Lotussphere 2010: Curing information overload

Now, I’ve written something like “I really need to clone myself – there are way too many good sessions at Lotusphere 2010.” Good to have some bloggers on site with their continuing live-coverage and analysis, huh?

So let’s collect some of the relevant posts of the first two days – avoiding the pretty obvious ones for now (Ed Brill, Luis Suarez and his Twitter conferencing persona, Luis Benitez, Alan Lepofsky, the Lotusphere blog itself and it’s liveblogging incarnation, PlanetLotus – an aggregator of many Lotus related blogs, ReadWriteWeb Enterprise‘s Alex Williams, and more). Did I promise a cure for information overload? Nah, that catchy title only got chosen to attract you, there’s no such thing

OK then, here we go, check out

Curious Mitch, liveblogging eg. on LotusLive and SaaS things
LotusGeek, with extensive coverage
Chris Miller does Notes
[and more, this list will probably grow over time]

Und natürlich gibt es auch einige viele deutsche deutschsprachige Lotusphere posts:

– zum einen von Stefan, der wie ich nicht untätig ist (Collaboration in the cloud, Lotusphere Bericht u.a. zu Project Concord und den Web Clipping Services),
– von Peter Schütt (Lotusphere 2010 Opening Keynote: Lotus Knows – die Collaboration Agenda der Zukunft),
– dem Tech-Team von TwentyOne
– und natürlich von Volker Weber (u.a. die gesammelten Heise et al. Artikel),

Lotusphere 2010: More Analyst Briefings

I really need to clone myself – there are way too many good sessions at Lotusphere 2010. And it doesn’t help that I’ve got an tight appointment schedule set up, ie. analyst meetings and briefings on everything from LotusLive, UCC to IBM Lotus Strategy.

But it’s fine with me, there’s a lot of takeaways, some of Day 1 Analyst Briefings follow:

Q&A with Dwight Morse, Lotus Notes Channel Marketing Lead

The announced Vulcan Project – some kind of next gen Lotus Notes in the cloud – started a long time ago in the IBM labs. It’s bringing together a lot of ideas (also from some recent acquisitions).

What do I think? I like the idea of an advanced knowledge worker’s workspace, integrating IM with social web tools, putting some effort into being more presence- and task-aware, the tagging of documents, the sharing of bookmarks in communities, the searching and connecting with people and communities. Add to this the open APIs …

The two things I am still doubtful with are this focus on documents as the main unit and object of interest. I sense an inclination to a document-centric approach. But we agree it’s content after all, and we should rethink our understanding of what we deal with?

The other thing is the Social Analytics stuff – while I find it interesting and able I know that it will raise a lot of concerns with people employees, probably slowing down acceptance. This grief may stem from my european-ness, but I can’t help it. Probably needs a staged approach, a lot of explaining and show-and-tell, and some smart tweaking options (is opt-in a valid option or does it only work when we’re allowed to sift through all data?).

OK, it’s a vision for the future, a roadmap – and they understand that information is the basic unit – be it mail, documents, or whatever.

Next thing we were speaking about was the Collaboration Agenda – it was explained to me as a solution selling naming, ie. helping the problems of explaining and selling a complex thing like Notes in an “elevator speech”. Elevators will see pitches like these:

Ya know, everyone needs to collaborate, and let me ask you directly: „What is your need? What are the pain points you see in your organization? What are the things you need to do and can’t do today?“


Let me introduce you to the solutions IBM and Lotus can offer you … (yes, I will cater for the jobs of tailoring and selecting from our portfolio …)”

Four industries are targeted, overall vertical markets where business partners shall provide solutions to discrete needs (CRM & sales, innovation management, etc.). Here Lotus Foundations will not be pushed as a product, but it’s a part of the tool box solutions get chosen from.

Q&A with Brendan Crotty, Program Director for LotusLive

LotusLive Labs is conceived as a way to expose new innovations coming from IBM Labs. Cool things included like some kind of “automatic video transcribing” so that a recorded presentation can be accessed at individual segments.

Most interesting is that IBM is expecting to learn a lot from the data and the feedback, ie. speeding up development of this “perpetual beta”. Did I say beta? Don’t be afraid, Labs is easy on the admin side, ie. it’s easy to decide who’s going to get access, a lot of business controls etc.

