Connect 2017 Registration - Same Name But Something Very Different

Today registration has opened for the conference known as Connect 2017.  Connect in Orlando wasn’t anything more than a rename of Lotusphere but although this bears the same name it’s very far from being the same event. Connect 2017 is taking place in Moscone West in San Francisco at the end of February but that’s not the biggest change - the content,  structure and even pricing is drastically different too.

Let’s start with the title and tagline.  No more vague marketing phrases about what the conference is about (“pool of knowledge”) instead we have “Redefine work with Watson”. You may not know what Watson can do for you or your business yet but the conference very clearly is planning to focus on that

Then we have the tracks

Emerging Technologies

Explore the promise of technologies like augmented reality, Internet of Things, blockchain, artificial intelligence and Watson, and their potential to change our work and life challenges.

So if you want to understand new technologies, things your customers are only aware of on the peripheries , if you want to understand how to position your skills and what opportunities are out there this is for you.  This is definitely for me.

Strategy and Business

Discover how pioneers are addressing current trends and issues in the evolving domain of strategy and business. Led by industry speakers and leveraging case method, the track explores business challenges, approaches, and outcomes across engagement, expertise, productivity and work.

I have no idea what will appear in this track but i’m encouraged by the terms ‘industry speakers” which suggests we’ll be hearing from outside IBM

Development, Design and Tools

Delve deep into product, design and code. Build a deep understanding of products and solutions that help us redefine everyday work including Verse, Connections, Notes, Domino, Bluemix, WebEx, Toscana, Spark, Box and more.

.. I’m calling that “Best Practices” in my head.

On top of the tracks there will be “lightning talks” which sounds like pop up Ted type short sessions appearing around the conference.  But what do I know.

Now we come to registration pricing and some nice new offerings

Full Conference Pass @ 1695 USD (or 100 USD less if you are an alumni) this gets you access to everything including receptions, breakfast and lunch. A Daily Conference Pass is also available at 895 USD.

Experience registration at 995 USD includes everything except the hands on labs and breakout sessions. For 995 USD you can still attend keynotes the expo and lightning sessions but if you don’t usually go to regular breakout sessions, if the conference is more of a networking than direct learning event for you, maybe the Experience registration is better.

Finally if all you want to do is visit the Expo and network you could opt for Discover Connect at only 89 USD per day.

Take a look at the registration options here. I’m hoping IBM will allow upgrades from one level to the next but I can’t find any confirmation of that right now.

Connect 2017 - All Change & Call for Speakers

The website for IBM Connect 2017 is now up and giving us more detail about the event next year. It’s all change from Orlando to San Francisco but actually the only thing that hasn’t changed is the name - from the looks of the event and tracks this seems to be a very different kind of conference.

Taking place in San Francisco at Moscone West from 20-23 February there seems to be a bigger focus on new technologies than in the past and certainly ones that step further towards the edges of traditional ICS products.  Today many of us work cross-product and with hybrid infrastructures so its welcoming to see IBM recognising that and offering a conference that gives us both present and future topics to learn.

Registration for the conference isn’t open yet, but you can submit a session as a speaker here  only until Nov 4th and the topics listed give an insight - an exciting one I think - into what the conference will contain.  I plan to submit a session myself and hope to be there in San Francisco next February even if I’m not speaking.

Sessions can be submitted in the following categories:

Emerging Technologies: Join experts discussing technologies that are shaping our world. The Emerging Technologies track explores our work/life challenges and investigates the promise that technologies like Augmented Reality, Internet of Things, Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, and Watson will bring.

Strategy and Business: Discover how pioneers are addressing current trends and issues in our constantly evolving domain of strategy and business. Led by industry speakers and leveraging case method, the track explores business challenges, approaches, and outcomes across engagement, expertise, productivity, and work.

Development, Design and Tools: Delve deep into product, design and code with the experts. Discover a deep understanding of products and solutions that help us redefine everyday work including Verse, Connections, Notes Domino, Bluemix, Cisco WebEx TM, Toscana, Spark, Box and more.


Spark Ideas - Connect 2016

This year at Connect in Orlando the Nerd Girls and IBM once more hosted the Spark Ideas session where we ask people to talk for around 6 mins on any topic they like.

This year we had some great from changing career to changing country, to dealing with large life changes to growing your own vegetables. We managed to get the sessions recorded* and we have now uploaded them into a youtube playlist for you to enjoy.

