Thoughts On Think

IBM have announced their new one-size-fits-all conference Think 2018 which will take place in Las Vegas next March.  This will consolidate several existing conferences including Connect (previously San Francisco and before that Orlando) , InterConnect (Las Vegas) and World of Watson (Las Vegas).

So to start with I’d like to say this is a great idea and what, as a 20+ year veteran of Connect (Lotusphere) and a newbie to InterConnect, I had hoped for.  However it’s also a lot of content, brands, interests, objectives and attendees to merge together so IBM to their credit are inviting feedback in their JAM session on June 20th on how best to do this.  I couldn’t wait until then and my friends are bored of hearing it so here are my top level ideas

  • Of all things let’s not separate brands into their own locations, especially ICS.  There is enormous value in being part of a larger pool of content, products and speakers
  • How about having a “brand” day at the end of the event or even the beginning so the brand focused strategy sessions could be presented to the brand focused audience.  Those brand days could be held at any hotel in Vegas
  • I’d hope that IBM maintain a single conference location for the main conference even if that means fewer and shorter sessions from everyone.

    To that end, I noticed InterConnect did not have the low level “how to” sessions that we’re used to in Connect. However there are plenty of great ICS user groups all over the world that do have those sessions.  Can we give up trying to find room for them in Think in favour of higher level more strategic sessions ?  I think so.

  • Why not group sessions together by interest area not brand.  ?
    • For developers working with ICS products, wouldn’t they also be interested in other development technologies and opportunities?  Why not have all the developer sessions across all brands near each other
    • As an admin much of my work involves integrating technologies and learning about what’s available across the entire stack.  The most valuable thing would be to make it easy for me to move between sessions / cross brands in one location. Whether it’s ICS, Cognitive, Security or Cloud - it’s all admin and I want to learn about it all.
    • For CIOs attending surely they would be more likely to go to multiple strategy sessions about multiple brands and products if they were located near each other ?
    • Having the opportunity for designated conference areas also increases the opportunities for networking with like minded people
  • Interconnect this year offered pick and go sandwiches and snacks over lunch in the Concourse (showfloor) which was a lot faster and easier than marching 1.5 miles to the aircraft hanger size room where the formal buffet was.  That’s also a huge space that could be freed up for more sessions.  Why not deliver cold sandwich lunches, more informal seating areas and more stations around the conference centre. There are also many places around to grab your own snacks or lunch.  I didn’t eat in the large hall at all after I realised how much time was wasted getting there and back.

Just a few thoughts that have been burbling in my head.  I’ll definitely be joining the JAM and you can register to do and read more about Think here


All Change On IBM Connected Abstract Submission

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about the Connected Abstract submission process and the topics available to choose from

.. that was then.  This is now  All change.  Gone are the topics of

Digital Experience, Email, Meetings and Chat, Social Collaboration, Social Content

To be replaced by more familiar “topics” that look more like the tracks we are used to.  As I discovered when I went to submit the ones I had written in draft .. time for a bit of a rework.  You still have until September 4th to submit yours

Abstract Topics

Have Your Say - What Would You Like To See As A 2016 Event?

There’s a community led effort underway to get some feedback on what people who traditionally would come to Lotusphere/Connect(ED) would most like to see in 2016.  This is unauthorised by IBM but there are lots of options under discussion by them, by various user group leaders and other imaginative and enthusiastic people in our community.  Basically no-one wants to let an annual global event go away.   This has boiled down to a single question survey that is anonymous, requires no login and will take you about 10 seconds to complete.

Make your voice heard here

IBM Connected Pt 2 of 3 - The Message

WARNING: This blog post uses the terms “Connect” “ConnectED” and “Lotusphere” interchangeably.  I suggest you do your own internal translation as you read.

So Connected is over and the sessions are done.  I would say I found it one of the best in years.  Certainly the content of the OGS and many of the other IBM sessions started to form a sensible strategy that I think customers can benefit from and for the first time in many many years I came away genuinely excited about the potential for the technology and the degree of innovation taking place.  Vague enough for you?  I’m sorry, I’ll get into detail in a little bit.