From a partner and customer perspective (think of Salesforce etc.) it was said that it’s going to be easy to integrate with LotusLive, because of adherence to open standards and data exchange models (RESTful et al. …). We’ll see if that’s pulling through, I must say that open standards are a hot meme among the IBM executives I’ve been talking to, next to the notion of “we will cater to what our customers need and want”. No, I am not going to write about the iPhone …

Q&A with John Del Pizzo – Sametime / UCC

Noted down: In the past they used IBM-specific standards, now it’s SIP (hmm, XMPP too I guess) – overall a bet on open standards, that allows for more connectivity (with competing providers too, yes). Thus Sametime can act as a client for Radvision, Tandberg, etc. as an endpoint.

John stressed that providing UCC at the desktop drives adoption, but needs simplicity. Well, simplicity, usability and ease of use drive adoption, then adoption drives ROI. Nothing to argue with that.

Interesting business cases again, like some customers wanting to use UCC for service (and customer collaboration) uses.

On the question of how this compares and competes with Microsoft Communication Server he argued along the lines of simplicity and usability (see up there …), scalability, openness, standards, interoperability, ability to integrate Sametime where it’s needed (hmmm, HTML5 or AJAX-ey integration?).

Q&A with Alistair Rennie, Lotus General Manager

Rennie summed up the announcements – then answered questions, covering cloud based collaboration, the Panasonic deal, mobile collaboration etc. Some notes:

– Social Analytics is getting customers excited, and they’ve got more  (research based) ideas coming, eg. on how to finetune recommendations

– Customers want and need integration, Notes acts as a collaboration hub, administered from one point. Customers want and need openness

– to deal with the diversity of (european) markets it’s best to sort out the individual best practices (cause these are always geographically-tied best-practices …) – nothing to argue with that, but I would say that we have a growing portion of EU-designed regulations (compliance!), and basic patterns are similar

– emerging markets are going strong in collaboration software – and they are as (IT-) sophisticated as the rest of the world. They grab this new disruptive opportunity, ie. setup something mission-critical collaboration software without having to keep legacy systems working (why yes, fresh installs and leapfrogging can be good …). IBM is having more and more „research pockets“ and laboratories around the world – this helps with catering for the various markets (and I say with innovating in the areas that matter).

– we’ve also heard some bad-mouthing criticism on Microsoft – but OK, this is probably normal and we all know those IT guys know how to “play”. I leave it to you to select from the batch: “too tightly integrated stack”, “missing some substantial thoughts”, “missing out in mobile (they don’t get what people are asking for)”, “missing out in social software”, “what they are doing is not going to be more relevant for customers”. Don’t flame me …

– on collaboration – yes, appears and happens on all levels (and even between organizations). People now expect social collaboration capabilities to get their jobs done. Yes, I would add we need to focus on freeform emergent collaboration, like eg. all those barely repeatable processes (hat tip to Sig Rinde) which can’t hardly be predefined …

Lotusphere 2010 – Press & Analyst Briefing

IBM and Lotus are definitely treating press, analysts and bloggers the same way, the same work environment, the same access to key persons and interview opportunities. Indeed I am sitting next to Gartner people, eating the same dogfood they are.

And yes as I am writing this I am sitting next to real journalists™ too in the press and blogger’s room – each one of us tapping silently away on our  notebooks. No communication or socializing so far with the odd blogger and his sticker-tattooed laptop …

But joking aside – I am really happy about the opportunity to participate in this, it’s an information avalanche waiting to swallow me, err great information and industry insight at my fingertips.

Key topic of the briefing was the IBM Collaboration Agenda (official announcement), a lens & funnel to engage the partner community making them partners in innovation. Four industries are initially the object of this agenda: banking, insurance, healthcare and government where transformation is dearly needed. The task is to translate technology into the language of business …

LotusLive Labs are another hot topic – the cloud is real and it’s here to stay. IBM Research & Lotus joining forces to leverage and provide a pipeline for innovation in the cloud. Labs are designed as a platform for an ecosystem, an open integration environment where it’s possible to test and deploy quickly (they’re planning to do cool things like indexing and tagging, find ways to design scripted workflows in a cloud app etc.)

