Welcome to another AUG Blog Audio Post located at augforums.com, that’s A-U-G-F-O-R-U-M-S dot com. You can find this specific audio post at augforums.com/episode5. That’s audio post and the number five. This is your host Tim Rodman coming to you live on Monday, January 13th, 2020 from Columbus, Ohio, where it’s cloudy today, but not too cold, about 45 degrees.
In this audio post, we are going to be talking about what to expect at Acumatica Summit 2020. What I thought I’d do in this audio post is walk through, based on my experience at past summits, what the schedule looks like and what to expect on the different days.
Now, I do think this is going to be a longer audio post. So this will put our two rules to the test. The first one, of course, is “no editing”. We’ll see how that goes with a longer recording here. And then the second rule, of course, is “publish immediately” after the recording. So this will be a longer, more “marathon” post. That will definitely put our two rules to the test. But hopefully we succeed, and we keep going with our two rules.
This is all based on my personal experience at Acumatica summits. For me personally, this is my fifth Acumatica summit.
If we go back to the first Summit, which I was not at, that was in 2014. It was in Denver, Colorado and it was actually in August of that year. So it was the only one to happen in the summertime. The significant thing about that first summit in 2014, is that Jon Roskill, who’s now the CEO of Acumatica, was hired in March of 2014. So you could see there, right away, he gets hired in March, and in August they have their first summit that happened to be in Denver that year. But that was the only one to happen in the summer.
Right after that, in 2015, they had what was a smaller event. I don’t know if they officially called it a Summit or not, but it was in Long Beach, California, and it was in the February timeframe. So in February 2015, they had an event in Long Beach, CA. And I think it was them getting in sync with what they wanted to do longer term having Summits at the very end of January, beginning of February, which, since 2015, is when the summits have been held.
So you had that one in Denver, and then it wasn’t that long between the 2014 August event and the 2015 February event in Long Beach. So that’s why I don’t know if they consider Long Beach an official summit. But then, after that, Summit 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and this year 2020 have all been held in that end of January, beginning of February timeframe.
Summit 2016, one year after Long Beach, was the first summit that I personally attended. It was in Orlando, Florida. The next year, Summit 2017 was in San Diego, California. 2018 was in Nashville, Tennessee. And last year, Summit 2019 was in Houston, Texas. Then of course, coming up in a couple of weeks here, we’ve got Summit 2020 in Las Vegas. So, depending on how you count it (if you count Long Beach), this is now Jon Roskill’s seventh summit. For me personally, this is my fifth summit.
I like how they keep the cadence going. They haven’t renamed it like some other software vendors do. They haven’t scaled it up, scaled it down, or moved it to different times of the year. They’ve kept it consistent, and it keeps growing. Same name, same time of the year, at least for the fifth year or sixth year I guess, in a row.
So it’s based on my personal experience at what will now be my my fifth Acumatica summit that I’m doing this audio post. And I thought I’d walk through the schedule, you can find the schedule online. And this has also matched my experience. The schedule hasn’t changed too much over the years. And so I think based on this, this is what you can expect in Las Vegas in a couple of weeks.
First, I’ll mention what most people do not attend, but I’ve attended it the last two years. I had a great time. So I think it’s worth mentioning. On Saturday, there’s a hackathon event. It starts at two in the afternoon and it goes until midnight. Now, I did it the last two years, but I’m not doing it this year because I just get too tired out going into a very busy Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Staying up till midnight on Saturday just doesn’t work well for me personally. But it is a really fun event and there’s some really cool solutions that come out of it. So it goes two to midnight on Saturday. That’s really the only summit item on the agenda for Saturday.
Then, Sunday morning, the hackathon picks back up at 10am and goes until 3:30pm. Now, I’m still planning this year to make it in time for the presentations, which, if I remember correctly, are around 1pm, right after lunch. I want to make it for that because you get to see some pretty cool solutions that people come up with and a lot of great ideas are flowing. And it’s just a fun event to be at. So you got that Sunday, even if you are not part of the hackathon. You can show up around 1pm on Sunday, if your flight gets in soon enough, and watch the presentations.
