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The Lotusphere Thread -- What should IBM pay attention to this year in the planning?

By Andrew Pollack on 10/30/2008 at 11:06 AM EDT

Every year there are good things and bad things at the Lotusphere conference. If you've got anything in mind for what they should really be aware of, lets post it here. I'll start...

Food & Food Tent --

Having just the one was really great last year in that you could meet anyone you wanted to have lunch with. The downside was that it was very far away from the Swan, where all the "Best Practices" sessions take place. That's where I spend most of my conference time.

Late Busses --

Many people have mentioned this -- there should be at least one or two busses running very late and very early. People like to stay and socialize.

Sessions --

Probably the most important thing at Lotusphere are the sessions. Some years they're well allocated and other years they're not.

First -- Allocate sessions based on what attendees really want, and size rooms accordingly. In 2004 Lotus made a massive mistake in pushing Websphere and Workplace very hard by holding a ton of sessions on those topics. Lots of people were really upset because that meant less Notes & Domino sessions. Nearly all the big rooms at the Dolphin were set aside for these sessions and they were nearly empty -- while the best practices track and the Domino focused sessions in other tracks were absolutely packed to overflowing for primary and repeat sessions. In my mind, that was the second biggest failure of planning ever at Lotusphere. Almost nobody goes to Lotusphere to learn about Websphere, Workplace, and Portal. Some may care about Sametime Untie, and a few may be interested in Bluehouse -- but the overwhelming majority of people are paying nearly two thousand dollars to IBM to focus on Notes & Domino. If this were a free conference, I'd have less problem with IBM pushing what they want. Its not free. Its a very expensive conference and attendees are customers. Give them what they want.

Second -- Pick speakers who can speak. Lotusphere is NOT the place to "try your hand" at giving a presentation. Unlike smaller conferences where there are only one or two concurrent sessions, at Lotusphere you have 10 to 20 or more to pick from at each slot. There is nothing more frustrating than to pick one of several good sounding ones and then end up with a barely coherent speaker delivering something that doesn't match the description or is so disorganized as to be useless. Its great to have IBM developers doing sessions -- they get a lot of slack on presenting skills because they're so much "in the know", but if they're not good at speaking, pair them with someone who is.

Third -- session changes and repeats. I noticed last year for the first time that I ended up at sessions that were cancelled without knowing in advance, and that I didn't seem to know when repeats were available. This needs to be more widely and obviously posted somewhere.


That's my top list -- comments from anyone else?




There are  - loading -  comments....

re: The Lotusphere Thread -- What should IBM pay attention to this year in the planning?By Ed Brill on 10/30/2008 at 11:39 AM EDT
it's not 2004 anymore, Andrew. But, I disagree with the assertion that this is
just a Notes/Domino conference. We have a decent set of attendees at sessions
on Portal, Sametime, Quickr, Connections. We have consciously excluded content
from the agenda on some of the more niche products and refrained from loading
down with other IBM brand presence.

Room assignments are always a balancing act but we do overflows and repeats for
that reason. Haven't heard many issues at the last two or three LSs around
room sizes.
re: The Lotusphere Thread -- What should IBM pay attention to this year in the planning?By Andrew Pollack on 10/30/2008 at 11:47 AM EDT
Quickr and Sametime certainly are important product spaces now. I know Lotus
wants Connections to be but so far I'm not seeing it. The biggest barrier to
acceptance at every single client I talk to is the same as on Sametime Advanced
-- its the requirement for the big investment on the back end along with the
difficulty in setting up and managing it.

As far as Portal -- it is a niche product, useful for some customers with
specific banking or EDI integration needs -- but it will never own a large
share of enterprise IT shops.

I look at Portal in the same way I see Hillary Clinton. There's a dedicated
following there, and they're willing to spend money on it; but its limited in
terms of how many of those from the mainstream are at all interested in being
converted. By definition, that makes it a niche.
re: The Lotusphere Thread -- What should IBM pay attention to this year in the planning?By Ed Brill on 10/30/2008 at 12:10 PM EDT
It's a very large niche, Andrew. They just had a separate Portal conference in
Nashville two weeks ago with hundreds of attendees, and again in Europe a week
later. Just because it's not on YOUR radar doesn't mean it's not on anyone's
radar. Those Portal sessions are part of Lotusphere, they are part of what
brings attendees to Lotusphere. You can consider them to be in a parallel
universe, if necessary.
hundreds.By Andrew Pollack on 10/30/2008 at 12:14 PM EDT
And if every single one of those portal conference attendees shows up, they'll
be 1% or less of those at Lotusphere.

I tend to get up and walk out of sessions the moment I discover that there is a
portal requirement for the product.
re: hundreds.By Ed Brill on 10/30/2008 at 12:57 PM EDT
Actually, they'd be 10% or more.
yes, fair enough....By Andrew Pollack on 10/30/2008 at 01:01 PM EDT
My point is simply that too many sessions on it will piss people off. We'll
know when the week is over how it went.

You'll have the RFID data to tell you some of the story, and I'll have a camera
to tell some of the story, and we'll meet back here around the first of
February to talk about it.
re: yes, fair enough....By Craig Wiseman on 10/30/2008 at 01:44 PM EDT
It's not really on my customers' radar either.

But this is IBM's direction.

For instance, the place where I am consulting right now is 100% Domino, and
they wanted to play with Quickr to see if they can take advantage of it. So
what happens? IBM gets a partner to set up a Quickr Portal demo environment for
them, not Quickr Domino. Makes no sense to me, but this is where IBM's going.
They're going to keep preaching it until the only folks left in the room are
the WAS/Portal folks and then they'll be able to say - see we TOLD you the
majority of our customers wanted portal.

