EMEA Summit 2017 in the Russians participants’ eyes
Notes of the summit and of Dynamics market in Russia.
Neti has been specializing in AX development since 2003. Our sphere of interest is the cutting-edge MS Dynamics technology. We find, study and implement advanced western experience in Russia. In April we set off for EMEA Summit in Amsterdam and discovered a lot.
Personal opinion. We do not pretend to be objective. These are our travel notes.
EMEA Summit is a conference of European Microsoft Dynamics users and partners. It is designed for AX, NAV, CRM and Power BI specialists. Summit’s feature is its practical format, with an emphasis on experience exchange and case study.
The event took place in the Netherlands in RAI Amsterdam Convention Centre on April 4th -6 th 2017. Partners and users came from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Finland, France, Spain, Macedonia, Rumania, Ukraine, and Russia.
Why should we take part in EMEA Summit
Traditionally Dynamics conferences take pargt in the USA. EMEA Summit is the only Dynamics event in Europe.
It was organized by users community – Dynamics Community. Microsoft was the sponsor and sent 30 representatives with Mike Ehrenberg, head of Dynamics department, as a leader.
The participants discussed positive and negative sides of Dynamics, talked about the system weak points, problems and errors. Microsoft developers made reports, answered questions, talked about new functions and strategic goals of the department.
Due to such an approach EMEA Summit turned to be the most informative and useful Dynamics knowledge exchange platform among those we have seen.
Spirit of change in Microsoft
IT world has noticed how drastically Microsoft has changed since Satya Nadella became its CEO. His colleagues refer to him as a wise and efficient manager. It is his favorable impact that Microsoft now is receptive to user feedback and takes into account their wishes.
Company representatives on the stage encouraged current and potential Dynamics clients to make comments, give feedback and send new ideas. For that purpose they created a website where users can send their ideas and wishes concerning the system operation. Microsoft on their part promises to carry out the most popular requests.
The same does Atlassian – Jira developers. There is a specially created website where users register errors and post their wishes about Jira and other Atlassian solutions. Other users can comment and vote. This type of feedback collects thousands of comments and votes. It becomes a signal for Atlassian: what kind of functions are awaited, what can be postponed, what must be promoted.
Microsoft has chosen the same route. Now Dynamics users can influence the new functional. Microsoft encourages to “be part of a journey”, to become a co-designer of the new system.
It was nice to see that we share the same philosophy. We also involve our employees in the company development process and we are happy to see them as co-designers of changes and improvements. Evidently it is going to be the worldwide tendency.
Development outsourcing in Europe
We do not sell AX technical support and maintenance abroad, as we do in Russia. For foreign customers we offer development outsourcing, and Microsoft partners accept this service pretty well.
It is useful for the companies, which sell and implement Dynamics. They get our programmers’ qualified work and cut down expenses because of wage rate difference.
In Europe outsourcing is a widely used tool, which helps to reduce expenses. Many partners in the Summit told us that they had resource centers in India, Rumania and Ukraine. We were surprised to find out that one Dutch company has a development center in Italy. Their wages are a bit higher: 30 € in Italy compared to 25 € in Russia. It looks more like a special agreement with a particular contractor, though.
We have already told that we have 35 AX developers. They participate in projects in the Netherlands, Britain, Israel, Austria, Spain. When our partners are short of IT staff, we provide resources.
European mentality. It might be necessary to have one or two more meetings before our European partners will be ready to cooperate. We already are.
If you also want to cut down the expenses of AX development, please, write to firstname.lastname@example.org . We’ll save your budget.
We had one more opportunity to notice that there is no difference between European and Russian partners and users. We have similar problems, law regulations and fears. Europeans also care a lot about safety and trade secret.
The Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations newest version is based in the cloud. This is up-to-date and popular, but there is a subtle nuance. It frightens because all clouds are kept in a certain company in one a certain non-European country.
Users would rather store the data on their own servers. We thought it was very specific to Russia. It turned out to be the other way round. Europeans care about confidentiality and are anxious about personal data as much as their Russian colleagues.
Decrease in Russian Dynamics market
It would be great to have independent conferences in Russia same as EMEA Summit. Dynamics users would share experience and difficulties, discuss issues. If Russia EMEA Summit was organized it would be a significant event for Russian companies working with Dynamics.
