Two weeks ago I returned from Las Vegas and due to personal circumstances I wasn’t able to post my opinion on the event sooner. So a bit late but here are my two cents on a few days in Las Vegas!
This was the first time for IBM to combine the former Connect event, focused on IBM Collaboration solutions, with all the other events of other IBM brands into one massive 4 day event. With thousands of visitors (estimated numbers ranging from 23.000 to well over 30.000 according to various people I spoke), hundreds of sessions on a wide variety of topics, two impressive conference locations (MGM Grand and Mandalay Bay) and a showcase floor that could easily encompass several football pitches, it was indeed massive. Granted, that scale also caused some challenges and problems but overall I must say I really loved it!
Truth is that it was time for a change. After more then two decades of Lotusphere/Connect events the format was clearly due a refresh. Attendee numbers were dwindling and with the ‘how and why people attend events’ shifting it was simply no longer relevant. For decades large events like Lotusphere/Connect were used to announce the next big releases and developments as well as a way to quickly get educated on a variety of topics by technique & software experts. But with the shift to cloud in recent years most software is no longer released in large point releases but continuously being updated or fixed. New features come out and are announced all the time which means that “large” once a year release announcements are no longer there. In the educational corner large shifts have been taking place as well. With standards in documentation and online resources becoming higher and more training resources becoming available online (no longer requiring classroom attendance), the need for events that concentrate lots of training resources in one event is getting less too. And that was noticeable….
A shift was needed and a shift was made
IBM Think is clearly an event aimed at the strategic level. Instead of admins and developers forming the main body of attendees it’s now CxO level management, strategic architects and business representatives that make up the bulk of attendees. Many of the sessions no longer focus on the nitty gritty of installing, extending or maintaining the software, instead focussing on the how, why and what of building a future ready IT strategy. With a strong focus on vision, usability and applicability of new and revolutionary concepts. Ok, yes. This also means that the buzzword bingo is rife but still… These are the people who tend to make the end decision on where their organizations will go moving forward and who need the strategic information provided at a conference like IBM Think to do so. After all it is they that control the budgets.
Getting the big(ger) picture
The other big advantage of the large scale of this event is that it allows you to really expand your knowledge and expertise into areas you are normally not focused on. Following sessions on topics and having discussions about concepts that might be out of the scope of your daily work but can greatly help you in supporting your organizations and also your own future development.
So all in all I really look back at a valuable event and look forward to next year when IBM Think will be held in San Francisco on February 12-15.
Note: Please find below the slidedeck for my short 20min talk on: User engagement and how to communicate to – and engage your users, that I delivered at IBM Think: