget the importance of meting face-to-face. Come, meet, network with your peers and build new business relations.
6. Experience real customer business solutions in action.
7. Hear directly from customers like you and members of the user groups as they share their experiences first-hand.
8. Explore. Concurrent sessions, deep dives and interactive discussions. We have lined up close to 90 sessions for you to attend and explore Microsoft Dynamics AX capabilities.
9. Interact. Visit the experience center, meet the Microsoft Dynamics AX engineering team and get your questions answered.
10. Have fun. Being in business should be rewarding and fun. You work hard – let’s take the time, relax and enjoy the Convergence Celebration on Thursday night.
For more information please check out the Session Catalog.
See you in Atlanta!
Microsoft Dynamics CRM at Convergence 2015: See what’s in store!
If you’ve ever been to Convergence, you know what a great event it is. Last year, we made some very exciting announcements in CRM around sales, marketing, service, and social. We had great sessions and demos, hands-on experiences, and an opportunity to network and learn from your peers. As tough as it will be to top an experience like that, this year will be even better!
This year’s Convergence – March 16 – 19 in Atlanta – is broadening its focus to become a Microsoft-wide event focused on the full portfolio of Microsoft solutions for the business community. We’ll have an amazing CRM story and presence with tracks for marketing, sales and service professional. We’ll also be adding a broader focus on Microsoft solutions and information across the Microsoft Cloud for Business. This year for the first time, we will have top executives speaking from across Microsoft including a keynote by our CEO, Satya Nadella, and executive vice president, Kirill Tatarinov.
Convergence will also be our unveiling of the Spring 2015 Wave of Microsoft Dynamics CRM. We will do our public announcement and will cover the details in the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Roadmap & Strategy session. We’re introducing great new capabilities across sales, marketing, service, and social and we’ll provide an overview of the current state of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM business and our tremendous momentum. You’ll hear directly from our Microsoft Dynamics CRM research and development leadership on the future direction for Microsoft Dynamics CRM. We will also discuss our vision for CRM over the next 12 to 18 months.
For more details, we’ll have overview sessions for sales, marketing and service, where you can learn more about the spring release, roadmap and current capabilities of each solution, as well as hear directly from customers about their experiences. We’ve got a great line-up of sessions for each track including deep dives and industry thought leaders.
We’re also enhancing the expo experience. Come join our experts at the expo to get first hand demonstrations of our new solutions, features and functionality. At the Convergence expo you’ll be able to view our “What’s NEW” fast-track demo videos and quickly get up to speed on new features across sales, productivity, social, marketing, and service.
This is going to be an amazing Convergence so if you haven’t registered yet, we’d strongly encourage you to do so. Check the Session Catalog to begin planning your attendance!
General Sessions that deliver breakthrough ideas and solutions
We are excited to unveil our lineup of General Sessions at Convergence 2015! This year, Convergence will feature seven General Sessions taking place on Monday and Tuesday that will address some of the most important issues facing business leaders today. With content delivered by Microsoft executives and other industry leaders such as marketing pioneer Seth Godin, these strategic sessions will provide fresh, new perspectives and innovative solutions. Here are just a few things you’ll hear and learn:
• How organizations have shifted to an insights and data-driven culture
• What it means to reinvent productivity and how it can drive better value for your customers
• How to rethink your approach to marketing and how leadership plays a key role
• How differentiated, digital work and life experiences can transform an enterprise
• Trends that help you succeed in a cloud-first, mobile-first world
To learn more about each of the General Sessions, access the specialized Session Catalog link (General Sessions will appear on both Monday & Tuesday). If you are a registered attendee, be sure to add these sessions your personalized schedule using Schedule Builder.
Favorite dining spots in Atlanta
Another reason we’re excited for Convergence to be back in Atlanta is the opportunity to explore the amazing culinary scene! This week’s blog has a ton of great recommendations from some of our Atlanta veterans on best dining and hot spots in the city. For additional information on Atlanta attractions, restaurants and more, you can access the Atlanta website that has been created specifically for Convergence attendees.
One benefit of business travel is the ability to enjoy the culture of different cities. A major part of a city’s culture is its culinary offerings. What better way to experience a city than to eat your way through it. You can often enjoy regional foods and culinary trends that you simply can’t find at home. I have never understood a business traveler who chooses to consistently eat at a national chain when they are visiting a new place. I encourage you to get out and visit many different, locally owned restaurants when you visit Atlanta for Convergence.
