As an old-school Great Plains accounting veteran (my father was one of the very first partners in the late 70s), I’m a fan of user groups. GPUG, DSLUG, and even the three D365UGs (if I can figure out which one is which). In particular, the discussion threads are especially helpful. I trust feedback provided in the user discussion forums more than vendors or partners tooting their own horns.
However, the Dynamics user groups as we know them are in transition and there will be no more contribution to the old discussion forums. Microsoft will be taking over all the user groups going forward, but Microsoft does not own any of the historical content in the previous Dynamic Communities user groups. They’ll be starting fresh and all physical events and local chapters will be managed by Microsoft.
Dynamic Communities, the company that has been managing all the user groups, will continue to provide access to the old user group content for the foreseeable future. They have been through some significant changes due to the pandemic.
What Happened to Dynamic Communities?
A MS DynamicsWorld posting in 2016 proclaimed, “the User Groups for Dynamics 365, AX, CRM, BC/NAV, and Power Platform are the world’s most influential user group communities of technology users and partners.” Dynamic Communities had 150 employees during their heyday in 2019, after significant outside investment in 2018.
Like many industries dependent on physical events, the pandemic has hit Dynamic Communities hard. Physical user group events, like Summit, fueled 85% of revenue for Dynamic Communities, according to Aaron Back, one of the primary contributors of content for the company’s new website, Decision Acceleration Community. They no longer had the resources to manage all the individual user groups.
Down to 15 employees at the end of 2020, DCI needed to pivot hard. The new platform was announced in October at Summit. Dynamics Acceleration Cloud is a new site that re-imagines content, community, and event experiences. For old folks like me, it’s a hub for accessing the content in all old user groups (GPUG, DSLUG, D365UG (BC/NAV), D365UG (AX), D365UG (CRM) and the Power platform UGs for Apps, Automate and Power BI), but new content is focused on informing, influencing or accelerating the cloud-based education and decision process.
New User Group Experience
The style of the site is very engaging, relatable, and “human.” There are links to podcasts, digital events, and information, with names like “Cloud Migration – What’s Awesome and What Sucks” and “A Shot of Business Central and a Beer.” There are “Binge Events” like the upcoming AR Automation Day on April 8, with a couple of hours worth of short sessions focused on a topic. Previous topics, like AP Automation Battleground, can be accessed through a “Binge Now” button. Users and Vendors can Add Content and personalize their feeds with categories, products, and industries. See more in DAC How To & FAQ.
This is exciting for those looking to stay current, move to the cloud and embrace all the tools available in the Dynamics/Microsoft Power Platform space. For legacy ERP fanatics, there is new content on DAC in GP and SL channels and some new discussions. However, with ”cloud” in its name, I doubt that Dynamics GP and Dynamics SL will be a primary focus for DAC.
This exchange in the GP discussion page on DAC between a confused DSLUG member and the CEO of Dynamic Communities reflected exactly how many of the old school user group members or content consumers are feeling. It’s an emotional exchange as the lean, mean DAC machine is passionate about this new platform and the vibrant way they hope to engage members and visitors. They seek to “elevate the conversation,” as Aaron Back shared with me.
The old user group format felt like a “by the people, for the people” kind of place to ask questions and help each other, with a side order of new topics. Like life in the COVID days, the new site is turned around. Rather than search and hunt, DAC wants you to feed and follow.