There was a lot of negative emotion understandably about this being the last Orlando conference (not officially but c’mon) but that aside it’s nice to hear IBM dial back on the CLOUD CLOUD and instead talk more about hybrid and mixed on-premises designs because I honestly believe that is the direction the majority of companies are heading.

So leaving aside the incremental improvements (TLS 1.2, critical view indexing, whiteboarding in mobile, video on smartphone, file transfer via mobile) and trying to put my thoughts into some kind of order let’s start with…


IBM’s new mail client seeks to innovate and re-imagine how we work with mail. I’m an engineer so when I use those words I don’t use them as marketing speak but in their real sense. The good news is that IBM are really on the right track here, focusing on design and using working “type” personas such as “the searcher”, “the on the go worker”, and “the assistant” to create ways to customise and interact.

The even better news is that there will continue to be a NSF database and therefore a Domino server underneath the hood.  Right now Verse is going to be cloud-only but we are promised an on-premises solution in the 2nd half of 2015.  Obviously one of the most powerful aspects of Verse utilises analytics and links to Watson allowing the client to make decisions for you and present the best and most important information to you all the time based on your previous behaviour and content.  I’m fairly sure we aren’t getting Watson on premises so it will be interesting how the integration will work but I can wait to see that.

In the meantime that NSF architecture extends your client choices from Notes, iNotes and Traveler to Verse, Notes, iNotes and Traveler and reassures existing customers they are on the right path.

There is a great website on Verse with demos of how it works and an explanation of the personas I highly recommend you read and sign up for the beta.

From my perspective this is by some way the most exciting direction in enterprise mail from any provider in as long as I can remember.  IBM are talking heavily about a freemium license and driving everyone to the cloud but I file that under ‘marketing wishful thinking’ and wait and see.  Right now my concern is the technology and that looks right.

Connections Next

Connections continues to be central to IBM’s social strategy, with v5 CR2  due out any day now and Connections Next due this year.  IBM continues to add new features and invest in the desktop and mobile clients.  It’s important to remember that things branded as “Connections” are often an interface to another product via Connections. For example Connections Content Manager adds Filenet integration, Connections Mail adds Domino or Exchange integration, Connections Chat adds Sametime integration, etc.  In 2015 we are told to expect more user customisation of Connections, such as the ability to create and synchronise folders and create, name and secure chat threads.

It’s interesting to see the investment in design carrying through to the new Connections next interface which has removed the emphasis on moving between applications like “Wikis” , “Blogs” and “Activities” and replaced this with a more cohesive experience around a single homepage showing what is most important to you (what you are working on, and what those you follow / network with are doing).  I wish I had photos of this and apologies that I don’t, I took some but was too far away from the stage for them to be any good.  We have said for some time that the “apps” menus make Connections seem too fragmented and it appears IBM are listening.

Once more, on-premises will be at least 6 months behind cloud as new features arrive but I’ve decided they can work out the bugs in the cloud before we install on premises 🙂


I always enjoy hearing from the IBM Mobile team who in the past few years have been very open to feedback and suggestions from customers and business partners. One of the things that has come up time and again is the need for a single mobile client to handle mail, connections, chat, etc, instead of the individual clients we currently have and it looks like they have listened and produced that in the upcoming Verse client (initially iOS but then Android).  I’m sure it’s going to be cloud only initially but hope to see it support on premises when that becomes available towards the end of 2015.

So where does that leave customers?  If you are running Domino, Notes, Connections, Sametime (renamed as Connections Chat — euch) and are on-premises then you’re in a good place.  I think the path for most companies will end up being entirely on-premises or a cloud / on-premise hybrid with some commodity services in the cloud and business applications on premises.  At least as far as I can see.

