Lotusphere 2011 recap

It was last week this time that I was saying goodbye to the sunny and warm Orlando and dreading facing the 6-foot piles of snow on my driveway back home in Chicago.  A week later, I keep looking back at Lotusphere 2011 and wondering what it was that I walked away with.

Last night, someone asked me how the Lotusphere went and what was new.  I summed it up in two words: “Get. Social”.  “Oh yeah,” I added, “and Xpages”.

I could’ve mentioned all the various sessions I attended (the most in years), the new layout of the showcase floor, the debate of whether the attendance was up or down, whether there were more or less exhibitors  or even Harry Potter on Wednesday night.  But to me, the social and the Xpages were the key themes of the conference.  And that was disappointing.

On Sunday, after the Business Day Open General Session (OGS), one of the IBMers asked me what I had thought of it.  I told them that it left me very disappointed: there were no new product announcements, no new directions, no demoes — nothing but “get social”, “get social”, “get social”.  “Then, ” the IBMer replied, “you will be even more disappointed by the Monday OGS.”

When you go to a software company’s biggest annual conference, you want to be wowed by all the great cool stuff they’ve been working on during the previous year and are getting ready to release.  You want to see new and improved versions of existing software, breakthrough new software ideas: things that will ensure the said software company’s market leadership and growth.  To me, all of that was missing from Lotusphere 2011.  Or maybe I’m just old and cynical.

Or maybe it is better to have my (most likely) last Lotusphere end on a down note: I won’t be sorry not to return.

But I am going to miss this..

What did you think of the event?  Was it better for you than it was for me?

Hey ho hey ho it’s off to Lotusphere we go

PSC speaks at Lotusphere 2011

I’m excited to say that PSC will be well represented at Lotusphere next January.

John Head and I will once again present a Jumpstart session titled “The Never Ending Integration Story: How to Integrate Your Lotus Notes, Domino, and LotusLive applications with Microsoft Office, .NET, and Lotus Symphony”.  We promise all updated content and new demos updated for new versions of all software pieces involved.

John has another session he will be doing, too.  But I will let him talk about that himself.

Luis Guirigay will be co-presenting a session on Best Practices for doing Lotus Domino Health Checks.  While Luis is a frequent speaker at various user group events around Chicago, this is the first time he will be speaking at Lotusphere.  I am very excited that his session was accepted.

Hope to see everyone at our sessions.  Pack those rooms.  I want to have an overflow room once again.


Lotusphere 2010 wrap up

All is well that ends well and Lotusphere 2010 was no exception concluding with the talk of Big Bang and colliding particles.  In a wrap up focusing on my impressions of the conference, it would be easy to focus on the negatives, but like I was reminded in one of the Business Partner roundtables, if you’re gonna say something negative, make sure you also say something positive.  So, I’ll skip the negative stuff.

This was the first Lotusphere in several years where I was able to attend sessions, a lot of them in fact and most from the development track.  Among the sessions I attended, there were none that talked about advanced tricks and techniques of @ Formulas or LotusScript.  I don’t think there were many of those in the entire conference.  Instead, there were plenty of sessions focused on the WebKit, widgets, mobile development for BlackBerry, REST APIs, LotusLive APIs, Java and the web technologies.  And even Brent Peters in his Application Development keynote said that while @ Functions and LotusScript applications will continue to be supported, the future is with other technologies.

I returned from Orlando inspired and excited like I haven’t been in years.  There was so much new to learn: new terms, new technologies.  I’m inspired to learn new things, which have a broad range of application beyond Lotus.

The message was clear to me: as a developer, you have to learn new things.  LotusScript isn’t going to cut it anymore.  So it is likely that my blog will soon start listing posts on new topics in new categories.  It’s just too bad that not all of this new stuff runs on a Mac.

Lotusphere Comes To You 2009

2009 Lotusphere Comes To You dates and locations are now up on the IBM site.  I’m registered to attend the one in Chicago on April 9th.  I am curious to see what these events are going to be like.  I think this is the first time these events are to be held at an IBM facility and not at a rented out place like the Field Museum or the Navy Pier.  In Chicago, LCTY will be held at the IBM Chicago Center at 71 South Wacker.

I think this may also be the first time there will be no partner showcase as a part of the event.  Regardless, I will be there.  Looking forward to seeing the presentations and reconnecting with friends and customers.

Where are all the young’uns are (part deux)

My post on the noticeable lack of fresh young faces at Lotusphere 2009 received some mixed feedback.  The comments boiled down to 4 distinct categories: it’s hopeless: Notes is dead; it’s all good and there are young people working with technology; Lotusphere is too expensive to send young people; IBM isn’t doing enough pushing its technology in schools and colleges.  When I decided to write that entry, I had some different ideas in mind.  

I know that IBM isn’t doing enough and never will to promote its technology in the education market.  IBM considers Lotus Notes to be an enterprise-level technology and doesn’t see a business case in giving it for free or at a steep discount to schools and colleges.  I will wait for a Harvard Business School case study on how IBM lost its market share this way.  But this is a post for another time.

I know that Lotusphere is quite expensive and the increased admission fee in today’s market did nothing to promote attendance this year.

