A few thoughts on IBM Connect, formerly known as Lotusphere

by Volker Weber


Let's start with the big one. IBM Collaboration has a new General Manager. She will make an impact. Look at her history within IBM and you will find that she buys stuff. She does not wait for engineering teams trying to figure it out. I believe she will use some of IBM's core strengths and then augment with proven technology that is already succeeding. Inhi Cho Suh is well connected and respected in IBM. She is not taking this job without a plan and the funds to back it up. I do not know what this change means for Jeff. Make up your own thoughts.


There was no press at the event, there was no press program, and there were zero announcements. Of course there were forward looking statements but they all carry a caveat emptor. Look at the bottom of the screen and you will see it in very small print. Everything said is subject to change.


We have a new face for demos: Sarah Gibbons played a bitchy boss to Chris Crummey, IRL she is design lead on Project Toscana, the messaging solution that will have to play catch-up and then compete with Slack and whatever Facebook (Whatsapp, Messenger), Microsoft and Google come up with. Connections needs something like this if it does not want to fall behind, but I see great challenges in the white space. The demo was extremely well rehearsed and completely canned. IBM was showing a video instead of live code, much like they did last year with Connections Next. Project Toscana is still in development and not feature complete.


Verse is finally maturing and will get many much needed features this year. And IBM will be making it available on premises as an upgrade to Domino. What is missing? Apache Solr. We will have to see whether Verse is more than a pretty face after this brain has been removed. On prem is not the only thing that wasn't delivered in Verse last year. Watson never showed up and it is scheduled again for this year. I hope you speak English. I am not expecting any other languages, initially.


Speaking of Verse, my favorite presentation was Ed's rollout of Verse within IBM. The best thing about that was that he also admitted problems they were facing from the outset. Instead of putting the brakes on the project, Bob Picciano said "go faster". Congratulations on a project well done. This is a good time for Ed now.


What used to be the Yellowverse is now the IBM Champions. IBM recognized two superstars with a Lifetime Achievement Award:


Of course they would not call themselves superstars, but trust me, if you want to make an impact, you want to be like Gab or Theo. Gab isn't only extremely knowledgeable but also great fun. I cannot remember any dinner where I laughed so much as the one where we sat together at the same table. And Theo? Theo is a legend, Theo has style. And he is putting together the best event in this space, year after year. Engage will be held in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, on March 23 and 24. Engage has lots of sponsors, certainly more than IBM Connect, and you can expect to see at least 400 delegates. I would be very surprised if Inhi Cho Suh would not show up.


At first I did not like the venue. When I arrived, it felt cold. Small windows that could not be opened, none of my friends seemed around. I missed my patio, I missed the warm Florida air breezing into the room. And I was probably a bit grumpy after a 10+ hours flight. But then it grew on me. First I scouted the place and then I found all the nice areas like the Promenade, an inviting open space where you could talk to people. The food was better, they actually had real cups instead of the plastic ones. There was plenty of space for all activities, the labs had windows.

IBM, here is my wish list for next year: come back to Orlando with this conference. Don't let it drown in Interconnect. And give us the numbers, straight. Everybody was second guessing you. For instance: you had 23x6x15 seats in the opening session. About a fifth of those weren't taken.


I made some fun of IBM when I discovered they had cost cut the conference bag. However, I did not lug around my stuff with the Hilton laundry bag. In fact, I have not used a conference bag in years. But I do know some people collect and use them. You want the best quality available. Panagenda had the best giveaway, not for the first time: Sugru last year, Lapa this year. Very much related, Francie has a new name: Q. I don't want to be without her logistics. And finally, Nathan. If we ever had difficulties, these days are over.


Nice roundup,thx! Too bad I couldn't make it this year,.... 😕

Tommy Oustad, 2016-02-04

Those portraits are stunning.

Stuart McIntyre, 2016-02-04

Thank you, Stuart.

Volker Weber, 2016-02-05

Thanks for the heavily illustrated summary of Connect 2016. After such an event I´m always looking whether the known understanders got the same key messages like me. I´m happy to find a general overlapping, even if you are looking for other spots in the hotel. But we both missed the patio and the fresh air in the hotel room.

Jörg Allmann, 2016-02-05

Thanks, Volker. I agree. And thanks for sharing that picture. I don't know what dark arts you use to get photos of me that come out so good, but I'm grateful.

Nathan T. Freeman, 2016-02-05

Great review!
Thanks for the kind words!
And YES: today Inhi committed on Twitter to come the Engage!
I'm so happy with that. Will make the event even better, and give her a great introduction to this 'community'.
Who knows, we might even see you there :-)

Theo Heselmans, 2016-02-05

Great summary of a (surprisingly) positive conference. I echo in the strongest possible terms about next year. The venue was great for those who could not afford the Hilton and, without the layout, the great idea of refreshments and desserts in the EXPO would not have been possible. I was able to have great conversations with IBMers that would not have been possible at InterConnect, from what I hear of the size.

Paul Withers, 2016-02-06

Thank you. I have no special insight about the future of this conference but it seemed like it was well done and should go again. The comments I heard reflected what you state here. The one snafu I heard was that some of the session scheduling was not ideal, with some slots having multiple topics appealing to the same audience and others with lighter options. I heard positive about the food, the layout, the number of different venues for after-hours, and the accessibility. I was part of a session in the CIO track and it had the most attendees I could remember of the last three or four years. The labs had some very cool goodies though perhaps their locations weren't ideal for everyone to go explore them.

This photo is very nice :) danke.

Ed Brill, 2016-02-06

It was good to see you Volker. As far as the venue goes, I really enjoyed being outside of the Mickey Bubble. Instead of $5 bottles of hotel water, I could go across the street to 7-11. Instead of the standard Starbucks coffee, there was at least three other options within half a block. There were many other positives to being outside of Walt's control.

Norman Cox, 2016-02-08

What a lovely post, thank you Volker! I always enjoy our talks and I too am excited for the future on many levels, Inhi included :)

Francie Tanner, 2016-02-09

Amazing photos. Thank you, Volker and Francie, for votes of confidence. I will definitely be at Engage and looking forward to meeting everyone there.

Inhi Cho Suh, 2016-03-11

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