IBM Connect 2013 Recap – The Show

At the end of January I took my annual pilgrimage to Orlando, Florida for the IBM Connect (formerly Lotusphere) conference. It’s something I’ve looked forward to every year for a decade and a half.

This year I approached it with some trepidation. I was afraid that IBM was changing it away from the conference I loved to something… well more corporate. I wasn’t wrong, but it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.

The change was pretty evident in the Opening General Session. IBM did a great job, but was showing off technologies that are more apt to the Fortune 100 than companies like mine.  In fact, I think someone said that the upcoming Notes and Domino 9 only got a total of a 56 second mention during the two plus hours.

For my team, who runs our company on XPages, based on Domino, that was kind of a bummer. However, the real travesty would have been if the technical tracks fell flat, and that couldn’t have been further from the truth. XPages had an incredibly strong showing (40+ sessions.)  The Best Practices track was as valuable as ever, and I think the content was even stronger than years prior.

Outside of the tech content, there were a lot more things offered for the pointy-haired bosses, and HR and Marketing professionals.  They are definitely offering more to bring those folks to Orlando, and that’s fine. They didn’t lose focus on the technical side despite the lack of sessions on some things like Quickr.  It makes sense as they are trying to migrate everyone to Connections, and that product continues to get even more compelling.

The conference in general made reference to Lotuspheres past with a wall of photos and a great video of highlights through the years.  The one thing they also promised to do was have a party to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Lotusphere.  This is the one IBM screwed right in the ear.

You see, our session booklets said this party was to happen on the Product showcase and it was at a time during sessions.  So if you wanted to attend, you had to skip out on content which I did.  I got to the floor and started looking around.  I found lots of other friends doing the same thing.  What did we find?  Nothing.  Well unless you count one thing of balloons and some cupcakes.

Don’t get me wrong, the cupcakes were FABULOUS, but that wasn’t really the point.  I expected an homage to the past, and kind of a passing of the torch from Lotusphere to Connect.  I skipped actual content damnit, I wanted my goodbye.  But much like we’ve felt about Notes and Domino over the years, it seemed like IBM just forgot about it.

At least on Twitter we made the “party” seem worth it, what with our piercing stations, the llamas, the live performance by Psy, and the tattoos upon nether regions.

Despite that particular shortcoming, IBM Connect seemed to maintain the things that made Lotusphere great in years past.  I really had gone into this whole process feeling that this could possibly be my last year, but when all the dust settled I felt a lot better about things.  So will I be back next year? I guess we’ll see.  One thing I would really miss is the people, and I’ll talk about that in an upcoming post.