Anyway, it was a great turnout for the event - approximately 110 people registered, we were warned that the room only held 60, but that wasn't enough to stop people from seeing the great Ed Brill in person - I think we would have hit the hundred mark in attendance (plus a few IBMers).
From the start, let me say that I was impressed with the night, very pleased with the attendance, and very happy that we went along (it was counter-directional to our trip home so we had to leave the city to go to the presentation and then return home via work).
My favourite moment was at the very start when Ed walked down the corridor to the front of the room... the hush that fell over the crowd which, seconds before, was filled with 50 different conversations and mobile phone calls, there was an air of expectation that Ed was about to launch into an Anthony Robbins-like experience which would change the world. Seriously, if Ed had asked everyone to chant "Go you big red fire engine" it would have lifted the roof.
At times, it was actually quite frank - Jonathan Stern and Ed were both quite open with some elements of the past and present happenings at IBM and I think that suited the room rather than the regurgitated MarketingTalk that we've had given at previous events which were billed as technical.
Jonathan opened proceedings with a run through of the Lotus Evolution and Roadmap and suggested that IBM need to do a better job of ensuring customers have an understanding of the Lotus product roadmap. The committment that came was:
- to host regular events
- increase PR (there's an article coming up in the Australian Financial Review with Jonathan and Ed)
- increase advertising (hopefully as Lotus moreso than IBM)
- increase customer contact
All in all, 4 things which are relatively simple to define, commit to, focus on, but each (and together) will surely have a great impact on the Lotus brand in the Australian market. Personally, I think it's a great point to be working on - getting the fundamentals right and making sure the business partners and customers understand where you are, where you're going, and why you're going there - by osmosis it helps them see that IBM/Lotus is the perfect partner for the journey.
And then came Ed - apart from a couple of moments where we thought we were in for an early night when Ed's voice started to give way, it was an extremely well received presentation - technical in parts (a mini-Hannover hands-on), future directions (without too many of the marketing overtones), some insights into the additions to the new releases (including some real-life examples on how to use them). I was really happy with the content - it was certainly more than I expected given the short amount of time.
A few things of interest from my notes:
- of the 40,000 organisations Lotus counts as customers, 1,600 are in Australia/New Zealand (only 4% but more than I thought)
- 7.0.2 allows smart upgrade to users without Admin priviliges on their machine
- Hannover has a public beta planned for late October, with another scheduled for around January (Lotusphere no doubt)
- there are 6 full time usability resources on Hannover
- "Notes 8" is on the way (Ed slipped up on the name - but it's not like there was much doubt as to what the product was going to be named)
Just one more thing - it took until 6.43pm (it started at 5.30pm) until Ed let out a little "Notes is dead is dead" - a message that I was never really comfortable with as it reiterated a bad message for Lotus. I guess the aspect that I was more happy with was that the entire message of the night was positive, implicitly ongoing and without any consideration for a world without Lotus - that's the message that I like more.