That time of year again – IBM Champion nominations

Every year IBM recognizes people for their outstanding work to aid and support the technical IBM community. It’s a prestigious honor and a way for us all to thank those in our community that tirelessly help others. After all, it’s often forgotten how much people do for each other above and beyond their normal day-to-day job. That total stranger that answered your question on twitter which helped you solve a problem, the blog post from someone across the globe that set you on the track of success, the volunteers organizing the user event where you met your peers and the speakers at those events that helped you expand your knowledge. All of that is often done by people who do not necessarily get payed for those things but do it simply to help others. It’s because of the people who do all that that this community is strong and living and it is something we need to cherish. So if you feel someone directly or indirectly helped you, or the community this year, in a way that goes beyond and above their normal job then think about nominating them to be an IBM Champion.

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Times are changing so are the names…!

The anticipation for Connect 2014 is growing. The yearly conference in Orlando that brings together the best of our technical IBM community and an opportunity to meet with experts, build or renew friendships and learn about upcoming changes and improvements in the IBM Collaboration Software stack. I’m not planning on being there this year due to other circumstances (breaking my foot being one of them) but I look forward to reading all the updates and post that are sure to come!

What I most definitely plan on attending is Engage, formerly known as BLUG, the BeNeLux user group that will be hosted in Breda, The Netherlands on March 17th & 18th this year. Knowing the people behind it and seeing the list of sponsors already committed I’m sure that it is going to be another great success and with a location so close to my hometown (30min) and Silverside committed as Platinum sponsor I wouldn’t miss it for the world!

Engage is not the only user group renaming itself at the moment, with INFORM (formerly AUSLUG) the gulf of renames that started with Connect (formerly Lotusphere) and ICONUK (formerly UKLUG) is definitely setting through. On the one hand I feel sad seeing the Lotus brand name slowely disappear, on the other hand, it’s just a name and I’m happy to see that the names these conferences take on now are more general, allowing them to cover the broader spectrum of products and information that is already being handled by them.

Another thing that changed is the names on the list of IBM Champions. After much anticipation the list for 2014 was announced last Friday. I’m feeling fortunate and honored to be named among them and look forward to meeting some of the new names on it as there seem to be quite a few this year!

A healthy community thrives on it’s ability to renew and rejuvenate itself. Seeing all these “new names” is promising, I’m looking forward to see what else 2014 is going to bring us!


IBM Champions

Most people reading this might already have heard it but earlier this week Ed Brill announced the 2011 IBM Champions list and much  to my surprise my name is on it. Knowing the names on that list I can only feel very humble to be in their presence.

This was a big and frankly unexpected honor, especially as lately I’ve really been struggling with my role in the community. As a Business Consultant I’m neither a hardcore developer nor a hardcore Administrator and it caused me to wonder what my contribution to the community actually is worth. I don’t often have great development innovations to share or killer Admin tips so what do I have to contribute?! In general, I felt I didn’t really have much to contribute at all lately…..

I had that doubt before. In 2009, while working on the Redbook for DomDoc migrations, I entered with the same trepidations. Why did they choose me and not my coworker who was much more the technical DomDoc specialist? What do I have to offer? This really bothered me and I put the question to the table. The answer I got was: We have technical specialists, we need people who can think from the business perspective and can relate to how the user thinks and use that to work on a solution.

That was a real eyeopener to me as for the first time I really understood that in IT technical skills alone aren’t enough to create great software and that understanding your users, business problems and usability is equally as important. Still, being in a community of mainly technical people, it’s easy to feel as if you don’t have anything to contribute and I think that happened to me these last few months.

Seeing my name on that list earlier this week therefore really shook me up and made me think again about what it is I am and what I can contribute.

I came into the Lotus community 12 years ago after I made a remark about the usability (or lack thereof) of a FAQ database at the company I was working at. The answer I got was “if you think you can do better than make it better“. I hadn’t a clue how to, but I did think I could do better conceptionally. So I bought a book taught myself Lotus development, and took the challenge…

The decision to take that challenge 12 years ago made me become a member of this great community. Now its time to set myself a new challenge and proof I’m worth being part of this illustrious list.

Congratulations to all IBM Champions and and a big thank you to the election committee, IBM and the people that took the effort to nominate me.