IBM Connect Wrap Up

Hello again.. well i’m still in the US but now fully recovered from Connect and the nasty bug that took me out and apparently used me as a carrier to take out 40% of the community.  Last year I spent most of Connect down with flu so this year I thought ahead, got a flu jab and lasted until Weds night, right after the geek challenge before being wiped out by a stomach bug.  Curse you random travel bugs preying on my lack of sleep and reduced immunity!!!

So how was my Connect?  Truthfully I had braced myself for this year , I was concerned there would be a small pocket of techies roaming amongst HR bods and it would feel like we were visiting our own conference.  There was definitely a touch of that,  but mostly I was really pleased to see so many first time attendees in sessions and certainly the ones I was at and did were well attended.  It was a very different Connect for me as well.  Usually I am tied up doing presentations but manage to get to sessions too and meet with friends - this year it was wall to wall presentations , customer meetings and IBM meetings.  I barely managed to get to the labs and to the showcase not at all.  I didn’t even make the Social Cafe at the back of the showcase - one minute it was Sunday and everyone was setting up and next it was Thurs morning and it was all over.  From a business sense it was great and I made a lot of contacts within IBM that may regret giving me their business cards,  but I didn’t get to learn as much as I do usually and I have a long list of sessions to track down.

What about the news from IBM? I actually enjoyed the Opening General Session which was well paced and i’m used to there being little technical “how we did this” content.  That’s not what the OGS is anymore and no I don’t expect to hear new features about Notes or Domino during it.  Those are both mature established products, I want to know IBM is continuing to support and develop them yes but I don’t expect exciting news to come just from those products.  Mail Next is interesting and reinforces support for Domino which is clearly the back end architecture.  It’s good to see IBM attempting to innovate in the mail , calendaring, personal productivity space and using their best server to do that - overlaying what appears to be a slick web interface with some , I assume, J2EE application analytics.  All I need to know about Mail Next is that it was in the Design , not Development, lab for us to see.  It’s an evolving concept and I don’t need to know answers to the technical questions beyond “yes it’s Domino underneath” right now. We’ll see what happens and I hope there’s a design program to support its development throughout 2014.

Other than that there were some great technical sessions. There’s no doubt the combination of technologies available to us is getting more complex, not just within IBM, and so the technical skill required to select, design, install and support them is too.  That led to some difficulty in writing sessions - mine with Chris Miller entitled “Simplifying The S’s: Single Sign-On, SPNEGO and SAML” took some creative thinking as well as some real concentration when attending them.  In short if you come to Connect to learn, the lotusphere track presentations this year were at a higher technical level than ever before.

Other than that I saw a few friends this week, not as many as I’d like.  The Dolphindor cards put together by Julian Robichaux, Kathy Brown, Chris Miller and myself were, I think, a big success.  Check out our Facebook page for some hilarious photos - thanks to everyone to joined in, hope you had a good time.  The Spark Ideas sessions were wonderful even if they did make me cry and hopefully Chris will be able to upload the videos to the Nerd Girls’ Vimeo channel so you can all see them. The Great Geek Challenge, possibly our last one, was a lot of fun and thanks to Carl for bringing the electrocution machine to make awarding the final big prize fair and to Kathy and Katie for running the room.

My final thank yous to the guys at LDC Mark Myers, Matt White, Julian Woodward to the goddess herself, Susan Bulloch, to Chris and Kathy and Carl and Paul and everyone who laughed with me and made me feel part of the community.

It was a good year.  Possibly one of my best despite all the things, and people, I missed.  I’m cautiously optimistic about 2015.

Some Punny Title With The Word “Abstract” In It..

IBM Call for Abstracts is open as I’m sure you’ve heard from 100 other sources but I wanted to talk a bit about some of the tracks and especially the Show and Tell track that Paul and I have been working on with the track manager Christian Holsing at IBM since its inception.  You’ll notice if you go look (oh go on, here’s a URL if you can’t wait) that the Lotusphere Technical Program at IBM Connect remains a big  component of the overall Kenexa World / IBM Connect event.

As part of the Lotusphere component the content breaks down into tracks some of which are designed for IBM, some for customers and some for BPs.  Getting your abstract accepted is about two things

1. Writing a decent abstract.  I can’t emphasise this enough.  Don’t submit something half thought through or constructed because you think it’s so important you”ll “get to that later”.  First pass, if the abstract isn’t good , you’re out.  Plenty of people in the Community including myself are happy to talk to you about your abstract pre submission, I know I run mine by friends before submitting.  Don’t make the mistake of a bad abstract on a good subject

2. Submit to the right track. Not all of them. The right one.  Last year I was very sorry to see sessions I would have loved to have had in Show and Tell miss us because they were submitted to the wrong track. That’s true of all tracks.  The content team try to share / move abstracts to better tracks but it’s a manual process and 90% will simply get lost in the shuffle.

Do not pass up the opportunity to present at Connect.  I can’t emphasise this enough.  Every year the content team wants new ideas and new speakers and there is no better exposure for yourself or your company than sharing your knowledge with the variety of attendees at Connect.  Plus if you’re weird like me you just like standing on stage to shout “look how cool this is!”.

The Show and Tell has, over the years, gained the reputation for being hard-a** , we take only the most technical sessions. However we recognise that although we want in depth technical detail on a niche aspect of an ICS product, the products and technology themselves have become more complex and the depth of step by step instruction we wanted can become a death march for both presenter and attendee. So this year we’re changing things around, we still want highly technical , we still want demos, but here is the abstract for this year which I hope gives you an idea of the changes in style.

The Show ‘n Tell track brings you the best in live technical education. SNT sessions explain in comprehensive detail a specific technology with detailed instructions, picture screenshots and live demonstrations that show how it can be used and applied for your environment. With 90 minutes per session you can share your expertise with an audience who has come to learn something new.

This year we are interested in technical content on any of the IBM Collaboration Solutions products demonstrating how people can get the best out of them, as well as how combining IBM technology can deliver an integrated Social Experience. Whether you’re an administrator or a developer consider only that our attendees are working with complex technologies and demanding new ideas, at IBM Connect we want to give them content they can’t get anywhere else.

As far as the other tracks are concerned.  If you are a Business Partner or a technical consultant or an individual your best tracks to submit to are Best Practices, Jump Start and Show and Tell.  Not Infrastructure or Application Development which historically are 99% IBM presenters.  In addition if you’re a Customer or Business Partner you have new, what i’d call technical marketing,    tracks to submit to talking about cool things you’ve done. For Customers (“Track Seven: Customer Case Studies (from an IT perspective”) and for Business Partners (“Track Eight: NEW! Spotlight on IBM Business Partners “).

If you have an idea for a session don’t twist yourself in knots trying to decide whether to submit, just write the abstract and submit, you won’t regret it.  I’ll be sending in some submissions myself and keeping my fingers crossed but whatever happens I hope to see you in Orlando in 2014.