Goodbye Lotusphere Hello Connect

The end of this month I’ll be attending a yearly technology conference in Orlando, Florida for another time. How long? Well, If I had birthed a child way back when I started attending, that kid would be in high school. It’s a long time to do anything in this world, and as with anything you do this long, change is inevitable.  Up until now, that conference had been called Lotusphere. This year, the moniker has changed to IBM Connect.

For the first time in nearly a decade I’m not working the show as press, or as a technology blogger, or as a speaker.  This year I’m just going as a customer.

It’s actually a nice thing for me.  In the recent past I’ve always had interviews, and press briefings and blogger “nachos and news” events that I had to attend.  I missed a lot of session content and even some parties because I was sequestered away in a back hotel hallway interviewing executives and writing articles and blog posts (sometimes on a deadline.)  Last year, I didn’t have writing responsibilities, but I had to speak on stage twice.

This year I just have to attend sessions and soak up all the information I can.  I still may take as many pictures as always, but I might not even write a word about the event until well after it’s over.  That’s a fairly seismic shift for me, but quite frankly I’m looking forward to it.

The event is obviously changing in other ways too.

Most notable is the fact that the Lotus branding is being deprecated and everything is now true blue IBM.  I agree with the decision on the branding point, but not seeing thousands of bumblebee backpacks will be a sad departure from years past.

In addition the conference has really expanded to include more managerial, strategy and big picture business tracks and the focus isn’t quite as strong on the technical ones any longer.  I’m wondering how this might affect it’s usefulness to myself and my team.

I’ll miss some of the people who will be absent this year too.  Some staples on stage giving sessions, and staples on stage singing karaoke at Kimono’s.  This saddens me for many reasons, not the least being that some of these people no longer make their living based on IBM software.  That means chances to see them in person are far less likely.

Lotusphere has always been a family reunion for me.  Reconnecting with the people who bled yellow and had the same passion for the software that I had.  We would talk tech, network, learn, party and become close friends.  It was the recharge I needed to kick off the year in high gear.  WE were social business long before anyone coined the term.  This year, I’m just not sure it will be the same.

That said, I’m going to give it the benefit of the doubt, and reserve judgement until I’ve seen what IBM has to offer.  I just can’t help having a nagging feeling that is my last yearly trip to Orlando.

Here’s hoping I’m wrong.