In the world of enterprise software, annual conventions provide a chance for users to get together, share ideas, and reinject fresh enthusiasm around a platform. For partners like MIBAR.net, it is a chance to learn from an ERP vendor about the product roadmap and vision, meet with employees, and learn new implementation techniques.
However, plenty of other users attend these conventions as well. For prospective customers, a software convention is a great way to get a feel for the solution you are thinking about using at your company. For existing customers, conventions provide an opportunity to attend training courses, learn about bolt-on solutions, and gain new ideas about using the product to help grow their businesses.
At the end of January, our team at MIBAR.net went to Acumatica’s 2018 Summit in Nashville, TN. This was our team’s first time attending Acumatica’s annual Summit, and we certainly had a blast and gained professional knowledge about the solution and the company.
As an ERP solution, Acumatica is the new kid on the block, even though this year marked Acumatica’s 10th anniversary. However, despite the relative youngness of the company, the convention demonstrated a certain maturity one would come to expect of a world class ERP vendor, with exciting keynotes, informative breakout sessions, and in-depth training courses. And while it may have lacked some of the pizzazz we found at other conventions – Acumatica dropped balloons from the ceiling as a big stunt, whereas NetSuite had pyrotechnics and pumped up the crowd with blue-man style drum beating – in a way this served as a metaphor for the solution’s position in the marketplace: the keynotes were interesting because Acumatica’s product team showed off the solution’s superior technical capabilities.
Monday and Tuesday morning both started off with keynotes. Monday focused on the things Acumatica did last year: impressive revenue growth rates over 100% for new customer sales, expanding the partner ecosystem (including adding MIBAR.net), and reviewing enhancements to the product, including a UI facelift and the introduction of new vertical editions, including eCommerce, manufacturing, and construction. Tuesday’s morning keynote spoke more on the future of the product: enhancements coming in 2018 and beyond. Some of these were pretty exciting, such as incorporating more machine learning, Internet of Things, and even blockchain technologies to expand the product and meet new use cases customers will require in the near future.
For example, one Acumatica customer came on stage to discuss his agricultural business, and how Acumatica helped him hook up sensors in the field to measure water and fertilizer content in the field to make decisions about where to work and whether to invest more capital in a particular area based upon expected returns. Very cool!
Monday and Tuesday afternoon were mostly breakout sessions. My “track” was on product, so I attended a number of product related breakout sessions around functionality in all areas of the product, from CRM and Distribution to Field Service and Manufacturing. Monday night, Acumatica hosted its Summit party at the Country Music Hall of Fame, with food and music to celebrate the user community.
One special event to point out was Tuesday afternoon’s keynote speech, given by Carey D. Lohrenz, the US Navy’s First Female F-14 Tomcat Fighter Pilot. Carey spoke through her experience on both training for and leading as a fighter pilot. Her story is quite remarkable, proving herself in grueling training as the lone female in her class, flying $45 million planes at Mach 2, and landing them on an aircraft carrier, all while managing military paperwork and raising her family. Her address was funny, with interjections of leadership principles, videos of fighter jets, and a focus on resilience in the face of fear.
Acumatica rounded out the Summit with three days of training for users who chose to attend. These sessions were broken out by role and functional area, with at least a dozen options for end users and partners to enhance their capabilities with the product and working the company.
Overall, this was an interesting event, and I was certainly fortunate to attend. Acumatica is making its mark in the cloud ERP space, and this event certainly proved they have the maturity, technical capability, and fortitude to compete in this space.