I hope you find them as entertaining, enlightening and moving as the audience in Florida did.  A huge thank you to Amanda Bauman, Jamie Magee, Ginni Saini, Chris Miller, Lauren Maxwell, Theo Heselmans, Mat Newman and Carolyn Pampino for so generously sharing

*apologies to Mitch Cohen who took the raw video as I then edited them and uploaded them. Any issues with the video are entirely down to me.  Thanks Mitch!

Connect 2016 - A Wrap Up

As I get ready to leave Florida tomorrow I realise that I haven’t blogged since Connect began (for me) on Friday 29th.  This was our 21st IBM Orlando conference and like everyone else I was prepared to see it go forever or merge with Las Vegas.  That hasn’t happened and I hope after the last two years it won’t.

My Connect starts early on Saturday with meetings of The Penumbra Group an organisation of Business Partners who work with IBM social software. We joined Penumbra in 1996 after starting Turtle and realising we were isolated as a small BP in a small corner of a small country, it allowed us to talk openly to and partner with others in a similar situation around the world.  Thanks to Penumbra we met some of the smartest people doing what we do and many of them are now my closest friends.  We start our meetings talking about our businesses and what struck me this year was how technologically diverse everyone has become.  There’s no such thing as working with a single technology anymore, it’s about integration, coexistance and enhancement.  That’s a positive theme I saw repeated throughout the conference.

Monday morning saw a new format Opening General Session. It’s a hard balance to get right with an audience of CIOs, analysts, press, customers, sales people and BPs - at least one or two sections will be boring for someone.  This year IBM gave very clear information in advance on how the OGS would work, an opening hour of strategy and review followed by an hours break and then another hour of demo and customer stories.  I’ll be honest, I doubted how many would return after the break but it’s a testament to how well judged the format was that just about everyone came back.  It was fast paced, well structured and interesting (actually good customer stories).

Looking back 10 years the OGS used to be about underlying technology, we’d hear about changes to Domino view indexes or a new Sametime feature but we’re not there anymore - the underlying architecture and how to discussions are saved for breakout sessions, the OGS is about VISION and I say that with no sarcasm at all.  What I want from IBM in the OGS is what I got - a clear vision of where the technology is going, where my customers need to be,  and what and when IBM plan to deliver along that path.

The less said of the opening speaker the better - a shouty millenial who actually mouthed along to the videos from his youtube channel as they played and I suspect plans to patent the word EXPONENTIAL.  He was no Brian Cox or Neil DeGrasse Tyson but at least he wasn’t around for long and the follow on speakers were all great.

There were lots of good news items and great demos of ongoing developments such as the personal assistant features in the mobile application and the evolution of the Verse UI as well as Project Toscana which is a new persistent chat client that will integrate with Verse, with Connections and with other shared data. Connections itself is being redesigned to ensure you are being shown the most useful information for whatever you are doing in an appealing and clear layout (I realise that sounds a bit vague but once there are good screenshots I”ll share them).  Of course there was also the big news I was beginning to wonder if we’d hear ..

IBM Verse on premise built on top of Domino and due this year

.. I have many customers who aren’t ready to move to the Cloud yet but weren’t sure where Domino was headed or if they should be moving “to Verse” or something else.  IBM is committed to the Domino server (which still beats any other mail server into a cocked hat) with a new UI and deeper integration with Connections, *cough*Sametime*cough*, IBM Docs etc.  If you’re on a Domino platform it’s still a critical part of IBM’s server strategy and underpins many of the “futures” we were being shown.  There was also an announcement of Outlook running on top of Domino later this year so that gives you a lot of choices of client to access your servers Notes, iNotes, Traveler, Verse (desktop and mobile), Connections Mail and Outlook.

By the time the OGS drew to a close the nervous cynicism of Sunday had become tentatively excited optimism. For me that’s down to two things, seeing IBM clearly showing they understand what their customers need and are working to deliver it (as opposed to telling customers what they need) and a much looser , more inclusive attitude.

I had lots of discussions with friends, customers, other BPs and IBMers throughout the week and the general feel was consistently that a community was being rebuilt, that there are people within IBM who recognise the benefits from creating closer relationships with partners and customers. There were clear signals that IBM were listening and adjusting their strategy.  Less mention of “cloud or nothing” and more “this is where we want to take you but we’re not forcing you down a particular path”.  Yes if I’m being cynical I could point out that the detail of how this would all be accomplished was scarce but I can wait for them to share that so long as the final destination is where I want to be.