What was interesting is that I wasn’t the only one who observed the shift in attendees demographics.

So let us think about this…

We, the Lotus faithful, the yellow bubble, have perhaps the most vibrant and interesting community out there.  Unfortunately, as some of us had pointed out in the past, we live in an echo chamber, with our voices hardly ever being heard outside of the chamber.  

The biggest thing that was missing for me during and after the Lotusphere was the simple and pure excitement.  The kind of excitement we had when R5 came out and we all felt like the Superman.  The kind of excitement I used to feel coming to Lotusphere eager to learn new stuff and then coming back to the office, excitement and new knowledge brimming over, couldn’t wait to share what I learned with others, couldn’t wait to start trying new things.  That kind of excitement that is the domain of the young and the young at heart.  This excitement was missing for me. It’s been missing for a couple of years.  (Oh I can just see the comments I’m gonna get on this…)

So why is that?  Is there no longer anything exciting enough coming out of the IBM/Lotus powerhouse?  Or have we all gotten too old, too cynical and incapable or such excitement?

I was disappointed by the spirit of the material that came out of the yellow beanbag chairs.  While some of it was good play-by-play account of the sessions, it was about as exciting as the coverage of soybean futures: great if you’re a soybean trader yourself, but does nothing to make me want to start trading soybeans.  

The best reporting/blogging that came out of Lotusphere was by Jeff Widman on TechCrunch.com.  This guy brought the genuine excitement back to the event.  This being his first Lotusphere, he was discovering new and exciting things, secrets closely guarded by IBM: we have great software but we don’t want anyone to know it.  Read his article on IBM beating Facebook and Twitter.  Just wish Jeff would’ve written more after a week in Orlando.

The point of this entry is not to criticize or to bash anyone.  I have the greatest respect for the bright and amazing individuals who got to occupy the much coveted beanbags.  Consider this post a call to action or food for thought.  The point is to call attention to what and how they and the other “Lotus-oriented” bloggers, including myself, write.  Think of Jim Cramer’s Mad Money vs. mid-day commodities market coverage on Bloomberg.  If you never traded on the market, which show would make you want to start?  The play-by-play analysis of the market movements or the I-am-so-excited-about-this-stock-I-can’t-contain-myself approach of Jim?

So what do you think, folks?  Can we rekindle the fire and the passion?  Or will Blue Men be replaced by B.B. King signing “The thrill is gone” at the beginning of OGS 2010?

Let’s roll up our sleeves, smash a mug or 2, throw something across the room and scream “this stuff is THE stuff”!

Where are all the young’uns are?

Throughout the week of Lotusphere 2009 I heard the same question asked over and over again: “Where are all the people under 25?”  Looking around the show, I saw a lot and a lot of familiar faces.  These are the people I’ve been meeting and seeing here, in Orlando, year after year.  I’ve watched the PistolStar girls and the BinaryTree models grow up and grow old.  A couple more years, and these girls may actually talk to me.

Sitting over an early-morning breakfast at Perkins, I found myself reminiscing with one of my friends.  Both of us started coming to Lotusphere probably 10 years ago.  We remembered being excited over everything, looking at code, learning new things, attending as many sessions as possible, pestering people in the labs with countless questions.  Back then, we were surrounded by people, by young people, who were as excited and as eager as we were.  Today, we are still surrounded by eager and excited people, but these are the same people from 10 years ago: I see the same faces, I recognize the same names.  My friend remarked that when in sessions, looking around, he felt like a COBOL programmer.  What he found missing is that influx of the young excited and eager people, like the ones we were 10 years ago.  Thinking more and more about it, I felt like the monks in Ben Zander’s story.  Could the lessons from Ben Zander’s closing session speech be applied to us, too?

I don’t think I have to explain why not having many young people attend the Lotusphere or show any general interest in IBM/Lotus technologies is a problem.  We in Orlando spent a week talking about Web 2.0 technologies and social networking, Twitter and the Blogosphere were a lit with #ls09 comments and Lotusphere content.  These are all of the things and technologies that the young generation, the millennial, are supposed to be excited about and using.  However, they are largely unaware of the abilities and possibilities that exist in the Lotus product space and, as the result, choose to use other tools.  Python, Ruby on Rails, Google, iPhone and even .NET and Sharepoint are the technologies and tools that the new generation of IT talent is drawn towards.  Just like a new college grad is not interested in a job writing COBOL or RPG, that same grad is not interested in becoming a Lotus Notes developer — it is simply not cool.  Let’s face it, at some point during the last 10 years we went from being cool to being legacy.   

We, the Lotus folks, have the best community of individuals out there.  No other technical conference attendees arrive 2 days in advance just to hang out with each other.  No other technical community is so closely knit and so dedicated and passionate about their technology.  And no other technical community is this outspoken and no other community enjoys so direct of access to the people who can make things happen.  These are the things to be proud of.  These are things that can make others jealous.  And who wouldn’t want to be a part of such community?

So how do promote ourselves?  How do we encourage others to want to join us?  We have a great possibility to extend our reach beyond the “yellow bubble” and become once again a thriving and vibrant community.  How do we do it?

What ideas do you have?