Reflections on Lotusphere 2010

(Lotus Knows. Remix, by DJ Steve Porter)

Lotusphere 2010 was my second Lotusphere conference, and the first I’ve spoken at. I previously attended in 2008 as staff. My memories of 2008 revolved around trying to understand the deep connection between the Lotus brand and it’s clients and partners, as well as having the first chance to meet many of the people I’d been working with since joining Lotus in Dublin in June 2007. My time in the Meet The Developers lab that year was mainly spent talking to people who knew little or nothing about social software and Lotus Connections in particular.

The one thing I did take away from 2008 was an understanding of how long and hard the week was. As such I wasn’t too worried about not attending in 2009. This year however my hunger to be involved was well and truly back.

As I’ve previously mentioned, this year I was presenting with Mitch Cohen from Colgate Palmolive. He never misses an opportunity to promote their products 🙂


(via Mitch’s flickr stream)

Our session was a Show ‘n Tell, which basically means we don’t just talk about a subject, but actually do it onstage. Think of a daytime TV cookery show and you get the idea! For those who may not have presented at Lotusphere, presentations have to be finished by mid-December. Given ours needed to be step-by-step slides that people could take away and follow this led to lots and lots of prep-work of both the slide-ware and demo environment. Early January saw us have numerous teleconferences to do run-throughs, but it wasn’t until the first Sunday of the conference that we had the opportunity to go through it in full, in person. Thankfully the timing was spot on, and the live demonstrations solid enough. On the day the session was well attended (I was secretly dreading we would get one man and his dog given we didn’t have the best time slot and that we were up against some other popular and even related sessions.) What’s more our material seemed to go down well and was delivered without hiccup. However, there’s no getting away from the fact that Show ‘n Tell sessions are a huge amount of work to prepare. Much work, but worth it in the end. Many thanks go to Mitch for being a great co-presenter and a pleasure to work with.

Away from the session, most of my time was spent in the Meet The Developers lab on the Lotus Connections stands. I think the one solid thing to say this year is that Connections has firmly established itself in the marketplace and the Lotus portfolio. Nearly every person we spoke to had questions about deployment, adoption or even issues they had. In previous years, both from my own and other’s feedback it has been much more about “what is Connections?” which we had very little of this year. In general the Connections sessions I went to seemed to be very well attended and full of people with hands in the air when the “Have you deployed?” and “Are you in production?” questions were asked by the speakers.

It was also nice to meet in person various clients and business partners I’ve dealt with over the past two years, either for the first time, or to re-aquaint. It was also nice to meet various people I’ve connected with on Twitter, as well as even more of the folks in IBM US who I speak to nearly every day but had never met face to face. Of course, there were also people that were there but whom I never got the opportunity to catch up with, so if you fall into that category then please accept my apologies but you know how it is!

Outside of the actual conference, I found I was a bit more relaxed about things this year, with it not being my first time to either the conference or Orlando. I didn’t feel the need to make the most of every minute and had a few more early nights than previously (ok, early means no earlier than midnight anyway!) Regardless I still found myself absolutely knackered by the Thursday and have spent the majority of the weekend catching up on sleep.

One downside of spending the week at Lotusphere is that, despite best intentions, it always puts me behind in terms of the day job. Not just because of the five days spent in Orlando, but the effort in preparing the session as well. That’s the other thing I’ve been trying to catch up on this weekend, and I suspect I’m in for a few late nights over the next week as well. However, from going with the attitude that I’d be quite happy only attending every other year I am now chomping at the bit to get my place lined up for Lotusphere 2011. Hope to see you there!

Lotusphere 2010

I’m fortunate enough to be both attending and speaking at Lotusphere 2010 in Walt Disney World Florida this year. Whilst I attended in 2008, this is my first chance to speak at this conference. I’ll be presenting with Mitch Cohen on: SHOW303: Putting *Sparkle* in Your Social Applications! Customization and Branding with the New IBM Lotus Connections 2.5. In this Show ‘n Tell session we will be taking you through live examples of how to customize the user experience of Lotus Connections, including:

  • Changing the default product theme to match your own branding
  • Customizing Profiles by modifying what information gets displayed, and how to create different profile types
  • Providing new Community themes alongside those we ship with the product
  • Extending the Communities and Home Page UI by creating and deploying new widgets

As well as showing how to do all this in the session, participants will also go away with step-by-step instructions to follow which will allow them to accomplish everything they see.

I think that the combination of customer and product development perspective that Mitch and myself will provide should lead to a fun and informative session. If you are attending the conference I hope to see you there. Apparently we will be having a live Twitter Q&A during it as well!

Outside of the session I’ll be spending most of my time in the Meet the Developers lab where we will be happy to show people Connections 2.5 and some of the things we are looking at for future releases. So come along and say hello!

New look, new focus

This blog has been horribly stagnant for a number of months now. There are lots of reasons why that might be: Twitter, work pressures, general lack of enthusiasm for blogging. Probably all of those and more.

Previously I’ve kept work-related posts to a minimum and tried to focus on more personal stuff. That’s going to change in an attempt to revitalize my blogging. As an IBM software developer there are often things that I need to be careful about mentioning in public and that will certainly remain the case. However there are a lot of IBMers publicly talking about their work and where it takes them and I don’t see why I can’t too.

