The 2014 OrchestratedBEER User Conference has come and gone. We had informative sessions, copious amounts of craft beer from OBeer customers, peer-to-peer interactions, brainstorming as well as access to all that Portland has to offer during some the post-conference hangouts with our users. Here are the top 10 takeaways from the 2014 OBeer User Conference in case you missed it:

1. The Future of OrchestratedBEER: “Simple Solutions to Complex Problems”
Future of OBeer

The opening Keynote was centered on simplicity.  “Creating simple solutions for complex problems” is and will always be the driving force behind OBeer’s Customer-Centric Product Development. It’s what users want more of and it’s becoming increasingly engrained throughout our product roadmap. A few highlights of the keynote sessions included:

  • Announcing an iPad Inventory Application currently in development to simplify processes like inventory counting and tracking (blog coming soon)
  • No more “Key Users”. Everyone in OBeer now has even more resources to get the help they need to do their job
  • Mobilizing the software via iPad & tablets
  • More integrations with POS systems and other reputable 3rd-party vendors
  • Increased transparency (listening to customer requests & input via forum)
  • Grow OBeer knowledge base & self-help resources
  • More automation to streamline OBeer implementation

We also announced our most recent hire to help take OBeer to the next level. With the addition of Conner Helton, former OBeer user and Controller at Avery Brewing Company to our team, we’ll be able to further galvanize our relationships with our customers. As a former brewery employee who was using OBeer, Conner can now provide the insights from a user perspective that translate into future product improvements and innovations that make daily tasks simpler for any user. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to have a guy on your side to improve your street cred.

2. Customer-led Conference Sessions

Customer-led sessions

We know that everyone has their own way of doing things when it comes to running a brewery and there’s often more than one right way to do things in OBeer as well. Because of that we provided opportunities for our brewery users to take the stage and share with fellow users how they OBeer brewery software on a daily basis. This year we focused on providing real-world examples of how people use OBeer rather than list out a bunch of possibilities of how it can be used. Examples of user-led sessions at this year’s conference included:

  • Paul from Golden Road Brewing demonstrating how they handle month end closing procedures
  • Mary from Surly Brewing in Minneapolis showing everyone how she implemented Fixed Assets for the more ambitious users.
  • Erwin from Firestone Walker blowing some minds with his presentation on how he implemented technology; from keg tracking and customer ordering web portals to iPad packaging applications on the forklifts.

Based on the positive feedback from these session we’ll be including even more user-led sessions for next year.

3. Collaborations, Connections & User-formed Support Groups

Customer toast

From our Open office hours to user-formed OBeer guilds, OBeerUserCon was the springboard that prompted users to interact with one another on a whole new level. Highlights included:

  • OBeer users meeting our team during our post-conference “Open Office Hours”
  • Fellow users bouncing ideas and methods off one another to discover new ways of doing things
  • Surly, Fulton, Excelsior and several other Minnesota-based OBeer users forming their own OBeer user’s guild to meet monthly and discuss OrchestratedBEER software utilization in the brewer

4. OBeerUserCon is Bigger and Better

User Conference crowd
We doubled in size in terms of both attendance and space needed to accommodate such a crowd. Nearly 140 people from 50+ breweries across the country flew out to Portland for OBeerUserCon to hear not just what’s new in the best brewery software, but to hear from OBeer partners like Baker Tilly, iVend, VIP and ShipCompliant.

5. Beer, Beer and more Beer…

“Because what’s a beer conference without beer?” tweeted one of our attendees… From our opening welcome reception at Henry’s Tavern, customer beer on tap throughout the conference to post-conference happy hours and outings around town at the various breweries and taprooms, there were plenty of opportunities to experience all that “Beervana” had to offer. This wasn’t your typical boring software conference. It was casual, laidback and fun. Think flip-flops, VooDoo donuts and free-flowing taps in a pet-friendly hotel. It was all brewing business with just the right amount of beer-friendly Portland culture mixed in.

6. Bringing Home a Bit of Inspiration

Customer inspiration

There was a particular buzz among the crowd during the OBeerUserCon and it wasn’t just the beer talking this time. The overall consensus during casual conversations with users was that they couldn’t wait to put the new concepts they learned into practice as soon as they got back to the brewery. Some were even seen accessing their systems remotely to put changes into effect and access new functionality. That’s the beauty of cloud accessibility and real-time changes.

7. New User Experience Interviews

During the conference we were also able to conduct several 1-on-1 interviews with customers to get their take on the OBeer customer experience. Among other things, we asked them to explain their conference experience, why they chose OBeer, and why they left the “Other” brewery management software alternatives in favor of OBeer. Keep an eye out for these New Customer Documentaries coming soon from breweries like Surly, Founders, Firestone, Indeed, Golden Road, Southern Tier and Fulton.

8. First Annual OBeer Customer Awards

Because we’ve had the privilege to develop relationships with so many of our customers on a personal level, we were able to have a little fun and dole out some limited edition OrchestratedBEER steins for a variety of fun categories ranging from “Most prepared OBeer Implementation” (Josh at Revolution) to “Best Beard” award (Kenny at MadTree). These relationships often stem from time spent with our customers to understand their wants and needs whether it’s through onsite brewery visits, weekly phone calls or the online forum.

9. Training
Customers listening

Users had the opportunity to sign up for a 2-day training course before the conference on how to write their own custom reports to use back home at the brewery. The actual conference included 32 sessions to choose from covering topics related to accounting, production and technology. This allowed OBeer users to gain better insight into the robust abilities of OrchestratedBEER. From sessions about the new TTB reporting abilities, to setting up tap rooms to a two day class on Crystal Reports prior to the conference, the conference was never short on information and had something for every level of user.

10. Growth for the Coming Year

Growth and increased conference attendance compared to last year was obvious everywhere you looked. We set the bar pretty high and delivered an overall experience that was well worth the price of admission for our users. The User conference will continue to be centered on feedback, learning and improving the overall OBeer user experience. Next year we’ll continue that trend and figure out ways to raise the bar yet again. Expect more sessions, bigger venues, more attendees and of course, more beer. It’s just part of what makes OrchestratedBEER the best brewery management software solution.

If you’re researching brewery management software solutions for your brewery you really owe it to yourself to find out what the alternatives really have to offer other than a “cheap” software solution. A dedicated community of daily users is an invaluable asset when it comes to brewery-specific software. There will come a time when you need help with your business, brewery peers to provide advice and competent consultants who understand how beer, technology and business all work together.

Stay tuned in the next few months for our new video interview series where we ask several breweries of all sizes why they left the “other” brewery software solutions in favor of OrchestratedBEER. The answers may surprise you.