Memories of Customer Conferences Past

Note to readers: This post is focused on Sage Partners. If you are not a Sage Partner, you might want to sit this one out.

Having been with Sage over seven and a half years now, I am hesitant to begin a story with the phrase, "When I was a partner…" So much has changed in the almost ten years since I practiced that hearing myself say this makes me cringe. But against my better judgment, here goes.

Among my fondest memories of when I was a partner, was participating in the Great Plains customer conference which is still known as Convergence, albeit a Microsoft event now.

In the first year of its existence, my firm was fortunate enough to have a few customers who were interested in making the trek from New York to the Swalphin (my wife’s pet name for Disney’s Swan and Dolphin Convention Center in Orlando). In fact, one of our customers won the first ever software industry award for customer loyalty.

The most dominant memory though is the fact that all of us partners felt as if we were cohosts of the event. As examples:

  • We gave each of our customers tee-shirts with our logo and the old Great Plains logo on it and asked that they wear it on a certain day of the conference.
  • We made sure to eat breakfast as a group and invited our friends from the GP support department.
  • We arranged for special walkthroughs of the trade show area with our customers in attendance.
  • We were encouraged to organize dinners and invite GP executives who graciously came and spoke to each customer.
  • We met our customers and GP friends every night at the dueling piano bar, Jellyrolls at the Disney Boardwalk.

All this was fun to be sure, but there is one important business result, we never lost a customer who attended the event with us.

As someone who is working on the first combined (partners and customers) Sage Summit 2011 team, I can tell you we want our partners to feel like they are cohosts of this new event. I am sure many Sage partners have heard about some of the things we have planned, but I would like your feedback as well on how we could make you feel as if you are cohosting the event.

Wealth vs. Poverty

Political mentor of mine, David Hall, recently turned me on to a new Google labs web service – Books Ngram Viewer. It allows you to search for the percentage of occurrence of words or phrases in book published from 1800 until today.

While playing with it, I typed in the terms wealth and poverty. From 1800 until 1960 wealth doubled poverty consistently. In 1960, poverty is mentioned with increasing frequency.

I am not sure if it means anything, but I do find it intriguing that while actual poverty is in the decline, mentions of it are increasing. Could it be that bringing poverty to the public eye has influenced the decline? Could it be that people are writing about this decline more often?

My First Interaction with The Geek Squad

On Sunday, I had my first interaction with Best Buy’s Geek Squad when my new Mac mini failed to connect to my Windows 7 HomeGroup network. I have to say the experience was disappointing to say the least.

This morning I got a survey from them regarding my experience. I rated them a 2 on the NPS question (what is the likelihood that you would recommend us to a friend/colleague).

Here were my comments at the end of the survey. Let’s see what they do with them. Ryan was the name of the “Agent” with whom I spoke.

    1. Ryan was clearly reading from a script. While I understanding your wanting to give a consistent experience to callers, it would be better if they actually cared, rather than reading me something that says they care. I have talk to other companies tech support in India who (while it was difficult to understand them) clearly cared about my situation.
    2. Ryan tried nothing to solve the problem and made zero suggestions. I called Apple (the problem was with a new Mac mini) and the problem was solved in five minutes.
    3. I really like my Best Buy experience and I am a promoter of yours (yes, I recognized you are using Reichheld’s Net Promoter Score concept), but this was my first interaction with the Geek Squad and it was quite disappointing, put me down as a detractor.

What I Believe

I have been wanting to write this post for over a week.

While the video below is nothing new, it does a great job of explaining and relating concepts I have known to be true.


It has inspired me to make this declaration.

I believe in challenging the status quo. The way I challenge the status quo is helping professionals change their business model from a focus on service to a focus on knowledge. It happens to be a better model. Are you interested in changing?

Please feel free to make your declaration below in the comments.

Licensing – Is it necessary?

While watching John Stossel last week, I was suddenly interested in how the idea of licensing and/or certification as we call it in the software implementation industry. Please review this five minute video and share your thoughts.

How does the fact the software publishers in a sense regulate the market effect you, your businesses and even your customers?

Is the Value in the Idea or the Implementation?

(or Do you believe in God?)

For the past few weeks I have been involved in a dialogue of sorts on the TEDtalks LinkedIn Group about whether the value of an idea is in the idea itself or rather in the implementation.

This led to a pithy, but profound exchange between myself and Wan Chi Lau. To spare you the details of the other parts of the conversation, I have excerpted just the relevant threads of the conversation. Thanks, Wan for the permission to reprint your comments.


Without an idea, you have nothing to implement.


Actually I would disagree…the evidence is all around us. The entire Universe is one big implementation without any "idea." We are of the Nike mantra…."Just Do It."


Only if you are an atheist. I am not.


Well, clearly I am 🙂

This brief exchange is the whole essence of the argument and I am curious to know if the following hypothesis is true: If you believe the value is in the idea, then you are likely to be theistic; if you believe the value is in the implementation of the idea, then you are likely to be atheistic.