Mobile is a big word here too, for Lotus it’s not an aditional thought, it’s rather fully integrated into the thinking. I wrote about RIM being a partner already – they showed social software, yes but mobile solutions from Lotus will be done for all platforms and meaningful players (Android, no mentioning of Windows Mobile, alas, surprise).

Project Vulcan is another big topic, a roadmap, vision and blueprint for the future of collaboration – building on and leveraging existing investements, with a focus on developers. See the official announcement too for a start, as I am collecting more data points as well. Here’s what Lotusgeek notes:

It is a sneak peek at the evolution of collaboration. Extends the products we have now, focuses on continuity, convergency, innovations, new opportunities. It is a vision for the evolution of the Lotus business products. Loosely-coupled architecture. Consistent interface across all client form factors, including mobile and browser. Sets the stage for next generation of apps. Embraces open programming model, REST apis, widgets, mashups, and HTML5. Supports SSO, search, etc.

Well, they say Lotus acts upon what customers tell them, ie. be more flexible, more open. Project Vulcan focuses on (a knowledge worker’s ) context – be it content, people, business processes et al. And the sources of these can lay inside or outside an organization, and Vulcan is designed for integrating both business and personal information, for integrating on-site with cloud-based services, mobile access or not (while they hinted at cool mobile functionalities coming, like e.g. location based services). Overall it’s a step into the right direction, being more people-centric than application or business process centric, that way supporting the many individual ways people have to get their jobs done.

The briefing offered an opportunity to ask questions, I made some notes on the odd twelve inquiries but I still need to get my head around how to systematize and organize the answers into a blog post. And I have some personal observations and thoughts to share too. But I must hurry now, unless I will be late to the press, analysts and blogger’s evening event (socializing with free drinks I guess and hope …).

Opening Session: Lotus knows why – Lotus knows how

Yes, it’s the first Lotusphere for me, and I am among about 5000 people attending the opening session – but I am sitting in the front rows in the press, analysts and bloggers area (more on how IBM sees, deals and supports us in a later post, btw – this post started with big aspirations but I need to catch my scheduled appointments, no pause till 5 pm for press et al.).

Lotusphere 2010 starts pretty bombastic with music, lights and a general feeling of excitement. Then it’s Lotus general manager Bob Picciano on stage with a first announcement – Lotus helps Haiti and everyone is able to help right here.

And then it’s the special guest, introduced as someone who knows about the future and about success. Coming up is William Shatner, hero of my youth, speaking about how making movies is a collaborative effort and starting off with explaining how many many people are working on a film. Right on spot, he’s talking about Avatar and its 15 years of making from idea to the theatre, finding the funding, support and the people who believe in the idea. James Cameron managed all this (again, not alone, I was seeing footage of the Golden Globes yesterday evening after the welcome party, Cameron’s thank you speech was very long and mentioned a lot of people).

Then it’s regular Lotus time again with Bob explaining how the crisis is a transformative opportunity, and that IBM hasn’t stopped investing in research, people & technology – and in an ecosystem of business partners. LotusLive is the cited example, after its introduction a lot of partners got added. These references show how to do it, advancing the field of intra- and inter-company collaboration (let’s call this Enterprise 2.0 if we need a mental shortcut …) and they’re doing it for reasonable reasons: Beating the competition.

IBM knows its part in beating, dashboard competitors get slashed (Bob Picciano says they miss out on the collaboration side, on open standards, and on delivering on promises) while Lotus had many things right for a long time and it fits into the smarter world campaign – environment, banking, cities, governement, work, yes thanks.

Some more takeaways from Bob Picciano’s talk:

  • The Lotus Knows campaign, raised the profile of Lotus – carrying home that it’s a positive disruption – employing existing technology that provides solid ground, that integrates, and that turns attention to tools like Symfony that provide a lot of capabilities for free (another beat, notice?).
  • The cloud & hybrid environments are argued for with “more nimbleness & agility” – not so much less costs
  • By now, the collaboration agenda has gained executives interest, with a void to be filled in company to company collaboration (Bob: vastly underestimated space)
  • IBM increasingly implements with industry specific teams that employ customized RoI Metrics around collaboration capabilities
  • Everyone says that supporting human collaboration is the biggest lever

Then it’s his successor Alistair Rennie who invites Lotus customers and partners to stage, starting with David Yach of RIM. One takeaway is that Notes is focussing on more than just providing a better mail, it’s about to act on information, it’s about agility and time to market, about how collaboration drives employee engagement – and mobility is helping in all of this. RIM & IBM inked a deal to ease IT admin worries, ease global deployment et al.