Then also on Sunday, from two o’clock to four o’clock (so for me it’ll be a very short hackathon presentation time, I won’t be able to see all of them, I’ll just be there one to two) is the first user group meet and greet. So if you get to Las Vegas before two o’clock, or I guess before four o’clock, definitely register and show up for that user group meet and greet. That should be a pretty cool time. It’s organized by the various local Acumatica user groups throughout the country. Our very own augforums.com is also included in that time. The idea is to strengthen the Acumatica community. We’ll see what kind of interesting things they have to say during that user group meet and greet. So that’s two o’clock to four o’clock on Sunday.
After that is when the official summit kicks off, so if you’re looking for the big official kickoff to Summit, it really happens Sunday evening, and that’s from five o’clock to eight o’clock PM. That’s the welcome reception on Sunday evening, and that’s where you’re going to see a lot of people show up. The booths will be setup for all the exhibitors and all the Acumatica employees will be there. There will usually be, at least the last couple of years, an opportunity to take pictures with the Acumatica MVPs. This is when you start to feel the energy. Sunday evening, from five o’clock to eight o’clock during that welcome reception.
Now, one thing I’ve noticed is that some people will just show up for a little bit and then take off and go have dinner. Depending on your situation, you might do that. Or you might just stay there at the welcome reception. They do have food, more appetizer type food, but it’s more than just cheese and crackers. So it’s decently substantial. And then, you know, you could always go out afterwards and get a later dinner or just stay for a little bit and go get dinner with your team or another smaller group of people. So that’s five o’clock to eight o’clock Sunday.
Then, later Sunday evening, from eight o’clock until midnight, is the Summit After Dark Party. This is sponsored by a few different ISV vendors. If it holds true to years past, it’s usually an open bar there, sometimes even a band. So it’s quite an expensive event that they put on. And this year, it’ll be Sunday evening after the welcome reception, from eight o’clock until midnight, and I personally am not able to stay out too late, but I definitely plan on showing up to that at least for a couple of hours on Sunday evening.
Then Monday morning, things open up bright and early. Now, if you look at the schedule, I don’t remember what time it says, but it actually has the exhibitor area open before breakfast. In my experience, you don’t really have many people milling around before breakfast. So in my opinion, Monday morning starts with breakfast, and that starts at 7:30am, going until 8:30am. Even then, the breakfast crowd is not huge. I think a lot of people, especially those who were up late, are maybe grabbing a quick bite to eat, and just making sure they get there in time for the keynote, which starts at 8:30am.
The day one keynote starts at 8:30am and goes until 10am. It’s during this day one keynote that you hear more of the announcement type stuff. We’ll probably, I would think, hear some stuff about the acquisition last year. We usually hear what the current customer count is for Acumatica, how many people are there at the Summit, all of that nice media type announcement type stuff. We’re Acumatica, we’re great, here’s the stuff we’re up to. There’s usually some surprises in there and it’s always fun to hear what the latest is from an announcement standpoint.
Although a lot of times in that day one keynote, they still sneak in some product stuff. And one thing I personally really like about the Acumatica keynotes is that it’s not all smoke and mirrors. There’s also a lot of substance where they get up and do product demos. You’re going to see more of that on the day two keynote. but sometimes you see that on day one as well. So you got an hour and a half for that: 8:30 to 10am. I personally try to get there right when it opens, hit the front row, and since I cannot remember all the stuff that gets covered, I take pictures on my phone, post them on Twitter, so I get a picture of every slide along with my notes. That way I can go back and remember what was presented.
After the day one keynote, from 10:30am until 11:45am is the general session for VAR and ISV partners. This is more of a closed session, more inside scoop on what’s going on in the Acumatica partner community. It’s not a session for customers. But they also, usually, in this session hand out awards for a bunch of different categories: top partners in different areas. It’s always a fun time to celebrate the success of the year and get some more insight into where Acumatica is heading from a partner standpoint for the next year.
Then 11:45am to 1pm is Lunch. I can’t remember for sure, but I’m almost positive last year in Houston was a hot lunch. You stand in line and get your plate just like at breakfast. Go through the line, get your food (it’s a catered lunch), and then you go find a table to sit down at. One thing I’m trying to learn better myself is to plan the breakfast and the lunch, for both Monday and Tuesday, in terms of who I’m going to sit with, because it’s a great time to sit down and have a conversation. It’s really hard to meet up with people at Summit because there’s so much going on. There’s so many different sessions to attend. But breakfast and lunch is a great time to meet up with someone.
