2012-01-17 13:54:13 | Blog
It's warm, it's Florda and I have quite a lot to say about the first day, so I'll just get straight to it.
OGS - Opening General Session
After starting the day with a 9 km run and a pretty good breakfast, it was time for the official start of the conference. Most of the conference's 5000 attendees were present as IBM presented products to come.
Since social business is the buzzword IBM lives by these days, they had selected the band Ok Go to start off the conference. The band's music is pretty dull, but they do have entertaining videos. In fact, they have built their career by using social media like youtube, and I'm sure you've seen at their videos:
As the vocalist said: “Geeks are the new rock stars. That's why we play at a tech conference at eight o'clock in the morning.”
Every year they have a famous guest speaker. When I was here in 2007 it was Neil Armstrong. Last year it was Kevin Spacey. This year it was Michael J. Fox. He was visibly very ill with his Parkinson, and it was sometimes hard to hear what he said. But he got his message across:
Online communities helped him find his way through his illness. And his foundation also uses online activities and social media to gather financing and to get research done.
I like Michael J. Fox. He's a really good actor and seems like a genuinely nice person. And his got a gorgeous wife.
He was funny too. He told the story of when he was writing his book and came out of his study to tell his wife that “I'll never be able to finish my book on optimism!” He then finished it off with the story of a woman who had to flee to the top of a tree during a flood, and gave birth to her baby while staying at the top of the branches. “You think you've got problems? A woman gave birth in a tree!”
Then it was time for presentation of coming products. Let me be positive first: The Sametime for handheld devices looks fantastic. Being able to hold video conferences on your Ipad or Galaxy tab will be a great asset. Also, the way you will be able to control content on your web pages via drag and drop on a pad looks great.
Also, IBM Connections is a great product. The CEO of Bayer Material Science has been testing it for some time, and he told us how it had severely made it easier for them to share content and keep control of their files. No more fiddling around in explorer to find the right file or folder. “We can focus on collaborating instead on focusing how to use the software.
However: IBM Connections is for huge corporations. It's for the big league, where a huge corporation like IBM is. Connections isn't for smaller business like my own company. My company has 250 employees, most of them on the factory floor, and with a middle management in an age group that has mostly only read about Facebook. And we are not alone in this. IBM is catering to a market that doesn't exist yet.
Apart from companies that are heavily interacting with end users and huge corporation with funds to have people working with knowledge management, most CEOs won't see much use for "social business." And to tell you the truth, I don't think it's not what a lot of the attendees at Lotusphere are there for, either.
While people applauded when IBM showed how easy to use Connections is, and when showing Sametime and content management on the Ipad, the biggest round of applause came for the new Lotus Notes Social Edition client (8.5.4). Especially when they announced a web plugin that makes it possible to use Notes applications directly on the web, without web forms or Xpages. You can just run the app right in your browser, and it simulates the Notes client. The applause went through the roof!
Now, think about this for a moment. IBM is pushing huge social business solutions while telling how much your ROI will be. But their customers are here to learn how to put their most business critical platform, Lotus Notes/Domino, to even better use, and how to modernize their Notes applications. Still, IBM spent only ten minutes of the opening session on this product. Something is rotten in the state of Florida, folks, and IBM is Notes/Domino's step mother.
Don't get me wrong. My company has plans for using IBM Sametime for what it's worth. And we will be looking at Connections, especially for sharing files and knowledge inside the organization, and maybe on our intranet. It's not just Lotus Notes for us. But I think IBM and their customer base are on different planets at the moment.
Lotus Notes and Domino will be here for a long time, but I don't think the use of it will grow much (and I don't think IBM wants it to). I also think it will we move away from Notes being a huge ungainly mastodon of a client to a thinner client, partially running like a web app. The new mail template with the next version of Notes seems to be 100% webmail-based. Combined with how easy it is to use Lotus Notes with widgets and plugins, we could, if IBM play their cards right, have an increase in use of Notes on our hands. But I wouldn't hold my breath.
Phew! On to the rest of the sessions I attended.
SHOW 101 – Ace Time Detective – Developing Expert skills in Calendar Troubleshooting
Even if the calendar in Lotus Notes is the best calendar on the market (really, it is. Outlook (which I also use in one of my other jobs) and google calendar doesn't hold a candle to the Lotus Notes calendar), it doesn't mean it's trouble free. Debugging of and finding errors in calendar entries is sheer and pure hell, no matter what system you are running.
In this session we were given several really good tips on how to solve common calendar problems. In fact, I think I found out why one of my users receives a certain error message, and I will give the solution I was presented a try. I also learned several new commands to run in the command console, as well as rebuilding the freetime database.
What the session also showed is how hard it is to deal with IBM sometimes. They showed us several good problem solving tools, but they couldn't tell us where to download them, because IBM Legal didn't allow them to. Nice… We did get tips on third party applications, though.
Overall it was a good and really useful session.
AD 111 – The Xpath: Practical guide to taking your IBM Lotus Notes applications to Domino Xpages
Xpages is all the rage now, and I can see why. In this session they discussed what applications you should transform from traditional Notes applications and which ones you should not. They also discussed on when the application should look the same in both the browser and the Notes client, and when not to do that. We also covered mobile applications, which is what I'm looking most forward to with Xpages.
My main gripe with the session is that they made Xpages seem very complicated, while they in other sessions have told how easy it is. But I do agree with their critical view on when to transform applications in to Xpages and when not to.
BOF 107 – IBM Sametime 8.5.2 Has the Best Video Capabilities ever..
I went to this session in the hopes of getting a demo of Sametime's video capabilities. Especially since that is something my company probably will start using this year.
However, this was only a discussion among administrators of the product, so I left 20 minutes after it had started.
Instead I went to the Social Business Reception where business partners of IBM are pushing their products. They also sell merchandise and books there (which reminds me I have to ask my boss if I can buy a few books before I leave).
There was a reception with free beer and food when I arrived. Talk about your great timing! So I hung out, talked to people, made some contacts and joked around with the people at the Open NTF booth, while ogling the promo babes.
Still three days to go…