What do I do next ? Well that’s for the next blog…

IBM Connected Pt 1 of 3 - My Presentation Content

As I head home from Orlando I have a lot of things I want to share so it seemed best to split these into different blogs about different things.  This one is just the content from my three presentations.  I hope you found them useful if you came along and I hope you find these useful if you couldn’t make it but just download them.

Thanks to Terri Warren from IBM for working with me on the Connections and Directory Integeration presentation. It was our first time presenting together (and first time meeting!) and I think it went well - we had a lot of very technical content as you’ll see but the room stayed with us right to the end.

I was asked a lot about Connections101 and when it will be updated.  I am working on the Linux v5 version now including IBM Docs and that hopefully will start appearing online in the next few weeks.  Then I’m considering an iSeries install version if the hardware works out…

BTE201 - Working with External Users in Connections

BP201 - Creating your own Connections Design

BP206 - Connections Directory Integration (with Terri Warren)

A Conference Kind Of Year (Ch-ch-ch-changes)

As I come up for air having completed my presentations for ConnectED 2015, starting this weekend in Orlando, I am in a reflective mood.  I have 3 presentations this year (plus two halves) and I’m really excited about the content.  In fact I’m really excited about what I’ve been working on recently and I already have travel plans to be at (and hope to present at) Engage in Gent, Social Connections in Boston and MWLUG in Atlanta in March, April and August respectively.  This is the year of the conference..

I’m also delighted that many of my friends who can’t make ConnectED are still coming into town to hang out and visit. It’s going to be a very new and different kind of conference. I expect to go back 20 years to the days of quietly wandering the corridors unnoticed and going home to my rented house in the evenings and that’s OK - just so long as those of you who are going enjoy my presentations and say hi

BP201 Creating Your Own Connections Confection - Getting The Flavour Right
Swan, Mockingbird 1-2 Tuesday 5pm.
This is the session where I attempt to explain how to build your Connections environment and take into consideration all the additional products you can bolt on such as Forms Experience Builder, IBM Docs. What features do they give you and how do they affect your design.

BP206 Connections Directory Integration:  A Tour Through Best Practices for Directory and Security Integration With IBM Connections (with Terri Warren from IBM)
Swan Mockingbird 1-2 Monday at 3.45pm
This is a highly technical session looking at the structure and behaviour of directory services for IBM Connections.  How does LDAP behave, how do the Connections applications use the directory and what are the biggest traps people fall into.

BTE201 How to LDAP - Working With External Users in IBM Connections
Dolphin S Hemisphere 2 Monday at 1pm
Adding external users into your Connections environment was a new feature with Connections 5. In this session I’ll take you through the options for configuring external user access and what is the external user experience.  Includes live demos ! (oh yes.. i’m not scared)

Then there are the sessions I’m organising or “guesting” in.

Nerd101 Spark Ideas - What Are Your Inspirations?
Swan 3-4 Tuesday 2.30pm
If you have never been before then Sparks are 7 or 8 people talking for 6 mins on a topic of their choice, this year our theme is what or who has inspired you and we have great new speakers bravely talking about fear, challenging themselves, and what inspires them every day.

MAS101 #UserBlast2015
Swan 7 -10 Sunday 5pm
Let’s face it, this is Mat Newman’s show:-)

My first visit to Orlando was in 1989 - the year Tim and I got engaged and we went using timeshare certificates given by our parents.  In 1990 we went back for our first ever stay at a proper grown up hotel for our honeymoon (they Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress).  In 1991 we went for the last time, we were getting ready to be grown ups, get on that career path and start a family.  We bought a Magic Kingdom “brick” as a memory of our last trip (we expected) for 20 years (until our kids grew up).  Well life doesn’t do what you expect and in 1996 I was working with Lotus Notes for another company, Tim had a job he hated and we hadn’t started a family - we came back to Orlando to Lotusphere.  I remember sitting in our room at the Port Orleans trying to work out how to cram in sessions to as short of time as possible so we’d have a chance to go to a park.  I remember walking around and knowing nobody and nobody knowing me, just Tim and I isolated and looking in from the outside.  I remember sitting three exams in a row in an attempt to get my certification and finish early so I could - again - go to the park. My first exam scored 98%, 2nd 86% and third 77% - just passing.

