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Orlando-bound: my perspective on the upcoming IBM Connect 2014 event

It’s a dark and dank early Friday morning in mid- to late-January, so as is the annual routine, I’m in a airport car headed for London Gatwick and onto the hopefully somewhat brighter climes of Orlando, Florida.

What takes me there?

I’d be surprised if you need to ask, but if you do, it’s IBM Connect – IBM’s premier Social Business, collaboration and workforce management conference –  the event formerly known and loved as Lotusphere.

IBM Connect 2014 banner

This is my tenth Lotusphere/Connect in all, with my first being a European event in Berlin in 2000 and then subsequent US trips in 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2009-14.

Whilst my attendance at these kinds of conferences has become much wider over the years (Le Web, SugarCon, Jive and Salesforce events to name but a few), the annual trip to the Swan and Dolphin is still a major highlight of the year.  The mix of business, technical, community and social is still a heady one, even with the continued evolution of the conference from being Notes/Domino-centric in the 90s and early-noughties, through additions such as Sametime/Quickplace/Portal/Workplace/Foundations in the mid-2000s, to the current focus on Social Business (Connections) over the past few years.  With the recent acquisition of Kenexa (the event is also tagged as Kenexa World Conference), the theme of Social Workforce will be a strong one this year too.

Dolphin and Swan

There is no doubt that the audience has changed massively over this time, with 2014 seeing the notable absence of a good number of those that have played a central role in the community (Bruce and Tom amongst many many others who will be sadly missed), however so far it is definitely the case of ‘the more it changes, the more it stays the same’.  Connect is still Lotusphere as far as I am concerned, and whilst some of the changes can be hard to accept, there are plenty more that are exciting and innovative.

IBM Connect 2013 Community

As for my role, the heady and incredibly busy days of IBM blogger programs, weekly podcasts and running the Lotusphere Blog are behind me, so this year’s event will be a calmer, more reflective affair.  With my new direction at Social 365 and continued developments at my primary customers, I’ll be approaching this event with a different focus, looking at the announcements, roadmaps and sessions from a more analytical perspective.

The Social Business marketplace is at an interesting inflection point right now. In many cases the technology is now mature, vendors are generally innovating a little slower than previously, and many organisations are taking a second (or in some cases, third) look at their investments and strategy in this area.  Since these solutions became available in 2007/8/9, many significant technology working practice shifts have taken place (and they continue to come thick and fast) – the ever increasing use of mobile devices, the shift toward the cloud, the continuing evolution of social media and the links between private and public networks, the migrations away from traditional on-premises messaging systems, the development of open standards for Social transactions and activity streams, the move from Human Resources to Talent Acquisition and Management and more.  These have meant that what was expected of a Social platform in 2014 and beyond is very different to in years gone by.  Organisations are looking for solutions that bridge the worlds of CRM, ERP, HR, messaging, team collaboration and social media.  That’s not to say that they necessarily want one platform that does it all, but Social Business reaches into all of those areas and therefore any products or platforms must have answers to questions being asked in all aspects of an organisation’s business rather than just from the perspective of internal collaboration and knowledge sharing.

IBM has a massive heritage in this space, and the strength of products such as Connections, Sametime, Domino and Portal is well acknowledged by Gartner and the like.  However, this space is more competitive than ever. Companies like Jive, Cisco, VMWare, Microsoft and SAP are driving their solutions forward.  The smaller niche players such as Box, Dropbox and Huddle are innovating fast.  Meanwhile, Salesforce are making such inroads (as they widen their scope from their position as CRM leaders) that they’ve just been given their own category in Paul Greenberg’s CRM Watchlist for 2014.  It will be fascinating to see how IBM takes their existing platforms, combines them with their Kenexa acquisition and their other investments under the SmartPlanet banner, and even throws in a little magic from Watson.  All the while, they need to be looking outside the walls and working on improved integration with social media and the established players in those other spaces I mentioned above.

I’m coming into IBM Connect with less knowledge of what’s coming up than ever before.  I have very little steer on what Connections Next will look like, or at the higher level, what IBM’s Social Business strategy for the next 12-24 months looks like.  That’s quite exciting…  In addition, changes in management always stir things up.  The switch from Alistair Rennie to Craig Hayman as GM of ICS (in addition to Craig’s existing role as head of Industry Solutions) is sure to be interesting to follow – I’m anticipating a change of style and possibly a more substantial strategy adjustment too.

So, all in all, I’m headed across the Atlantic with great expectations.  Hope I’ll see you there?  If not, look out for plenty of posts over the next few days…

Michael Sampson

Doing Business with IBM Connections. A masterclass! (23rd September 2013, London)


Collaboration Matters takes pride in approaching Social Business and Collaboration from a business-value perspective.

It is therefore never about “technology for technology’s sake” but instead we help our customers to focus on transforming their organisations to become increasingly open in approach, to share knowledge more widely and to collaborate in ever more transparent ways with colleagues inside and outside the organisation. Therefore tools and platforms such as IBM Connections are merely a means to an end rather than the focus of the work that we do.