But these are just dreams. We will hardly have a large-scale Dynamics conference in Russia in the near future. The reason is not only the organizational issues but also in the fact that Microsoft does not want it.
Why is Microsoft indifferent?
Something alarming is happening with the Dynamics sector during last three years.
Import substitution has increased since 2015. State enterprises more and more often use 1C solutions. Private companies follow this trend too. Dynamics sector, which used to be quite narrow, has now diminished even further. It is 1C which organizes meeting about its solutions and these solutions gradually force Dynamics out.
Microsoft is hardly interested to work in the area, where the only obvious perspective is decrease.
That’s why Russian Dynamics market seems to be retreating into itself. There were three companies from Russia at the Summit: GMCS, Neti и Awara, which was only 1% of all 300+ participants. It’s too few having in mind how big our country is.
Disadvantages of experience sharing in Russia
EMEA Summit is a perfect base to share experience, which Russia lacks. Here partners sometimes organize conferences for current and potential customers. But the purpose is not in experience sharing but in selling AX or NAV to new clients.
Russian developers feel themselves as though they are in vacuum and they cannot share their solutions with colleagues. Users also stew in their own juice: they buy the system, have troubles, make mistakes, try again and again.
The company had a task to link online checkouts to Dynamics 365. The task was new, difficult and of course urgent. If the online checkouts are not installed on time, the customer will be fined by tax authorities.
The company starts working with a new functional. The implementation is under way, developers are having troubles. They are solving efficiency and response problems. They are spending a lot of man-hours and, in spite of all, succeed. Online checkouts are finally linked, the customer avoids fines and everybody is happy.
Everything works perfectly well, but the developers don’t know that 15 other companies have the same task planned for this year. They also need online checkouts in Dynamics 365, but they are terrified to start this job, as it is difficult and confusing.
At an independent conference the developers could tell others how they have done it, where the problems have occurred, how they have solved them, if they are happy with the results and if they would have started the project if they had known how complicated it had been. As a result if not 15, but 7 companies would have decided to do the project and would have started the similar functional. Such events develop both user community and Dynamics product line.
In the sphere of development it is essential to share knowledge and experience. Russian programmers could get new information from the west/ other countries, but they cannot overcome the language barrier.
We select the candidates for positions of AX developers around all the country. Only 4% of applicants, who send their resume to Neti, can speak English. 15% can write in English using a dictionary, but it is not enough: our international projects require the ability to communicate in real life situations and orally.
In Europe English is very common. Anyone we met at the Summit could speak English fluently. Language eliminates barriers. Colleagues attend international conferences, question speakers and get new experience.
If Russian programmers and users knew English as well as their foreign colleagues, they could go to the USA and Europe. Instead they have to study Systems and gain their own experience.
That’s a sad side of things: Russian conference will be usefull for the Russian Dynamics segment, but we donb’t have it; Russian developers could attend international events, but they cannot speak English. Few people can leave this vicious circle.
Joining Neti team opens perspectives
During the conference two of NEti programmers were in Amsterdam, where they were working on a project. We met our colleagues, had lunch, discussed some issues and walked around the city.
European partners are glad to take our developers, give high praise to / have a high opinion of their qualification and are satisfied with their cooperation. Some clients have been with us for 4 years already. That’s why we are always glad to see our employees in Europe.
We all everyone to improve their English and take on more European projects, go on business trips and communicate with the whole world. It helps Neti to become an international company, and it helps its employees to go beyond usual frames and broaden their horizons.
Let us summarize
1. EMEA Summit is the biggest, most useful and the only conference in Europe which makes it possible to network and share experience in Dynamics sphere.
2. Thanks to the spirit of changes in Microsoft users now can influence the system functional.
3. Europeans are used to saving money through outsource and keep their resource centers in low cost countries.
4. Nobody would like to send their commercial data into the cloud: it is safer and more secure to keep it on their own servers.
5. Dynamics sector in Russia is narrowing.
6. Language barrier prevent Russian developers from gaining experience from abroad, and they cannot do it inside the country, because the industry is closed in itself.
7. Those developers who speak English work in European projects and travel a lot.