Social Connections 10

Just 11 days to go! Social Connections 10 lands in Toronto

Back in January I stepped away from the Social Connections team due to my commitments with Jive, after 9 events and 4.5 years of helping to grow what is an incredible IBM Social Business user group community.

Social Connections 10Whilst I’ve been away, Wannes and the team have organised a fantastic 10th event, which takes place in just 11 days time.

Once again, Social Connections has headed back across the Atlantic to North America, and this time the event takes place in yet another new country (10 in 10 so far!), Canada!

Toronto is the carefully selected destination, with an exciting high-rise venue overlooking the city.

As usual, this independent community event mixes four key themes:

  • The latest on the IBM Social Business portfolio, delivered by IBM’s product management team
  • The business impact of launching and managing IBM solutions (particularly IBM Connections, Connections Cloud and Verse) – including program strategy, adoption, tactical approaches, community management, rewards and recognition, measurement and so on
  • Technical considerations for successful deployment – including sessions on installation, upgrades, integration, customisation and more
  • The Future of Work – insights from analysts and thought leaders on the direction that our organisation structures, team productivity and individual workstyles will take over the next decade.

The very full two-day agenda for this event is looking to be probably the best the team has ever put together, with the keynotes looking particularly exciting:

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As usual, there is a strong thread of social events running through the agenda, culminating in the gala reception to be held at  the Hockey Hall of Fame.  There are also plenty of returning favourites, such as Speedsponsoring, Pardon The Interruption, Ask IBM and the Design track.  There’s even an optional Masterclass with Luis Suarez.

Social Connections 10 costs just CA$349 to attend, and there are a few spaces left if you’d like to join the party.

There really is no better way to get up to speed with IBM Social Business solutions, understand the product roadmaps, get the lowdown on deployment and strategy, or to build valuable relationships with the community. Don’t miss it!

More info and registration >

IBM InterConnect

Innovate + Impact + Pulse = ?

Last week I ruminated on the future of IBM Connect, and mentioned that a number of the IBM software conferences had been consolidated for 2015…

IBM seems to be consolidating its software conferences across brands. We have seen Impact (the Websphere conference), Innovate (Rational) and Pulse (Tivoli) all announce that they will merge for 2015 for a very large conference in Las Vegas:

Mark your calendar for February 22 – 26, 2015. We’ll meet at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino and the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. Next year’s expanded conference, with 20,000 attendees, will deliver even more compelling sessions, deeper insights from industry thought leaders, more meaningful networking opportunities and our biggest EXPO ever!

Since then, IBM has announced the new name for this consolidated conference:

IBM InterConnect 2015 - Bringing Innovate, Impact and Pulse together for one powerful event

So IBM InterConnect is the new brand for this 20,000 attendee Las Vegas conference, thus aligning with the name used for the consolidated event that took place in Singapore in October 2013.

I guess it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to imagine that eventually the equation for the Las Vegas event might be:

Innovate + Impact + Pulse + Connect = InterConnect?

Time will tell!

IBM Connect 2015 dates

The future of IBM Connect

Disclaimer – I have no insider knowledge on this topic, these are just my personal thoughts

There has been a fair bit of discussion regarding what might happen to IBM Connect (the conference previously known as ‘Lotusphere’) in the near future…

IBM announced in 2008 that they had signed a contract with the Swan and Dolphin hotels to host the conference in Orlando until 2015, and as far as has been publicly stated, no extension has been signed.  Therefore the consensus seems to be that there will need to be a decision made by IBM as to what they might do with the conference beyond the next event.  Here’s my thoughts on what might happen next…

1) At Connect 2014, IBM announced that Connect 2015 will take place from 25-29 January 2015.  Given that this was such a public proclamation, I cannot believe that IBM would change this plan now.  Therefore we are looking at what might happen post-January 2015.