Under the heading of “pulling the community together” I’d like to say thank you to Amanda Bauman @ IBM who worked so hard to bring “Swolphin Lotusphere” to “Hilton Connect” , even organising a craft beer night , a Karaoke night and getting the Nerd Girls Sparks session on the agenda.

I used to say that I’d leave Florida each year feeling energised, excited, happy and determined to learn new things.  That was definitely true this year.  I love the Hilton location, by far over the Swan/Dolphin (those outdoor firepits for late night chats are much better than the rotunda) and the bar was nicely laid out (if horrifically expensive and that comes from a girl who buys drinks in London bars).

My Connect Words For 2016








Nothing is confirmed yet but I hope to see everyone at the end of January 2017 at the Hilton Orlando..

It’s been real 🙂


IBM Lifetime Champion Award - 

Today during a lunch for IBM Champions, Amanda Bauman announced a new IBM Lifetime Champion award created this year and given to Theo Heselmans and I.  It was a surprise to say the least and the standing ovation my fellow Champions gave us (along with the hugs and handshakes) sent me into shock

2016 marks the 20th year of Turtle and I have loved and still love working with the products and people in this community (call it what you will, you know who you are) for every moment of that time.  I am beyond happy that I have been part of helping it grow and flourish and that I have learnt so much from so many of you.  

I will do my best to keep learning, writing, sharing and working.  For those of you that have come to my presentations, worked with me, taught me, encouraged me, nominated me and become my closest friends

Thank you

Tomorrow I’m on stage at the closing session of IBM Connect.  Deep breath and wish me luck.

Off To Florida - Where I’ll Be

I’m sat here thinking about packing, I’ve also just rush ordered some headphones from Amazon for delivery tonight (PSB M4U 1 on a special sale deal),  had a new IMuto charger delivered (20 quid bargain) and am constantly refreshing my weather app set to Orlando.. that must mean it’s nearly time to get on a plane and start my journey to IBM Connect

After 21 years it’s amazing everything still feels new and exciting but it’s a new location (the Hilton Orlando), I have lots of new content, a new co speaker (waves at Mark Myers) and I’m going to get to spend lots of time with some of you I never get to see.. so in case you want to see me here’s where I’ll be


BALD (Bloggers meet up) - at least I think it’s happening at the Hilton around 3pm. Keep an eye on Bill Malchisky’s blog for more details.


6pm Opening  Showcase and Speedgeeking

7pm Welcome Reception


11.30am in Lake Eola A #1086

I will be presenting on security with Mark Myers (we may have to miss the last part of the keynote to make sure we’re in place in time)

Our session will focus on the recent SSL vulnerabilities and how to create and deploy a SHA2 certificate (#1086)


2.30pm in Florida 4 we are doing Spark Ideas #1120

This year I’m just hosting but we have some amazing speakers and content including

Theo Heselmans: Keeping Up - Explorations Into A Smarter World
Jamie Magee: The Urban Gardener
Mat Newman: Nurturing the Nerdy Child
Carolyn Pampino: Hearts wide open: Respecting our parents wishes
Chris Miller: When Three Weeks Changed Everything
Amanda Bauman: From shy girl to nerd girl in 7 weeks!
Lauren Maxwell:
From Opera to IT: Career Improvisation and Unlikely Paths
Ginni Saini:  Relocating From India to America - Choosing Change & Facing Challenges

5.15pm in Lake Mizell AB.  How To Plan & Complete Your Connections Upgrade #1084

It’s the last session of the day before everyone heads to Universal for the party and I’ll be presenting on how to plan and complete a Connections upgrade including to 5.5 and its day 1 fixes. I’ve spent the past few weeks buiding new installs of 5.5 in labs and documenting it for Connections101 as well as discovering some surprises along the way..


Harry Potter @ Universal Studios


Jus’ hanging around the Hilton going to sessions and saying goodbye to people 🙂

I am trying not to organise too much ahead of time so make sure you reach out to me (email is best) if you’re around

See you there

Connections 5.5 & Docs 2 -What, When, How

Yesterday IBM announced that Connections 5.5 and IBM Docs 2.0 will be shipping very soon.  Today in fact (that’s the “when”). I’ll hopefully be downloading and installing sometime next week - the good news is , from looking at the system requirements, the architecture and core software versions remain the same as 5.0.  That makes an in place upgrade easier and - my preferred route - a side by side install less work.  For instance the supported version for WebSphere right now is 8.5.5 Fixpack 4 - with Connections 5.5 that becomes 8.5.5 Fixpack 6.

