Adam Gartenberg's Blog

Business Analytics and Optimization, IBM and Social Marketing

Observations from a Lotusphere First-Timer

Last week was my first trip to the much-hyped Lotusphere 2009. (By the way, in my head, 'Lotusphere' is always said in a booming voice with too much echo.... a lot like the Monster Truck Rally commercials from the 80s. If you don't know what I'm talking about, just watch this youtube video. ) So, what did I think?

First, it was the best show I've ever seen IBM put on in my five and half years with the company. Forget the Blue Man Group and Dan Aykroyd for a minute. Picciano and all the executives did a great job during the Opening General Session. It's not easy to stand in front of several thousand people and come off with personality... and this group did it up and down the line. Then, I have to give credit to whoever crafted the video effects. I didn't see a single "IBM slide" during the Opening General Session or any of the Keynotes I attended. You know the type.... where every thought an IBM'er had in the last six months is crammed on a chart in 6 point font. (And, yes, I am occasionally guilty of that offense.) It was like a first-rate Broadway show with a big shot of yellow.

But Lotusphere is really all about the community. Attendance was up a couple of percentage points over last year... which is amazing when most other events are scaling back. It was entertaining trying to walk from point A to point B with my colleagues - many of them are longtime Lotus vets and were stopped every 5 feet by partners and customers offering feedback. Lotus customers are passionate and they are not shy. Every Sametime session was standing-room-only, and the conversations went on outside the rooms long after each session ended. And I suppose my WebSphere purple is slowly turning Lotus yellow, too. I had one partner chasing me down in between sessions to help them close out a customer opportunity.

Beyond the sessions, customer dinners, drinks with partners and briefings with analysts, I really enjoyed meeting many of the IBM'ers I've been working with for the last 8 months. We really do practice what we preach and this was the first opportunity I had to meet many of them face to face. Other than "Project Philadelphia" (inside joke), that may be my favorite aspect of Lotusphere.

All-in-all it was a first class production and I look forward to attending many more.