IBM Connect 2015 dates
Connect 2015 dates (image courtesy of Chris Miller)

2) The audience for IBM Connect is clearly shrinking over time.  Efforts such as the rename from Lotusphere and the consolidation with Kenexa World haven’t made a significant difference to this trend, at least as far as I can see.  In broad and probably over-simplistic terms, as new business-level attendees have been added, loyal technical-level folks have departed.  That’s not to criticise any decision that’s been made, it’s just the state of the union – whether as a result of changes in the product lines, competitive positioning, loss of market share, marketing focus, cost of travel etc, the sad fact is that Connect doesn’t sell 10,000 tickets as it once did.

3) Let’s look at other similar IBM conferences:

a) IBM seems to be consolidating its software conferences across brands.  We have seen Impact (the Websphere conference), Innovate (Rational) and Pulse (Tivoli) all announce that they will merge for 2015 for a very large conference in Las Vegas:

Mark your calendar for February 22 – 26, 2015. We’ll meet at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino and the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. Next year’s expanded conference, with 20,000 attendees, will deliver even more compelling sessions, deeper insights from industry thought leaders, more meaningful networking opportunities and our biggest EXPO ever!

b) Amongst the SWG ‘pillars’ (to use an old phrase), just IBM Insight (the DB2/Information On Demand conference) still stands alone, though it is also based in Las Vegas.  It is scheduled for 26-30 October 2014.

c) Also, IBM Edge (Enterprise Infrastructure) is based in Las Vegas, scheduled for 11-15 May 2015.  The IBM Partnerworld Leadership Conference is lined up for February 9-12 in Las Vegas.

d) Given the above, the primary location for all large IBM global conferences is clearly now Las Vegas, and in many cases, bigger is better.

4) The Lotus IBM Collaboration Solutions brand no longer exists as a standalone entity.  Under Craig Hayman it was made part of Software-as-a-service and Industry Solutions (or Industry and Cloud Solutions to keep the ICS moniker), but with Craig departing, there are suggestions that this will change once again.  Either way, when was the last time we saw specific marketing for the collaboration product line from IBM? This means that the distinct brand and following are no longer reasons to have a separate conference with all the effort and cost that this entails.

5) The shift to the cloud.  IBM’s ‘cloud first’ policy and the general direction in the marketplace is toward pre-packaged software-as-a-service offerings rather than on-premise ‘middleware’.  This changes both the audience and the technical content of conferences as a result – I would posit that attendees are more likely to be line-of-business rather than IT-focused, and the emphasis will be on solutions and ISVs that can plumb multiple SaaS offerings together rather than the nuts and bolts of installation or application development.  In the future, it could be suggested that there will be more commonality between say SoftLayer, IBM SmartCloud Connections and a Tivoli product for SaaS monitoring than there is between multiple ICS solutions today. Therefore larger conferences that bridge the gaps between the different brands that exist right now makes sense as we go forward.

Given all the above, it is relatively easy to predict that IBM Connect as we know it (January in the Swan and Dolphin in Florida) will no longer exist after the previously announced event in 2015.

This would be deeply sad in a lot of ways – so many of us have returned there on a regular basis over the last couple of decades, built business relationships, been exposed to new technologies, gained knowledge that has helped us build careers and perhaps more importantly, we’ve made and spent time with true friends around the world.

However, it would also bring to a natural close the process that started perhaps five years ago, with the shift away from the Lotus brand.  The name has gone, many of the people have moved on, the products and technologies have changed, and really the only physical thing that remains of the ‘glory days’ is the conference date and location.  Shifting to Las Vegas as part of a packed global conference would be different for sure, but could offer real opportunities to customers and partners to make connections and gain knowledge and insight way beyond the traditional confines of the Connect event.

Once again, I don’t know what IBM will do – I have no inside track.  However, as I gaze into my virtual crystal ball, that’s what I expect will happen.

