Before I get too carried away, I do a couple of different roles here and there depending on what work I'm doing, but today's event was one that I attended as a "techo" rather than a business analyst or project manager.
I'm one of the guilty parties who gave IBM a bit of a bagging over the recent treatment of the Australian market (or lack thereof in some cases), and for me, this event was a bit of a litmus paper test to see what the future holds in the local region.
My overall response? It was pretty good - naturally it simply can't compare to the "real thing" but it wasn't too bad. The sessions were quite well presented, the content concise, and the message regarding Lotus was strong. As well as that however, there was the increasingly present time spent on other products - eg Workplace... which I can't complain about because that was pretty indicative of Lotusphere - I heard it called "Workplacesphere" on more than one occasion whilst in Orlando.
That said, it's really disappointing that we, as a regional community, don't have anything from IBM to cover off some of the technical aspects of the products - almost the entire content of the morning's sessions was marketing guff - hardly a "must for developers" as the invitation suggested.
There used to be an event called "Lotus Fusion" in Australia which was our version of Lotusphere - concentrating on the three streams - business, administration and development - which, to my memory and it's the same from anyone I've talked to who went, was "pretty good but not quite as good" as Lotusphere. I think the plan was to hold it in a new place every year, and it was a lot easier to justify than a trip overseas.
It seems that we don't warrant an event of that nature in Australia anymore, instead, we only get a half day event which is used to cover off a quick update on what's happening to the Lotus family of products, followed by reams of information about new acquisitions and other sister-stream products which may be of interest to us.
Don't get me wrong - that's all valid information for our market - it's great to be told what's happening, when and how (just like the opening/closing keynote addresses at Lotusphere), but it's just not Lotusphere - not the guts of it anyway. It's like seeing a new movie advertised with your favourite actor in top billing only to find out they're only in it for a quick cameo - the popcorn is still warm, you've made time to watch the movie, and it's not a bad movie... but the point is that you've paid your 10 bucks and it's just not what you expected/wanted/needed. (It's just an anology - please don't anyone tell me that it was free and the 10 bucks isn't relevant...)
If we had today's half-day event, followed by a half-day event with some selected technical sessions, then I think we could be on a winner. Apparently the business partners booked out the product showcase well in advance, and there are some skills with them, and others, who are capable of presenting concepts similar to those we saw in Orlando. It would have been nice to see some technical concepts covered off as well as yet another outline of how Workplace is going to solve all our problems (even though we're all obviously Lotus shops).
Right... down to some details:
Ken Bisconti gave a good summary of the opening/closing sessions from Lotusphere, utilising some of the slides that were used and confirming the message the "'Notes is dead' - is dead" - a slip of the tongue perhaps, but Ken suggested that some of us are on the journey with Domino "through versions 7, 8, 9, 10, 11..." - unless Hannover is being released as ND version 891011 he might have set a couple of expectations higher than desired.
The content was pretty much the same as the opening/closing sessions, just a little more concise and without the demos - apart from that, the only difference was that the room was way smaller and there was less spontaneous "whoop"-ing and clapping at the announcements.
(as an example - announcing Mac support didn't even raise a whisper)
In about an hour, the opening address covered:
- Workplace Forms
- Workspace Collaboration Tools
- Composite Applications
... oh.. and at 9.17am Hannover was mentioned, 9.19 saw a demo flash file started up, and 9.24 saw us move on to Activities... ummm.... anyone else see the pattern emerging? Out of the hour dedicated to the session, we saw 7 minutes on Hannover..
good to see Lotus counted for more than 10%.
this is a little surprising as, to spin a line from the movie "Twister" - "Hannover is good, Hannover is wise". What's coming for Hannover is actually quite exciting, and should be something that is enough to generate a buzz in our industry between now and Q1 2007 (or Q4 for those of us hanging out to get our hands on the beta). I know that the message has been out there for a while, but we still have around a year before we see it in the flesh - surely the excitement hasn't gone for IBM already - don't tell me that it's all over before it began and now we really should be looking at all the other things... I still want to be excited about Hannover - is that ok? I mean, it might be a little sad, but I'm still excited about ND7... so the concepts and promises that I see in Hannover can be positively pant-wetting - and it accounts for a little more than 10% of my interest in the future from IBM.
Lou Sassano and Gary Wickham gave a rundown of Workplace Forms - something we've heard a lot about and I was pretty keen to see it in action (getting the time to do so has been a challenge recently).
I have to admit, when I first heard about the PureEdge acquisition it seemed like it was a good idea but might have crossed the boundaries of Lotus/Domino development (as the info I'd been sent was that it was a forms development tool), but I didn't know for sure. I'd done a bit of reading and was glad to see today that it's something that should work beautifully with Notes/Domino - enabling pixel perfect forms, digital signatures and integration with various data stores. I especially liked the concept that the form could be saved offline, edited and processed again later - well, that and the bit where Gary drag/dropped an XML data fragment onto the form to populate the fields in his demo to save him from typing them.
How To "sell" Lotus Notes/Domino In Your Organisation
Wayne Boxall gave a quick rundown of Ed's sessions - whilst slightly more technical, and therefore missing Ed's varied business experience, the session outlined some of the key elements in addressing the history of FUD facing Lotus Notes in the corporate world.
Perhaps the only things about the session is that the content was a little dated, and that maybe the defensive approach needs to move towards the offensive.
Activity Centric Collaboration
This session was a confirmation of the cool things we saw at Lotusphere - covering the concepts of Activities and how they look in the upcoming products. I think most people got the concept and were suitably impressed - the only question around the room was about the technical details of the concept - just where and how is the data about the Activity stored (in the various environments).
I know I've given a rundown above, but as a quick summary, the event was good, quite well organised and presented some great content and concepts from Lotusphere. If anything, it would have been a great opening address at an event like Lotus Fusion, but was unfortunately lacking some spark on it's own (bear in mind that I'm technical in nature so others may not feel like this at all).
Just the three words to finish with:
Bring Back Fusion