Lotus TechJam – definitely one for the “Do this again, please” list!

[ Apologies for the delay in posting this, real work got on top of the blogging in the last couple of days, thank goodness I twittered endlessly about it on the day 😉 ]

We’ve had some very impressive and useful Lotus education/forum sessions in recent months here in the UK, such as LCTY in Wembley/Manchester/Scotland, the “Lotus and Beyond” session run by Neil Burston at Avnet, and several excellent events run by partners.  I think it’s really important that customers, prospects and partners get regular updates from the “horse’s mouth” on the latest news, upcoming announcements, and the behind-the-scenes information about deployments, wins, successes, issues and so on – the IBMers get to see the latest, greatest kit all the time as part of their impressive TAP (technology adoption) programme but we lesser mortals need to be told/shown once in a while.

However, a lot of the these sessions are very “salesy”, which can alienate more technical in the community as well as stifling good honest conversation about issues, questions about implementation/deployment, real-world examples and so on.  That’s why it was great to hear of the TechJam event ng organised by the UK Lotus TechSales team, the first of which was run in Lotus Park (Staines) last Wednesday.  “Run by techies for techies” was the mantra, and to a great extent, the team hit the proverbial nail on the head.  A full-day’s content was delivered in short (<45 mins) slots, with a predominantly technical flavour, very few slides (oh what a relief!), plenty of Q&A and a real mix of the traditional (Notes, Domino and Sametime) and the new (Connections, Foundations and Bluehouse).  One aspect that worked really well was that each presentation was delivered by a pair of individuals, one delivering the message (using slides if necessary) and the other doing the demo and adding to the conversation where appropriate.  This kept the conversation flowing and made sure there was plenty of banter being exchanged.

Turnout was great, with as many as 40 being present at peak times in the day, and a good mix of IBMers, partners and customers.  One of the positive aspects for me was that the organisers asked partners to attend only if they brought a customer or two with them, meaning that there were plenty of opportunities for end users to discuss their successes/problems with each other and get ideas.  In fact, whilst the content was really useful and well worth attending for, it was definitely the networking that made the event such a success – with plenty of discussion going on at all the breaks.

So, all in all, a tremendous event, and one that I sincerely hope that IBM repeat every 2-3 months or so.  There is a need for technical sessions like these, and this one definitely hit the mark.

Thanks go to Dave, Nick, Ray, John, Darren, Brendan and all the others that helped organise the day.  Other bloggers that attended the TechJam were Mike Smith and David Clover – check out their posts too…

Stuart McIntyre is a Senior Strategist at Fostering Community Limited. He curates a number of product-focused news sites, is a lapsed podcaster, founded the Social Connections user group and regularly speaks at conferences and events. This blog represents his own slightly-eccentric and usually-controversial opinions!