Atlanta is a booming, metropolitan southern city with a vast array of dining options. I have enjoyed several visits to the city over the past decade and have tried restaurants in different parts of the city. As you plan for Convergence, I would suggest you consider venturing to one or more of these great spots for a taste of Atlanta. They cover a wide variety of cuisines, locations, and prices.
When it comes to fine dining in Atlanta, Canoe is probably my favorite place. The restaurant is nestled into a beautiful nook of the Chattanooga River northwest of downtown. On nice nights, you can sit outside under the trees or enjoy the elegant dining room. The menu features a great, southern influenced American flair. Selections range from several great fish options to duck and from venison to steak. You want to ensure you have room for dessert as Canoe has some unbelievable choices. The popcorn ice cream sundae must be tried to be believed.
Mary Mac’s Tea Room
While Canoe offers elegant twists on southern cuisine, Mary Mac’s Tea Room allows diners to immerse themselves fully into comfort food classics. The 70 plus year old restaurant is an Atlanta institution. Eating at this restaurant is like stepping into your grandmother’s kitchen…assuming your grandmother was a phenomenal cook. Everyone gets a small side of collard greens and cornbread as you review the menu. You then must make your selection from a huge list of classics like meat loaf, pork chops, chicken and dumplings, and other southern favorites. This restaurant offers a truly unique experience that will give you a memorable taste of Atlanta.
Staying with the vein of comfort food, Buckhead Diner is also a great option. This restaurant is in the wonderful Buckhead neighborhood in Atlanta which is a site to see on its own. I would suggest allowing some extra time as you drive to this restaurant so you can take in this beautiful part of the city. Street after street features amazing southern mansions on gorgeous, tree lined routes. As for the diner, it features a huge menu of upscale takes on southern favorites, sandwiches and burgers, and a nice choice of seafood selections. Great options range from several different grilled cheese sandwiches to a grilled chicken on a pretzel roll to salmon Cobb salad. The vast menu likely includes enough variety for anyone in your party. Also, don’t forget all of the milk shake and soda fountain desserts such as a classic chocolate egg cream soda.
Atlanta Fish Market
Lastly, for the seafood lovers, a trip to the Atlanta Fish Market is a must. This restaurant is an upscale dining option featuring a vast array of fresh fish selections alongside wonderful lobster, crab and sushi. In fact, the restaurant touts itself as “Atlanta’s Largest Selection of Fresh Wild Caught Fish”. You can simply select from 14 different kinds of fish and choose your preparation technique or go for a succulent steak. I have been fortunate enough to visit the Fish Market on several occasions and have always had a memorable experience in their bustling dining room. Beyond all the amazing food choices, the massive, 30 foot tall copper fish statue in front of the restaurant may make a visit worth the trip alone.
Another good point to note is that all of these restaurants are also open for lunch. There is no excuse not to build in some time during your stay in Atlanta to experience at least one of these (or many, many other) wonderful dining excursions. Thankfully Microsoft works hard to include a flavor of the local cuisine in our conference meals, but that still doesn’t replace the experience of visiting a great, local restaurant.
Chief Information Office
Harrison, Walker & Harper
Atlanta has a lot to offer in its downtown area! Located just down the road from the GWCC, Edgewood Avenue is home to an eclectic mix of dining options and is home to the MLK Center and Ebenezer Baptist Church. This area is known as the Old Fourth Ward, a historically significant neighborhood in Atlanta known especially for its role in the Civil Rights movement, which has recently emerged as a blossoming bar and restaurant district. I would highly recommend using the new Atlanta Streetcar system which will take you from Convergence right to the “Edgewood at Hilliard” stop that is convenient to all of these options. Otherwise, take a taxi or other form of transportation as it will be a bit of a walk. Additionally, if you have the time, a walk on the Atlanta Beltline is a great way to get some exercise and see the city from a different vantage point.
Noni’s is a family run deli and restaurant that focuses on Italian inspired food. They have a very cozy seating area with a lot of ambiance. Check out the Sandwiches (the Noni and Stella are both great options). They also have a few entrees if you are really hungry or looking for a dinner option. Noni’s also does private parties and catering if you need to host an event. They have a fully stocked bar as well with a nice variety of cocktails.
The Sound Table
This local favorite is famous for its dichotomy of music and food thoughtfully mixed together by some incredibly talented chefs and DJs. You can stop in for a drink and snack at the bar and enjoy the ambiance or enjoy a night full of music and cuisine. I recommend the Ceviche Taquitos or the Lamb Burger. Make sure to check their website for upcoming events that may occur during the conference.
