ConnectED: The Good Stuff

Okay, I know the last post seemed completely down on IBM, and mainly it was because of logistics and cheaping out on basic stuff.  It’s just that such a high bar had been set by Lotusphere in the past.  I was there when 10,000 attendees took over everything, and comparing this year to even prior down years was pretty bad.

That said there were some excellent things that came out of ConnectED.

IBM Verse

The main one is IBM Verse.  For the first time in a long time IBM has something sexy to sell, and they are actually marketing it, by name, on TV.  It’s been a long long time since that has happened, so that in and of itself is huge news.

By using analytics and Watson, they are really trying to differentiate this offering from other email systems on the market.  I think they will succeed, and hopefully this can be used to move those unhappy with Notes to the browser-based Verse.

I’ve been to a lot of briefings leading up to ConnectED, and my biggest concern all along has been the lack of support for on premises installations of Verse.  Well in Scott Souder’s session on Verse he asked the audience how many would like it on-prem, and damn near the entire audiences hands went up.  The demand is there, and they said it will happen the second half of the year.  That said, I’ll believe it when we have the code up and running in Development.

IBM also announced that they will be putting out a “freemium” model of Verse so normal consumers can use it as well.  This is going directly against the likes of Gmail, and I think it’s a pretty bold move. Not sure it will get a huge uptake, but you never know.

As excited as we all are, we do have to remember that it’s still just a browser based email client.  So I’m tempering my enthusiasm a bit, but still looking forward to getting my hands on it.

Fighting to Win

The next huge thing for me, was a story from Steve McDonagh.  Mr. McDonagh’s company was contemplating moving 40,000 users to Google Apps.  In order to avoid that, IBM had to combat Google on price, features and functionality.  Apparently IBM really stepped up to the plate and fought for it, and in the end, won.  Now it was a SmartCloud play, which is where IBM really wants you to go, so I can see why they fought so hard.  That said, it’s still heartening to see IBM really fight.

Would they fight just as hard for my 600 on premises users?  Not sure, but I’ll give them credit in this case.

The technical sessions… were technical

Even though some of them ended up full and having to turn away attendees, the consensus is that the technical content was much better than years past and had much less fluff.  Room size and scheduling were still an issue, but if you wanted good deep technical content, you could find it.  It wasn’t ALL marketing and HR speak.  I would have like liked to see a little more on the admin side but I’ll still take it.

Thanks as always to the particular track managers who fight for good content.  You know who you are.

There ARE IBMers who get it

I spoke to many truly passionate IBMers who feel the same way we do.  They hate the lack of focus on the core products, they disliked the cheap direction this years conference took, want to see IBM Verse on premises, and really want to do the right thing.  They exist and they are wonderful people, OUR people.  Hopefully they survive job cuts and can continue to fight for us.

I’ll even give props to Jeff Schick who has said many of the right things at the conference.  I just hope he can do some of them before he’s rotated out to some other division as happens all too often.

A Community Re-Energized

Some folks have talked about the energy at the conference, and it WAS really palpable.  I’m not sure if it was just everyone trying to enjoy what might be the last hurrah or what, but it was there and it was real.

That’s the thing.  I’ve been to other IBM conferences and have talked to others who attend them all the time, and I always hear and see the same thing.  There is NO other IBM community out there quite like ours.  We are actually the most social, in both the sense that we are all over social media AND all meet in the bar until it closes down.

If the OGS is bad, you’ll know immediately by the snark on Twitter.  What did people take away from the show? Read their posts on Facebook and their blogs.  Did people enjoy themselves?  Look at all the pictures on flickr and Google+.

I hope IBM sees this somehow, and actually realizes that this group of users who have grown up on Groupware, knowledge management and now social business are really the ones doing the most with the products.  Give us this type of conference, and talk about our software (Notes, Domino, Connections, Sametime, Verse etc.) and we will come, and we will spread the word.

We have ALWAYS been social, and we have always meant business.