Later than summer we both quit our jobs having no idea what we were going to do and started The Turtle Partnership with our friend and colleague Mike Smith.  We’ve been to Orlando every January since.  It’s time to say goodbye properly.

Sparks Ideas - ConnectED 2015. What Inspires You?

I’m delighted to confirm that Spark Ideas is back this year at ConnectED 2015.  This is organised by Nerd Girls and the idea is that people speak for up to 6 minutes on our topic.  This year’s topic is “Inspirations” so what we want to hear is about anything or anyone that has inspired you.

Sparks are always popular as  I think previous speakers and attendees will tell you  - it’s also something out of the standard conference fare.  Since this could be your last chance to spark  I hope we’ll see you there but even more I hope you want to speak and share your inspiration with us.  Please email me , Kathy Brown, Susan Bulloch or any of the Nerd Girls or even  Or DM any of us on Twitter if you want to talk through an idea.  Trust me, we want to hear your ideas and we want to hear from people who have never “Sparked” before.

Nerd Girls are about celebrating everyone’s uniqueness , what drives us to create our own path.  We hope to see you there ..

2.30pm on Tuesday in Swan Rooms 3&4


Speaking at ConnectED 2015, the mysterious “track 6”

This year the new ConnectED conference introduces a brand new track under breakout sessions - Track 6 entitled “Beyond The Everyday”.  The track is being put together by Christian Holsing and myself and it’s something very different we think has been missing from previous IBM conferences.  Although it has replaced the Show and Tell track the two aren’t connected in any way and the “Beyond” sessions are regular (60 mins) session length.  Best of all , these sessions are ideal for Business Partner and Customer speakers.

Let me explain why I’m excited by “Beyond” because I can think of at least 30 sessions without even trying that would be great. Beyond the Everyday looks to fill a gap as it encourages you as speaker to talk, not just about IBM products, but about how extending those products and adding other technologies bring your software to a whole new level.  In previous years I’ve heard from people who didn’t submit that they didn’t think IBM would care to hear what they want to talk about because it’s not on brand enough - well it may not have been true then (I honestly don’t know) but it’s not true now, at least for this track.

Business solutions today aren’t all from one provider, they aren’t all from one OS, many of them aren’t all on premises or Cloud but combining the most innovative tools in each area from different sources makes Connections, Sametime, Domino, Portal etc a very big part of a larger technological story.  It’s about what we can achieve when we reach further.   So I know you all have innovative ways of making things work, of bending technology to your will, of achieving your goals by forcing those technical barriers out of the way and and that’s what we want to hear about 🙂

In short, if you’re doing something freaky, weird, bent and exciting (in a software sense) share it with an audience who want to know how to work without limits.   As before I am very happy to help or advise on abstracts if you are considering submitting, but you only have a week or so to do so.  I’m hoping we were right and this is what people want to hear and hoping even more this is what you all want to talk about!

Send in your abstracts HERE

IBM ConnectED 2015 Call For Abstracts - What Do Those Tracks Mean?

So the call for abstracts are out for ConnectED 2015 this coming January.  For those of you who don’t know.. ConnectED is a very different beast that Lotusphere or even Connect prreviously. It’s intention is to be much more technical as well as smaller (encompassing the Swan only). Think of it more like a technical user group, more opportunity to learn and network.

Smaller also means fewer session slots available so you need to submit if you want to speak as soon as you can.  Call for abstracts closes on October 8th.  Some tracks are still here (yay Best Practices!) some have moved on (SNT) and some are brand spanky new!.  Take a look at the track descriptions below to find out where you fit.  I’m particularly excited about Track 6 - Beyond the Everyday which looks at pushing the boundaries of IBM technology and where it coexists with other environments.

