Mat Newman January 15 2014 18:15:33
For the past few years, the trek to IBM Connect (Lotusphere) has become a pilgrimage for me.
It was in the late 90's that I first heard of a conference dedicated to Lotus software held in the USA at the Swan and Dolphin in Orlando. I immediately added it to my Bucket List of "Must Do" things to achieve in my lifetime. Watching the Videos for the first couple of years (yep, I mean VHS cassettes) provided to us by our local IBM/Lotus reps I became very excited at the depth and breadth of content and information that came out of the conference.
When I finally made it to Lotusphere (as it was then called) my expectations were exceeded. I never truly comprehended that the "gods" of the Lotus community - many found on planetlotus.org
and the Lotus forums on notes.net
- were actually super friendly and more than willing to share their experience and expertise once one introduced themselves and asked them a question (along with the obligatory refreshing beverage, which is the only "payment" any of them asked for sharing a solution with you).
Many of those people I am now privileged enough to call my friends.
So what are my top 5 reasons for attending IBM Connect?
1. Targeted Learning
Can't find a scheduled training course in your area that addresses your specific concerns and requirements? How about this:
Over 400 sessions, covering everything from installation, deployment, management, development, integration and adoption, where you can pick and choose exactly the sessions that you need to solve your immediate problems. You won't find this breadth of choices anywhere else on the planet, presented by the experts in their field. Often the hardest thing to do during your 5 days at IBM Connect (don't forget the "Jump Starts" and "Master Classes" on Sunday!) is to choose which session you will actually attend.
2. The UX (User Experience) Lab
There is no-where else that you have such easy access to the people who design and develop the products utilised or planned to be deployed within your environment!
Reason number 2, go and meet the folks in the UX Lab
Designers: Available for the past few years at Connect/Lotusphere is the UX Lab, where you can meet the people responsible for designing the next version of IBM's products. They're there to listen to your feedback and get your suggestions on how IBM's software can be improved. They're awesome people and there's nothing like the HUGE buzz one gets to see a feature included in an IBM product that you personally suggested to one of the Designers in the UX lab.
3. The Developer Lab
Similar (but different) to #2, how about the opportunity to talk with the developers!
Developers: In the Development Lab you can meet the people who write the code that creates the products you use. Again, it's an amazing experience to ask your questions directly to one of the folks who actually wrote the code behind a feature that you need more information about. I've gained some amazing insight into IBM's products from my chats with the developers, why they implemented a feature the way they did, and why it works in a particular way. Similar to #2, these guys are more than willing to listen to your suggestions on how a feature should work, it's amazing to see them pull up some code and make changes in front of you.
4. The Roadmap, Keynote, "Ask the ..." and Gurupalooza sessions
Due to the expansion of focus at IBM Connect in the past couple of years, the OGS (Opening General Session) simply hasn't had enough time to cover all the fantastic news, developments and new features in each of the individual products IBM produce. What you will get out of the OGS is a high level overview of IBM's strategy and direction.
Want even more detail regarding a specific product? Simple!
Attend the "ROADMAP" and "WHAT'S NEW IN ..." sessions that you will see peppered throughout the conference agenda.
And on Thursday don't miss the "Ask the Product Manager" or "Ask the Developer" sessions where you can ask questions to the expanded group of Product Managers and Developers, you're sure to get an answer from someone on stage.
Finally, if you want an answer to a particular query you have, don't miss the Gurupalooza session. These are the people in the Community that are the experts in their field, who work with, deploy, manage and develop on IBM software day in and day out. If one of these people don't have the answer, it probably doesn't exist!
5. GET SOCIAL
No, I don't mean "Social Business", I mean that there will be thousands of people - just like YOU! - who are there for exactly the same reasons.
Don't sit by yourself at Breakfast or Lunch, choose a table, introduce yourself and open a conversation. You will be amazed at who you might be sitting with and talking to, and how often they have similar experiences to your own. Chatting with someone in this environment can provide some fantastic insight into how someone else is using or deploying IBM solutions within their environment.
And finally: If you see a face you recognise - no matter how you might have encountered them - say HELLO! Don't be shy, don't be backward, Get Social and CONNECT.
It was one of the hardest things that I did at my first Connect/Lotusphere, to overcome my feeling of awe as I introduced myself to my "hero's" in the #Yellowverse.
They're just people. And now many of them are my friends. Lotusphere isn't just a conference, it's my Happy Place. It's where I get to reunite with my yellow "Family" every year.
I look forward to seeing you there!