Michael SampsonWe love working with others in our community that feel similarly, and Michael Sampson is a shining example of this. From his vendor-neutral approach through his brilliant books on Social Business and User Adoption to his exceptional workshops, we feel that Michael sets the standard for analysing why and how Social Business techniques can be leveraged to generate business value.

For that reason, Collaboration Matters is delighted to announce that we are hosting an upcoming Doing Business with IBM Connections masterclass delivered by Michael, to be held in St. Pancras, Central London on Monday 23rd September 2013. This is an updated version of the successful workshop that was ‘tagged on’ to Social Connections V in Zurich back in June.

The Doing Business with IBM Connections masterclass provides a forum for quickly exploring real-world applicability of IBM Connections in organisations today. The workshop presents ten core collaboration scenarios that business people do on a day-to-day basis, and examines how to bring each of these to life in IBM Connections 4.5, in the context of business and human factors. The scenarios include co-authoring documents, managing meetings, running projects, and making decisions. Each of the ten collaboration scenarios are explored, with demonstrations to bring each of the scenarios to life. Attendees do more than just hear the ideas; they also get to see each of the scenarios being worked out before their eyes.

If your organisation is exploring the potential benefits of using IBM Connections, this workshop provides a vendor-neutral, independent perspective to guide your planning. And even if you have been using IBM Connections for some years, this workshop provides targeted advice on making the most of the platform to help you and your organisation do business better.

Discounted ‘Early Bird’ tickets are available until 6pm this Friday, so if you would like to attend, register ASAP!

IBM Systems and Software come together… InterConnect 2012

This is a announcement that I’m really pleased to see…  Too often Systems and Software are seen as two completely different markets – this event brings the two together into one integrated conference:

InterConnect: Where business and IT leaders connect

InterConnect 2012 places your business interests at the center of its agenda. It is a unique opportunity to collaborate with IBM clients, the IBM partner network and industry experts who are implementing linked business and IT solutions to succeed on today’s smarter planet.

Rapid change has become the norm as entire industries are transforming to deliver compelling new value to the people they serve. In this era of interconnected industries, businesses and consumers, a new kind of leadership is required to turn opportunity into business outcomes. Smarter businesses are capitalizing on information as an indispensable resource and using technology as the catalyst for unleashing innovation.

They are expanding the digital world of the back-office into the front-office and the corresponding business infrastructures that are at the heart of business leadership and operations; the key interconnection points among consumers, business partners and employees.

Take advantage of this opportunity to develop a personalized agenda around your business needs, collaborate with business decision-making peers, and meet face-to-face with technical decision-makers and industry experts.

I think this is an exciting conference in a fantastic location, so if you’re in the Asia-Pacific region, it is definitely one not to be missed…

I’d love to see it duplicated in Europe sometime soon…

The rise of the Community Manager and the Collaboration Garden: an IBM Social Business Briefing

For our third IBM Social Business Briefing (aka Wicked Wednesdays) on 25th April at Royal Exchange in London, we felt the time was right to move the discourse from thought leadership and education to a more practical footing.

Of course, we still leveraged the superb network of independent thought leaders who we are lucky to have at our events BUT at this latest event we changed / evolved the format.

On this occasion I framed the discussion on the emerging role of the Community Manager (seen by some as the ‘rock star of the Enterprise’) and then actually used a collaboration platform to discuss, collaborate and innovate around the chosen topic.

The objective or rather the output of the debate was not simply to gain a better understanding of this subject (the fastest growing job role in Social Business) but also to create a job description for the role of Community Manager which could then be downloaded and iterated by users.

To help us achieve this we introduced attendees to the Collaboration Garden – a place where the Wicked Wednesday discussion and collaboration goes on in and around the physical events.

Once inside the Garden, users could not only record their opinions and raise questions but they could also examine (through the software) the potential responsibilities and attendant tools on hand to assist a Community Manager with user adoption – e.g. gamification and social media feeds.

The overall sentiment was that this was our best Wicked Wednesday to date and pointed the way forward for future events.  Weaving the use of the collaboration platform into the discussion from the start had a number of important effects:

  • It forced us all ‘to drink our own champagne
  • Individuals contributed to the Garden on-premise and remotely (including from Spain and Ireland)
  • It highlighted how much was lost when we simply spoke and did not record
  • Live collaboration in the platform allowed for multi-threaded conversations which themselves were profoundly different to normal conversation
  • Those who were not familiar with a social collaboration platform experienced it in a way that was far more refreshing and natural then the traditional demo mode

Wicked Wednesdays are all about sharing and collaborating with those who attend the latest trends, twists and turns in the Social Business journey. We take risks at this event; we have to in order to keep things fresh and real.  So it was particularly gratifying to hear that the new format was warmly welcomed by those involved.

