ConnectED 2015 – Smaller and shorter but more technical


If you read the official IBM announcment for ConnectED 2015 posted by Mat Newman, you will notice a few interesting details.

First of all, the event is shorter than previous years. It starts on Sunday and ends on Wednesday instead of Thursday. On Sunday IBM has scheduled the Leadership Alliance meeting, which previously been held in the late fall in Boston. This is of course much more cost efficient for business partners, esxpecially international ones, who only have to pay one airfare and one hotel cost. But it also means that business partners who are invited to LA have to choose between presenting at the Sunday JumpStart sessions and attend the Leadership Appliance meetings. In the past, Sunday has also been the day for the Business Partner Day, hopefully IBM is not putting that on the same day as well.

Second, the conference will be held only at Walt Disney World Swan, not at both Swan and Dolphin as in previous years. This indicates a somewhat smaller conference. The Swan ballrooms combined can seat about 2700 people, with the other meeting rooms seating an additional almost 1000. So a qualified guess is that the number of participants will be limited to around 3000 or just above, assuming the keynote/OGS will still take place in the Dolphin. However this is not that much less than Lotusphere/Connect in the last few years. The labs and the sessions we all come to love (“Ask the Developers”, “Ask the Product Managers”, “Gurupaloza”) will be back, and I would be very surprised if there will not be a product showcase of some kind. There are also more interactive elements planned, like roundtables.

Third: ConnectED will be more of a technical conference, similar to the developer conferences IBM had back in the 1990’s. It will be bigger than a LUG (Lotus User Group) conference, but have a much more technical agenda than Lotusphere and Connect in the last few years. In my mind, this is a good thing. Perhaps less catering to press/analysts, “suits” (CEO/CFO type managers), project managers and similar non-technical crowds and more to the hard-core developers and admins who actually use the products.

Personally I think this is a good move by IBM. Separate out the non-technical attendees and focus on the technical side, instead of mixing technical and strategic sessions in a big messy conference. I am excited about ConnectED 2015, even if I am suspecting it will be the last conference in Orlando. Some years ago (2006? 2007?) IBM announced that they had renewed the contract for the conference (back then still called Lotusphere) until 2015.

With so many other IBM conferences merging together and taking place in Las Vegas, I would not be surprised if Lotusphere/ConnectED will suffer the same fate in 2016. I hope not, as Dolphin/Swan is a more intimate setting, where people can meet and socialize in the evening (as well as a day or two before the conference). With IBM pretty much taking over “Swolpin” (Swan and Dolphin) during that last week of January, there are very few non-conference people around. That would not be the case in Las Vegas.

No matter what, I will try to again be able to go to Orlando this coming January and see all my friends and learn more about Notes, Domino, Connections and the other products in the ICS stack.  Hope to see you there!

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Tom

    I think the key to “enjoying” the conference (for those who have a history with Lotusphere/Connect) will be to treat it as a completely different entity than the prior January conferences. With no Wednesday party (and probably no Sunday night beach gathering either), no tripping back and forth between hotels, (probably) no Dolphin dining hall, etc., any comparison attempts seem like they’d end up on the losing end of the scale. If people can look at it as a technical collaboration conference on its own, it might work out better.

    I know that I would probably fail in that attempt not to compare, though…

    1. Very true. It will be very different, but also with a number of familiar activities. I am sure BALD will be arranged again, I know Bill Malchisky is planning a soccer tournament again, etc. But I can see fewer attendees hanging out at the Dolphin fountain and the Dolphin lobby bar after the sessions, etc. I don’t see the same large and logical meeting spot in Swan, for example.

  2. Jon E. Schultz II

    It’s too bad they didn’t consolidate to the Dolphin instead of the Swan. The Dolphin was always the “HQ”, whereas the Swan was a bit of an afterthought. And as you mentioned Karl, there were logical places to hang out and accidentally run into people at the Dolphin.

    So goes our last hurrah in Orlando…

    1. T Carpenter

      I was thinking the same thing, seems more logical to host it at the Dolphin. Where are they going to do the showcase? As far as I know there is no basement (first floor) in the Swan. You will still need to walk, as the Swan can only accommodate 756 guests rooms.

  3. Andy Donaldson

    To me, this sounds like the “contractually obligated”-sphere. Like you said, I too remember years ago them announcing on stage that Lotusphere would be held at the Swan/Dolphin until 2015. We all cheered and thought that was great. But we’ve seen the numbers drop over the years since then. This, I feel, will be the last time we have a conference dedicated to the once large community that was the Lotus Notes Domino world. I know with my upcoming job role change, I won’t be able to attend. Bums me out, but, it’s time to move on.

    1. You will be missed, Andy. But I agree about the “contractually obligated”-sphere. And just like Todd says, I think it is a mistake to move it to Swan. Dolphin has always been the main hotel, with the showcase, labs and OGS/CGS. That is alos the place with the logical meeting places and hangouts.
      I hope IBM switches it around, put ConnectED in Dolphin and keep any IBM internal sales training or whatever they plan to do over at Swan…

  4. John Stockbridge

    I think it’s a massive mistake. There will be no decision makers there. As an international company, why would I pay so much money for my staff to attend this when they can get the same technical info from IBM in their own country. I think this will not happen next year.

  5. Gene

    Currently there is not enough information on the ConnectED 2015 page to prepare a budget that I can submit for approval. Hopefully there will be prior to the expiration of the ‘early bird’ rate.

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