Located next to Noni’s is Pizzeria Vesuvius, which is another local favorite for wood-fired Neapolitan and New York-styled pizzas. I personally enjoy their namesake pizza, which uses hot sauce instead of tomato sauce as a base for the pizza. As with all of the options on Edgewood Avenue I’ve presented, these guys are no exception when it comes to great food and a fully stocked bar. They’ve also got calzones, slices, subs and more, so stop by for a meal if you’re craving some delicious pizza.
Finally, if you are looking for some late night fun, head over to Joystick Gamebar, an establishment solely focused on old-school arcade games (Double Dragon, TMNT, Pac Man, Galaga, etc) paired with specialty cocktails and microbrews. They have a great, but limited menu as well if your thirst for video games and beverages is replaced by hunger. My favorite game is the original Nintendo with Mario Bros on the old school 1970s color TV. A blast from the past!
Vice President of IT
Creatively Classic Activities & Books
Atlanta gives you plenty of choices when it comes to restaurants, bars and entertainment. If you are looking for your favorite cuisine, you will find it. Depending on where you stay during your Convergence visit, you may have a great place just around the corner. With this being my 6th Convergence attendance (the 4th one in Atlanta), I’ve tried out several restaurants within a mile of the GWCC (Georgia World Congress Center). Here are my top 3 choices:
Being German, I can’t stay away from this place. It’s a short walk away from our venue and I usually go there once every time I attend Convergence. The food is very authentic and it’s hard to beat a nice cold ‘stein’ of Hefeweizen. Share a ‘Riesenbretzel’ (a large Pretzel) as an appetizer with your friends, have a ‘Jägerschnitzel’ or ‘Wienerschnitzel’ and ‘Spätzle’ as your main dish, and – if you have any room left - enjoy ‘Apfelstrudel mit Vanilleeis’ (apple strudel with vanilla ice cream) for dessert. Their prices are fair and the atmosphere is fun.
Max’s Coal Oven Pizzeria
This is a quite casual place, similar to ‘Der Biergarten’. Food is great, especially their pizza. It’s New York Style wood fire pizza, super hot, super tasty and good size portions. Max’s also serves pasta, but is certainly famous for the pizza. The restaurant is not very big, but if the weather is good, you can sit outside as well. It gets quite lively, especially at night, but it’s worth a visit.
Sun Dial Restaurant, Bar and View
A little bit more on the expensive side, Sun Dial Restaurant, Bar and View offers you a fabulous view of the city. The restaurant is located almost 800 ft. above ground inside the Westin Peachtree. You can walk from the GWCC or, since the hotel is one of the Convergence conference hotels, just jump on the shuttle bus to get there. Great food, wine and the view are the perfect combination for a nice dinner. As you enjoy your dinner, you slowly turn and come dessert, you have had a 360-degree view of the city. I’ve been here only once so far, but am looking into making reservations again.
One piece of advice:
With thousands of Convergence attendees being in town, try to make reservations for any restaurant way ahead of time. You can always try to just show up, but the wait can be long, so patience is something you should bring along.
Enjoy the conference and enjoy your evening program, no matter if you go to one of the places mentioned above or just spend time with your friends.
‘Head of CRM’
Wells Fargo Capital Finance
Santa Monica, CA
The Convergence 2015 Schedule Builder is now LIVE!
If you’re a registered attendee for Convergence 2015, you now have a great new tool to help you plan your specific session schedule! Use Schedule Builder to map out which sessions you’d like to attend and add them to your personalized event calendar. You can search sessions by product, industry, role, solution, and more. A new feature this year gives you the chance to share your personal schedule with others via email. This is a great way to make sure your team has all the sessions covered.
Schedule Builder helps you make the most of your time onsite (and it also helps us gauge interest in sessions so that we make sure to optimize the room size – so it’s a win-win!) Note that you’ll need to sign in to Schedule Builder using the Microsoft Account credentials that you used during the registration process. Schedule Builder is accessible for those attendees with full conference passes only.
Don’t wait – start your planning today!
Convergence 2015 is less than six weeks away and the momentum continues to grow. We are excited to have some amazing speakers join us at the event this year. In addition to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Convergence will feature executive leaders from across the company, providing a strategic vision for the business opportunities ahead. And industry leaders, such as marketing pioneer Seth Godin, will provide insights and tips that will inspire you both personally and professionally.
Check out our full list of featured speakers and stay tuned for additional updates!