Then Monday afternoon, from 1:00 to 2:15 is the General Session for customers. I think this is interesting, and I don’t remember for sure if it was this way in Houston, but definitely years past the customer general session has been at the same time as the VAR and ISV general session, right before lunch. That worked out nicely because people would just split into two different areas and have their respective sessions. I don’t remember if they did the customer general session after lunch in Houston, but my guess is, I don’t know for sure on this at all, but my guess is that they moved it to after lunch in order to get some more traffic for the exhibitors. The exhibitors pay a lot of money to have a booth and, you know, at any conference, doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, exhibitors are always going to want as much traffic as possible. So my guess is they moved this customer general session to after lunch in order to encourage customers, during that partner general session from 10:30 to 11:45, to mill around in the exhibition area and have conversations with ISVs and VARs and whoever it is that has a booth there.
So the customer general session will be right after lunch. Then, what also happens right after lunch, from one o’clock to five o’clock, you have the breakout sessions. Also during that time is what I’m calling the exhibitor time (I think Acumatica might call it their Marketplace). Of course, if you’re a customer, you’ll want to go to that 1:00 to 2:15 general session. And then if you’re interested in some breakout sessions, those also start at one o’clock. I haven’t looked yet to see what the various tracks are this year, or if they’re even doing tracks at all, but what they’ve done in years past is you had to sign up. Of course, I should remember this because I did sign up for the Summit. But I can’t recall if you had to pick a track this year.
In past summits you would pick doing like a product track, a customer track, a developer track, a marketing track. So, depending on what type of person you are, and what types of sessions you’d be interested in, they would have different tracks that you would plug into. That way, during those breakout sessions, all the tracks are running concurrently. So at one o’clock on Monday, there would not be a customer track session, because that’s the customer general session, but the other tracks would all have a session at one o’clock and you would go to the session for your track. The sessions are usually about 45 minutes to an hour, then there’s another session.
You can keep just hitting breakout sessions from one to five, on Monday afternoon. I’ve struggled with this in years past because at the same time is the time to hit the exhibitors, the ISVs, all the booths, and there’s a lot to see there. But I also get a lot of value out of the breakout sessions. A lot of them are done by Acumatica employees, and it’s just a great way to learn some in-depth knowledge in specific areas about Acumatica. That’s the way I look at it at least, which is why I veer towards the Developer or Product tracks. The Customer tracks are going to be a little more high level in general, but still a lot of great information about the product.
I struggle with knowing I need to get up to speed on the latest in the ISV community, going to booths, but I also like to attend sessions. So we’ll see how things fall for me this year. But there’s always a bit of a struggle there. The great thing is there’s plenty going on and that’s why I find it hard to meet up with people during the day because you’re already having to pick between two things: a breakout session or going to the booths. One thing I like doing during the breakout sessions, the same thing I do during the keynotes: sit up front, take pictures of what’s presented, and post them on Twitter, because there’s always a ton of information. And I can’t remember it all. So I like having pictures to go back to in my notes, to be able to remember what was shown, especially in one of those technical product type sessions where they can get pretty detailed.
The sessions run until five o’clock on Monday. Also on Monday. I think it’s worth mentioning, from 4:30 to 6 o’clock, there’s an acu-connect meetup. So on Sunday you’ve got the user group meet and greet and then on Monday you’ve got the acu-connect meetup. Acu-connect is another community. The user group you can find at AcumaticaUsergroup.com. Acu-connect you can find at A-C-U dash connect dot com. Two different communities, and I think it’ll be interesting to see how these two different communities play out over the next couple of years. But that acu-connect meetup is 4:30 to 6 o’clock on Monday. I personally plan on attending that. Probably just from 4:30 to 5:30 because I’ve then got an event with the company I work for, Aktion Associates. We’ve got a customer event after that. So I’ll probably be at acu-connect for about an hour, 4:30 to 5:30.