However, I do have one major concern.  All that I hear from the IBM financial results suggests that the USA is at best a static market for IBM – all the growth is taking place in Asia Pacific and in the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China).  Therefore I wonder why all the major conferences look as though they will be located in one USA city.  Surely as a global brand operating worldwide, it seems odd (to me at least) that customers and partners in all areas of the world should be asked to pay to travel to a bizarrely located party-city in the Mojave desert to collaborate and associate with their peers.  I do realise that many of the key IBMers that would attend are US-based, but even then, many of the R&D and support teams are being shifted to locations in other areas of the world.  It would make more sense for these global conferences to be either located in Asia on a full time basis, or ideally, to be shifted around the world so that other sets of customers get the chance to attend.

So that’s my 2c – IBM Connect 2015 will be the grand goodbye to Orlando, and we’ll be invited to attend a new conference in Las Vegas.

However, what do you think?  Is this the plan as you see it?  Will you be sad to say goodbye to the memories made at the Swan and Dolphin in the past? Or will you look forward to new opportunities at a different event in the future? Might you change your plans and attend just to be at the last one? I’d love to hear from you!

Speaking engagements this week

This week I’ll be pretty busy with both ongoing work for my favourite customer in New York, and also travelling to, and presenting at, a series of user groups around Europe.

Here’s my schedule:

Engage (formerly BLUG), Breda, Netherlands – Monday/Tuesday

Social Sharing vs. Organized Structure (with Femke Goedhart), Tuesday, 1015-11:00

This Week in Lotus, Tuesday, 12:30-13:30

BCCON, Hamburg, Germany – Wednesday

Social Business: The Irresistible Force to Overcome Immovable Objections, 11:00-11:45

ConnectionsBlast!, 14:35-15:20

Collaboration Stack Community, London – Friday

Technology Futures (Session Moderator), 11:00-12:00 

If you’ll be attending any of the events, please do come up and say hello – I’d love to get to know new folks this week!

Prague Skyline

Beautiful European capital city? Check. Great social program? Check. Awesome Social Business conference agenda? Bingo!

Social Connections is back, this time for our sixth major European conference:

Social Connections is headed for the beautiful and historic city of Prague in the Czech Republic! What’s more, we’ll be bigger and better than ever… It will be our first ever two-day event, starting at 12pm on Monday 16th June and concluding our formal agenda at 6pm on Tuesday 17th June. This schedule is designed to allow those short of time to travel in on the Monday morning and out on the Tuesday evening if required. However, if one has more time to spare, then it would be easy to tack on a leisurely weekend stay too. What won’t change is that we’ll be making sure that ‘Social’ is not just a buzzword, but is instead at the heart of all that we do. Once again, we’ll have a very special complementary reception for all attendees (this time on the Monday night), splendid catering, plenty of Czech beer on tap (including the original Budweiser!), speed-sponsoring and much more. The team is planning some exciting new networking opportunities too. However, there will also be some awesome business and technical content too – this is a Social Business conference after all! The extra day means that we’ll have a series of fantastic keynotes and main tent sessions on the Monday afternoon, and then a full day’s multi-track agenda on Tuesday – featuring at least three rooms/tracks for business, technical and case study sessions. As usual, we want to keep the content varied and the energy high, so most sessions will be 30 minutes in length giving plenty of opportunity for great speakers to enthral you with their knowledge, passion and expertise.

That’s right, the event is headed for the Czech Republic this June, and to the wonderful city of Prague. It is sure to be a very special couple of days.

Prague Skyline
Prague Skyline

A few comments to add to the official announcement:

  • This is genuinely a ‘Social Business’ event.  Whilst our core focus has been on IBM Connections in the past, the widening of IBM’s vision in this area to cover other products and solutions (SmartCloud for Social Business, Domino/XPages, Social Business Toolkit, Exceptional Digital Experience, Kenexa etc) has meant that we definitely welcome sessions and attendees across all these areas.
  • This is an independent conference (though we are also very thankful for ongoing support from IBM) and hence we have licence to take a more rounded view on the sessions, discussions and topics that are covered that you would see at an IBM event.  We are therefore inviting session abstracts that cover integration with solutions with other vendors’ products, take a vendor-agnostic view of the Social Business landscape (that means you, analysts and authors!) or focus on the human side of Social Business (cultural change, personal productivity etc) as well as the technical.
  • That said, the agenda will feature an entire track of technical sessions – both on development and administration aspects.  One of the joys of Social Connections has always been the high-energy mix of 30-minute sessions, and this event will be no different.  We promise that you’ll have the opportunity to geek out in Prague!
  • We are getting really excited in advance of announcing our keynote speaker – it’s someone we’ve wanted to get to Social Connections for a few events now… Look out for more details very soon!

So, what are you waiting for?  Two days in a fabulous European city in the balmy long days of summer, a stellar location, packed and varied agenda, and free admission! What’s not to like?! 🙂 Can’t wait to see you in Prague!

The 70:20:10 model – how adults learn 90% of what they need to know

Interesting post on the Conferences That Work blog:

Research indicates that informal learning—experiential, social, and self-directed—makes up about 90% of the learning modalities that professionals use today. Only 10% of adult learning uses formal classroom or meeting presentation learning formats. This ratio of experiential:peer/self-directed:formal learning is known as the 70:20:10 rule. Here’s a quick overview by Charles Jennings:

I’m giving this a lot of thought in the context of IBM Connect and our own Social Connections events.  If we forget over 50% of the content we’re taught in formal sessions within an hour, then surely there must be a way to improve those learning experiences?  Could we make them more interactive?

Perhaps we could give materials to the session attendees to complete during and after the session? Give them direct access to demo environments from their laptops and tablets whilst listening to the speakers etc.

I definitely want to explore how when we meet next time at a Social Connections conference we can maximise the retention of information and leave attendees with a far better learning experience!

Collaboration University logo

If you are planning to go to one Lotus event next year…

Collaboration University logo… make it this one –  Collaboration University!

Yesterday was the first day of Collaboration University in London, following the three-day event in Chicago last week.  40+ knowledgeable customers and partners, the best community speakers in the business and a clear and unashamed focus on Lotus Quickr, Sametime and Connections – a great mix.  There really is no better conference if you have an interest in these products – the sessions are very technical deep-dives, both admin/infrastructure and development topics are covered, the speakers are far more accessible than at larger events like lotusphere, there is plenty of time for networking and there is a real opportunity for customers to discuss any issues in depth and get answers to their questions.

To get an idea of the topics covered, check out the conference agenda for the London event.

Where else could you get that type of content in such a intensive 3 days?  So, if you have to submit a training plan for 2010, make sure that Collaboration University is on the list – you’d be mad to miss it!

P.S. you really should be at Lotusphere too, right? You knew that 😉

Going Solo Leeds logo.

Organising an event?

Organising an event? Then you should learn from this post:

Promoting an event like Going Solo is a huge amount of work  often more than what youd imagine (and more than what I imagined initially). Thats why everything the community does to help counts.

So, Ive tried to make it easy for you to do something to help get the word out about Going Solo Leeds (to your readers/network/community/friends) if you feel like it.

First, logos and blog badges which you can easily insert in a blog post or a sidebar by copy-pasting the code we provide, like these two for example:

Going Solo Leeds logo.

Going Solo Leeds Badge.

(You can find others on the Promote Going Solo page.)

Second, the Going Solo Leeds home page provides you with the main information and links, as well as a brief description of the event if youre looking for some stock text (we encourage you to speak in your own voice, of course, but sometimes its handy to know what the key points are).

Third, the videos and photos of the Lausanne conference are available (and embeddable  Flickr and DailyMotion) as illustration material. I guess this is particularly relevant if you were present in Lausanne and want to point out one of the highlights of your Going Solo experience to tempt others to follow in your steps.

Fourth, there are events on Upcoming and Facebook (as well as a Facebook group) to which you can invite your friends very easily (you certainly know how it works if youre on one of those two services).