Best tips for networking at Convergence
As I prepare to attend Convergence 2015 next month in Atlanta, my thoughts begin to focus on what I need to accomplish during the conference. Should I focus on new products, what’s new with CRM or ERP systems? Lots of choices. I began attending 11 years ago and the most valuable component of the conference to me year after year is the awesome networking. I manage a global system and my best resources I depend on to do my job are the individuals I have met at Convergence. So what are the best ways to network in Atlanta?
A few quick ideas:
• Spend time in the Community Area within the Convergence Experience Center…this huge area has all kinds of information on products and solutions and how they are being used. There are tables and chairs located all over the area to meet and network. This area is almost always open during the conference. This is my favorite spot to hang out.
• Expo Experience…take time to explore the Expo and connect with vendors who not only support the products but also have significant experience using and deploying them. In addition, there is a social reception one of the evenings in the Expo area if you’re attending sessions during the day.
• General, concurrent and interactive sessions…during these sessions, listen for questions and dialog that pertain to your system, problem, etc., and follow-up with the presenter or other attendees after the session.
• Social activities…take the time to attend the numerous happy hours, breakfasts, dinners and entertainment activities throughout the week. These are usually product or system specific and bring lots of people together with similar backgrounds.
Convergence improves every year and has so much to offer… So start your Convergence network this year!
John D. Tolbert
For further information on how you can take advantage of networking options at Convergence, see the Networking page on our event website. We’ll be adding additional resources and activities over the next month that will help you get ready to make some fantastic connections at the event!
Giving back to the local communities where our events are held has been an important part of Convergence events. This year at Convergence 2015 we are making our community outreach projects even more accessible by offering activities close by to the Georgia World Congress Center, and in more convenient time increments. Find out more about how you can volunteer and get involved with projects throughout the week by accessing our Community Outreach web page.
To get a better sense of how participating in community outreach activities can add to your Convergence experience, read this week’s Convergence Insider blog about one attendee’s experience:
When attending a conference, it is unlikely that you immediately begin to think of hard physical labor, outdoor activity, and time away from the convention center. However, I can attest that it might be worthwhile to give these items some thought. One of the best ways to enhance your conference experience, make an impact on others, and experience personal growth is to take advantage of the community outreach and volunteer activities that Microsoft makes available to Convergence attendees.
I had the pleasure of participating in the community outreach day in New Orleans two years ago. Not only was the day fulfilling from on a personal level but it was also a chance for bonding and relationship building with my team as well as other Microsoft customers. It is amazing the size of impact and amount of positive progress that a large team of organized volunteers can make on a neighborhood, community center, school, or other nonprofit in a very brief period of time. In my experience, Microsoft partnered with a local charity to clean up and beautify a neighborhood. We planted shrubs and flowers, cleaned up flower beds, and removed some debris and other trash from the yards. Microsoft does a great job of having clear goals for the volunteer time and facilitates all support you might need (tools, transportation, and meals). All you have to do is show up and be ready to work!
You might choose to devote a few hours to the cause or an entire day. However, either way, a volunteering opportunity at Convergence is a great way to give back to others while stepping away from your normal activities and commitments. It is an easy add-on event to the main days of the conference and allows you to refresh and reset while helping others. Lastly, it is a nice way to get a different perspective and view of the city you are visiting. When you get to work hand in hand with local citizens or organizations or visit different areas of our host city, you get a chance to get a true perspective on the culture and character of the community. I would encourage to consider taking part in this great event as Convergence 2015 approaches.
Chief Information Officer
Harrison, Walker & Harper
Enter our Name It. Claim It. contest and win a VIP pass to meet OneRepublic!
We have a lot of great things planned for our Convergence Celebration this year, but one thing we don’t have is a name. Put your creative thinking cap on and submit your best idea for a name that represents the spirit of this fun evening. The winner will win a VIP pass to meet special musical guest, OneRepublic!
For more information and to submit your winning name, access our contest website. But hurry, nominations will be accepted through Monday, January 26, 2015. Have fun and good luck!
The Business Leadership Experience program is now open for nominations
Calling all visionaries, innovators and advocates! Do you know of an organization doing amazing things with Microsoft technologies? Do they have key expertise to share with the community? The Business Leadership Experience program could be the perfect fit.
The new Business Leadership Experience program at Convergence 2015 aligns a select group of Microsoft customers with experiences that help them share their use of Microsoft technologies, learn what they need to know to get their business to the next level, and engage with colleagues in a meaningful dialogue. The program brings together previous programs such as the Customer Excellence Awards, Marquee Customer program, speaker nominations and other efforts, into one aligned program.