Sylvia Steinmann of Zurich Insurance was next, one company that made the decision to stick with Lotus Notes for good reasons. They are moving from 6.5 to 8.5.1 and using Notes as the “first thing people log onto the morning”, and the single access point helped in adoption. Obviously IBM helped a lot in integrating (a complex product, yes – still customers aren’t interested in coping with IBM’s structural complexities, but a solution was found …). She said clearly that Zurich wouldn’t accept a bunch of non-integrated „solutions“ and „out of the box“ fast firing – well, demanding customers are a good thing to have …

More customer stories included

– Panasonic – LotusLive will provide email to 380.000 employees worldwide
– Continental – Lotus helped in integrating the VDO people from Exchange to  Lotus in short time (necessary, this autiomotive systems supplier needs to act on short time in his demanding marketspace)
– General Motors – enterprise mobility matters a lot to them, equipped their salesforce with mobile solutions, Lotus is an enabler to them, they bet on “desktop virtualization”

Then it was demo time with Jeff Schick & Bob Cavanaugh, for all those people who love tech (yes) but who also need an understanding of where it fits into business processes and where the business cases are (yes, again).

A lot of demoing, announcements and plans, like e.g. a Lotus Notes Traveler app for Android, an encrypted email app for iPhone, companies like Gist who will provide a Notes plugin to integrate news(feeds?) from external social networks.

Lotus will provide mobile access to social data, pepper things up with social analytics, ie. recommendations on people, communities, documents and more. New IBM aquisition Cognos technology will allow for drilling down into data.

Also a lot of information about cloud-based service delivery and the underlying rationale, ie. deploying easily, cost-effectively, and learning about what works from the feedback (did anyone say perpetual beta, I think no but this is what it is). Later on a partner panel, blogged live by the Lotusgeek again. And then it’s over and we’re on to press briefings (food for more posts, sure, stand by …)

Upcoming: Lotusphere 2010, part 2 : conferencing

OK, one more thing before I rush to the airport. You know, I’ve said it’s about the networking when going to conferences – both on site and virtually.

For the latter documenting and live-blogging & -tweeting an event is essential as it gives the people who are remote a chance to participate in the event. Here, an etiquette needs to be followed when live tweeting (avoid noisy keyboards, add suitable and clever hashtags, keep the signal-noise-ratio sensible while still filling the back-channel with (first hand) information and valuable front-line impressions, don’t tweet behind the back of the presenters).

Overall the rule seems to be – don’t waste the time of your audience. Keep it short, that’s why it’s over and out for now.

Upcoming: Lotussphere 2010, part 1 – preparing and travelling

OK, it’s only a few hours till I am leaving for Lotusphere 2010 – I packed some Lotus podcasts on my Sansa, ran through Andy’s excellent guide, checked the Lotusphere 2010 Blog’s session overview again, then bookmarked the online directory at ontimesuite on my Android phone, earmarked the sessions I want to participate in, added more people to my #ls10 twitter list (there will be more additions over the next days), thought a second about Smarter Work, then jumpstarted again into some pre-conference news and posts, told some poor souls who must stay in cold Germany about the Webcasts the german Lotus team will do, and promised to bring back insights (and a tan).

Speaking of tans insights – making this trip to Orlando is cool if you’re coming from an icy frogpond city, even cooler is it to meet people like Luis and Luis and …

Luis compiled another post on how to get the most out of Lotusphere (virtually) – where I earmarked again some sites like the Posterous web site, the Slideshare space for presentationsPlanet Lotus and more – hmm, it seems Lotus Knows how to spread the word.

Sounds like flattery? Isn’t meant to be, transparency & disclaimers as usual apply – I was invited to Lotusphere by IBM Germany, knowing that I’m a blogger and would probably write about it, no further arrangements have been made, I am writing my honest opinions anyway, yes, IBM Germany has employed me at times for consulting assignments is a valued customer and I know and like people working there.

Don’t make we write that whole sentence under each of my posts or tweets, will you?