Conference Review 2015

Well it’s nearly the end of the year and my planning has started already for 2016 but I thought it would be nice to say thanks and give some feedback on the conferences I spoke at and attended in 2015. I apologise in advance if I miss out some organisers names – I don’t know all of them but my thanks always go to the entire organising teams.

My last conference this year was Social Connections in Stuttgart , I also spoke at their event in Boston in April. Due to my own prior commitments I literally had to fly in to Stuttgart, present and fly out again which was a great pity.   It’s an interesting conference in which every session focuses on Connections and collaboration and not least because, at least in Stuttgart, the audience was much more executive and so less hard core technical than many of the user group events I go to.  That’s no bad thing and it opens up scope for me to present on less technical and more strategic topics.  It’s also very interesting to hear from those working on different ends of the deployment spectrum such as user adoption or cultural change. Thanks for everyone involved including Christoph, Doug, Femke, Jan, Lars, Maria, Martin, Simon, Stuart & Wannes.

Social Connections would definitely be on my agenda for 2016.

In March 2015 I was at Engage in Ghent.  Once more Theo puts on what I consider to be the best technical and networking event in Europe, possibly worldwide.  The content is only a part of the Engage experience as there are multiple out of session events and opportunities and it puts the European audience in the centre.  There are few IBM presented sessions other than the keynotes and I would say it’s a true community event. Thanks to Theo & Hilde for all their hard work every year.

Engage is March 23-24 in Eindhoven in 2016. I already have my travel booked.

ISBG is the Norwegian IBM User Group event that takes place in Larvik, Norway at the end of May each year.  This was my 3rd year attending and I did three technical sessions all with the theme of integration and single sign on.  The audience tolerate me speaking in English and (at least for my sessions) are primarily technical. ISBG have a great afternoon event on the first day in which we break into teams and have competing challenges including answering questions after visiting sponsors.  The challenge has a theme and a story each year and the ISBG team puts a huge amount of effort into the story and the accompanying video (CSI 6 this year)  – see here for what an amazing job they do.  In addition we are entertained at dinner by Rune Carlson one of the conference organisers and a professional, award winning , magician.  It’s a beautiful location with an enthusiastic audience and lots of pure fun thanks to everyone involved including Roger, Vanessa, Wensche and Rolf.

If I get asked back I hope to be at ISBG 2016 in May

In August I attended MWLUG for the first time.  This is partly because it was held in Atlanta and I have several customers in the surrounding area but also because it draws an audience from around the US with a few hundred people attending.  This turned out to be a great decision, there was a very wide range of attendees and sessions, lots of friends and people I used to only see at Lotusphere were there, the hotel / location were great and the organisers put a lot of effort into providing activities outside of regular sessions and into the evenings. I came away feeling happy, excited to be doing what I do and invigorated – in other words the feeling I am used to come away with in January.  Thanks Richard, Lisa and everyone on the MWLUG team

In 2016 MWLUG will be held in July (I think) in Austin, Texas which hopefully means we’ll be able to visit the IBM Design Labs as part of or before the event.  I’ll definitely be submitting a session as it’s a great conference so I hope to be there.

Finally I spoke at Icon UK in London in September.  It’s great to have a UK based event and IBM supporting it by hosting it at their offices on South Bank. It’s a great location and everyone seemed to have a good time.  I believe, but don’t know, that based on its success this year there are plans to repeat it in 2016 in September. If so I definitely plan to be there.  Thanks to the Icon team including Tim, Steve and Victor.

Then there was IBM Connected in Orlando last January.  I don’t think any of us knew what to expect with the reconfigured conference that was held entirely at the Swan hotel.  Definitely it was going to be smaller and more than a few regular faces were missing and missed.  I think everyone agreed it was a successful event – sometimes all you need is the people and the place, the rest is just bonus and Orlando in January definitely had all of that.  As a swan-song (no pun intended) to 20 years of Lotus Orlando it was bittersweet but turns out.. not such a swan-song after all.  IBM Connect is once more in Orlando this January at the Hilton Convention Center (you can register for it here) and I’ll be both attending and speaking.  Starting the year in Orlando in January as it was meant to be….

This year I was unable to attend AUSLUG/Inform in Australia. I hope to fix that next year if I can just price up flights I can afford when the location and dates are available. Ideally I’d be interested in tying that into work or another event in that part of the world so we’ll see if anything comes up..:-)

That’s it so far .. hopefully I’ll see you somewhere along the way. Now for a few weeks of no travel before the New Year starts.  We’ve nearly made it through another year everyone.. high fives all around !