So from now on you can expect to see much more about Lotus Connections and my work interests in general. One thought I’ve had is to do some periodic posts on aspects of WebSphere Application Server that Connections administrators may find useful. I’ve been a user of WAS for ten years and have both consulted on it as well as develop parts of it in the past so hopefully I can provide some hints and tips of value to those not so familiar with the application server.

However it won’t all be about Connections and WebSphere. I’ve a great interest in agile development and in particular Rational Team Concert so there will likely be the odd post about that, as well as other software engineering and social computing topics that take my fancy.

Of course, it won’t all be work and no play – there will still be occasional posts about a new toy, hobby, pursuit or other activity. I’ll make sure to use categories well so you can skip past the stuff you don’t want to read.

If you still have me in your feed reader then thanks for sticking around and let me know what you think.

RTE News on social software and IBM

RTE, Ireland’s national broadcaster, visited IBM Dublin on Monday 1st December for a piece on social software within the enterprise. It went out on the News On Two programme the same day. Yours truly is included in a couple of arty shots and a quick vox-pop

Featured is the internal IBM research project called Beehive. Beehive is, as Mike described in the clip, a kind of Facebook for the Enterprise, allowing employees to share the lighter side of life within the firewall. It’s great at fostering relationships between people who you may work with but never otherwise get the chance to know and meet.

Additionally, Beehive acts as a fantastic proving ground for ideas and research which may eventually end up being part of Lotus Connections, or indeed other IBM products. Indeed, Connections is heavily built on the productization of ideas and research from our own experiences within IBM. There’s much more on Connections over at the Synchronous blog (including the odd post from me.)

Forthcoming trips and talks

I’ll be out and about over the next month and a bit doing a few talks on Lotus Connections:

First up I’ll be at the IBM Lotus Premium Support Seminar in Boston, MA on Wednesday 27th August where I’ll be presenting with Heidi Votaw, Program Director for Social Software. We will be talking about “Leveraging Social Software to Boost Innovation and Productivity Today” with an obvious focus on Lotus Connections 2.0. Unfortunately this is an invite only event.

Next, I’ll be at the IBM Lotus TechJam event being held at IBM in Staines, UK on Wednesday 2nd September where I’ll be doing a dive on Connections 2.0 with a definite technical slant. I’m not entirely sure how people can sign up for this event, but you can try contacting Dave Hay via the blog link above.

Finally (for now I guess) myself and my colleague Karim Heredia will be at the UK WebSphere User Group meeting in Edinburgh on Wednesday (why are they all on Wednesday?) 17th September. This talk will be titled “Lotus Connections – the WebSphere perspective” and will focus on deployment and administration considerations as well as how you can extend the social computing power of Connections out into other applications. You can join the WUG and sign up for the meeting on their web site.

Lotusphere 2008

Lotusphere 2008 Beach Party 2

This entry is probably overdue and a little past it’s sell by date by now, but I’ve only just had the time to catch my breath in the last week or so since getting back from Orlando.

My first ever trip to a Lotusphere conference was simply all I expected it to be and more. I had the chance to meet lots of people I’ve worked with for the last six months or so, and also others who I’ve built up a relationship with over Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Connections, Beehive and various other social software tools. In addition I got to see work I’ve been leading shown as part of the Lotus Connections 2.0 related announcements, sessions and demos during the week. Staffing the Connections area in the Meet the developers lab gave me the opportunity to talk to a wide variety of customers, either already using Connections or considering doing so.

The reception that the new features of Connections 2.0 got was generally very pleasing, and on a selfish front the Home page appeared to go down well. I’ll be contributing a more detailed blog entry on the Home page to the synch.rono.us blog in the near future.

Aside from all that the conference experience was pretty unique in my experience of these things. There definitely is a great community spirit around Lotus products, and I got the impression that it is stronger than ever. A few other notes:

  • Aer Lingus transatlantic Dublin – Orlando was convenient and generally very good. Leg room in economy was on a par with American and the service much better.
  • The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin resort is a great conference facility. I’d put it ahead of anywhere else I’ve experienced including various Vegas venues.
  • It was nice to have a chance to exercise the favourable Euro-Dollar exchange rate!
  • It helps if you can get by with very little sleep for a whole week.

As ever, my photos from the event are available on flickr

Attending Lotusphere 2008

In a couple of weeks I’ll be heading off to Orlando and my first ever Lotusphere conference. I’ll be staffing the Meet the developers lab and showing off some of the new stuff we are doing in the next release of Lotus Connections.

Being a relative Lotus newbie I am looking forward to experiencing Lotusphere. Whilst I’ve been to many WebSphere and Transaction & Messaging/Impact conferences before, they don’t seem to have the same buzz as Lotusphere. I’ve been taking a look at a few photos on flickr and for instance a search for ‘lotusphere2007’ returns 2,940 results compared to a meagre 69 for ‘impact ibm’! I remember walking around an evening reception at T&M Europe 2006 in Salzburg with my camera and getting some strange looks 😉 Needless to say I’ll have my camera with my in Orlando and will do my best to post up the photos to flickr as I go along, as well as the occasional blog post and twitter update I guess.

If you happen to read this and are attending then drop a comment as it would be great to meet people.

Lotus Connections team blog

I’ve tended not to use this blog to talk about work much, so I’ll gladly point readers off to a new blog from the Lotus Connections product team: Synch.rono.us

I work with Suzanne, Joe and David on Lotus Connections and they are just the right people to bring you news and insight into where the product is going, and how it may benefit you if you happen to be looking for a social software platform for the enterprise. You never know, I might pop up there now and again with a guest entry!