Detailed system requirements here for those of you wanting to get right to the meat of things 🙂

I’ve been stalled on Connections101 awaiting this release so I’m going to be documenting my experiences installing a) as a fresh install and then b) as an upgrade on that site.  I am also going to be able to talk about upgrading to Connections 5.5 in my Connect 2016 talk in Florida in January

Plan & Complete a Connections Upgrade

Tuesday 2nd February at 5.15pm (eek!) in Lake Mizell AB

So this upgrade has been touted as “containing all the new features we’ve been gradually adding to the Cloud” - IBM did a webcast earlier this week going through all the new features and you can watch the replay here with the slides and audio.

Based on the features shown on the webcast (no software yet so I haven’t tested, no documentation yet so I can’t verify) this seems to be an important upgrade, it plays catch up with functionality that should have already been there (nested folders FTW!) but, importantly, introduces a lot more  simple customisation to bring the display in line with what you are working on.  That last sentence reads a bit marketing speak but stick with me, here are a few of my highlights

  • Nested Folders in a browser, mobile and the desktop plugin. It’s been  one of the biggest customer requests and from what I’ve seen the development team have worked hard to ensure each platform has sensible approach to working with them
  • Improving search by introducing the ability to prioritise your own content higher in search results along with the system prioritising  your own recently visited content
  • Administrator enforced password on the Connections mobile application.
  • Customising Communities so they match their content better.  Communities have always been pretty much a one size fits all design and these new features are going to enable each Community owner to strip out what’s unnecessary, create a layout that highlights what’s most important and use the best understood titles and terms for the content.  You can now benefit from
    • having different multi column layouts
    • renaming applications to something more appropriate and meaningful (changing the words “Forums” or “Members” for instance)
    • hiding applications you don’t need in that Community
    • moving Communities around, making them parent or sub Communities after they are created.  This is going to allow us to better group, archive and consolidate information highlighting  more immediate and current Communities better

      All of this will hopefully encourage a feeling of personalisation and ownership amongst members.

Those are just some of my highlights - the search and Community changes alone will I think provide a good reason to upgrade.  There are many more features I haven’t mentioned and which are covered in the webcast.

At the same time as Connections 5.5 ships, IBM are shipping Docs 2.0.  IBM Docs isn’t part of your standard Connections licensing although the file viewer component is.  If you haven’t used Docs it’s essentially simultaneous co-editing of any Microsoft Office or OpenOffice files within Connections.  I can upload an Excel spreadsheet into a Community and then everyone can work on it at the same time, seeing each other’s edits in real time and updating different versions.  The editors don’t need to have Excel installed and this is all done through a browser without any need to download the file.  I have several customers using it who really like it and if you are using, or plan to use, Connections for content editing or management I recommend you take a look.

So that’s it - my high points.  Once I get started installing I hope to be in a position to talk to customers about deploying or upgrading in a few weeks’ time. I expect to be discovering more goodness along the way.

I’ll be blogging my activity on Connections101 and I’m sure we’ll all have a lot to talk about in January at Connect  - you’re coming right?

Spark Ideas …Your Turn

This January at Connect the Nerd Girls will once again be bringing you Spark Ideas.  Sparks are a series of 6 min informal talks on a variety of topics - we have our own channel on Vimeo but to see last year’s sessions take a look at our playlist on youtube

Sparks doesn’t really have a single message but the stories represent things like strength, joy, persistence, inspiration and bravery of all kinds. You may not think that applies to you but I can assure you it does.  For instance

  • Have you been involved in any educational projects around STEM - even a school science or computing project?
  • Do you have something that inspired you this year or is inspiring you to change that you want to talk about?
  • Do you have ideas on how to encourage girls into STEM or experience of the challenges they face and how they overcome them?
  • What new opportunities are there that are being missed?
  • What brings you joy?

If you think you’d like to speak, or just want to talk through an idea please ping me on Skype (GabriellaDavis) or on twitter @Gabturtle or contact Amanda Bauman at IBM @amandabauman.  Connect is fast approaching so get in touch soon

Sparks is on Tuesday at 2.30 in Florida 4 and we hope to see you there.