Monday night, from 6:30 to 9:30pm, is the big celebration party. Now I’m not sure what it is this year. Last year in Houston it was at the House of Blues, and there was a live band there. It was quite a well done event. Really cool space in that you had the big room where the band was playing, and if you wanted to talk, you just would yell at your neighbor. But then they also had tons of back rooms that you could meander through. I just thought it was a great location for being able to both have a party atmosphere and also have more of a sit down conversation atmosphere, especially for an event that runs 6:30 to 9:30pm. At the party is a full dinner, a catered dinner. I don’t know where the event is this year. I don’t know if that’s been said somewhere, maybe it has, where it will be at, but that’s the big celebration party. A lot of fun, a lot of people there. And that’s definitely worth attending from 6:30 to 9:30 Monday night.
I don’t know of anything official, but I’m sure there’s a ton of unofficial things after 9:30 Monday night, especially being in Las Vegas. You know, I’m sure, especially if you’re a salesperson, after 9:30 Monday night all bets are off, pun intended being in Las Vegas there. I’m sure a lot of people, especially salespeople, will be up late that night into the wee hours of the morning, just having fun and attending different smaller gatherings. I personally (and other introverts like me), after that celebration party head back to my room to wind down. I might do another audio post that night, at least that’s my goal, based on stuff I saw during the day on Monday, but I’m sure a lot of people will be out late, especially being in Las Vegas.
Another reason why I’d like to be in bed somewhat early Monday night, at least before midnight, is that 6am Tuesday morning to 7am is a fun run and yoga. They’ve done this fun run for a few years now. Mark Franks on the Acumatica developer community side of things was the one who organized it originally. I think they added yoga last year, maybe the year before. I have not done it. I’ve always wanted to do it. They usually take a pretty good sized group picture. It looks like a lot of fun. And if you’re like me, you’re not going to be running. You’ll probably do a combination of walking and jogging. But I think that’s still okay, as far as I know. So I’m going to show up, plan to walk and jog, and hope there’s at least one other person planning to do the same thing. I think it’s an all sizes, all shapes type event. So we’ll find out, but I’d like to get up and be at that 6am Tuesday morning. We’ll see if I succeed this year, I think it’d be fun.
So that’s 6am to 7am, Tuesday. And then 7:30 to 8:30am Tuesday, same as Monday, is breakfast time. And you’ll most likely see a much smaller number at breakfast on Tuesday than you did on Monday, especially after whatever everyone did Monday night. And then same as Monday, you’ve got an 8:30am keynote time on Tuesday.
Now, the Tuesday keynote is a little bit shorter. It’s 8:30am to 9:45am, just a little over an hour. That’s the day two keynote. Typically, on day two you’ll get a little day one recap, but the main focus I’ve seen on day two keynotes is demos. That’s where I really like seeing that stuff. What’s the new features in the latest version, which will be 2020 R1 in this case, and also roadmap stuff. Mike C., the CTO of Acumatica, usually gets up and talks about the roadmap. What are some of the general areas that they’re focusing on for the next year or two? What direction are they trying to take the product in? Expect a lot of product specific stuff during the day two keynote. That’s 8:30am to 9:45am on Tuesday.
After that, you’ve got the breakout sessions starting at 10am. So 10am to 12pm, same as Monday where you have a combination of breakout sessions and time for the exhibitors or the Acumatica Marketplace. You get to pick there, do you want to do more breakout sessions or hit some of the booths. That’s 10am to 12pm on Tuesday. 12pm to 1pm is lunch on Tuesday, and then more breakouts and exhibitors after lunch from 1pm to 3pm on Tuesday.
The closing session is Tuesday at 3:15pm. 3:15pm to 4:30 is where they bring in a guest speaker. Then there’s a closing time. I can’t recall who the guest speaker is this year. I want to say it’s an astronaut, but that could have been last year. I don’t remember, I didn’t make it to the session last year. But I will say for Tuesday, 3:15 to 4:30, one thing that caught me off guard the first time I went to a summit in Orlando, I didn’t realize how quickly things shut down. You’re going along, busy-busy-busy, Monday super busy, out late with the party. Tuesday, hit the ground running early, busy-busy-busy, keynote, breakout sessions, booths. Then, as soon as that closing session hits, they usually wrap it up with one final thing which is where’s summit going to be next year.
As soon as you see that “next year” slide, they wrap it up. And that’s it. It’s over. The exhibitors start packing up, people start rushing off to catch flights. A lot of people have already left, they don’t even attend the closing session to catch flights. Things like shut down real fast, it becomes a ghost town. I remember that was kind of a surprise to me the first time because the first time I went I was actually there for the whole week. I don’t know, I just I guess I expected Tuesday to run longer than that. But by 4:30pm Tuesday, that’s really the end of Summit for all intents and purposes.