Fifth, if youre into offline stuff, you can ask me (steph at going-solo dot net, or @stephtara on Twitter) to have a box of Going Solo MOO cards sent to you, or print out our posters and plaster them all over your neighbourhood:

And sixth, so that you dont have to figure it all out for yourself, there are two links you can use to point people to registration:

 * is the direct link
 * provides some extra information.

While were at it:

 * is the Going Solo blog
 * is the Going Solo Leeds website

Happy blogging, thanks in advance, and let us know if you dont see your post appear in the coverage list soon!

Isn’t that great? Everything you would need to blog about or to help promote the event.  I think this could easily be a template that we should all use in the future for any event we organise or wish to tell others about.  Great work @sephtara.  Oh and by the way, the conference sounds great!

Image:A reminder: Lotus Technical Conference, 2-3 June, Amsterdam

A reminder: Lotus Technical Conference, 2-3 June, Amsterdam

A reminder of one of the two “other” conferences taking place w/c 2nd June 2008:

Image:A reminder: Lotus Technical Conference, 2-3 June, Amsterdam
Lotus are running a
European Technical Conference on the 2nd / 3rd of June in Amsterdam. This is a new once a year event that presents the best possible opportunity for skill development, networking and building awareness of the latest and most up to date product and solution information from Lotus. The conference costs EUR 999 but an early bird EUR 100 discount applies if registering before 3rd May.

Come to Amsterdam to learn how Team collaboration software helps you share content, collaborate and work faster on-line withyour teams –inside or outside your company’s firewall.  Portal software provides a composite application or business mash-upframework and the advanced tooling needed to build flexible, SOA-based solutions.  Lotus Technical Conferences can help system administrators, developers and IT leaders learn how.

The program will lead you in details through 2 tracks :

Messaging & Collaboration track
software started with messaging.  While e-mail remains an important tool, new Lotus software now offers so much more.
Team Collaboration
software helps yo share content, collaborate and work faster on-line with your teams
The Messaging & Collaboration
track provides system administrators, developers and IT leaders with the information,solutions and experts needed to meet these challenges. You will learn about theses topics:

  • My Widgets and Live text in Notes 8
  • Going mobile with Notes Traveler
  • Notes Designer Web 2.0 support
  • Building composite applications
  • Best practices and features that help you migrate to Notes/Domino 8
  • Lotus Symphony: deploy, manage, integrate open productivity tools
  • Quickr Content Integrator
  • Sametime 8 UC2: features, choices, integration and extensions
  • REST services to integrate with Quickr and Connections
  • Assembling situational applications with Lotus Mashups
  • Creating and deploying Lotus Forms without IT

Portal track

can provide a window to the future of your business.
Content management, personalization, integration and security require complex solutions.

The Portal track
provides system administrators, developers and IT leaders with the information, solutions and experts needed to solve these complex problems.
You will to learn about these

  • Integrating Microsoft and .Net applications in IBM WebSphere Portal Server
  • Integrating your IBM Lotus applications in IBM WebSphere Portal Server
  • Developing portlets with Open Source frameworks
  • Leveraging your existing web applications in IBM WebSphere Portal Server
  • Using IBM Portlet Factory 6.1
  • Integrating your SAP environment in IBM WebSphere Portal Server
  • Integrating your Oracle environment in IBM WebSphere Portal Server
  • Upgrading IBM WebSphere Portal Server

Enroll today  for this IBM  Lotus Technical conference and grab the opportunity to learn directly from product experts.

Take advantage of
networking opportunities that provide fresh ideas and insights into solutions that can work for you.

I myself won’t be there – the extra time away from paid work (on top of ILUG2008, 4-6 June) and the cost of this conference is simply too much for my business to bear.  The timing is a great shame in that regard!  

However, I do hope that the Technical Conference is a success, as it would be awesome to have a mid-year “mini-Lotusphere” in Europe on an ongoing basis…