LOTUSphere and content

August 29 2004

Well, it seems it is never too early to start discussing the content for the next Lotusphere.  The call for abstracts hasn't even been issued yet; the nominations for Lotus Awards aren't open (though they will be this week); the registration site is up but not formally announced; heck, it isn't even Labor Day yet.  Oh, but the stores are selling Halloween stuff -- even rows upon rows of greeting cards, what's up with that?
So, I guess it is as good a time as any to start thinking about Lotusphere 2005.
e-Pro ran a poll recently about plans to attend Lotusphere '05.  The results were posted over the weekend.  The majority of votes were for "Wish I could go, but I can't."  In a lot of cases, it's the still-typical corporate training/conference budget restrictions.  Disappointing, but not much I can do to fix this (though I'm open to ideas).  Some others expressed specific reasons for not wanting to attend, including this e-Pro reader:

While there was "enough" Notes/Domino content at Lotusphere last year it was painfully clear where IBM wants its customers to go - WebSphere. Yes, they pay excellent lip service to "customer choice" and they have, so far, done a good job supporting and extending the Notes/Domino platform. But let's face it, if you compare the marketing efforts behind each product line...
I won't make my mind up regarding attending in 2005 until I know more about the content. If the trend continues as it has over the past several years the Notes/Domino content might comprise less than 40% of the conference. If that is true I'm not sure I can justify the expense to my employer. Like I said, Lotusphere 2004 had "enough" Notes/Domino content but I didn't miss anything I wanted to see and there were a few slots where I got to go to the Vendor Showcase without feeling "guilty".
It's an interesting observation.  Now, my first instinct is to get defensive about the idea that "IBM wants its customers to go [to] WebSphere".  There was a period of time where I understood how this impression got created in the market, but less so now.  Rather than get defensive, I assert that IBM will use the content and tracks at Lotusphere 2005, along with the 2005 release of Notes/Domino 7, to prove otherwise.
The commitment has already been made in writing -- there will be more Notes/Domino content at Lotusphere 2005 than at Lotusphere 2004.  I am reprising some of my track management responsibilities for 2005 -- and remember, it's now my sole responsibility to think about how to continue the success of Notes/Domino in the market.  So, here are some specific actions you can take now or plan on soon --
  • Think about whether you have a story that might be interesting to share at Lotusphere 2005 in the customer success stories track.  I also am still seeking organizations that have upgraded to Notes/Domino 6 and would like to be interviewed for a total cost of ownership study; could be interesting to tie these two thoughts together.  E-mail me @ work (ed_brill at us.ibm.com) with thoughts here.
  • Rocky Oliver continues in his role as content team external member-at-large in 2005.  On his blog, he's already asking for input on the "Best Practices" track.  Go read.  My personal opinion is that R5 content should be a fairly small percentage at LS05, which is why I was asking a few weeks ago.
  • I'm hoping to feature a greater diversity of speakers in the core infrastructure track sessions on Notes/Domino for 2005.  If you think you might have kewl content for that track, start thinking about an abstract now.  I'd love to have 10x more submissions for 2005 and have some really hard decisions to make about which sessions to accept.
  • And last, provide proactive feedback.  If registration is going to be contingent on great content, I promise you, I want to provide great content.  That means knowing what you want to hear.  This is my fourth go at the content team, so I think I have good instincts on the best people and subjects for Lotusphere -- but your perspectives are invaluable.  Speak.  Now, while it's early in the process.
Last caveat -- remember, folks, it's Lotusphere, not Notesphere.  The agenda is shared with other Lotus products, and yes, some other IBM products, too.  If you are looking for a pure Notes event, this ain't it.  Maybe there is something else for you.  Libby asks a good question on the e-Pro Informer: "is there anything that you think could help make up for the fact that you'll miss the show? "

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