We are planning our next Wicked Wednesday/Social Business Briefing to take place in June and in keeping with our need to innovate we are experimenting with moving the venue from the Royal Exchange to a comfortable, friendly, coffee shop in the city which should be fun.

For more information, feel free to contact us directly.

Social Connections III – Registration is open, session abstracts invited!

Social Connections (the IBM Connections user group) is back, returning for its third event.

The IBM Connections User Group

Scheduled for Friday 22nd June 2012 at the IBM Labs in Dublin, this is the best chance you’ll have this year to hear directly from IBM Connections customers, consultants, partners, advocates and developers. Yes, developers too! By the kind invitation of IBM we are going direct to their European development base in Dublin, home to many members of the IBM Connections coding team. We’ll have sessions from IBMers on topics such as customisation, widget development, installation and management of Connections. Given that Connections 4.0 is imminent, you may get a sneak peak of what’s coming up in the future too!

However, this is a User Group rather than an IBM education event, so it won’t just be IBMers speaking. With two tracks (Business and Technical) we’re after the best of the best from around the community to speak at the event. As we’ve had at SocCnx I and II, the event will have a mix of customer case studies, adoption advice, technical show-and-tells, panel Q&As, and a few sessions we just can’t predict right now!

The call for session abstracts is open now, and closes on 30 April 2012, so if you would like to submit an abstract to be considered (for a 30minute session) please register for the event today and submit your idea. We’re particularly keen to hear from those outside the usual ‘bubble’ so if you’ve never spoken at Lotusphere or any of the other LUGs please don’t let that put you off. The Social Connections crowd are a very friendly bunch and we’d love to hear some new voices!  If you have any questions, please contact Sharon or Stuart for more info.

All the details are at, so please head over there to register and to submit an abstract.

You can also join the LinkedIn or Facebook groups, or follow all the news on Twitter (@SocCnx).  Hope to see you on June 22nd!

One Day on Earth

Join us on 10.10.10 for an unprecedented event.
Every Nation, 24 hours, and You.

On October 10, 2010 (10.10.10), across the planet, documentary filmmakers, students, and inspired citizens will record the human experience over a 24-hour period and contribute their voice to the largest participatory media event in history.

Founded in 2008, ONE DAY ON EARTH is creating an online community, shared archive, and film. Together, we will showcase the amazing diversity, conflict, tragedy, and triumph that occur in one day. We invite you to join our international community of thousands of filmmakers, hundreds of schools, and dozens of non-profits, and contribute to this unique global mosaic. Through the One Day on Earth platform, we will establish a community that not only watches, but participates.

[vimeo 11214910 w=700 h=394]

More >

6 days to go – you know you can’t miss this

With just 6 days remaining before Collaboration University Chicago and 13 days to CU London, we are reviewing final presentations and can tell you that there is really some great new technical info this year. With new versions of everything (and Sametime 8.5 indepth coverage) there are going to be more than a few revelations at this year’s conferences. Here’s a sample of what the experts are preparing for you!

    * Warren Elsmore has labored many many weeks getting Sametime 8 on Linux, so you don’t have to.
    * Gab Davis has slain more dragons than we can count working through various permutations of LTPA and LDAP to get the WebSphere-based Sametime 8.5 Meeting Center going.
    * Viktor Krantz has created several new Quickr 8.2 hook examples and “variations on a theme.”
    * Troy Reimer has created three reusable examples (that everyone takes home) and has been deconstructing some six-figure development projects so you can understand how to plan for Quickr development.
    * Chris Miller is having alphabet soup every day. LDAP, SSO, LTPA, SMTP, SSL…you get the idea.
    * Julian Robichaux and Jerald Mahurin have written sessions for others to deliver on data transfer, migrations, and support.
    * Carl Tyler has cooked up new Sametime API examples, and will show you how to customize the new Sametime 8.5 web client – very cool stuff here.
    * Mitch Cohen and Stuart McIntyre have teamed up to get you up and running on Connections 2.5, and show you how to make the biggest impact with light customization.
    * Tim Clark and Kat McGivney are preparing lab machines, working on VM transfers onsite and generally being indispensable.
    * Our IBM guest speakers Louis Richardson, Darren Adams, David Kajmo, Miki Banatwala, and Rob Ingram are showing us the future…and how Quickr kicks Sharepoint squarely in the ECM.
    * We’re already planning the first of our three live webinars for December – $297 worth of additional training that is included for CU 2009 attendees.

There are slots remaining, and the ROI is pretty clear, so register online today.

Dates: September 14-16, Chicago and September 21-23, London


CU in Chicago and London!

All the best,

Your Collaboration University Team:
CU SpeakersCarl Tyler, Chris Miller, Gabriella Davis, Warren Elsmore, Rob Novak, Viktor Krantz, Troy Reimer, Julian Robichaux, Jerald Mahurin, Stuart McIntyre, Mitch Cohen, Mike Smith, Melissa Rieke and our friends from IBM!

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