Now after that, of course, is when people stick around. It’s a good time to meet up with people. But that’s all on you to arrange that, including arrange dinner Tuesday evening.
There’s really two parts of the Summit. And this, I think, is why it caught me off guard the first time I went. Wednesday through Friday is training. But in my opinion, that’s really not part of Summit. It’s a separate training event. A lot of people, more sales and executive types, they’ll show up for Sunday evening through Tuesday afternoon, and then they take off.
People that are more hands on with the product, they’ll come in and do Wednesday through Friday. Some people stay the whole week, but I find it’s usually one or the other. There’s not that many people who do both, in my opinion. So really the official summit’s ending 4:30 on Tuesday, and then you’ve got like a second thing that happens which is all the training sessions which take place Wednesday through Friday.
Now one thing I’m trying this year is I’m coming in Sunday, just in time (I think I arrive at 12pm) to hit the 1pm hackathon presentations. Sunday night, Monday night, and Tuesday night. I’m staying Tuesday night so I don’t have to rush out. Then, rather than leave Wednesday morning, I decided to leave Wednesday evening instead, just to give myself a chance to hang around for meeting up with people during the day on Wednesday. We’ll see how that works out. If I wind up being completely bored with nothing to do, or if I’m able to fill up the day on Wednesday, we’ll see. That remains to be seen. Last year I left a little early (that’s why I didn’t make the closing session) and I flew out Tuesday night. This year I’m gonna fly out Wednesday evening, and we’ll see how that goes, if staying that extra day winds up being worthwhile or not.
So that’s it for the schedule. I thought I’d wrap this audio post up with a few of my personal summit interests. What things I am going to have my ears open for during the summit. The first one definitely has to be updates on this IFS and Acumatica sister company situation. Especially given a Bloomberg article that I noticed last year where Darren Roos, the CEO of IFS, said that it’s very likely that IFS will IPO late 2020 or the year after. He also made a comment that IFS will end 2021 doing over one billion in revenue. Then you add a third thing into the mix related to Acumatica, and that is the increased amount of airport advertising that they’re doing.
So the question I have is, you know, especially with those public company comments, from IFS, of course. Both IFS and Acumatica are currently owned by EQT partners. Well, in a scenario where IFS goes public, would they roll Acumatica into IFS before going public? I have no idea how those things work. I’m not a stock market person by any means, but I’m just curious to have my ears up, including during the keynotes, for any hints about what that might look like. Is there an Acumatica being a public company in the next two years possibility? And what would that look like? So who knows, but I’ll have my ears open for things along that line.
Second thing, personally, that I’m interested in is the Acumatica Manufacturing Edition. Now Acumatica, of course, has had what they call their Manufacturing Edition for at least a few years now. And even before that, it was the same product. It was just sold by JAAS Systems, J-A-A-S Systems. But even though there’s the Acumatica Manufacturing Edition, the product is still owned, as far as I know, by JAAS Systems. And what I think would make sense, I think, just based on watching other ERP companies, and how they’ve done things over the years. It sure seems to me like it would make sense for Acumatica to fully acquire the JAAS Systems manufacturing product.
But I have no inside knowledge of that and if that would even happen or not. It just seems to me like it would make sense, especially because of IFS. IFS is heavily into manufacturing. And especially with all the previous points about a public company possibility, I don’t know, to me, it would just make sense that Acumatica would own a manufacturing solution outright.
Now, whether that would mean an acquisition of JAAS Systems or just the intellectual property to the product, or there’s also another manufacturing solution from IIG built on Acumatica, or even the possibility of Acumatica building their own manufacturing solution with assistance from IFS, I think something around the Acumatica manufacturing edition and giving Acumatica ownership of it would make sense to me. So who knows if we’ll hear any announcements about that, but I’ll definitely be listening for that. I would not be surprised with any one of those scenarios, personally. I could be completely making stuff up. Again, I have no inside knowledge of this, but definitely something that I’m paying attention to.
