I spent the last few weeks traveling to several Lotus user group conferences in Europe. I am continually amazed at the passion and excitement that these types of conferences showcase with regard to IBM Lotus software and partner technologies. The conference organizers are committed and enthusiastic, and it shows in the events, activities, and sessions. An added bonus for me in this tour was that a major theme was Enterprise/Business Social Software, making our IBM Social Software solutions a centerpiece of the discussions.
The signs outside the venue for DDIVE in Folgaria
My first stop was Folgaria, Italy, which is in the northeast mountains of Italy in the Trentino area. The event â€“ DDIVE (Dominopoint in Village Event) - was hosted by athe leaders of the Italian Lotus community Dominopoint, made up of Giuseppe Grasso, Claudio Meregalli and Daniele Grillo, who in addition to being great partners write a fantastic blog. There were several session per day, having a single track which ensured that everyone could attend what they wanted. The theme for the conference was â€œVulcanâ€�, and Scott Souder was invited as well to speak on that topic. Vittorio Fosci covered Lotus Quickr, including what's new with 8.5, and I covered an overview of IBM Social Software with a deep dive on what's coming in the next release of Lotus Connections. I was happy to see that when I asked the audience who was using Lotus Quickr or Lotus Connections, the majority of the room raised their hands, and attendees showed interest in upgrading to Quickr 8.5 and Connections 3.0.
The Dominopoint team with friends and family
Myself, my husband, the major of Folgaria, and Scott Souder
I knew this event was going to be a little different than most user groups when I received my invitation and saw that families were invited to join. Given the conference was over the weekend, this was a wonderful touch. In addition to the standard conference sessions, the team planned a set of activities for the families, such as golf lessons, nature photography, and nodic walking. The last night of the conference was very special, turning the main street in Folgaria to a food tour and going through various Folgarian specialty foods, wines, and desserts. Even the mayor joined us for the evening and participated in the awards ceremony. Hats off to Giuseppe Grasso and Dominopoint as well as Fabio Fabbi of Movantia, who they worked with on the event planning, for creating such a special and memorable event! Thank you Dominopoint for inviting me to speak at your fantastic event!
Me presenting the keynote in Helsinki with my new "Lotus Tietaa" (Knows) shirt
After spending the Labor Day weekend in Folgaria, I continued on to Helsinki, Finland. The next event was IBM Lotus Forum, hosted by IBM and several sponsors, and the event was all about social networking for the enterprise. I was invited to keynote, and I covered trends in enterprise social software, business examples relevant to the market in Helsinki, and of course what's coming with our next releases. The team in Helsinki kept me busy with several customer and partner meetings, and I am so excited to hear what some of them are up to. One of our top partners in the market are looking at new ways to our blend social software with custom-developed applications, and I spoke with customers about their current deployment and plans for upgrading to the latest releases. I was impressed with the event itself, which brought in a series of panelists to discuss social software for business. I had the pleasure of meeting Janne Saarikko who was a panelist well known in Finland for his Office Nomad experiment of working at a different company every month. He's taking the concept of coworking to a whole new level!
The rooms at the event in Helsinki were beach themed with real sand
Of course, the Helsinki event was an interesting experience as well. The theme was a Cuban beach setting, and for the first time ever I presented in a room full of beach sand and beach chairs! In typical Finnish style, one of my business meetings was held in a (thankfully powered off) sauna, as it was one of the few quiet areas with wifi! After the event was over, we had Cuban food and entertainment. Thanks so much for the team in Helsinki for my new Lotus tietaa wear (Lotus Knows)!
Amsterdam's theme was Lotus Loves People and Get Social!
The last and final stop on the tour was Amsterdam, for the Netherlands User Group (NLLUG) conference. This was another partner run event with the theme of social software. There was an entire track dedicated to social software, and a sizeable portion of the sessions were about Lotus Connections and / or Lotus Quickr. I presented a portfolio overview and focus on Lotus Connections Next. However, the highlight of the sessions for me was attending 2 sessions by one of our customers, BASF, who talked about the business benefits they have experienced using Lotus Connections as well as their IT strategy for rolling it out. In a very short time, they have gain considerable adoption across the company and had a great story to tell about how they were able to push social software forward.
C.C. Liew from BASF and I. C.C. did an excellent presentation at NLLUG on their use of Lotus Connections.
One of the most interesting things about the Amsterdam event was the venue â€“ the Amsterdam Arena. This is the location where their football (soccer for us Americans) team plays, and the stadium is gigantic! The opening and keynote sessions were in the bleachers and grass area of the stadium, and general sessions / partner showcase was in dedicated rooms. What a cool location of have the event!
Amsterdam Arena and keynote address at NLLUG
These 3 events showed me that the international presence of business social software is strong and growing. These were high-energy and enthusiastic conferences conducted by dedicated business partners and IBMers. Thank you all for inviting me to be a part of them, and for highlighting the value of social software for businesses!