I'm 12 hours away from heading home to the US after seven wonderful days down under. I will write another blog post on the social/personal side of the trip, including making new friends and exploring new parts of Australia. For now, I want to talk about the business side.

The inaugural AusLUG was a huge success. 232 delegates attended, 90% of those registered and more than I have seen for any of the inaugural community-organized LUGs. The organising committee did a wonderful job. They really did come close to a Lotusphere-like experience, down to backpacks and karaoke. Not only did this group of people volunteer their time, some also contributed financially to the event's success. You just could not have seen a more supportive effort than what went into building AusLUG.

The Twitter stream for #AUSLUG captured much of the feel of the event. It also captured some of the discussion topics. I did let the local audience in on a few sneak previews of upcoming news, but I can't put those hints in writing yet. Still, my presentation is now available on SlideShare.net.

I also did a podcast locally this week on what it means to be a social business. The podcaster is Lee Hopkins, and the podcast [20-ish minutes] is posted here. I really enjoyed Lee's style and interaction, not just a journalistic Q&A but rather an actual discussion of the topic. Well worth a listen.

Things I learned this week, in no particular order:
  • Adoption of the latest version of Notes/Domino, along with other ICS solutions like Connections and Sametime, is higher here than I have seen elsewhere. Maybe it was just the customers I came in contact with, but I was impressed.
  • The local tech sales team put together an amazing demo lab a AusLUG, including everything from SUT to Connections. I am not sure how they managed to do that in a roadshow format. Nice job team.
  • Vaughan Rivett has joined IBM recently and is the IBM Collaboration sales lead in New Zealand. I had the opportunity to attend a customer meeting with Vaughan this week and several other discussions. I know that in the Lotus community, Vaughan's past blogging has sometimes been viewed as provocative and even abrasive. The guy I met in person this week is a passionate evangelist for his product portfolio, with an excellent understanding of both business and technical. We went to a customer meeting together on Wednesday (one where the CEO of the client was already following me on Twitter!), and the meeting turned into something a little different than we expected. Vaughan brought out Louis Richardson's "Ideas at Work" presentation (which I also used at DominoPoint.it) and gave a flawless pitch to a large audience. Even as the ranking executive in the meeting, I had to do little to keep the discussion on the proper course, and we had a good result out of the meeting (and a very good dinner with the customer later). Anyway, I am proud to now have Vaughan on the IBM team.
  • The Australian market is abuzz with Yammer. Almost every meeting I was in, someone mentioned Yammer. However, I also heard from my colleagues that Yammer is a great lead generation tool for IBM Connections. They talk to customers who have had a taste of social business through Yammer then wake up concerned about data privacy, governance, access control, etc. Still, I was surprised, as I have not heard that much about Yammer before this trip.
  • A few customers I met this week admitted they have rolled out more recent versions of Notes without sufficient end user training and documentation. Features remain undiscovered in some of these environments. I hope we can help with this.
  • XPages was everywhere this week. 20% of the conference delegates stayed an extra day to attend XPages workshops, and all the partners sponsoring/exhibiting said they were doing XPages work. I think XPages as a mobile application interface is starting to come into its own as well, with several of the partners I spoke with saying that this is their next focus area.

It has been two years since my previous visit to Oz, yet I feel like I didn't miss a beat. The next AusLUG is planned for March, 2012.... for sure, I will plan to be back.

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