IBM’s theme for Lotusphere 2011 was “Get Social. Do Business.” A few of my observations:
- The audience had a very international flavor – more so than in years past, it seemed. It was not unusual to stand in the crowd and hear numerous languages. Not knowing the numbers for comparison, one can only speculate. Is the diversity due to declining presence in North America, or increasing international presence for Lotus?
- IBM, as part of the social message, is doing more to embrace higher education. This was attested to by the 500 university students attending the first day of Lotusphere. It will be interesting to see if IBM continues to expand its efforts with Lotus in the higher education arena. Some argue that higher education is the doorway to enterprise adoption as next generation workers bring their higher education technologies and experiences with them into the work place.
- The innovations lab, usually a highlight of the show for me, was a little “meh” this year. I did find interesting the several applications of analytics that IBM is experimenting with, particularly with e-mail and calendaring.
- Unified communications as a solution and in name was virtually invisible this year, which seemed a little odd given the significant presence the Sametime products have had in previous years, with devoted keynote sessions and a heavy messaging presence. This year there was no keynote for Sametime, although the technologies were demoed in the other keynotes.
- If you can grade a conference on the quality of the food, then there seems to be have been a decline from previous years. I know, it is not technically relevant – but it does illustrate that eating conference food is not always that great.
- There seemed to be fewer partners in the partner area (again no numbers to compare, just a perception, so please take it as such), but the ones I spoke with were very positive on Lotus. LotusLive is attracting a lot of partner interest. Past significant partners like Cisco and SAP were noticeably absent.
- The social messaging for business makes sense and resonates, but can IBM execute in the face of stiff competition?
Overall, I think IBM’s efforts around social business are interesting – potentially compelling, but unproven, by any vendor as of yet. Nothing really “wow”ed me. The event was as it has been in the past – the annual gathering of the Lotus faithful.