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.
After a year of absence I’m really looking forward to being able to attend Connect (or ConnectED as it is now called) in Orlando again this year. Based on the sessions schedule I’m convinced it will be another great event. I also look forward to having the honor of being able to speak on two topics – close to my heart – with two great cospeakers:
Together with Sasja Beerendonk I will be speaking on the topic of struggles and challenges in becoming a social business:
BP202 – Beyond Theory: Trials and Tribulations in Becoming a Successful Social Business
There are many theories and ideas around “how to become a social business” but what really does or doesn’t work? We wanted to know, and instead of just going blindly with the theory, we did the opposite and interviewed 32 companies in various stages of their journey to becoming a social business. Not just asking them about the big wins, but also talking about the struggles and small successes that really made the difference for them. Taking these experiences and real life examples of companies the likes of Dutch Railways, DAF, Saxion, Forbo Eurocol and Bavaria, and aligning them to the various theoretically relevant concepts, we were able to come up with some interesting concepts. In this session, we will take you through these concepts and theories and, using the examples provided by the companies, show you how these can help you identify the successes and avoid the pitfalls in becoming a social business
Date and Time: Tue, 27-Jan, 11:15 AM – 12:15 PM Location: Dolphin – S. Hem 2
For the description and details on this session and other great sessions at ConnectED check out the session preview tool or the blog post Sasja did a few weeks back.
And together with Bill Malchisky I will be doing a Chalk Talk session on privacy:
CHALK403 – Personal Privacy Paradigm
In a world of ubiquitous information access, how does one maintain their privacy and avoid future forward situations that may be hard to extrapolate? People have a right to privacy, but through the combination of lawyers and technology what used to be an easy paperwork process can introduce significant gray areas with overreaching background check releases and agreements that can be unwise to sign as is. Additionally, customers need to protect their information, regulated data, and trade secrets, all while ensuring outside vendors can do their job even when working through multiple layers of contracting organizations. This BOF discusses trends in privacy protection and degradation while providing tips you can use to help you with that next gig while also protecting yourself, your family, or your company. Please bring your privacy challenges as Femke and Bill provide insight while fostering what should be a lively group discussion. See you at the Swan.
For more details and to register check out the IBM Connected website. Hope to see you there!
Andrew Grill moved from social influencer statistics in the Social Media realm and being the CEO of KRED to focusing on adoption of Social Business in his new role at IBM Interactive. He made time on Wednesday between his sessions, meetings and panels to talk about social analytics, how Social Business is the next step after Social Media, his role within IBM and the conference at large.
I’m not the only one who isn’t at IBM Connect and absolutely missing it! Tom Duff who nowadays spends his days working on SharePoint talks to me about how it is to not be there, what impression he got from the OGS and how it is to go from being an established speaker in the Domino realm to starting out all over in the SharePoint community.
LEGO? Yes LEGO! It might be a tech conference but where there are nerds LEGO is soon to follow. No wonder that Warren Elsmore – who went from being a consultant to being a full time Lego professional and book author – is there to liven up the social cafe!
For Tony Holder from HADSL IBM Connect is mostly concentrated around the Showcase floor. He tells about his day, watching the OGS from the livestream (eventhoug he was within striking distance!), the cool gadgets that are to be had at the booths and the fact that any excuse to sit down is a good thing when you are standing all day!
And we’re off! Day one (or is it day zero?!?) of IBM Connect is underway. Bill Malchisky makes time between sessions to tell us all about Saturday’s socer tournament, Business Partner day, Linux Fest and the upcoming Sunday night party.
30hrs in a plane from Tasmania to get to Orlando… You have to hand it to Adam Brown, he is keen to be there! Between jetlag and the Saturday morning Connect soccer tournament he took the time to talk to me from his conference hotel room before heading over to register and start an exciting week.
Nobody will be able to miss it: IBM Connect is a ‘social’ conference. There is a whole team of people organizing all kinds of social activities. Games, chats, a social cafe (with THE conference essentials: coffee & power outlets!) a social business engagement center and… Lego. Yes lego (hey, it’s a nerd convention, of course there is Lego!). Colleen Burns explains what its all about and gets excited about it all.
Apart from the thousands of people who go to IBM Connect to attend the conference each year there is also a group of people who go there – not to attend the conference – but simply to connect to the many people it draws in from all over the world. Mary Beth Raven explains why – 3 years after she left IBM – she still is involved in the community and makes sure she is in Orlando this time of the year to meet up with friends and former coworkers and why staying connected is very important to her.