Track ONE: Strategy and Innovation
Who should attend?: CIOs, IT managers, IT professionals of all levels

Take your collaborative environment to the next level! Laying the foundation for the week, and designed for all levels of IT professionals, this track concentrates on these brand-new, “hot-off-the-press” technology innovations coming from the IBM labs and engineers, including exciting new technologies and glimpses of the future from industry gurus. From social transformation and exceptional web experiences to adoption best practices — and with “sneak peeks” at every turn — this track will be full of sessions that you won’t see anywhere else!

Track TWO: Application Development
Who should attend?: Developers and architects of all levels

The speed of business has accelerated to meet the speed at which people interact, digitally. People are “always on”, consuming data at constant rate. Their interactions and the Internet of things, are sources of that data. Traditional business processes are expected to combine that data with that which is inherent in their systems to provide individualized experiences to end users. This experience needs to be always available and customized to the device from which they choose to access it.

In this track, application developers will learn about building applications in a world of social interaction and information. Topics will include Cloud, Analytics, Mobile, and Social, using technologies for IBM Domino, IBM Connections, and IBM Exceptional Customer and Employee Experience Suite.

Track THREE: Infrastructure and Deployment
Who should attend?: System administrators, IT managers and integrators of all levels

The Infrastructure track is at the technical heart of IBM ConnectED; these sessions will provide the knowledge you need to design, deploy and manage a collaboration infrastructure tailored to your business needs. You’ll learn planning considerations, administration/deployment techniques, and daily “tips and tricks” straight from IBM’s software architects, developers, product managers and “in-the-field” experts. Whether you’re a new systems administrator, an experienced collaboration architect, or something in between - this track will provide what you need to get to the next level.

Track FOUR: Best Practices
Who should attend?: IT managers and practitioners: application developers, system administrators, integrators; technologists of all levels

The popular Best Practices track is delivered by the community – for the community - -and is all about technical solutions that can be implemented TODAY. Whether it’s adoption or development — Domino, mobile, cloud or portal, sessions here provide tips, tricks, and quick maneuvers with a focus on learning from the experiences of others. No product or marketing sessions found here, these sessions take away pain, bring back the fun and deliver the technologies. So put on your thinking cap and see if you can create a session that will meet these standards! We want to hear from you!

Track FIVE: Spotlight on IBM Business Partners
Who should attend?: IT managers and practitioners as well as business leaders and professionals

Back by popular demand! Sessions in this track showcase the highly-acclaimed solutions that our Business Partner community is known for - with technical detail and best practices on how the solution was built! Whether your focus is social software, email, unified communications, or creating exceptional digital experiences - on-premise or in the cloud - there’s something here for you!

Track Six: “Beyond the Everyday”
Who should attend?: IT managers and practitioners: application developers, system administrators, integrators, technologists of all levels

In this track, we step outside the standard uses of our IBM technologies and see how people have combined tools and new techniques to innovate and extend what their software can do. Meeting the demands for multiple technologies, platforms, frameworks, mobile, cloud, on premises and beyond, “Beyond the Everyday” is a deep technical track where approaches will be explained and demonstrated. These sessions may feature IBM products as part of a larger story or may be entirely focused around stretching the products we know to the limits of their capabilities. One think is for certain, they all will be about new ideas and will leave the audience excited to try for themselves!

Track Seven: Chalktalk Sessions
Who should attend?: Any and all ConnectED attendees, both IT and business roles

Come one, come all! Chalktalk sessions are informal, interactive discussion groups for attendees to share ideas and experiences in an small group, and open forum setting. Feel free to submit topics that interest you, either those you would like to lead, or topics and discussions that you’d like to participate in! As a reminder, attendees build the agenda by voting on all submissions and ultimately select the sessions that will appear on the agenda. So you’ll be sure find something that’s well worth your while!

Sessions will likely focus on the areas below, but other ideas more than welcome!

  • Messaging and Collaboration
  • Social Software
  • Exceptional Digital Experience portfolio
  • Cloud
  • Mobile
  • and more!