For more information about the program, and to submit a nomination, access the Business Leadership Experience page on our website. Preliminary nominations are open until Friday, January 30th at 5pm PST. We are reviewing nominations as they come in and spots are limited, so don’t wait until the last day!
Early registration discount ends January 8
Don’t miss your opportunity to save $300 off the standard registration price for Convergence 2015. Early registration ends January 8th, so act fast and get yourself registered today! Access the Registration page for a link to register online, as well as a full listing of pass types and costs, including the exclusive Up! Pass which provides you with increased value and convenience.
Customer nominations to open January 7
Nominations for the Convergence 2015 Business Leadership Excellence program will open on January 7, 2015. The Business Leadership Excellence program is a new customer involvement program for Convergence, and brings previous programs such as Customer Excellence Awards, Marquee, Executive Experience, customer speaker nominations, and Inside Track into one aligned program. Customers will be accepted into the program as nominations come in, so be sure to check back on January 7 to submit your nomination(s).
Enter to win a FREE Up! Pass to Convergence 2015
Don’t miss your opportunity to win your way to Convergence 2015 in Atlanta! We are giving one lucky winner the ultimate Convergence experience with a FREE Up! Pass (valued at $2,145). We are also giving away five $100 gift cards to some of Atlanta's top restaurants. All you have to do is enter our giveaway on Facebook. But hurry, the giveaway ends December 22, 2014 at 11:59pm ET!
OneRepublic set to headline the Convergence Celebration
The momentum around Convergence 2015 just keeps building. We’re excited to announce GRAMMY-nominated, OneRepublic will headline the Convergence Celebration this year!
OneRepublic released their debut set, Dreaming Out Loud, in 2007. The album included the smash single, “Apologize,” which shattered digital sales and airplay records worldwide and received a Grammy nomination. The band’s sophomore album, 2009’s Waking Up, produced three singles: “All the Right Moves,” “Secrets” and “Good Life.” OneRepublic released their third studio album, Native, in March 2013 where it debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard Top 200 chart. The set includes hits, “If I Lose Myself,” “Feel Again,” “Counting Stars,” “Love Runs Out” and “I Lived.”
Stay tuned for more details around the Convergence Celebration coming soon!
The Convergence 2015 Session Catalog is now live
If you want a sneak peek at some of the exciting sessions that will be offered at Convergence 2015, check out the Session Catalog. The catalog features a number of ways to search for and identify the sessions of greatest interest to you. You can use the filters to drill down further into industry, role, experience and more.
Keep in mind that the session catalog is a work in progress – you’ll continue to see many more sessions added over the coming months. And starting in late January, registered attendees will be able to start building their personal session schedule with the Schedule Builder tool.
Satya Nadella to headline Microsoft Convergence 2015
We’re excited to announce that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella will headline the Convergence 2015 opening keynote on Monday, March 16 in Atlanta, GA. Joining Kirill Tatarinov, executive vice president of the Microsoft Business Solutions group, and other visionary leaders, Nadella will be sharing how Microsoft solutions are helping organizations around the world transform their business.
Delivering value and productivity to organizations is also central to the announcements made December 2, 2014, around the new releases and major updates to our core Microsoft Dynamics business solutions. Be sure to read more about the latest advancements and benefits in Kirill Tatarinov’s blog.
Don’t miss the opportunity to hear valuable insights from industry leaders first-hand and learn how to position your business most effectively for the future. Register today for Convergence 2015! Link to:
Time Is Running Out! Tell Us: What Do You Hope to Learn at Convergence 2015?
With the span of business solutions from Microsoft ranging from Microsoft Dynamics, Azure, Lync, Office, Sharepoint and more, we know there’s a plethora of topics that can be covered in our Convergence breakout sessions in Atlanta. When we gather together March 16 – 19, 2015, you have an unprecedented opportunity for gaining skills and knowledge on the solutions currently running your business, and for exploring the solutions on the horizon for your business.
With the Convergence 2015 Content Survey, we’re inviting you to advise us on those topics that you want to learn about the most. Relate to us what your priorities are, and HOW you want to learn more—whether by learning about them, talking about them, hearing how others use it or seeing them in action.
The Content Survey is set to close on December 5 so that we can take action on your collective ideas and deliver what you’re looking for. Clearly, the more people we hear from, the more valuable our content will be to our attendees.
The Content Survey should take you 10 – 15 minutes to complete. We’re eager to see the results!