In a lot of ways it seemed that QB Connect had a more electric atmosphere this year than during last's year's inaugural event. I heard a few complaints, the registration process was slow and sluggish, and people didn't seem to be very satisfied with the food. Personally I found the exhibit hall 'better', things were spread out enough so as to not be crowded, but not so spread-out as to seem empty. It was a good mixed use of space since many of the meals were offered in the exhibit hall. The booth design was a little more flexible this year, and the vendors seemed to be happy with that, at least the ones I spoke with. They also seemed to be happy with the flow of traffic and volume of interest shown by the participants.
I must admit I refrained from many of the QB Connect 'social' activities this year, those who attended seemed to be very happy with the caliber of those events.I managed to slide into about 3 or 4 sessions, some of them accounting, some of them geared more toward end users and/or developers. I wanted more of a broad experience than in prior conventions, including last years' QuickBooks Connect.
QuickBooks Connect - Accountants
I already reported on a couple of the major announcements that took place at the opening of the Accountant sessions last Monday including the Firm of the Future winners and the new feature in QuickBooks Online Accountant, the Trial Balance. Clearly the focus of the Accountant sessions, and the conference as a whole is QuickBooks Online, and the importance of migrating to the cloud.
Another major emphasis is on the 'trusted advisor' being more proactive for their clients, as a part of this emphasis the 'value pricing' (or fixed package pricing as I sometimes call it) was a substantial portion of Joe Woodard's Fireside Chat with Ron Baker and Mark Wickersham. The point of this seems to be that users can really make 'informed decisions' when given options that include upfront pricing, and that they tend to do this in their everyday lives.
I don't know why, perhaps because of the recent death of my mother, I found myself comparing these pricing models with that of the funeral directors. Many (many, many, many) years ago I was involved in Funeral Service, and while training in that field I remember all the discussion about the public's criticism of funerals where they got the bill at the end only to be shocked by the amount and then began questioning value vs. cost. About the same time the funeral industry underwent a change in which they began offering 'menu pricing' that displayed the costs of everything from embalming to grave opening, from use of the chapel to the cost of each style of casket, etc. In the case of my recent loss I found the same approach to be very acceptable in selecting 'the right package' for our circumstances.
Now I am not suggesting that 'accountants' have finally come in line with funeral directors, but when I hear discussions about offering multiple packages of services with perhaps slight variations at the low end, middle ground and top end (for as many as 9 or 12 different options total), I can't help myself but wondering if any of this came about in much the same way, the questioning of cost vs. value. I think for a lot of routine work, the value pricing option is in deed valuable, but I doubt that it is totally going to overtake 'time-based billing' for more complicated or long-term engagements.
QB Connect - Main Event including the Main Stage
I have also previously written about the top 3 winners, and 10 finalists, for the Small Business Big Game contest so I am not going to rehash those important announcements that took place as part of the Main Stage events.
So I am going to skip to the near end of that event, and simply say that 'Oprah is in fact Oprah" at least as far as I could tell. While perhaps smaller in stature than you might have previously thought, she is just as 'big to life' as she has seemed all these years. One of the major take-aways from her chat was when she said "growing up poor makes you dream bigger", she told us that this was in fact a major influence on her life. She also told of the first time she realized she really was a 'brand' and how she came to agreement with that, being 'when others can depend on YOU', then you are indeed a brand. It all has to do with consistency, a brand is consistent over time, clearly Oprah fits that definition.
Oprah told us how throughout here career she worked to insure that each show had a clear intent that was attainable and measurable. For her 'intention is everything' and that her intention was to always leave the audience with some illumination to step into their own power.
Oprah spoke 'from the heart' about doing things 'from the heart', of being an energetic force, and being responsible for the energy we all put out (no matter the effect of that energy). She told the audience that "our true work on earth is what we have been called to do, it is our offering, it is how we express ourselves in the world." Another key point I took away was very simple "don't wait for the moment, the moments are waiting on you." We all drive our outcome.
Robert Herjavec, one of the 'sharks' as he is probably best know, although many of the ladies in the audience kept referring to him as 'the hunk from dancing with the stars', told us that "the right time to grow is Always", and that "if we are not growing, we are dying" Then he said something very interesting "people succeed because of a need to do something for more than themselves," and that the goal to do something great will keep you going no matter what obstacles appear in you path. I am not sure what goals you have set for yourself, but if you keep these few thoughts in mind, you are destined for greatness.
Sekou Andrews, The Poetic Voice's 'opening words' and 'closing remarks' were again outstanding, just as they had been last year. How he can summarize so much in such a skillful manner that not only informs and encourages, but reinforces and expands upon what everyone is thinking is beyond me. It can only be summarized as 'talent, pure talent.'
Consistently the speakers all pretty much said to 'stay focused', don't let others discourage you from accomplishing your goal(s), and work hard. If those who attended took only those few words of encouragement with them, they were well worth the price of admittance.
*Intuit VIP Summit'
I was also fortunate enough to be invited to this year's VIP Summit by Intuit that coincided with QuickBooks Connect. We, the 140+ Summit Members had several activities together including hearing the latest on Intuit's internal scene from the various regional directors as well as Summit participants from several foreign countries. We also had the opportunity to visit and respond to questions posed by Intuit's founder Scott Cook, who is always 'on the look out' for what can make the products better for both accountant and end-users. (By the way, one of the best parts of this event is getting to know a lot of great folks, including ProAdvisors and Accountants, as well as some journalists from around the world. Be on the look out for a few stories over this year from some of these contributing authors.)
The VIP Summit members also got to team up, once again for another one of Intuit's Design for Delight exercises - I learn something every time I participate in one of these brainstorming sessions. This time, my team, designed an entirely new approach for the QuickBooks App Center, when we did the 'walk through' where each team showed-off their designs it seemed that we 'hit the mark'. Intuit facilitators for the Design for Delight sessions are always great coaches to make us think, and to stretch beyond our single focus, to work rapidly but as teams and to go from grand to narrow with a quick turn around. Just let me say 'Thanks Team', you made it a great experience.
Lastly I have to say thanks to Intuit for the opportunity to once again participate in QuickBooks Connect and the VIP Summit. You ALWAYS do your best to provide the very best opportunity and experience for we who participate.