Looking ahead to the upcoming BC Tech Talk: Podcast Review

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Dynamics 365 Business Central experts Petras Butenas of Simplanova, AJ Ansari of DSWi and Aleksandar Totovic of Microsoft joined a recent episode of the MSDW podcast to highlight the upcoming BC Tech Talk virtual event.  With the Covid-19 pandemic still hampering travel, the NAV and Business Central community has continued to embrace online events. BC Tech Talk runs online on December 3 & 4 and is free to attend. MSDW is a media sponsor and we talked with organizers to learn more about the event.

A chance to adopt new skills

Events around the world took a hit with the Covid-19 pandemic, but that didn’t diminish the NAV and Business Central community’s interest in learning about the latest product updates and development skills. Petras Butenas explained:

This event was born from Covid-19. We were aware that there were some virtual conferences like Summit, but traditional NAV/BC events like NAV Tech Days weren’t happening this year. Our team at Simplanova were used to visiting it every year and we wanted to have an event for technical people. So I reached out to the current committee members of BC Tech Talk…Everyone said let’s do it and I’m happy to see where we are. I reached out to them in September, so this is going quite fast.

The event consists of 14 sessions, a Microsoft technical panel, as well as sponsored sessions and virtual networking roundtables. By November 23, 720 attendees were registered for the event, although the organizers hope that number will surpass 1,000.

AJ Ansari, a Microsoft MVP, noted that, though the event focuses on technical themes, non-developers have an interest in also understanding the implications:

Even if you’re a product manager [or] project manager you should consider attending because these are the technologies your customers will be discussing. You want to speak to the strengths of Business Central. Or maybe you’re a practice manager and your development team isn’t up to speed yet with AL and cloud technologies, coming to this will remind you that this part of the community is dynamic and if you don’t join the party pretty soon you’ll be left behind. About a year or two ago, if you were doing these things you were a pioneer. Now the bus is moving and you need to get on. Don’t leave your business chasing the bus. There will be great content and great speakers at no cost, with Microsoft participating.

Changing approaches to Business Central—and conference formats

As an in-house professional with Microsoft, Aleksandar Totovic works with partners every day. He estimates that thirty to forty percent of partner organizations he works with are embracing the new development model for Business Central. Totovic wishes the percentage was higher but recognizes that many experienced developers, accustomed to C/AL, are still wary of the new approaches, whether it is AL development or using other practical techniques like Azure-based services and the Business Central API.

It depends case by case. Some started from the early beginning of the new development model and are really good, while others are best at AL. Many partners didn’t invest enough into other Azure components and are mostly in Business Central. Now, you need to know different services from Azure. You don’t have to develop, instead you can connect to a service with an API. With these events we can encourage people to use these more. You can’t be an expert in everything.

Ansari added that understanding the nuances of Business Central’s architecture will help professionals differentiate its value compared to NAV:

Consider that now with Business Central, licensing is set up so that end users don’t have to develop the same way that partners do. In the old Dynamics NAV licensing model there was a significant cost to design and build your solutions. So long as you have know how, or resources to learn it, customer interest will increase.

And he added that he believes the online experience, while not a perfect replacement for in-person events, could prove to have staying power even when event travel begins to pick up again.

Talking about the future of the event, as a committee member and an outsider, many can’t go on the annual pilgrimage to Antwerp for NAV Tech Days. Having a very tech focused event that doesn’t require cost of travel and lodging, I think it will be well received. We’ve become very accustomed to web delivered events and see it as more than a webinar and coffee, but a two or three day focused event.  I think it should be continued as a complement not a contribution.

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