Conference Notes

Pulling It All Together – Michael's Comments on Lotusphere 2012

I’ve been attending Lotusphere 2012 as an industry analysit this week in Orlando. Although I’ve known some people, it’s been overwhelming being here for the first time. 5,000-7,000 people sharing a relatively small space for a week is quite incredible. It’s definitely the biggest event I’ve ever attended.

To date, I’ve taken notes on all of the sessions I’ve attended, and blogged those here if that was permitted. There were a couple of analyst-only events that while I took notes, were not for blogging. As I leave Orlando in just a few hours, here’s my thinking about what I’ve seen and heard.

1. IBM knows how to put on a large scale event. I’ve been impressed with the smoothness of how the week has gone. Getting multiple thousands of people through meals has worked smoothly. Of course, having a large event center and good staff has made that possible, but it did actually work. Well done.

2. The overall sense I take away from the event is that IBM has wanted to (a) continue casting a vision of the future of social business, and various other trends, as well as (b) introducing everyone to customers who are making it work now. The customers who have shown up to speak for 5-10 minutes on the main stage have given great credibility to the vision, by talking about what they are doing now. It was tastefully done – and impressively coordinated.

3. IBM has a strong story to tell around Connections, both what it can deliver now for social / organizational collaboration, and what’s coming in the immediate next release. The integration of Notes Mail and Exchange into the Connections interface for users, so they can see their newer Connections material alongside their traditional email, is a good move. Bridging the two worlds will help move people away from a sole reliance on email, and will facilitate a step-wise migration to different ways of collaborating.

4. Notes and Domino, the traditional Lotus products, have had some focus at the event. I’ve heard some Notes/Domino administrators complaining about this lower focus, and I’m of two minds about my reaction. On the one hand, mail is a mature offering with little opportunity for discontinuous change. So the reduced focus makes sense, given the game changing opportunities with Connections. On the other hand, there’s a need to bring Notes/Domino administrators and users along for the new journey. IBM’s work around making parts of Connections freely available as an entitlement for Notes/Domino customers goes some way to addressing this, but the more critical aspect is that Notes/Domino administrators need to take the challenge and step up to the broader picture. IBM can say this again and again, but the administrators need to hear that and take it on board.

5. It’s been gratifying to see a good level of focus on collaboration strategy, governance, and business/user adoption. Those topics are of deep interest to me, and I’m delighted to see people talking about these topics in the IBM collaboration area. I haven’t always agreed with the approaches being advocated, but that’s a better problem to have than the topics not being discussed at all. As Alistair Rennie said, technology is important, but it’s not the only thing that’s important.

6. I’m glad I came. I got to hear and see what’s going on with IBM. I got to meet some people I needed to see. It’s been a great investment of time and effort.

I’m heading to California soon, then back to New Zealand on Friday night.