Two more things that I’ll be listening for, especially during those keynotes. One of them is what I’ll call the market definition. What I’ve heard is 100 million to 500 million in revenue. Now, I don’t know if I’ve ever read that officially, though. So I’m curious if anything gets said officially as far as what types of companies is Acumatica targeting. I’ve heard companies doing 10 million in revenue to 500 million in annual revenue. But you know, I don’t know if that’s something that gets set officially. So I’m curious to see if it does. I think it’s especially relevant because of this whole IFS sister company thing. You know, the 10 million on the low end I think is pretty typical. As far as anything underneath that is QuickBooks territory. You hit 10 million, you start to enter that mid market type of size, where a mid market solution like Acumatica makes sense. But the more relevant number to me is what’s that upper bound? And I’ve heard different things: 300 million, 400 million, 500 million. Are they going to say something to kind of draw the line in the sand between what is Acumatica territory versus companies that are larger than three, four or five hundred million in annual revenue? That would be IFS territory. Kind of a small point there, but I’m curious if we’re gonna hear an official line drawn in the sand.
And then the last thing, this is just a personal area that I would like to learn more about, is this whole thing called fulfilled by Acumatica. If you go to acumatica.com/acumatica-marketplace (or if you don’t want to type all that in just go to acumatica.com/extensions, that was the old URL and it will forward to Acumatica marketplace) you’ll see on there now that the solutions listed at the top have a fulfilled by Acumatica label on them. Just because I’m more of a product person and not as much of a business person, I’m interested to talk to people and learn more about what does that actually mean. You know, what they are is they’re ISV products. So, for example, Velixo Reports is probably one of the most popular, if not the most popular ISV solution for Acumatica. But Acumatica does not own Velixo Reports. So how does Acumatica allow you to order it without owning it.
So, I just have some questions there. Does that only work if you’re going through a VAR? Which of course Acumatica does sell exclusively through VARs so that makes sense. Is there a potential, you know, I’ve also heard Acumatica may allow customers to get billed directly from Acumatica, even though they’re still represented by a VAR. So how would that scenario work with a fulfilled by Acumatica situation? If it’s the VAR situation, which I think is what it is currently, then does the VAR have to be certified on both products? How can it say fulfilled by Acumatica if your VAR doesn’t represent one of those products? Lots of different business considerations that I haven’t really thought of before. It’s just not my historical area of expertise, but it’s something increasingly that I’m interested in learning about. I think it’s the same type of scenario if you’re in the Microsoft Dynamics space, and they have their own marketplace there. I just wanna learn more about how that works with these partnerships.
What it really comes down to from a business standpoint, as a customer, it’s not just about the product. It’s also about the relationships and what commonly is referred to as having “one throat to choke.” With an ERP solution, when you need various functionality in different areas, a lot of times an ISV product gets involved. But then you typically lose that “one throat to choke,” because you now have two relationships or three relationships with different companies. So I’m just curious to learn about how does fulfilled by Acumatica impact that. Or does it? Maybe it doesn’t, I don’t know.
And I’d say included in that would be GitHub. So GitHub is a free, open source website. If you go to github.com and you look up Acumatica, you’ll see that even Acumatica themselves, they’ve written various Acumatica extensions. One that I use personally is the lot attributes, lot and serial attributes. It works great. But technically it’s a GitHub solution where it’s just free open source. So if it breaks, there’s no throat to choke in that type of situation.
In that area, what I have heard is that, I think Acumatica is offering support to a VAR where a VAR would represent the solution to the customer. And either the VAR could support the solution, or they could get help from Acumatica on the back end. But, in that type of situation, I assume that the VAR becomes the throat to choke. So at least you do have a throat to choke, instead of just being a free for all open source solution. So same thing with fulfilled by Acumatica. I’m just curious to know, or learn more about those two situations. The reason is because Acumatica increasingly has a lot of cool extensions that people have written. But it’s one thing to have a cool piece of technology. It’s another thing to have a supported cool piece of technology. Right? So that’s why I’m interested in learning more about that.
Alright, I think that does it. This has been the longest audio post to date. We’re almost to 40 minutes here, but we made it. No major awkward pauses hopefully. Hopefully that gives you a good rundown of both the schedule and some things to look out for. I think it should be a great event coming up in a couple of weeks in Las Vegas at Acumatica Summit 2020.
All right, well that’s it for today! Thanks for listening. And I’ll catch you on the next AUG Blog Audio post. Take care.