It is never a dull moment in Access land, especially when the team participates in discussions with customers and MVPs to hear about their success stories and developments. This is why we are always excited about the opportunity to attend and speak at various user group events; to not only deliver updates on new features and give sneak peaks into what is coming next, but to also provide the chance for customers to directly ask us questions and share their achievements, thoughts, and concerns to the team.
This past quarter, in addition to customer visits, the Access team presented at several user group events.
Denver Area Access User Group Event (DAAUG) (Thursday, August 15th)
The Denver Area Access User Group is an impactful group formed in the greater Colorado region. Led by George Young, a fellow Access developer and .NET applications consultant, DAAUG’s mission includes helping Access customers discover capabilities and new designs within the product. The group hosts monthly labs, recurring meetings, and special events that invite different Access experts from across the nation, and occasionally, from the Microsoft team. One of its most recent special events took place on August 15th, when Access’s Program Manager, Ebo Quansah, and Senior Software Developer, Shane Groff, were invited to give a virtual presentation on Access.
Ebo kicked off the session by providing a quick overview of Access, its mission, and its growing position in the market (used by 95% of Fortune 500 companies today!) and in Office 365. He then dove deeper by discussing its most recent updates and feature implementations, outlaying the Access roadmap and highlighting its importance within Microsoft’s Experiences and Devices ecosystem. Successively, Shane presented demos on some of Access’s important new features, including the large number (or “BigInt”) support, modern charts, the linked table manager, and more! On top of walking the audience through each feature end-to-end, he also captured some of its advanced, ad-hoc capabilities.
To close off the session, Ebo and Shane highlighted several channels to submit customer feedback (Access UserVoice, OCV, within the product itself, etc.), to receive more visibility into the product, and to become more involved with the substantial and growing Access community. Customers then had the opportunity to ask any questions and provide applicable requests and comments.
The Denver and greater community found the session to be very insightful, both within the scope of Access and beyond. It captured the importance of the product, the voice of the Access team, and most importantly, the voice of our customers.
See The Denver Area Access Users Group (DAAUG) for more info.
Netherlands Access Developers Day (NADD) (Saturday, September 14th)
Following the Denver event, it was time to take our efforts live and international.
Organized by Daniel Polak (Entrepreneur and CEO of SYS IT Support in the Netherlands), and Lars Siemens (Owner and visual storyteller of Studio Wicked Stylish in Barcelona), with help and support from the Access team, the Netherlands Access Developers Day (NADD) has been noted as an incredibly informative event that capitalizes on the journey of Access and its usefulness across several different companies and their platforms.
With its origination in 2018, NADD’s second-ever conference was hosted on the 14th of September in the greater Amsterdam area. The session included a variety of presentations by some of our top Access customers, Access MVPs, and finally, the Access team.
This event also provided an opportunity for Access developers in the European and greater region to network and learn from each other, and potentially meet people within the Microsoft team.
From desktop-cloud database evolution, to designing task-driven apps, to code shortcuts, automatic testing and building secure Access à SQL Server Solutions, the value of Access and the range of its applications as presented by our customers and MVPs was evidently endless. The stories told by our presenters, including Armen Stein, Philipp Stiefel, Luke Chung, Anders Ebro, Ynte Jan Kuindersma, Tom van Stiphout, were eye opening for everyone, including the Access team.
Jim Masson, Principal PM, delivered a live presentation on behalf of the Microsoft Access team. As a Program Manager lead who guides the team responsible for Access, and a Microsoft PM for over 22 years, Jim provided a presentation that encompassed a holistic view of Microsoft’s strategy and mission, the goal of the Office Platform and Office 365, and the team’s goals with Access. Customers were not only able to learn more about Access, but they had the ability to receive a broader view of Microsoft’s strategy and Access’s position within it.
Two of our Access Engineers, Shane Groff and Joe Jimenez, were able to record a virtual demo session on our recent feature developments, which was shared with the audience.
The informative day also included a boat tour along Amsterdam’s beautiful canals to enjoy the city’s festival, and finished with a dinner where developers reconnected from last year and met new Access customers, MVPs, and Jim, the PM lead. A fantastic day, this was!
See Netherlands Access Developer Day 2019 for more info.
*Pictures taken by Lars Siemens
Portland Access User Group Session (PAUG) (Saturday, September 28th - Monday, September 30th)
Organized by Jack Stockton, the PAUG is a popular, non-profit Access user group that helps drive the success and creativity of Access users/consultants in the Pacific Northwest Region. The group hosts monthly meetings where people can network with other Access beginners/experts, receive support on specific problems and programming issues, and/or simply ask top-of-mind inquiries.
For the past 10 years, PAUG has hosted an international conference annually in Oregon, where some of our worldwide Access MVPs and leading developers deliver presentations and host panel discussions across a variety of topics; whether focused specifically on Access or on broader topics, like how to develop a stable product and successfully run a development business.
The MS Access team has been an active participant in this conference, providing product updates and engaging in impactful discussions with our MVPs and customers. This year, our Access Engineer, Joe Jimenez, attended the event to present comprehensive demos on our linked table manager, modern charts, and on Large number (“bigInt”) support. It was an informative event that provided the audience with new and surprising ways to use the product and its recent installations.
Joe also had the opportunity to meet with a lot of our customers and received great perspectives about further developing the product, including through search boxes, SQL compatibility, some of our recent aforementioned features (e.g. Modern Charts and linked table manager), and much more.
After a 10th sold out conference in a row, the session was so exciting that the user group has already begun planning for 2020. The Access Team could not be more excited to attend and (hopefully) present at another session!
See Portland Microsoft Access User Group for more info.
Access Lunchtime Webinar (Tuesday, September 24th)
Led by Maria Barnes, head of Barnes Business Solutions, Inc., the Access Lunchtime group is a part of AccessUserGroups.org sessions and provides Access users (old to new), IT professionals and beyond with the ability to meet and openly discuss Access-related projects and inquiries. These webinars are 1-hour sessions hosted via WebEx, with recordings and presentations posted online.
In addition to user group talks, the Access team has the wonderful opportunity to participate in webinar sessions and was invited to speak at a recent discussion on September 24th. The session was driven by Access’s Program Manager, Ebo Quansah, who first introduced himself before capturing Access’s mission and position in our digitally transformative world. He then spent quite some time dispelling any false myths about the product and provided many reasons why Access continues to grow and become better than ever.
As a result of many customer inquiries, Ebo captured how Office is delivered today (Office 365 vs. perpetual Office licenses), and then disclosed initiatives to improve the image/standing of the product, highlighting its long-term goals and providing sneak peaks into exciting upcoming developments. As always, the session ended with open Q&A, which was an active discussion that included thoughts and questions from more than a third of the several attendees.
The webinar was helpful for both the audience and the Access team. Attendees gave overwhelmingly positive feedback about receiving further understanding of the product’s direction and the team’s priorities, while the Access group was able to envision the product through the customer’s lens, and in turn learned more about the customer experience. It was a win-win situation for all!
See AccessUserGroups.org for more info.
It is important for everyone to know that we care a lot about Access and are incredibly passionate about its growth. We continue to work hard at Microsoft to improve the product, fix its bugs and address all customer concerns efficiently. The above sessions are just some of the many examples and strides we take to do just that.
Updating customers on our progress, while listening to their suggestions and concerns along the way, is crucial to building, maintaining, and growing a successful product. On behalf of the Access team, we are thankful for being invited to speak at several user group sessions, and we cannot wait to host and participate in many more events in the future!
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