It doesn't HAVE to end up that way, but if it does (the most likely outcome),
I've got my exit strategy all set and in motion.
re: The Lotusphere Thread -- What should IBM pay attention to this year in the planning?By Chris Whisonant on 10/30/2008 at 03:00 PM EDT
Seems like the WAS/Portal issue is the major contention people are having with
your post Andrew. I will say that your other points are great. However, as Ed
said, the WAS-based products that IBM offers ARE very important in the
marketplace. I know of a many partners who seem to deal more with those
offerings that with Domino. But just because you don't see that as a market or
skillset you wish to tap into doesn't mean that the market can be dismissed -
especially at LOTUSphere. Sure, the Workplace stuff was, ummm, "misjudged" to
put it politely. But it's never been just Dominosphere, and these are key
components in the Lotus brand that do have a lot of interest and they'lll be
served up alongside a lot of great Domino content.

And it's also why we have 3,000 people registered at BleedYellow with many
active bloggers, 975 blog posts, 1,200 bookmarks, Activies usage, and Sametime
is the most popular feature. :)

And as far as "the difficulty in setting up and managing it", isn't that what
BP's are for? ;)
re: The Lotusphere Thread -- What should IBM pay attention to this year in the planning?By Paul Mooney on 10/30/2008 at 07:34 PM EDT
"Isn't that what BP's are for?"
Sorry Chris - I know its tounge in cheek, but I have to bite.

nope - its not what they are for... BP's are for pusing what a product can do,
and delivering solutions on the product. The product itself should always be
easy to setup and install - for lots of reasons, including giving the customer
the perception of it being easy and trustworthy.
re: The Lotusphere Thread -- What should IBM pay attention to this year in the planning?By Victor Toal on 10/30/2008 at 11:41 PM EDT
Paul takes the words out of my mouth ...
re: The Lotusphere Thread -- What should IBM pay attention to this year in the planning?By Chris Whisonant on 11/01/2008 at 09:09 PM EDT
Perhaps you missed the little wink there... winks in online forums actually DO
mean a lot.
re: The Lotusphere Thread -- What should IBM pay attention to this year in the planning?By Craig Wiseman on 10/30/2008 at 03:46 PM EDT
To directly answer your point,

* Late/Early busses. I'd like to make more BOFs, but it's hard with the busses.
Oh, and maybe have quickie pickup breakfast bags?

* Coffee/etc. Between _each_ session. Pretty, please?
re: The Lotusphere Thread -- What should IBM pay attention to this year in the planning?By Carl Tyler on 10/30/2008 at 08:14 PM EDT
For everyone that's on the show floor, get a carpet with underlay. I hate to
think how many people suffer all week because of the hard carpet floors in the
showcase.

Make sure they have the cookie with pretzel and other weird stuff on it. I
didn't see them last year.

Sessions, please make slides available to people that don't attend Lotusphere
and keep them around all year for those that did attend.


Make sure the speaker is known outside the USA.

Have a coherent demonstration in the opening sessions that ties together and
tells a story.

Concerning WAS, sadly it's a fact of life, the Domino companion products are
all slowly moving to WAS, DB2 etc. We're not going to stop it, that move has
already started, so we can either handle it, or move on. Are Sametime admin
costs increasing for customers because of it? You betcha. Is it making it
harder and more costly to deploy Domino companion products in SMB? You betcha.
IBM's SMB is pretty much going to be Foundations or SaaS I think, cos the cost
for hardware and consulting services is going to be too high for many SMBs in
the future.

re: The Lotusphere Thread -- What should IBM pay attention to this year in the planning?By Victor Toal on 10/30/2008 at 11:44 PM EDT
I agree with WAS ... fact of life but the costs are tremendous. I have many
smaller AND larger clients (50,000 seats) who would love to use Sametime
Advanced but with all the WAS necessary (and DB2 etc.) it is not going to
happen.
re: The Lotusphere Thread -- What should IBM pay attention to this year in the planning?By John Head on 10/31/2008 at 12:12 AM EDT
I think the 'costs too much for the smb market' comment is all realitive. We
have customers from 15 to 150 users running the Sametime Gametway, Quickr for
Portal, Connections, and soon Sametime Advanced. All of them have decided to
outsource the majority of the admin costs of these and their notes and domino
infrastructures. We don't spend a whole lot of time administering any of them
once they are installed and configured. I will be the first to agree all of
them could use better installs and the initial config/admin experience.
re: The Lotusphere Thread -- What should IBM pay attention to this year in the planning?By Keith Brooks on 10/31/2008 at 11:22 AM EDT
The Websphere issue is HUGE as we are seeing. Many are against it, some embrace
it, but companies.....TBD I think.
Maybe some of us need to move on if we don't want to be part of the next
generation of Lotus products?
I don't know the answer.
I am willing to learn/play with something till I get comfortable with it, but I
don't know if I want to.
Is it going to be like Linux is for me? Just something I'd like to know but can
never get to work right or will it be like an AIX experience that once you get
it done, it's done and done well.

Lotusphere though is limited, in my mind, by being 4 days and really trying to
merge DevCon into it. All the appdev sessions I could do with out if those
should be at the developerworks conference.

Where is the AdminWorks conference anyway?
re: The Lotusphere Thread -- What should IBM pay attention to this year in the planning?By Dan Sickles on 10/31/2008 at 01:39 PM EDT
I would be nice to bring guests to the jam session. Speaking of the jam
session...what would happen if you had a Lotusphere jam session and no one
played any blues-rock tunes....just curious ;-)


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